Steve learns the real purpose of Caldulo’s kidnappings and Diana races towards a possible trap. It it good?
Wonder Woman #5 (DC Comics)
As Diana and Cheetah continue to talk about their struggles with identity, Etta checks in with a mysterious woman (possibly Sasha Bordeaux?), who seems to be her superior on the mission. Etta reminds her that wherever Steve goes, Diana is sure to follow, so they decide to give her time to rescue Steve.
Steve, meanwhile, is suffering through Cadulo’s villain monologue, delivered as he fondles and slices some very phallic vines and discussing masculine power and how Urzkartaga will imbue him with this power, and how he wants Steve to be a part of all of this. Steve is none too happy and even more unwilling to discuss his complicated relationship with Wonder Woman while dangling from chains. Things are not looking good and no one is sure if Wonder Woman will make it in time to save the day.
Is It Good?
So it’s not a secret that I really haven’t been enjoying this side of the Wonder Woman dueling storylines, especially compared with how strong the other side is, and I’ve been trying to put my finger on exactly why, beyond the art that is really just not to my taste. I think this issue has helped me boil it down.
While the other storyline is a direct retelling of Wonder Woman’s origin story, this side hasn’t given us much progress on Diana’s identity problems and I can’t tell where this present storyline is taking us. Her mysterious connection to Steve that Etta details seems to be part of the larger idea, but that’s about it. And worse, I’m starting to get bored, which is funny considering how many splits we have in the story. We have Etta and Possible!Sasha, Steve and Homoerotic!Cadulo, The Boys and Kidnapped Girls, and finally Wondy and Cheetah. Just a lot of separate time and it all adds up to not that much story.
Also problematic–this arc has a lot of telling rather than showing, my number one writing pet peeve. There is so much dialogue and when there is action, there is still lots of expositional dialogue happening over it. And it’s not just limited to the usual expositional exchanges, but Rucka also has to make sure we’re not missing the point he’s trying to make. Take Steve’s line, “You’ve got some toxic ideas of masculinity, dude”. Yeah, I got that. Also, Steve as written and drawn so far is not the kind of guy who says “dude”.
While I appreciate some of the creative things Sharp does with panel layouts in this issue, not all of them are successful. There were a few pages I had to reread a couple of times til I figured out where the outlying panel tied in, and I still think he has issues with facial expressions. Going back and rereading WW Rebirth #1, I wish they had stuck with Matthew Clark as the main artist. I just cannot get myself to get attached to this style. Laura Martin gets some cool moments with the colors in various places in this issue, though she’s stuck with the muted and muddy palette, I’m assuming to differentiate from the bright, sharp colors of Diana’s past on the other side of the story.
It seems like the next issue will bring the separate parts of the story together, and I’m hoping we’ll get more of a connection to the larger problem of Diana’s search for herself and Themyscira.