Wonder Woman has once again been brought to her lowest point. After the events of G Willow Wilson’s run, Diana has lost her items of power, her home, and her relationship with Steve Trevor. Wonder Woman #82 represents a new beginning for Diana, both in story and with a new writer: Steve Orlando. Joining Orlando for this issue is Kieran McKeown on pencils, Scott Hanna on inks, Pat Brosseau on letters, and Romulo Fajardo Jr. on colors. Orlando delivered a fantastic 5 issue arc prior to Wilson, and a delightful guest issue in Wonder Woman #73. Now he returns with this new six issue arc, The Wild Hunt, to help Diana get back up.
In addition to being the first issue of Orlando’s run, Wonder Woman #82 is also a Year of the Villain tie-in. Year of the Villain is DC’s recent line wide push. As you might suspect, it means this year’s DC books have put a special spotlight on the villains. Across the line, the sigil of Doom appears in the sky, and the powered-up evil-doers of the DC Universe have been waging war against their respective heroes. For Wonder Woman, her featured villain is none other than the Cheetah. G Willow Wilson’s final issue left Cheetah a prisoner on Themyscira, with strange figures appearing to offer her aid. This means the creative team not only has to launch their run and tie into Year of the Villain, but also address the previous issues plot points following Wilson’s departure. This new issue opens with Cheetah waging war on the Amazons and adopting the garb and items of Wonder Woman herself. Her encounter with these figures has left Cheetah with new motivations, aiming her claws at Hera. Orlando has a solid grasp on Cheetah, building on the incredible work Greg Rucka did with the character at the beginning of Rebirth. Though she is in a much more villainous position now, this still feels like the same person. The strange figures Cheetah bargained with are revealed as “The Dark Fates” in this issue. The nature of these individuals is still unknown, and to my knowledge they’re entirely new. They present interesting questions about what Wonder Woman may encounter. From what strange space did these Fates come from? What do they want? How did they get into the deepest parts of Themyscira? These questions will most likely be answered as the run unfolds, but until then its interesting to think about the possibilities.
Between the Cheetah’s scenes we have Wonder Woman herself. A sense of Doom hangs in the air, both literally in the sky and in Diana’s heart. Though she may be knocked down, the amazing Amazon is rebuilding her life piece by piece. We see Diana moving into a new place to live, with some help from Etta Candy. We quickly move into a more positive vibe with the introduction of Diana’s new neighbor, who seems to be a fun new supporting character. Before we can really get to know her, the two are interrupted by a communication from the Amazons. Orlando’s vision of Wonder Woman often draws from the golden age, using a variety of wonderful Amazonian inventions and magical items. It taps into the really fun and unique parts of the Wonder Woman mythos, and I’m always happy to see that passion for obscure DC appear in his work. The Amazonian magical communication sphere is a great example of that connection to the classic stories. After receiving this communication, Diana gets right to work finding replacements from her various items with the help of some other DC characters in fun cameos, one of which is a proper meeting I was personally very happy to see. Through these scenes Diana very quickly climbs out of her personal rut and gets back into the action.
The art of this issue is mostly fine but has some weaknesses. The faces look very strange to me in some places, and beyond that the pencils are fairly standard. Where the art shines is Fajardo’s colors. Fajardo has colored Wonder Woman throughout G Willow Wilson’s run as well. Even when the pencils aren’t up to par, he does everything he can to compensate. He crafts a mood that’s magical and mythological, but still grounded in reality. His style has brought a sense of visual consistency to Wonder Woman across several artists, and its wonderful that he’s still on the book.
Orlando was dealt an unfair hand for the beginning of his Wonder Woman run. This first issue is not only a Year of the Villain tie in, but also requires him to address plot threads from the previous run. Despite these constraints, this creative team has crafted a solid start to a brand-new story. The character voices are on point, some new concepts are being introduced, and there’s some fun DC Universe cuts. All the ingredients are here for an engaging Wonder Woman run.