I’m not even going to pretend to be chill about this. I LOVE G. Willow Wilson. Her Ms. Marvel has been my favourite comic on the stand for years now, her graphic novel Cairo is amazing, and her prose novel Alif the Unseen is spectacular. She’s not just one of the best writers working in comics today, she’s one of the best writers today, full stop, across multiple mediums. I’d be hard pressed to think of anyone I’d rather have writing Wonder Woman. So yeah, I’m pretty excited for this run.
I’m less familiar with Cary Nord. I know his name and I’ve undoubtedly seen his work over the years. You can’t consume as many comics as I do without seeing everybody’s work at some point or another. But I don’t remember the specifics of it, which is kind of fun. Going into a book without any artistic expectations is exciting, and rare for a comics nerd like me. And I certainly found a lot to like here.
So let’s dig into the first issue of this new era for Wonder Woman, but first:
Look away if you haven’t read this issue yet!
Trust me, it’s good, you’ll want to buy it first!
G. Willow Wilson wrote it, for goodness sake!
That should be an automatic buy!
I can’t decide if bringing in Ares at the start of a new Wonder Woman run is a cliché or tradition, though I’m leaning toward tradition right now. Perez did it, Azzarello did it, Rucka did it, Patty Jenkins did it with the movie. Ares is Diana’s arch nemesis in a lot of ways, representing the antithesis of everything she stands for, plus he ties so well into her mythological heritage. It’s just a good fit.
And here we’ve got that same fit, with a twist. Ares is back once again, surprise surprise. But with a new mission. He is no longer focused on destruction, at least not for the its own sake. Now his focus is on justice. When he comes face to face with Wonder Woman at the end of the issue, he explains that he’s returned “to battle alongside you against tyranny and injustice.” And he’s kind of doing it, too.
The issue sets up an interesting conflict. The nation of Durovnia is a democratic country, allied closely with the United States and generally respected on the world stage. However, the government is actively suppressing an indigenous ethnic minority and their independence movement. That’s the tricky thing about democracy. It represents the will of the majority of the people, but when this majority has an unfavourable view of minorities, things can get bad. No obvious parallels spring to mind immediately, but it would be like if racist white people in America elected a demagogue who spouted false claims about African Americans and Latinos to rally his base. Can you even imagine? That would be terrible.
But back to the comic book. The independence movement in Durovnia has a new leader, one committed to a more aggressive, violent course of action, and now the nation is at war. When Steve gets caught in the conflict, Wonder Woman swoops in to save him. And, in pitch perfect Wonder Woman fashion, she ends up fighting both sides. Because of course. Wonder Woman doesn’t care what you’re fighting for. If you’re putting innocent people in danger, she’s going to bust you up. That bit, and Diana’s refusal to listen to Etta telling her to stay out of it, was all especially nicely done by Wilson.
Turns out, Ares is the new leader of the independence movement, which is fascinating. We’re used to him being evil, so of course our first instinct is to assume that these revolutionaries are bad guys. But once you think about it for a second, it gets real murky real quick. The Durovnian government clearly aren’t the good guys here, what with a majority suppressing a minority. And an ethnic minority’s desire for independence is an enormously sympathetic cause. So maybe Ares is on the right side here?
Even more interesting, he’s got this new dedication to justice and appears to be standing up for a noble cause, but he’s still the dang god of war. As much as he’s all about this new ideology, he’s using his old tricks, relying on conflict and bloodshed to accomplish change. And wow, I cannot wait to read Wonder Woman navigating this entire scenario. Ares making good choices in bad ways is going to present a real conundrum for Diana, and I’m curious to see how she proceeds. And doubly so how he reacts if she decides to take him under her wing and tries to teach him alternatives to violence. There’s so much to dig into with this new twist on Ares.
Cary Nord’s pencils and Mick Gray’s inks throughout the issue were solid, if perhaps middle of the pack relative to other artists we’ve seen in the post-Rebirth era. Wonder Woman has been blessed with some amazing artistic talent over the years, and Nord’s approach here has some ups and downs. I love how dynamic his Wonder Woman is. She hits a lot of cool poses at interesting angles, and he captures both her grace and fierceness. She seems a tad scrawny and doe-eyed, though, and is drawn a bit inconsistently. It feels like Nord’s maybe not quite settled into the book yet, and fair enough. It’s his first issue. There’s certainly a lot of nice stuff here, across the board, and I’m excited to see how he grows with the character as the run progresses.
Also, our favourite friend Romulo Fajardo Jr. is still on the book! With excellent colour work, yet again. As always, Fajardo shows that he’s able to adapt his colours to the style of the artist and melds flawlessly with Nord’s linework. They’re a good pair, with Fajardo adding depth to the background work and life to the characters where called for, but also pulling back a bit when Nord chooses to be more sparse.
Ultimately, I’m so looking forward to the next issue of this run. Wilson and Nord have set up quite an interesting situation for our amazing Amazon. Also, there’s more than just Ares going on here! Steve is captured, and we’ve got mythological creatures on the loose in Durovnia. This first issue has laid out a lot of fun and compelling elements, and I can’t wait to see where it all goes.