Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Minerva’

Wonder Woman #25 Review: The Grand Finale for Rucka, Sharp, Evely, and the Rest!

June 28, 2017

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As someone who is absolutely steeped in Wonder Woman, who’s written a book about her and has read every single issue of Wonder Woman, you can take it to the bank when I say this: I don’t think there’s ever been a better 25 issue run of Wonder Woman than what we’ve been enjoying for the past year since the “Rebirth” relaunch. Wonder Woman has had some amazing runs over the years, and I could see arguments for other eras; the first two years of the Perez era, perhaps, or the fantastic bizarreness that was the Golden Age. But for me, what Greg Rucka, Bilquis Evely, Nicola Scott, and Liam Sharp have put together takes the top spot. This is in part because it’s amazing on its own, but even more so because it so successfully reoriented the character after her increasingly disastrous five year New 52 run. The team managed to fix a bad situation and tell an expansive, fantastic story at the same time. It’s really quite a remarkable feat. And now we’re at the end of it! We’ll discuss it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal everything that happened in this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Also, go read it! It’s very, very, very good!

This finale brings together all of the elements from this entire run, tying up the loose ends on some while leaving other plotlines open ended for future creators to explore. There are lots of references to past issues, including Wonder Woman’s first meeting with Batman and Superman from the recent Wonder Woman Annual #1; what seemed at the time like a fun, inconsequential one-off tale came into play here at the end. It’s a good example of what Rucka’s writing has done over the past year. Small beats had big ramifications down the road, and what seemed like tangents all added up to something bigger. I remember being frustrated with “The Lies” early on because it focused so much on the Cheetah, a character I’d just assumed was included as a quick initial foe for Wonder Woman, and took it’s time getting to the actual lies. But it turned out, of course, that the Cheetah was a pivotal player in this book, and that the slow burn at the start of “The Lies” laid a lot of the groundwork for everything to come. The master plan became visible only months later.

So the finale begins with Wonder Woman in a bad mood, and understandably so. Her family remains lost to her, the Cheetah has escaped, her lasso is gone, and worst of all, her gods have been lying to her. She’s got some anger about it all, so much so that she’s punching villains extra hard and ignoring Steve. But some straight talk from her pals Batman and Superman sends her on a quest to find her gods, and they honour her anger. A speech from a mysterious woman who turns out to be Athena sets things right; she acknowledges that Diana is right to be angry, but that even with all of the manipulations of the gods, “The truth of you has never changed, Diana. Even the gods themselves could not take that away from you.” It fits in text, a nod to Wonder Woman’s steadfast heroism during the trials of the past 25 issues. But I think the moment stands as a larger statement about Wonder Woman, that no matter how many different incarnations of the character there are, some of them good and some of them bad, there is a core to her that shines through, an essential truth about her strength, compassion, and heroism that was imbued in her from her earliest days. The gods then return her lasso as a sign that they love her, and she leaves with a renewed belief in herself and her larger mission.

She then finds Steve Trevor, and amorous activities ensue. I could be wrong, but I think that this might be the first time they’ve actually hooked up in text? It’s been implied at various times, but I can’t recall seeing them in anything like the heartwarming last page of this issue, with them in each other’s arms in bed. There was their kiss and the implication of something more during that night in the village in the Wonder Woman movie, but in the comics they dated from the 40s through the 80s, when they couldn’t show anything like that, and then Steve wasn’t a romantic factor for the next 25 years. With the New 52 relaunch, the romance was back but past. Now they’re actively together again, in ways I think we’ve never seen before. It works as a lovely end to the book, as a much deserved moment of love and happiness for Diana. Plus, Steve shaved for the occasion, getting rid of that god awful goatee, so it was a good scene all around!

The finale leaves the rest of the cast in several interesting, open ended spots. Etta Candy, who’s been an absolute delight in this run, is going after the Cheetah, her former girlfriend Barbara turned crazed feline foe. This is a story I need to see. Their relationship was a background element that became increasingly important in terms of the Cheetah’s connection to her humanity. I hope that Etta getting Barbara back is a priority for a future creative team. The Cheetah’s a much more interesting character now as well, and I very much hope that DC stays true to Rucka and Sharp’s revamp of her in the future.

And finally, my evil favourite, Veronica Cale. She’s the worst and I love her. Her backstory was so well established that we totally understand her full embracing of villainy now, and as much as it’s sad that she didn’t turn away from it, damn she’s a good villain. I’m going to miss Bilquis Evely drawing her so much. She brought such heart to the character throughout “Godwatch” and really sold the story through her take on Veronica. And here, Evely’s depiction of Veronica’s confrontation with Wonder Woman is just perfect. Her sneer when she refuses to help Diana is spectacular. Veronica Cale could be an epic villain for years to come, and I hope that DC embraces that and does her justice in the future.

So we’ve reached the end of the run, and while I’m sad it’s over, I’m glad that Wonder Woman has been so well reoriented. I’m also sort of happy that Rucka and everyone decided to end things here. I’d have been down for more, but everything has wrapped up well and they’ve accomplished what they set out to do beautifully. Diana is in a good place, and is well positioned for new teams to tell exciting stories with her moving forward. I’m looking forward to Shea Fontana and Mirka Andolfo taking over the book for the next few issues, though I’m considerably less keen on James Robinson coming in after that. However, I’m optimistic that his run is just a bit of “Rebirth” housekeeping and that the New Year will bring a new team with a fresh perspective to the book. Rucka, Evely, Scott, and Sharp have demonstrated how amazing Wonder Woman can be, and it will be fun to see new voices picking up the baton from here on.

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Wonder Woman #24 Review: Tragedies on Multiple Fronts in the Run’s Penultimate Issue

June 14, 2017

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We’re nearing the end of this current, excellent run of Wonder Woman, and everything has come together. After four disparate arcs, connected with small moments but kept separate by time, everything’s now merged. Wonder Woman #24 picks up where Wonder Woman #23 left off, a common occurrence for most comic books but an oddity for the dual narratives that have been so key to Wonder Woman since the “Rebirth” relaunch. And now, after 24 issues of surprises and revelations, the full run has taken its toll on everyone. Pretty much every major player in the series is facing tragedy, a crucible that has revealed the true nature of each of them in their responses to these trying circumstances. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal all of the key events of this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Also, if you haven’t read it yet, you should!

This has been one of the best runs of Wonder Woman ever!

So let’s run through where everyone is at, and how recent events have affected them. The last issue revealed that Wonder Woman must remain permanently separated from her home and her family, and the shock of that is clear initially. She leaves the island gate to Themyscira without tracking down the Cheetah, an uncharacteristic decision for her that suggests she was emotionally drained and perhaps overwhelmed by all she’d been through. She seems almost in shock when she returns to America, somewhat quiet and withdrawn, until Etta chastises her for leaving Barbara behind. Etta’s words hit her hard and shake her out of her fog, putting her back on track. Despite the weight of her tragic separation, Wonder Woman always cares for others more than herself and goes after Barbara.

She finds her attacking Veronica Cale, which puts Wonder Woman in a difficult spot. She wants to help Barbara and she has so reason to care about Veronica Cale, who’s spent years trying to ruin both her life and the life of her friend. And yet, when Barbara promises she’ll go with Wonder Woman if she lets her kill Veronica, Wonder Woman refuses. She won’t let anyone die, no matter how guilty they may be. While tragedy shook Wonder Woman for a moment, she quickly returned to her heroic form, even though it meant another tragic loss for herself as her friend Barbara refused to go with her willingly.

As for Barbara, her tragic loss consumes her entirely. And really, justifiably so. She’s had an awful time of things. She was restored to her true self, leaving her Cheetah identity behind, but then returned to her Cheetah form to help her friends in a noble sacrifice. Her rejection from Themyscira is the breaking point for her. She’d searched for the Amazons for her entire life and was close to them, finally, only to have the gate disappear. So she lets all of her anger and the sorrow over the many things she’s lost consume her. She goes after Veronica, aiming to kill her, and very nearly succeeds. Had Wonder Woman not intervened, Veronica would have been a goner. Then, even in the face of Wonder Woman offering her help and a return to her life with Etta, she refuses. We’ve seen a lot of Barbara as the Cheetah in these 24 issues, and while her feral identity often dominated her, Etta was the one thing that always gave her pause. But not now. The mention of Etta barely dissuades her at all, and she refuses to go with Wonder Woman unless she’s allowed to kill Veronica. The series of tragedies she’s endured were too much in that moment and overcame her true nature, though perhaps we’ll see things turn around for her in two weeks time with the grand finale.

I’m not expecting a turnaround for Veronica. We’ve gotten to know her well this year, especially in “Godwatch” with Bilquis Evely bringing such life and emotion to the character. She was a woman who lost her daughter, an understandable motivation even though it took her to very dark places. But now her daughter is gone for good, and the weight of both her loss and her actions over the past year lie heavy on her. She’s lost her daughter, her company is in shambles, and she’s isolating herself further from the few friends she has. When the Cheetah calls her a villain, she doesn’t even flinch, as if she too knows what she’s become and is perhaps beginning to accept that this is who she is now. Tragedy has brought her emptiness, rightly so in many respects; she’s earned what’s coming to her. But however justified a punishment may be, the attack from Cheetah is especially brutal. Evely illustrates the horror of it well, from the gashes on her back to the violent action of the scene. And the most brutal moment of it all is the very end of the issue, with Veronica left all alone. Wonder Woman’s compassion and moral code saved her life, but her torn up body, left in solitude, stands as a monument to her inevitable tragic end.

Well, the end for now. There’s one more issue to come, with Greg Rucka, Bilquis Evely, and Liam Sharp teaming up for a grand finale that will tie up all of the loose threads. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Veronica involved in some way, though if we don’t then this was a fitting conclusion for the character. It looks like Cheetah will be a big focus, since Wonder Woman knocks her out and takes her away at the end of this issue. With all of the mysteries solved and so much wrapped up already, I’m curious to see what the final issue will dig into. The conclusions of both the “The Truth” and “Godwatch” have been excellent and satisfying, so I’m excited to see how the creative teams decides to leave everyone moving forward.

Wonder Woman #21 Review: The Compassionate Core of Wonder Woman

April 28, 2017

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Yet again, I’m starting with an apology for a delayed review, with travel the culprit once more. But I’m back home now and should be settled here for the foreseeable future, so my reviews of Wonder Woman should be on the day of each issue’s release moving forward. This week’s issue was yet another outing that was worth the wait, as we see a lot of the key pieces that have been set up throughout “The Truth” thus far come together. With Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor, Barbara Ann Minerva/the Cheetah, and Veronica Cale all in the same spot for the first time, you knew something was going to happen. And a few somethings happened, all of them very interesting, but there was one moment that I loved best of all. We’ll dig into everything, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to dive into all of the twists and turns of this issue!

Look away if you have yet to read it!

So last issue’s cliffhanger, with Maru sniping Wonder Woman from afar, didn’t amount to much. What seemed to be a grievous issue last month was easily shaken off, a bit of audience manipulation that might have annoyed me if I didn’t appreciate the style with which it was executed so much. Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp ended Wonder Woman #19 in dramatic fashion and left us on the edge of ours seats, then began Wonder Woman #21 with a great action scene that had our heroine fighting through the pain, furiously deflecting bullets, and then nabbing Maru in impressive fashion. I particularly enjoyed the use of the sniper lens as a panel, and how it went from Maru seeing Wonder Woman from afar to Wonder Woman being right on top of her just a second later. It was a well executed sequence all around.

This led us to the Black Sea and the fake Paradise Island. Veronica and Barbara showed up with the still faceless Izzy and Veronica’s dogs, the imprisoned Phobos and Deimos, followed quickly by Wonder Woman and Steve. The small fight we got there was less innovative and visually inventive than what opened the book, but the emotions of the scene were the key focus here and that was very nicely done. Wonder Woman still believed in her friend and the humanity at the core of the Cheetah, even if Barbara felt that she’d lost herself fully in her feline form. And, of course, the true Barbara is still buried in there; the way she lashed out when Wonder Woman mentioned Etta made it clear that she still remembers and yearns for her other life.

Also, I’ve mentioned this before, but Liam Sharp’s redesign of the Cheetah is fantastic. For decades, the Cheetah has been very sexualized, drawn as a sexy cat lady rather than a dangerous creature. Sharp embraces the danger wholeheartedly. His Cheetah is fierce and frightening and more animal than human, and he does a good job marrying the feline traits to a female form that finds a balance between the two in ways we’ve never seen before. I really hope that this new look sticks around, because it’s so much cooler than past incarnations of the character.

The fight between Wonder Woman and the Cheetah served as a means to open the gate to, well, somewhere. The mysterious tree we’ve been seeing since this run began returned yet again, and Wonder Woman’s blood opened a portal through it. This was well depicted, especially the first reveal inside of it. Sharp’s swirly clouds and floating islands was all kinds of cool, but Laura Martin’s colours took the panel to the next level with her pinks and lavenders swirling about. It looked totally otherworldly. The way it was drawn on subsequent pages was somewhat less compelling; in general, I felt like Sharp was rushing things at times with this issue. But that opening shot to set the scene was gorgeous.

After Izzy ran into the portal, Wonder Woman and Veronica followed, and this led me to my favourite scene of the issue, and one of the best moments in Wonder Woman since “Rebirth” began. When Veronica explained that she was trying to find her daughter, Wonder Woman reached out her hand and replied, “We will seek her together.” This instantaneous compassion really captured the heart of Wonder Woman and who she is. Veronica Cale’s been working to destroy her for years. She turned her sweet friend Barbara into the vicious Cheetah, twice. She’s attempted to hurt or kill everyone Wonder Woman holds dear. And yet, the second Veronica needs help, Wonder Woman offered it. This doesn’t mean she’s forgiven, of course. But it shows that Wonder Woman saw the humanity in her, saw the woman who’s lost her daughter, not just in this bizarre realm but in a much deeper way, and decided that it was more important to help an enemy save an innocent girl than to exact any kind of revenge or even justice first. To me, the core of Wonder Woman has always been if someone needs help, she helps them, and then deals with whatever else may be going on after. Compassion comes first, and this issue illustrated that beautifully.

The issue ended with the big reveal that they’d stumbled upon Ares’ prison, as well as what appears to be a fully restored Izzy. I’m curious to see if this is a permanent restoration or a momentary reunification in this mysterious realm; we know from two weeks back that Ares had Izzy’s spirit/soul/what have you with him, so perhaps she really is whole again. Whatever the case, Ares is back in the mix again. Or, perhaps for the first time? We saw Ares back in “Year One,” but Wonder Woman doesn’t recognize him nor does he bear much resemblance to the cruel, bloviating deity we saw then. He doesn’t have fancy word balloons here, either. Could that first Ares have been a false Ares? Or maybe this Ares is false? Or maybe Wonder Woman just doesn’t recognize him without the armour and I’m reading way too much into this. I’m excited to see how this all shakes out, and given the interconnectedness we’re starting to see between “The Truth” and “Godwatch,” I’m hoping that we’ll at least get some hints in a couple of weeks with Wonder Woman #22. Everything is coming together, and it’s all very intriguing!

Wonder Woman #19 Review: Back in Action

March 22, 2017

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It’s going to be an abbreviated review this week because your faithful reviewer is in the middle of an absolutely bananas week; so it goes, sometimes. We’ll still get to all the fun of the issue, just more succinctly. First, some good news: The reveal at the end of Wonder Woman #17 was everything we thought it was and Wonder Woman is totally back. The return of Ferdinand sparked her memory and she left the asylum to take on Godwatch. However, things went steadily downhill for her from there. We’ll get into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Details of this issue will soon be revealed!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

So Wonder Woman’s joyful return quickly took a dark turn when she learned that Barbara Ann had given herself up to Veronica Cale and became the Cheetah again. She also learned that nearly everyone from the Picket was killed. Oh, and that several of her top villains are working together against her. It was a bevy of bad news. Plus Dr. Cyber called her a “self-righteous, arrogant, simplistic little airhead,” which was rude. Then the issue ended with Wonder Woman getting shot through the chest, so yeah. It was a rough twenty pages for our favourite heroine.

It wasn’t the most action packed issue, with a lot of it dedicated to Dr. Cyber’s bloviating, but there were some key developments. There was Wonder Woman’s return, of course, but Etta found Sasha Bordeaux as well, which could mean that another member of the team will be back in action soon. That’s good news, because they need all the help they can get.

There’s also some exciting developments on Themyscira. Initially, the Amazons are unsure if Diana is still alive or not, but the appearance of the Greek gods in their animal form, just as we saw them back in “Year One,” sparked hoped in everyone. My guess is that rather than Wonder Woman returning to her true home for the first time, Hippolyta and a delegation of Amazons may go find her first. Again, she needs all the help she can get, especially after how this issue ended.

The art for this issue was a bit hit and miss for me. Liam Sharp had some great moments; there’s a panel with Diana wearing a red cloak that is just gloriously detailed, for example. But Sharp did this sort of morphing thing with Dr. Cyber where her appearance was constantly shifting and it was a bit odd. Some of them looked cool, but some of them looked a bit messy and overdone. There was also one incarnation of her that was a full body shot where she had metallic balloon breasts for some reason; it reminded me of Cyber-Cat from Jim Balent’s Catwoman run, which is never the best thing to hark back to. Still, when Dr. Cyber looked cool, she looked really cool, and Laura Martin’s colours added a great mood and style to the pages, and to the book as a whole.

Overall, this was a decent issue, if not the best one the team’s done lately. It was more a table setter, bringing Diana back into the mix, moving some pieces around, and closing with a dramatic cliffhanger. You need to have issues like this from time to time, and it was still an enjoyable read. The Amazon bits in particular continue to be great, and Etta’s love for Barbara and her fury over losing her again was really powerful stuff. Things look like they’re going to get intense in the next few issues, and I’m looking forward to it.

Wonder Woman #18 Review: Who Watches the Godwatch?

March 9, 2017

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I’m a day late to this review after being busy all day yesterday with some family things, but I got to read the issue yesterday and having an extra day to think back on it has only increased my appreciation of it. “Godwatch” is clearly a different kind of story than “The Lies,” “Year One,” or “The Truth,” and I like that about it very much. The arc is keeping a dual focus on Veronica Cale and Wonder Woman, having them circle each other without meeting yet as they both grow into their new roles, Wonder Woman as a superhero and Veronica as the woman trying to learn her secrets. It’s made for some excellent storytelling so far, and we’ll dive into it all momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to disclose all of the things that happen in this issue!

Read no further if you haven’t picked up this issue yet!

First things first, we’ve got a time jump. I love a good time jump. It can be a really effective storytelling technique when done well, and I think it was nicely executed here in a very sensible way. At the end of Wonder Woman #16, everything had gone wrong for Veronica; Deimos and Phobos had her daughter, her best friend was dead, and her plan to capture Wonder Woman had failed on every level. This issue begins a year later, with Veronica having festered in this defeat for a year. Wonder Woman’s reknown and power has only grown, meanwhile Veronica’s daughter remains creepily faceless, Deimos and Phobos are still around, and she’s only just figured out how to bring back Adrianna’s consciousness as Dr. Cyber. The time jump gives us a sense of Veronica’s pain, and shows us the steps to her becoming the hard-edged villain we see in the present day arcs. All of this horror has been her life for a full year, a crucible forging her into what we know she’ll become.

The story almost shouldn’t work. We already know Veronica Cale is a villain who hates Wonder Woman. This arc adds backstory to that, but not a lot else as of yet, and it would be really easy for this to be a flat, unessential tale. Luckily for us, Greg Rucka and Bilquis Evely know what they’re doing. The characterizations are so strong and the emotions so clear that it makes for a very compelling read. I even feel sorry for Veronica and the terrible situation she’s in, and I’m Team Wonder Woman a billion percent! Seeing the joy of her getting her friend back and the sorrow of not having her daughter, it’s hard not to have some sympathy for the difficult spot she’s in, even though she does horrible things to characters we love.

Barbara Ann Minerva is both a good example of Veronica’s terrible acts and of presenting backstory in a powerful way. We all know she’s going to become the Cheetah, and that Veronica has something to do with that. That’s been well established earlier in the series. But getting a glimpse into how Barbara’s relationship with Diana has developed in the year since she became Wonder Woman adds more emotional heft to the story, and seeing the ways Veronica manipulates the situation so Wonder Woman can’t save her friend is genuinely upsetting. The scene when Wonder Woman finally arrives to find a bitter Barbara in her new Cheetah form is just heartbreaking. And we all knew it was coming!

Also, kudos to Rucka for his symmetry. Having Barbara become the Cheetah again in an emotionally brutal scene two weeks back in “The Truth” in Wonder Woman #17 and following it with her original transformation this week is quite the one-two punch. Tough on my poor heart; I’ve really grown to love Barbara. But so well executed and structured.

A key part of this arc being so effective is Bilquis Evely’s stellar artwork and what she’s able to bring to all of the characters. We know the broad strokes of this story already, and while Rucka’s doing a swell job writing the book, it’s all on Evely to communicate the emotions of the scenes that make filling in this backstory worthwhile. And she’s hitting it out of the park. The look of horror on Diana’s face when she realizes that she was too late to save her friend is so powerful that it sells the entire scene from the get-go. Similarly, she brings so much to Veronica, humanizing someone we could easily see as a monster. Again, Rucka’s writing her well, but it could feel hollow in the wrong hands. With Evely, each beat plays out true. The final page of the issue, in which Veronica is ashamed of the magnitude of horror she’s perpetrated to save her daughter, is particularly compelling. Evely captures the human side of her so well that you can’t help but sympathize with her despite all she’s done.

Evely’s helped by Scott Hanna on inks, and I’m glad to see that they were able to have just one inker for this outing. It was much stronger than last month’s issue, when several different inkers contributed to the books and the differences were clear and somewhat jarring. Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colours remain stellar as well. That man has a deft touch. Evely’s linework pairs best with a muted colour palette, which could be limiting, but he’s able to find vibrancy and contrast within this somewhat subdued range that makes the book look absolutely gorgeous. It’s a different set of skills that Fajardo showed us with “Year One” and it’s just as lovely.

Overall, this issue was a heartbreaker, and a very well executed one at that. We knew the bulk of what was coming and it not only still hurt, it conjured up some sympathy for the villain of the piece! That’s kind of remarkable. This arc has been great so far, and I can’t wait to see how Rucka and Evely toy with our emotions again in a month’s time.

Wonder Woman #17 Review: Free Your Minotaur

February 22, 2017

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Things remain bleak for Wonder Woman and the gang. Etta and Steve are on the lam, Barbara is in the clutches of Godwatch and Veronica Cale, and Diana doesn’t know who she is and remains in an asylum. While there is progress on one of those fronts in this second part of “The Truth,” there is a heartbreaking setback in another. All told, it is an issue about balance, about trading life for life and friend for friend, and in the end the gains and losses even out to leave the team no further ahead, except for one key element: Wonder Woman. It was a good issue and we’ll dig into it all momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I mean, if you’re reading this review then you’ve probably read the issue!

But if you haven’t look away!

I’m going to spoil it all!

So, balance. There was a lot going on in this issue, and it all felt like a scale tipping back and forth with each major action that ultimately ended up just as balanced at the end as it was at the beginning. Everything had its opposite, and Barbara Ann Minerva’s sacrifice was the lynchpin to it all.

Barbara’s been one of the most compelling character’s of this current run of Wonder Woman, and a key player in all four arcs thus far. Her transition from the villainous Cheetah to regaining her role as a trusted ally has been a great story, and her relationship with Etta only made the story better. She even got her own solo issue during “Year One” that dug into her backstory. I’m now very invested in Barbara, which is probably what Rucka wanted; he’s gotten us all attached to her so that this issue would hurt all the more. Veronica Cale forced her to become the Cheetah again in order to save her friends, a sad but noble moment that juxtaposed poignantly with the rest of the issue.

First, we got the return of an old friend, Ferdinand the minotaur from Rucka’s original run on Wonder Woman. Steve and Etta sought him out to help Diana, hoping that her seeing a long lost, friendly face might spur her memory and remind her of who she is. Plus it’s always good to have a minotaur on the team; I think he’ll prove useful in the months ahead. But this joyful return had to have its opposite: The loss of an old friend as Barbara returned to her Cheetah guise and gave up her newfound humanity.

Next up, Etta, Ferdinand, and Steve survived a serious attack from Colonel Maru’s troops. They got blasted with a minigun and explosions; Poison wasn’t screwing around. They made it out alive but, again, there had to be balance. Their lives were spared because Barbara gave up hers to become the Cheetah again. She’s not dead per se, but being the Cheetah means that her true self is buried as her animalistic urges take over.

Finally, it looks like bringing in Ferdinand did the trick. On the issue’s final page, Diana appears to recognize Ferdinand, which would be an excellent sign that she remembers she’s Wonder Woman and is set to return to her heroic role. However, opposites. The return of a hero in Wonder Woman had to be balanced with the return of a villain in the Cheetah. The parallels run deeper as well; both women were trapped in a prison of their own making because they chose to return to their pasts. Diana was mentally shattered because of her journey to Themyscira while Barbara was ensnared because she went back to Godwatch. Moreover, an old ally led to their transformations, with Ferdinand bringing back Wonder Woman and Veronica Cale bringing back the Cheetah. And, of course, all of this action was shown in back and forth panels over the last few pages to underscore the dichotomy of the situation.

All of these gains being countered with losses should leave the team in about the same bleak spot where they began the issue, but there’s one key factor here. Yes, while the return of Wonder Woman is tempered by the return of the Cheetah, if Wonder Woman is back for real then it’s a whole new ballgame. The Cheetah’s a decent villain, but Wonder Woman is an amazing superhero. The scales don’t quite balance; with Wonder Woman fully back, she and her allies clearly have the upper hand now and can begin to move against Godwatch instead of playing defense.

This was a solid issue all around, and “The Truth” continues to weave a compelling tale in ways “The Lies” never seemed able to. I also like that we keep checking in on Themyscira; the Amazons are clearly going to play a part at some point in this story, and I’m excited to see what it is. I’m hoping for a reunion more joyous and less damaging than Diana’s last attempt to return to her family.

Liam Sharp continues to employ different styles for each part of the story, and it’s working well. His Nicola Scott impression on Themyscira is fun, the grit he brings to Etta and Steve’s adventures is fitting, and the combination of clarity and confusion in Diana’s scenes is well done, though I will say that I find the cartoon snake a little goofy. I much preferred that one panel with the skeleton snake; that was way cooler. Laura Martin’s colors remain great, as always, and match each style well. And Jodi Wynne continues to excel with the lettering. This issue in particular had a lot going on in terms of distinctive word balloons and speech; the Amazon language, Ferdinand, the snake, and Dr. Cyber are all unique, and Wynne integrated them seamlessly into the book. She’s done stellar work on Wonder Woman all through this run.

So, Wonder Woman seems to be back? Final page reveals can be tricky, but this one seemed pretty clear. Woe to Godwatch if she’s returned to her full power. And fingers crossed that she can save Barbara and bring her back! If anyone can do it, it’s Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman #15 Review: “The Truth” Is Out There

January 25, 2017

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Today marks the beginning of “The Truth,” a new arc of Wonder Woman that picks up where “The Lies” left off and finds all of our heroes in various sorts of predicaments. Between the revelation that Diana’s memories of Paradise Island were false and Godwatch’s attack on the Picket, everything’s a mess for everyone right now. Add in the fact that Godwatch is a league of some of Wonder Woman’s most fearsome adversaries, and yeah, things are bad. Wonder Woman #15 sets the table for what Wonder Woman and her friends will be facing going forward, and it looks like it’s going to be quite the adventure. Let’s dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to discuss key plot points from this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Also, go read it! It’s good!

So this issue starts with Wonder Woman out of commission, housed in an asylum in England after the revelations about her memory shattered her psyche. Steve, Etta, and Barbara are on the lam after Picket was compromised and destroyed by Godwatch. No one’s in a good spot, and things go from bad to worse over the course of this issue, which was an interesting read that has me excited about where things are going moving forward.

There are dangers in so many areas right now. First, there’s a clear supernatural component going on. Diana’s mental fragility appears to be tied to her snake bite from way back in Wonder Woman #2, as underlined by both her vision/hallucination of a snake coming out of her arm and talking to her and the reappearance of the ominous tree that housed the snake on Themyscira. Something especially sinister is at work, as Hippolyta’s reaction to the tree shows. She was so alarmed that it had me wondering if she knew more about the tree and the snake then she’s letting on. It might just be that it’s the tree that nearly killed her daughter and so she’s being extra cautious, but Hippolyta’s been around for a long time, she knows a lot of things, and she’s been through a lot of stuff. There might be something deeper at play here, perhaps connected to the history of the Amazons.

Back home in America, Godwatch is after Steve, Etta, and Barbara. I love that the story is picking up on the romance between Etta and Barbara that we saw in “Year One” now that Barbara has left the Cheetah behind. They are super cute together. But that fun didn’t last for long. Barbara revealed a past link to Godwatch, and gave herself up to its soldiers to be taken in. She did so in order to allow Steve and Etta to escape and also presumably to get inside the organization and learn what she can about their plans. Etta trusts her, but Steve clearly doesn’t. We don’t yet know her connection to Godwatch, and after years of villainy he seems to be unwilling to put his faith in her yet. But I’m with Etta. Etta’s a good judge of character, and if she thinks Barbara’s on the up and up then I’ll have faith as well.

Speaking of Godwatch, it seems to not just be a team of Wonder Woman’s greatest foes, but a team of Wonder Woman’s greatest female foes. We’ve got Veronica Cale, Colonel Maru and Poison, Dr. Cyber, and hints that the Cheetah and Circe (I assume that’s who they meant when they mentioned “the witch”) are or have been a part of the group. It’s so much fun. I mean, not fun for Wonder Woman. She’s having a terrible time of it. But as a reader, Wonder Woman facing off against her most fearsome female foes is going to be a blast.

Adding even more fun to the book, the last page of the issue appears to be show the return of an old friend, Ferdinand. He’s a minotaur who worked at the Themysciran embassy during Rucka’s first run on Wonder Woman; he was the chef, and quickly became a fan favourite character, but he’s been benched since Rucka left. If it truly is Ferdinand, he’s either fallen on hard times or is laying low intentionally. Either way, there’s a story to be told here, and it’s going to be advantageous to the team to have a minotaur on board. There’s really no situation not improved by having a minotaur on your side, unless perhaps you have to maneuver through a tightly packed china shop.

Greg Rucka pulls together a lot of the strings he introduced in “The Lies” and “Year One” in this issue, picking up on plot points from each and uniting the two arcs into this new story moving forward. Liam Sharp returns after his work on “The Lies,” and his use of different styles mirrors this unification. On Themyscira, he’s clearly aiming for a Nicola Scott vibe, and while his art isn’t quite as lush and gorgeous as Nicola Scott’s, it’s a decent facsimile. With Diana, he continues his style from “The Lies,” and largely does the same with the villains, though there’s a harshness and lack of detail in those pages that makes it the weakest section of the book, visually. With Steve, Etta, and Barbara on the lam, Sharp goes grittier, with a scratchy feel and heavier shadows that creates a moody atmosphere. Laura Martin colors these distinct looks well, adapting her palette and the texture of her colors to fit each situation. The different styles work well and make for a more interesting read, which each reflecting its setting well.

Overall, this was a very solid first issue. “The Lies” was ultimately only okay for, a bit dragged out and underwhelming compared to the spectacular “Year One.” Here, “The Truth” is off to a roaring start with several balls in the air from the get-go, all of them entertaining and exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing where it all goes, and I’m extremely curious to find out how the dual arcs are going to work moving forward. We’ll find out in two weeks when Bilquis Evely joins the team for “Godwatch;” should be fun!


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