Wonder Woman #750 is here! Princess Diana of the Amazons is celebrated in this extra-size 98 page issue with 9 stories from phenomenal creators. All of them shed a different light on a different aspect of the character and her history while radiating the truth and love that’s so essential to her spirit. Now, AIPT’s Ari Bard and Ritesh Babu will discuss each story’s merit to Princess Diana and her legacy as we usher in a new era for Wonder Woman and the Amazons.
The Wild Hunt by Steve Orlando, Jesus Merino, Vincent Cifuentes, Romulo Fajardo Jr. and Pat Brosseau
Ari Bard: In many ways, Wonder Woman #750 is a look toward the future and a reflection on what got us here, so it’s only fitting we kick things off with “The Wild Hunt” finale. As part of the new ongoing, this story has a lot going for it. Orlando definitely plays to his strengths here, weaving a tapestry of previous runs while sprinkling in new ideas in a thorough and cohesive way.
Ritesh Babu: Yeah. This very much feels like an outgrowth from the threads kickstarted by Rucka/Sharp/Scott/Evely way back in 2016, even as it follows up on and weaves in Wilson’s status quo and fall-out (with the healthy dose of a Abnett/JRJR character on top). In a lot of ways, ‘synthesis’ is the first word that comes to mind here as one examines the work.
AB: Definitely, and that’s a commonality throughout all of Orlando’s work, but as he wraps up one arc and teases another, I have to ask, does it make you excited for what’s to come?
RB: Oh absolutely. I think this is possibly the most excited I’ve been for Diana’s future since the Rucka era concluded. There was a genuine sense of forward momentum, with mystery and intrigue, as familiar elements were rolled out in unexpected, emotionally resonant ways that clicked, at least for me. And this is that, but in a very different, much more Orlando way. You’ve got that sort of action-movie dialogue he does so well, almost from the Ellis School of comicking, with all the wonder and grasp of a Morrison DC comic, all with such a clear voice of his own.
There’s nothing more reflective of the kind of fan and reader Orlando is, to me, than the moment where AMAZONIUM pops up. It’s such a silly little thing, but it makes me smile. People often critique and complain that the Achilles Heel of Wonder Woman, the fatal flaw and failing, is people not caring about what came before and doing their own thing. It is explicit in every panel of the run here that Orlando cares about what came before, he cares about all of it, the good and the bad. It all happened and counts to him. And that is, pardon the pun, wonderful.
AB: I’m not sure you have to excuse yourself before using the word “wonderful” every time during this article, but I definitely concur, especially when it comes to the forward momentum aspect. Despite this being the final issue of his first arc and a transition between two stories, there isn’t a single moment of reprieve. Not only that, but he was able to bring in Silencer, a character who, let’s face it, does not come to mind at all when thinking about Wonder Woman comics, without missing a beat. It fit, made sense; illuminated often overlooked values about both characters, and was a ton of fun. I’m not as well-read when it comes to Wonder Woman and there are plenty of gaps in my knowledge, but I’m smart enough to know when something’s being referenced, and Orlando does it in a way that makes me want to do more than just look it up. He makes me want to go back and reread the rich history of Wonder Woman that came before, and that’s a signal to me that the right person is writing this comic.
RB: Exactly. I think, even if you don’t know the history or have that context, he suggests it well enough that it excites without feeling impenetrable. And Silencer appearing is a solid example of all this is doing right. Wonder Woman is, at its heart, a book about celebrating women, women from all walks of life, with all kinds of perspectives, experiences and spotlighting their narratives and viewpoints. But often, that can be forgotten (read: Jason) and also commonly, Diana’s book can feel like an island unto itself, detached and hidden away from everything and everyone. This says no to that, bringing in various disparate elements from the DCU and making it feel like Diana is an inhabitant of a larger world and putting her perspective in contrast to Honor’s. That’s what I really love. There’s a line here, which is just fantastic. ‘’I don’t need Amazon science, Diana. I just need you to hold my hand and squeeze.’ It gets at the root of WW’s mission so quickly and effectively and speaks to the practicality of it. Diana doesn’t need to descend with solutions from Paradise. That can be her natural instinct, to provide anything and everything, to be that giving, given her upbringing. But she needs to (and often does) help and engage on the terms of those she’s helping. That instinct needs to be put aside to give the person what they need, which may not be what Diana might think they need. And that sort of little touch, that sings to me. This team gets it.
AB: Definitely. Orlando makes this issue about values first and foremost, and the great thing about Diana is that she respects the values of others, even if she doesn’t agree with them. Honor Guest values her family above all else, even if she has to kill for them. It’s definitely not something Diana agrees with, and you can see a bit of pushback, but it’s also something she respects. Honor Guest’s values stem from love, the same source as Wonder Woman’s, so even if they lead to actions she may not agree with, Wonder Woman still holds respect for them. I think that’s why I’m so interested in her future with Orlando. If Diana is distancing herself from the pantheon of God’s she’s sworn her allegiance to for decades, That speaks volumes as to how different she realizes their values must be. Look at the Greek pantheon’s history in the DC Universe, it’s easy to see why she might feel this way, after all, can you point to a single thing that defines a values of the entire set of Greek Gods and Goddesses portrayed in Wonder Woman? Is there even a single unifying force? Perhaps that’s why Diana has been so conflicted recently. Nevertheless, this struggle between values is something I’m looking forward to seeing in future issues, especially as other figures from the past, mythical or otherwise, start rearing their heads.
RB: What’s interesting about that is and I brought up synthesis earlier, in the Gail Simone era, we had basically Diana leaving behind her Greek Patrons and taking up a Polynesian one and just being more of an independent figure, less of a chosen champion or representative of any particular pantheon in specific. And certainly, Orlando’s work with Diana is MASSIVELY influenced by Simone’s take (as well as Jimenez’s), down to how him and the team visualize the Lasso and how it works. The visualization we see here with it is entirely out of the Simone run.
And the lasso’s a good thing to discuss here, because they do something I adore here. Often, creators opt for a blunt, simple sword or stabbing or slamming instrument with Diana, because it’s easy and obvious and they see ‘warrior’, which makes little to no sense given who she is. Her Lasso, increasingly, has become a decoration or ornament rather than, say, her go-to first tool that’s consistently THE thing to be used, the way Mjolnir or a Lantern Power Ring or Cap’s Shield are. It’s rarely, if ever, given the class, the glamour and love those things, those instruments of power and war, are. The Lasso is a distinctive tool which NO other character of note really has. It’s unique to Diana, it can be used in fascinating ways. And Orlando plays with that, being well aware. So we get ‘Tyche’s Binding’ and this idea of a unique fighting style, one made to restrain in clever ways than to slash, stab or maim. Lasso maneuvers, which are even named, like it’s almost an art form, like a move in Karate, that’s perfect. There’s an almost Anime/Manga-quality to it too, which is fun. But yeah, such a lovely showcase of the versatile possibilities of Diana’s signature weapon. It’s the little things that make all the difference, really.
AB: Yeah, and it’s important to note how Orlando makes that transition as well. You see a lot of writers use what they like and ignore what they don’t, but Orlando doesn’t ignore anything. Just as how you talk about how many creators opted for the sword and left the lasso as an ornament, Orlando could have done the opposite. He could make the sword something Diana always has but something that will never be used, but something tells me he won’t. Why? Because he gave it a new meaning in this very same issue. She no longer wields a mere sword and shield. She carries the Sword of Exoristos and the Shield of Alcippe. Orlando is giving these weapons meaning by connecting them to Diana’s past and her values. The Sword of Exoristos belongs to a fellow Amazon from Paul Cornell’s Demon Knights run. It’s a very obscure pull but something that has meaning. The Shield of Alcippe stems more from the mythology side of things, although Alcippe has appeared on a few occasions. The point is that Orlando placed meaning in these objects, showing that he’s not just going to ignore them now that Diana has the lasso, which is rightfully more important. The lasso, the sword, and the shield are all a part of Diana, and Orlando wants to acknowledge that.
RB: I do confess, while I would be happy to never see a sword, unless Diana’s dueling Ra’s Al Ghul or practicing for fun with Batman or something, I do appreciate the attempt here. I like the fact that a genuine attempt is being made to grant some specificity and as you said, an actual meaning to these tools Diana carries and wields. They’re not just interchangeable, they represent something and what they represent are values. They’re symbols and reminders of things she (and The Amazons) hold dear. That her gauntlets, too, now represent the very first gauntlets, the ones Lyta wore against Hercules, which were shattered and are reforged, by both mother and daughter, is something I find beautiful. That which was broken is repaired, which, maybe the subtitle of Orlando’s run here. He’s going about taping together a lot of things to create a cohesive design. The team doesn’t forget that Wonder Woman’s a book about relationships between women, particularly mothers and daughters, which is so central, so for the gauntlets to represent that, this unity, this bond, this gift between the two, this passing on of sacred heritage, this shattered symbol which Diana remakes, it’s kinda like Anduril being remade from Narsil, but more personal due to the connection and love here. And I mentioned Amazonium, which allow me to speculate, off Metal, is probably The 8th Metal’s name (9th is Nth, 10th is Element X).
AB: And what’s even more fitting is the purpose the Amazonium plays in these gauntlets. It is the glue. Much like the lasso, the Amazonium binds the shards of Hippolyta’s gauntlets together, and it binds Wonder Woman to her ancestors. Together, these two elements symbolize the repairing and reforging of Wonder Woman’s gauntlets and her connection to the Amazon people. But speaking of repairing and reforging bonds, Diana tries to do the same with Barbara Ann, only this one doesn’t go as well, and once again it boils down to values. Diana continues to have hope for Cheetah because, even after all this time, Diana has seen the good that Barbara Ann is capable of and can’t let her go knowing what good lies inside. Cheetah tried to help Wonder Woman, learned more about the Amazon’s values, and grew to respect them. Unfortunately, Cheetah can’t tolerate or work with values that she doesn’t respect, so pantheon which Diana is frequently linked to must be quashed in Cheetah’s eyes. The inability to accept others is a tragic one not an angry one, and Orlando does a great job making sure that this departure for another day is not executed from a place of anger, but rather a place of disappointment and continued hope.
RB: Yeah. There’s pathos there. And most importantly, it all comes down to the most fundamental and essential WW idea: Love. Barbara Ann LOVES Diana. And her actions here are an expression of that love, which is twisted, abusive, manipulative and strips agency from her, assuming she knows better. And in doing so, she becomes the very monster(s) she was trying to destroy, she became the very thing she loathed. And how Diana deals with that is really interesting. Where in others would give up and punch in frustration, she displays not power, but vulnerability, which is so fittingly Amazonian. She’s still willing to help. Diana is caring and kind, forgiving and loving, not in some vacuum, but when it’s in fact the hardest to be that. It’s meaningful because it’s difficult, it matters because it’s so tough. She’s like the best parts of The Doctor. She is, ultimately, just kind.
It’s a lovely way to tie-up and leave off this thing that started in the Rucka era, which emphasized Loving Submission once more. In the Azzarello era, ‘love’ was an ironic word as Diana threw her foe into an infinite black pit of eternal suffering, much like Zeus before her, continuing the cycles. In Rucka, she breaks all cycles and shackles. Orlando brings it all back to that, the power of loving submission.
If I had any note, it’d be that rather than the more ‘mundane’ gods of the GWW tradition, I much prefer the symbolic, mysterious, larger than life figures which we can barely comprehend, let alone see in the Rucka era. But at the same time, I see the point here, which is a pointed critique of the patrons and their role with Diana. All in all, we have a ton to work with here. We have the Boston return (Perez!!) and contextualization of the Amazon motto as ‘Always question power!’ (hell yes, more of this!), framing them as rebels, subversive figures, invoking the meaning of Diana’s name, hunter and contextualizing it as not a hunter in a violent sense, but as a hunter of truth, which is lovely. She’s The Daughter Of The Hunter’s Moon, which, another Simone nod. If this is a book about love, you can certainly see Orlando’s for the character and her history and that’s infectious. Looking forward to where we go next!
AB: And speaking of next, it’s probably time we reminded ourselves that we have 8 more stories to cover, so with that in mind, off to “From Small Things, Mama!”
From Small Things, Mama by Gail Simone, Colleen Doran, Hi-Fi and Dave Sharpe
RB: STAR-BLOSSOM!!! Apologies, but that deserved the yelling. For those unaware, Star-Blossom’s a rather lovely character created by Simone and Doran during the Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special. Peony McGill is an absolute delight and a precious star that we all need and deserve more of in our comics. She’s a young girl who’s a Wonder Woman superfan, who Diana makes friends with. Simone and Doran, with Peony, made one of the best WW moments ever, where in Peony confesses to having had an action figure of Diana and Diana responds by saying that she’ll perhaps have Peony’s action figure someday. It’s this absolutely, pardon the pun, wonderful display of inspiration, passion and genuine joy and it’s so great to see the character back.
AB: I think you touched upon something great there with “inspiration.” In a lot of these anthologies you tend to see stories involving children who look up to the hero, and they’re all meant to be inspiring, but most of them come across as awe. Simone and Doran, however, have created a story that meets us on a human level, and truly inspires us. There’s an inherent belief with Peony that we can do it too and a genuine sense that Wonder Woman looks up to Star-Blossom just as much as Star-Blossom looks up to her.
RB: Yeah. They feel like equals, which is hard to pull off. The story never makes either seem less and that’s also a lot on Doran’s art. Look at the pure emotion! There is so much sincerity and heart there. It’s heartmelting stuff. Every time Peony or Diana grin or someone hugs, you just wanna melt into a puddle. It’s so warm and lovely. So many stories tend to go for this vibe, but I don’t know that I can think of one in the immediate that nails it this hard and this well. For my money, Simone and Doran are the absolute champs of this whole issue. It’s so bloody touching. How can you see Peony call Diana Big Sister, telling her she doesn’t always have to be that and not be moved?! This is sorcery, I say! This is unfair! Too good!
AB: Definitely. Simone and Doran managed to pull in almost every aspect of Diana’s character into eight touching pages. We talked about mothers and daughters in Orlando’s story, but that’s what “From Small Things, Mama” is really about. The fact that the McGill family and Queen Hippolyta bond over mac and cheese is a treasure. No matter how larger than life Diana’s world or problems get, creators will always be able to return to the small, soulful stories when they need to return to Wonder Woman’s roots, and that’s what makes her character so special.
RB: YES! Mothers and Daughters are at the heart of this. People talk sometimes about Diana like she’s some weird unrelatable aloof alien who’s so impossible and crazy difficult to write. She’s not! Look at this, people! She’s a daughter, she’s a big sister, she’s a hero who’s also an icon and tries to live up to that! All of that is infinitely relatable. She has a mum who she needs to constantly needs to deal with, as well as a billion relatives, basically. She’s a daughter to MANY, she’s a sister to many, she is many things to many people, with such rich dynamics and she needs to juggle all that and she’s only human. And Doran/Simone tap into all that so effortlessly and elegantly. The story radiates with relatability and a fundamentally deep humanity, while making Diana no less of a legendary icon. Also Peony. She’s an icon. I will fight anyone who says otherwise. Every comic could use more Star-Blossom. Where is my Star-Blossom ongoing, DC?
AB: Where indeed. Peony is the fresh dose of optimism DC could use right now. This is a story that everyone of all ages should read. It’s as simple as that. Everyone is able to take away something valuable about the relationship depicted in these eight pages, and that alone means that Simone and Doran have done their job.
RB: Right? They’re a terrific combo, especially with Hi-Fi and Sharpe involved. The colors here just pop and they’re a treat. And the whole thing almost has an elegant, almost Shoujo-manga quality to it, which I appreciate and love as a big fan of comics of that ilk. The posing, the presentation, the layouts, just so wonderful. We’re also then given the customary love of animals by Diana, which, hell yes! Diana LOVES animals, she can talk to any and all animals! That’s an actual superpower she has! She’s like Dolittle, she’s an animal-whisperer! It’s why I loved seeing the mention of Simone’s creations, The Megalodons, the giant, lovely sharks that patrol and guard the waters of Paradise. Diana’s connection to Hookswift, her old shark pal, is perfect. Again, we all get the pain of losing a pet. Spot on stuff. Star-Blossom and The Megalodons is where it’s at.
The Interrogation by Mariko Tamaki, Elena Casagrande, Sunny Gho and Deron Bennett
AB: This is Tamaki’s first go-round with the Amazing Amazon, and she did a pretty great job! It’s your classic false interrogation story with a great lesson and some excellent art from Casagrande and Gho. I dug this story but found myself wishing “The weight of our losses” aspect was played up a bit more. In a parallel universe, I think that would have made a much more interesting title and angle for this short.
Nevertheless, Tamaki essentially takes a 1-on-1 conversation and manages to make it incredibly kinetic and interesting. I really like the distinction she makes here between real heroes and false ones. It’s an exchange that adds depth to a normally one-dimensional Ares with a fun, albeit unnecessary, reveal. The real reveal here is about Wonder Woman’s why. We’ve seen Wonder Woman save others time and time again, but every time we catch a glimpse about why she fights or gets up each day, the story turns into something special. What’d you think of this one?
RB: I dug it! I always have fun with stories that seek to reaffirm what the core mission of a hero is all about, while separating the conflated assumptions that might arise. And it’s always nice when Casagrande is the artist doing it. She’s so ridiculously good that I’m shocked she’s not a consistent WW artist. Come on, DC! Give us an arc! And there’s of course, the vibrant colors of Gho, who’s fantastic (for anyone who hasn’t yet, please go check out Gho’s work on Aquaman).
Diana reinforcing what she does and chiefly why she does it is always vital, I think, especially given how she’s misread so often. People see violence, conflict and war and it’s easy to assume that’s what it’s all about. But no, that’s never what it’s been about. Much like Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi underlined the true importance of a mission, a greater cause, which is not in the violence, but in helping and inspiring people, this does the same. And goddamn do I love that message. (And speaking of Star Wars, Ares here is so deliciously, hammily Palpatine. It’s hilarious and great.) Wonder Woman is about more than war, more than violence, more than conflict. They stand in her path and she must face them, sure, but it’s ultimately about helping people, healing them. People forget, Diana is a healer. Far more a healer than a ‘warrior’. Far quicker to bring out a purple ray than to pull out a sword or strike with a punch. That’s who she is.
AB: You put it perfectly, though I definitely think this story in particular is speaking more about those who were lost and couldn’t fight for themselves than it is about inspiring others. However you want to interpret it, the story is a beautiful one with excellent art. As you said, Casagrande is amazing, and it’s a shame she doesn’t get more DC work, and Gho’s work cannot be understated. He can do things with pale blue-grays that no other colorist can do. He makes an interrogation room seem bright and vibrant for crying out loud! Regardless, the tables were turned on an uncompromising Ares who refuses to learn and will be shipped back to Themyscira. Some things never change, and speaking of never changing…
Never Change by Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott, Romulo Fajardo Jr. and Rob Leigh
RB: Ah yes, Rucka/Scott/Fajardo Jr, my absolute favorite team. Although the other key players which make up my favorite team are missing (Sharp/Evely). And notably, Rucka’s go-to letterer-collaborator Jodi Wynne (who did excellent on WW) is absent here, although Rob Leigh’s solid. Nevertheless, it would’ve been nice to fully have that old gang back with Wynne and have another woman on the book. In any case, my freakout over seeing this team re-assemble aside, this is an absolute masterclass. Scott delivers some of the best WW art that has ever art-ed, as you’d expect and it’s a feast for the eyes, with Fajardo’s warm oranges setting the stage. Fajardo has pretty much colored every WW comic since 2016 now and hasn’t stopped, so he’s pretty much THE palette setter for the franchise at this point, which is nice, since his palette is spot on for the book and character. And his name will pop up a bunch here.
AB: Can’t help but agree here. This is definitely the best looking story of the bunch thanks in large part to Fajardo Jr. The Mardis Gras festival in New Orleans is incredibly well lit, and Scott is able to draw incredibly nuanced facial expressions that bring this story together. If I’m being honest, this story is nothing new. The reality is that stories like this one have been done over and over again, but “Never Change” is a title that applies on multiple levels. Some things never change, but we as Wonder Woman fans hope and see that the relationship between Wonder Woman and Cheetah isn’t necessarily one of them. Like Diana herself, we hope to see progress bit by bit. One thing that does, indeed, never change is how invested this Rucka and Scott are in Wonder Woman and her story. No matter how long the story is or where it’s located, this Rucka and Scott treat it as the most important Wonder Woman story they’ve ever told.
RB: Yeah, you feel just how much this matters to the team. You mentioned the lighting and oh my god is it good. The story is, effectively, a neat, albeit optional, epilogue to the Rucka rebirth era run. It’s a treat to see Scott kinda go all in on that Sharp Cheetah design and it is amusing that initially Cheetah was never intended to be as big as she ended up becoming for that tenure, which happened due to Sharp’s re-design, which struck Rucka. Fascinating how things work out. But yeah, this skips forward ahead and is about the cyclical back-and-forth play and the dynamic between Barbara Ann and Diana.
Ultimately though, as much as it is about that, the real star, the standout, for me, is Circe. I ADORE Rucka’s take on Circe, which he and Evely came up with. She’s just this super cool, slick Doctor-esque figure who’s ancient and has been around a lot and does a lot of strange, odd stuff. She’s updated and upgraded, so no old school-robes, but slick suits, hats, cute pillows, Bruce Springsteen tickets, plasma TVs and PS4s. Her HQ just being the coolest thing is my favorite to this day. But yeah, I love this morally ambiguous, kinda-evil-but-maybe-not trickster-esque figure in Diana’s life. It’s a lovely take and almost gives Diana this Loki-esque figure, which is fun. And Circe, let it not be unsaid, has style. Good god, she’s made of style.
AB: Yea, this take on Circe is the best I’ve seen hands down because, while she is so incredibly stylish, suave, charming, or whatever other adjective you care to use, she is also incredibly dynamic in the service of self-interest. It’s pretty rare that creators are willing to pick a value or trait and stick to driving it home so wholeheartedly that they’re willing to change other aspects of the character. It’s extremely evident that for Circe in “Never Change,” her self-interest causes her to change attitudes multiple times in only 10 pages. She doesn’t change who she is, mind you, just how she’s acting. In the beginning, we see the suave and mischievous side of Circe, very Loki-esque like you mentioned, but once the deal is made, Circe gets serious and makes sure that it will be enforced. Circe’s joking, sing-songy attitude is gone and now she’s down to business to make sure that she gets what she was promised. Once the plan fails, however, things shift again. Circe is more empathetic, scolding, but also consoling. One might even say it’s empathy towards Wonder Woman, even though it’s likely still in self-interest. Just because Circe is selfish doesn’t mean she can’t be kind. In addition, it would go against her pride and moral code if she accepted the Lasso of Truth without holding up her end of the bargain. Rucka and Scott take Circe’s self-interest and drive it through any and every obstacle just as they do with Cheetah and stubbornness and, most importantly, Wonder Woman and love.
To Leave Paradise… by Kami Garcia, Phil Hester, Ande Parks, Trish Mulvihill, an Gabriela Downie
AB: I have to say, at first, I really liked this one. It was a little overt, but there was a simple beauty to it. It’s a bit heavy handed with its messages about the tragic beauty and unfortunate cruelty of man while leaving hope for a brighter future, but that message isn’t necessarily a bad one. Upon rereading, however, much of the story’s beauty was lost on me. It was obvious to see that this story was from a time when Wonder Woman had not yet left Themyscira, and the worst offense was how Disney Princess this short felt. I could practically hear, “I wanna be where the people are” from The Little Mermaid’s “Part of Your World” as I was reading along. What did you think Ritesh? Do you want to sing with me?
RB: Ha. Regrettably, my singing is abominable, that said, I’m with you in spirit. And yeah, this didn’t click with me too much, which is a shame. It felt a bit too simple and ‘we’ve been there, done that’ for its own good, I think. That said, it’s done well enough that if someone were to pick this up, I think it’s a solid one-off about a key period in Diana’s life. A newer reader would appreciate this much more, I reckon. And representing that era? Yeah, I definitely get that and see the value in that. Trish Mulvihill is on this issue a bunch and I’m a big fan of the work she puts in here. Lot of fun, great to look at. And it is always fun when Phil Hester pops up to do some art at Big Two again.
AB: Yeah, I’m a big fan of the art here too. Hester is really good at using definition and simplicity to bring out a majestic quality in his wide-shots and larger panels. Parks’s inks make those lines extra crisp, and they’re complemented nicely by Mulvihill’s pale and faded light blue and tan tones. You’re spot on when you say that it’s likely best for new readers. I honestly think that it would make a really nice companion to the Wonder Woman movie. It would be great if DC gave something like this story out as a promotion when we went to theaters in 2017 or if they included it with the DVD (does anyone buy those anymore?). It’s not the most nuanced but it has its purpose, and we need to recognize that.
Emergency Visit by Shannon & Dean Hale, Riley Rossmo, Ivan Plascencia and Joshua Reed
RB: I had fun with this. It’s basically the kind of thing I would expect in a YA OGN. It’s taking the very simple basic premise of the universal experience of having to deal with one’s parents and family and applying it to Wonder Woman. There’s a charm here and a comedic sensibility that is admittedly hit-or-miss, but it worked well enough for me. I’m always down for Lyta/Diana bits. They’re an underrated duo.
AB: I don’t have much to say here either. I definitely echo your sentiments and would probably add that Rossmo’s unique art style, while I love it on Martian Manhunter, doesn’t fit as well with Wonder Woman. His unique geometries and layouts aren’t really suited to the mythical land of the Amazons, though I’m always down for artists testing their styles on new characters. You have to try new things, but this one was a bit of a miss for me. As to those comedic sensibilities, it might be fair to say that “Emergency Visit” might have been going for meme-dom After all, we have Guy Gardner, a character shouting, “YAAASSSS,” and… wait. Could it be? Our first YEET in a comic book? Surely this story will go down in the history books.
RB: It’s the year of our lord 2020 and we have YEET in a DC comic book. I don’t know this strange world of possibility. Although, really, my natural response was just laughter. It’s honestly shocking, which, it shouldn’t be, but it’s like being hit with a rolled up newspaper on the head as you’re drinking water or something. You’re just startled. But the amusement of that aside, I just want to take the time to mention I LOVE Lyta saying she would like to see Diana together with a strong woman. Diana is bi and that’s rarely, if ever, brought up. Her queerness is a big part of her that isn’t touched upon, so when it is and when it’s done so naturally, like here, in the context of her mum wanting to see her with a partner (universal experience!), it’s nice. The sense of normalcy with which it’s said delights me and genuinely touched me, given I don’t typically expect the references to her bisexuality. That alone wins big points for me.
To Me by Marguerite Bennett, Lara Braga, Romulo Fajardo Jr. and Wes Abbott
AB: Oof, this is a dense one, but it was full of good ideas. I am not familiar with Bennett’s Bombshells universe, but this story does make me want to check it out. There are some great ideas in a few short pages with respect to a lot of women of the DC Universe, and I’d like to see what else this universe has to offer. The visuals are excellent, although a little crowded with text, but I had a good time with this one. What did you think?
RB: This was basically Bombshells WW: The TL;DR, which I imagine is basically perfect for anyone unfamiliar with Bombshells and its interpretation. However, if you are and have read those comics, it feels a bit like reading long recap pages of stories you’ve experienced. THAT SAID, Bombshells’ WW interpretation is damn good, so it being spotlighted is always a win. And it also has straight up the best take on The Wonder Girls, who I love. They’re like Power Rangers or TMNT, built a bit like those young 80’s groups, but off Wonder mythology. They’re great. And Bombshells is crazy incredible for representation. It’s SO GOOD with that and for that. So we have two asian Wonder girls here, whose back story is drawn from very real things. If this intrigues or interests you, do seek out the Bombshells series, it’s got everything from nazi-punching to trans-rep and it has so much queer rep.
And I wanna talk about that. Diana, Wonder Woman, is queer. She always has been, but it’s rarely brought up and Bombshells is a world that celebrates its wide cast of queer heroes, including Diana and Diana’s queerness is given focus. Her prior romance with Mera is emphasized and celebrating Diana’s bisexuality and her as a member of the LGBTQ community for her 750th, written by a queer writer? That’s a big win. That’s a massively awesome thing.
AB: Well that’s definitely enough to make a Bombshells’ supporter out of me! I’ll be sure to check out the Bombshells series through my local comic book store, my public library, or digitally on places like Comixology or DC Universe (gotta plug the best channels!). Back to our regularly scheduled programming, however, it is chock full of great ideas and the representation is some of the best I’ve seen. You couldn’t be more right. Wonder Woman is queer, and that’s not talked about enough. It being brought up in such a landmark issue is a big step, but I can only hope that we’ll see Orlando bring it up more in his ongoing run as well.
Always by Vita Ayala, Amancay Nahuelpan, Jay David Ramos and Clayton Cowles
AB: This story took me a reread to truly appreciate how beautiful it was. Vita is borrowing some tried and true elements from some of the best Wonder Woman writers here. This evergreen theme of redemption is classic Rucka and even visually, I think Amancay Nahuelpan has a very similar style to Scott’s. Nahuelpan is a very underrated artist and does an excellent job portraying the anger and frustration on both sides that can come with redemption. Additionally, you might notice that this story is quite similar to Orlando’s one-shot with mayfly, and upon reflection, that’s not a knock on the story at all. In fact, it may be even more beautiful because Ayala is able to distill the core theme of redemption to its most crucial elements and tell the story from Silver Swan’s point of view. Truly a story I overlooked the first time through, but learned to cherish upon reflection.
RB: This is very much a classical Wonder Woman story, yeah. But a) I’m a big fan of that b) If we can have a billion issues of violence, give me all the issues of kindness and redemption. Relatively rarer, really. But to get down to basics, Silver Swan has always been a tragedy. Poor Vanessa. She was Diana’s lovely little sister in the Perez era. But then she got sidelined and ignored, especially by Byrne (ugh) and then returned as an antagonist, with a lot of pain. She was almost the Wonder Girl-to-be who never was. That turn was really emotionally potent, given the legitimate history between her and Diana. And it’s also why Diana saving her in the first Rucka run was so touching. In the new continuity, she was introduced in the much maligned Robinson run and that was…not great, let’s put it like that.
So Ayala and Naheulpan have to work with that context to tell their story and honestly, I think they do the absolute best that can be done in the circumstance. David Ramos’ work also lands for me here and of course, Cowles is an eternal delight. Silver Swan is consistently saved, but we don’t get to see and dwell with her post event, what she does after, a ton. The last time we did, when she seemed to have gotten better, it was ignored. So this issue essentially acts as almost a summary of their history within this new history and it lands for me. There’s an emotional honesty that rings right and it is genuinely nice to see Vanessa move forward. She’s been through so much and there’s so much rage and hate, but she can get better, she can be better. She can take responsibility for her actions, she can make a good life for herself on her own terms by rising above all this hate that’s clouded her. And I love that Diana gets to be there to help along that journey, even if that journey is ultimately Vanessa’s to make and no one except her can truly make it. Much like Diana, I can only wish the best for her, because on her best day, that girl deserves everything.
A Brave New World Scott Snyder, Bryan Hitch, Mike Spicer and Tom Napolitano
RB: I’m gonna be honest. I, frankly, was not expecting to like this. Wonder Woman has, under Snyder, tended to lean a good deal on the ‘badass’ warrior and the ‘she’s great at violence’ aspect of Diana, which I just do not care for. But I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this. Rather than do any of the above, this really reinforces Diana as a symbol of peace and love via iconography (although there is a bunch of violence involved with her). It is very much ‘how is the world looking at Wonder Woman?’ and that perspective, of the outsiders looking at her, so she’s much more a distant symbol we get context on than the story being explicitly about her. I see the issue there.
That said, this hits me in a soft spot, because historically DC has (understandably given her flag-based outfit) relied a lot on eagle imagery for Diana. And the eagle is just blatantly wrong for her. It’s the symbol of Zeus, the lord master of the patriarchy. That just ain’t it. Diana represents Aphrodite. And Aphrodite is a dove. Doves are peace, doves are love, doves symbolize Diana and her mission better than anything else. And I love symbolically tying her to that in this momentous issue with a nice Bryan Hitch splash page. One of the things DC’s been so successful at over the years is capitalizing on the sheer symbolic power of Superman and Batman, in every aspect, whether it’s the sun of the Superman or it’s the night with lightning for Batman, every part of their iconography is considered, its meaning and symbolic value weighed. Diana hasn’t always had that and I love the attempt. More doves! Love that! Finally! That’s her mission in one image, one creature!
AB: I hate to end on a sour note, but I was not as keen on this issue as you were for a number of reasons. When it really comes down to it, I think there’s an attempt to tell two contradictory stories. I am not exactly sure that this reinforces Diana as a symbol of peace and love at all. Sure the dove imagery does, but it’s hardly present enough to be a dominant theme. Meanwhile we see Diana immediately enter and fight a would-be assassin. Then she promises to fight alongside Roosevelt and the brotherhood of man. There’s so much fighting surrounding the moment of peace that it doesn’t get its own chance to breathe. When I think about how the world is looking at Wonder Woman after reading this short, I think of inspiration. She inspired Roosevelt and others to be better. Wonder Woman as a character inspires me to be better, but it just wasn’t about peace specifically to me necessarily as it was about the abilities within each and every one of us to make change.
And, you’re right, she’s more of a distant symbol in this story, and I have a problem with that. In many ways, this is the story that makes Wonder Woman canonically the first hero. It is a huge achievement for her character, but it doesn’t necessarily feel about her. It didn’t feel like there was enough significance there. In my mind any hero could have taken Wonder Woman’s place and the story would have made sense. As silly as it sounds, what if Hawk and Dove saved the day with the same message? I am not sure anything would have changed. I see what it was going for, I really do, and it was a noble effort, but ultimately, I think they prioritized the setting over the character on this one.
RB: That’s absolutely fair, yeah. I definitely get that. I do wish, given the nature of this moment, celebrating Diana and the ultimate female hero of the DCU and superhero fiction as the first, we had a female creative team doing this. That would’ve been much more fitting, especially for the 750th, I think.
Now that aside, as we’re at the end of this, I want to shout out all the amazing letterers, who did a ton of fantastic work here, who we didn’t dig into due to the sheer length of this. From Brosseau, Bennett, Napolitano, Abbott, Downie and Reed, lot of stellar work here. The book would not be what it is without them.
AB: Definitely. These 9 stories were lettered by some of the best in the industry from the ones you mentioned to Cowles, Sharpe, and Leigh as well. From SFX, to their balloon placements, to their emphasis, these stories would not be as good as they are without the fantastic work from these individuals. I hope you enjoyed this extra-long discussion through this extra-sized issue. Wonder Woman is not the character I’m most passionate about, but she’s a character I love and appreciate, and this journey through these 9 stories has only made that appreciation grow.