After taking a break over the holidays last week, Wonder Woman is back and set to dominate January. Or rather, lovingly induce the willing submission of January. The point is, we’re going to get three issues of Wonder Woman this month, and that should be a lot of fun. This run has been great so far, and it’s nice to enter the New Year with a stretch of good comics ahead of us.
This issue brings us the return of Aphrodite, and more questions than answers so far. Something strange is obviously afoot in the realm of the gods, perhaps caused by Ares’ escape from his Themysciran prison, but no one seems to know exactly what is happening. Deities are being deposited on the Earth all hither and yon, fully powered yet unsure as to why they are there. Mysteries abound, the war is relentless, and Steve Trevor’s been running around shirtless for several issues now, so this book’s got something for everyone.
We’ll dig into it all, but first:
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So we begin where we left off three weeks ago, with Steve and Aphrodite. But a slightly different Aphrodite. She’s still a goddess with all of the powers and grandeur therein, but she’s grown tired of being the goddess of love specifically. Having observed humanity for centuries now, she’s come to the conclusion that love makes people do stupid things. Harmful things, even. All of this war and strife due to a fickle emotion is not something she wants to be associated with anymore.
I’m very much enjoying this identity crisis of the gods. First, we have Ares wanting to give up war for justice. That’s gone quite poorly so far, of course, due to his engrained toxic masculinity more than anything else, but it’s been a very interesting turn for the character. And now, Aphrodite wants to separate herself from love. She doesn’t seem to have a plan of where to go from there, what new cause to champion, if any. She’s just tired of being’s love representative.
And fair enough. What I like most about G. Willow Wilson’s new approach to the gods is that they each have a decent point to make. Ares, for all his foolishness, made some compelling arguments about the nature of war. He lacked the character or humility to back them up, but it was an understandable turn. With Aphrodite, I can again see her point. As much as love is wonderful and good, it’s an emotion that can make us act in unreasonable ways. Though, just like with Ares, I find myself agreeing with the mortal perspective. I sided with Wonder Woman’s arguments against Ares, and I’m in Steve’s camp now with his pro-love stance.
There’s a detachment to the perspective of the gods that I think befits their station. They’re separated from humanity, not just because of their status as deities but in a more literal fashion. Ares has been locked away for millennia, and Aphrodite has been comfortably housed in Olympus. They only see us from afar. They observe us rather than understand us, and this detachment has led them down some troublesome paths of thinking. At least Aphrodite hasn’t started a huge war with her new ideas. I’m curious to see what comes with her, whether she sticks to her new approach or finds her faith in love renewed by Diana and Steve. The latter might be hard to pull off without being corny, but if anyone can do it, it’s Wilson.
On art this issue we’ve got Xermanico, making what I think is his first appearance in a Wonder Woman comic book. He’s drawn the character, and the bulk of the DC universe, before in the ongoing Injustice: Gods Among Us series, but now he’s in the DC universe proper. And doing a decent job of it. It feels like he’s captured a little bit of the style Cary Nord had established in the first few issues, but with more of a conventional superhero angle. Everything certainly feels more polished and finished than the last issue, when it was pretty clear that Nord was racing against the clock to get the book done. This issue feels complete, and Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colouring does a great job of establishing a lovely through line for the differing art styles.
The art on Wonder Woman has been inconsistent for the last year or so, a bit of a revolving door after the carefully planned Evely/Scott/Sharp trifecta of the Rucka run. This is a problem that’s plagued DC’s double shipping books for a couple years now. If an artist stays on a book for a while, things end up looking hasty and rushed. If they sub in a new artist, it’s hard to match the tone and the quality can vary wildly. Very few titles can keep a consistent level of quality. Batman does it well, with stellar artists rotating in and out, and the planning on that must be considerable. Here, Xermanico was a late addition to the book. Nord was originally scheduled to draw it, but they subbed Xermanico in. And it worked pretty well. This time, anyway. That they needed to sub someone in so early on is not the best sign, and I hope that the editors can come up with a workable schedule full of great artists to give the phenomenal writing of this run the gorgeous look it deserves. Everything is better when the whole team has the space and time to do their best work.
But this one looked nice. Also, I don’t know whether Wilson or Nord came up with the idea for Aphrodite to be wearing an oversized t-shirt with a swan on it, but I love it. It’s such a funny, humanizing touch, and it’s played so well with no one even mentioning it. In contrast with the bombastic armour of Ares, Aphrodite presumably just finding a t-shirt somewhere and rolling with it is delightful.
And now we’ve got an interesting situation ahead of us. Ares has tricked the prime minister with some sham peace talks, and it looks like he’s spoiling for a fight. Wonder Woman’s pretty annoyed with him, so she might be keen to offer one. But his old beau Aphrodite might have some other plans. We’ll find out, in two weeks’ time!