Quick Review: WONDER WOMAN Vols. 2-3 (DC Comics, Rebirth)

A new origin, and a conspiracy to discover the location of Themyscira…

Writer: Greg Rucka | Art: Liam Sharp, Renato Guedes, Bilquis Evely, Laura Martin, Romulo FajardoJr., Hi-Fi

The definitive and shocking tale of Diana’s first year as Earth’s protector. Paradise has been breached, Ares stirs, and the Amazons must answer with a champion of their own…one who is willing to sacrifice her home amongst her sisters to save a world she has never seen. Wonder Woman’s journey begins in this epic origin story!

Collects: Wonder Woman #2, #4, #6, #8, #10, #12, #14

In Volume 2 of DC Comics’ latest Wonder Woman reboot, Greg Rucka takes a break from the storyline seeded in the first collection. Instead, he and his colleagues on the art-side pull out all the stops for (yet another) origin-type story. Subtitled “Year One”, it re-introduces us to the two main characters (Diana and Steve), updated for a modern setting. There are some parallels between this book and the recent Wonder Woman movie (if you haven’t see it yet, do so — it’s great), but it is by no means slavish or engaging in recycling. I was just frequently put in mind of certain elements of that movie while reading.

I enjoyed the book. I enjoyed seeing Diana’s introduction to the “world of men”, the harsh realities of DC’s universe (a mass-shooting event at a mall, for example); also the slow process of learning to speak English, and the US military’s on-occasion amusing quest to find someone who can understand her. There’s a welcome sense of fun in the book, diverging from the seemingly-relentless gloom and “intensity” of DC’s new cinematic universe. With bright, clean and eye-catching artwork throughout, this makes for a great read.

I wonder, though, how many times readers are going to be interested in reading new takes on the superheroes’ origin stories — DC’s New 52 reboot wasn’t that long ago, but I guess after the success of the DC cinematic universe (albeit not necessarily critical success), the decision was made that it was a good idea to offer a new origin for a expected new influx of readers. If I was a new reader, I think this would certainly have done the trick.

This brings us to Volume 3. Here’s the synopsis:

They say the truth will set you free. That’s what Princess Diana — the hero known to the world as Wonder Woman — believed. But she discovered a far darker truth, learning that her entire life and history had been transformed… and it has driven her to madness.

Even as her life unravels, sinister forces threaten all she holds dear. No matter how great the trauma, she must continue to fight against the evil and lies that have destroyed her life.

With the help of her closest allies — and her greatest enemy, the Cheetah — Diana will put the pieces of her broken mind back together and do battle against her fearsome new foes.

Will she defy the will of the gods, save her Amazon sisters and solve the mystery of her own existence once and for all? Or is the cost of the truth too steep for even Wonder Woman to bear?

Collects: Wonder Woman #13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25

In the third volume, Rucka returns to the story that began developing at the close of Volume 1: a conspiracy that is trying to use Wonder Woman to discover the Amazon’s home island, Themyscira. It’s not entirely clear up front why they want to find the island, but over the course of the book Rucka et al show us what the stakes are, and also tie things back rather nicely with the Greek mythological side of the character (which Brian Azzarello’s New 52 series focused on exclusively). I enjoyed the team’s take on the gods (especially Ares and his sons), and I think the story ended on a pretty interesting note.

The only thing that really didn’t work for me, was Diana’s institutionalization, which felt both forced and underdeveloped. I tend not to enjoy stories that are based on hallucinations and/or dream-sequences, so if you’re someone who doesn’t mind them, then you probably won’t have the same issue.

I was also a little confused about some of the events and characters who were featured in the story — at times, it felt like the story had lurched forwards, from the end of volume 1, so I felt a little bit like I’d turned up at a party halfway through. Some of the new characters are treated like old friends, but I’d never seen them before (Ferdinand, for example) — I’m guessing this is a nice nod to either the pre-New 52 Wonder Woman series and/or specifically Rucka’s previous Wonder Woman work. It wasn’t a problem, but it did have me momentarily wondering why a minotaur was suddenly in the picture.

I couldn’t help wonder if there was a nod to Pharma-Bro near the end, as a pair of evil twins are drawn with surprisingly similar-looking faces to the most hated young banker-bro…

The artwork in both books is really good. The final chapter in Volume 3 was probably my favourite (by Romulo Fajardo Jr., et al), and I do love the variant covers by Jenny Frison (examples below).

If you’re a fan of the character, then I have no doubt you’ll enjoy the new, Rebirth series. If you’re new to the character, maybe only familiar via the new movie, then I also think you’ll find a lot to like — there are just enough parallels to locate yourself in this version of the story, and plenty of new and interesting developments.

Recommended.

Review copy of Volume 3 received from publisher

WonderWoman-JennyFrisonCovers

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