Best Shots Extra: WONDER WOMAN #600 Reviewed!
New WONDER WOMAN Costume, Direction
Wonder Woman #600
Written by Gail Simone, Amanda Conner, Louise Simonson, Geoff Johns and J. Michael Straczynski
Art by George Perez, Scott Koblish, Hi-Fi, Amanda Conner, Paul Mounts, Eduardo Pansica, Bob Wiacek, Pete Pantazis, Scott Kolins, Michael Atiyeh, Don Kramer, Michael Babinski and Alex Sinclair, Plus a Host of pin-ups
Lettering by Travis Lanham, John J. Hill and Nick J. Napolitano
Published by DC Comics
Review by David Pepose
It's been a long, long road with Wonder Woman -- and while the story of Diana Prince is ready to take a huge turn, it's nice to see that this anniversary issue takes the time to appreciate the Amazing Amazon and all she does. Like the Superman anniversary issue before it, I wouldn't say that this issue -- aside from the preview of J. Michael Straczynski's reboot -- is earth-shattering, Wonder Woman #600 is a fun tribute to Earth's Mightiest Heroine.
What I will say about this issue is that the love of the character is definitely apparent, and perhaps because of this the overall quality of the stories feels a lot higher and more even than Superman #700. Outgoing writer Gail Simone has a nice old-school piece with legendary Wonder Woman artist George Perez, that shows that she's the top tier heroine not just of the DC Universe, but really of any universe -- and that while she can fight robot sirens attacking the president with the best of them, she can actually have a real life as well. While I sometimes find Perez's work a little too small, a little too cramped for my tastes, I recognize that's a personal style thing more than anything else -- and I'll be the first to admit that Perez's opening splash of the women of the DC Universe is going to be selling huge on the collector's circuit someday.
Amanda Conner, meanwhile, takes the writer/artist route in a story that's doubly poignant because of not only Diana's impending status quo change, but the fact that Conner recently left the fun-overload that was Power Girl. While Conner's Wonder Woman seems a little too similar in body type to Power Girl (and Cassandra's cameo isn't really necessary at all), the characterization ramps up not with the fighting, but with the aftermath. In a lot of ways, despite not being known for her writing as much as her art, Conner gets to the heart of what makes Diana Prince work: Man or beast, friend or foe, she understands you.
Reading Louise Simonson, her story feels the most like a traditional superhero story than the rest -- but that said, she really gives Wonder Woman some great moments to shine. Do I feel that the story structure could have been improved without a guest star character? Probably. But her pacing and scripting are really well-done, whether its Wonder Woman bouncing lightning off her bracelets or giving a bad guy the K.O. Where I think the story doesn't quite hold up, however, is with artist Eduardo Pansica -- it's not that he does a bad job, but he doesn't seem to have a distinct voice with his style. Imagine if you had an artist like a Shane Davis or a Steve McNiven (or the perpetually busy Jim Lee) on that story! It would have blown people out of the water.
What was perhaps most surprising in this book, of course, is the contributions by the two male writers of the book, Geoff Johns and J. Michael Straczynski. In a lot of ways, you couldn't have two more opposite takes on the character. Johns takes the route of lionizing Diana, and distilling her to her core -- Wonder Woman is a symbol of hope, a beacon for the world to learn from and draw its strength. The art by Scott Kolins -- a new, more painterly style than his typically scratchy lines -- is really something to look at. His composition, more than anything else, is what draws the eye -- although the color work from Michael Atiyeh uses hot and cold colors so well that it really seals the deal.
But what about J. Michael Straczynski? It's a question that a lot of people are asking. Is this revision of Diana's history just what the character needs, or is this the first step towards defacing an international icon? Considering this is basically a 10-page preview, I wouldn't be able to say for sure -- but strangely enough, this introduction reminds me much of the first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, down from a fight in an alleyway to the compulsion to vanish without a trace. The one thing I'm not sold on yet is Diana's voice -- she sounds a bit more petulant, less self-assured than before, and while I understand that this is a brand-new origin, Diana's internal balance has been one of the key components to her character. While the jury's still out on the writing, I will say this -- I am extremely excited to see more of Don Kramer's work. The costume is, surprisingly, not as jarring as one would think, and his world-building... man, is that some gorgeous stuff. It's like Nicola Scott with a hint of Dale Eaglesham, and definitely worth another look.
All in all, is this the home run that I think many people thought Wonder Woman deserved? I don't know -- and the $4.99 price tag may ward off many prospective fans rather than just the Wonder Woman die-hards. But is this a muscular ode to comic books' most enduring superheroine? Absolutely. What could have made this book even better, however, is an overarching theme, a reason why we should love Wonder Woman, the secret to the icon. Is looks like, even years later, people are still asking the question: Who is Wonder Woman? Here's hoping that J. Michael Straczynski and Don Kramer can find out.