Wonder Woman #1
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Liam Sharp and Laura Martin
Lettering by Jodi Wynne
Published by DC Comics
Review by Pierce Lydon
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Greg Rucka is wasting no time putting his mark on this volume of Wonder Woman. In our earlier review of the Wonder Woman: Rebirth one-shot, we praised Rucka for attempting to clean the slate for the Amazing Amazon, but derided the pacing of the issue and singular focus on Diana Prince. The writer course-corrects in a big way here (as we assumed he would) because he let the 'special' be more passive as a means to an end. Artist Liam Sharp similarly gets a chance to really flex some muscles, and without someone else inking him the art has a lot more life. Wonder Woman #1 is free of most of the "New 52" ties that bind, and that’s a step in the right direction.
Greg Rucka is more than familiar with the Wonder Woman’s lore. The challenge is getting the maligned "New 52" version of the character’s history in line with there he wants the character to be and hopefully, with readers' expectations. The stakes in this issue are fairly low as Diana is still trying to piece together her story, but that’s okay. Rucka is easing new readers into the world and reminding longtime fans that he knows what he’s doing. The biggest changes that we see in this issue actually come from Diana’s supporting cast. Etta Candy has taken on a role that resembles Amanda Waller’s old post. Rather than Steve Trevor’s secretary, it seems that Etta’s now his commanding officer, and the relationship works. Both characters are able to acknowledge their past history with Wonder Woman and it comes across naturally. Meanwhile, Diana hasn’t reached out to them for help with the situation she’s currently in and readers are left to wonder whether or on that’s a result of her noticing that her story has been changed.
And speaking of Diana Prince, she has her own plan, and Rucka is able to include one of the Amazon Princess’ oldest foes right at the start: Cheetah. Here’s where Rucka is able to include a couple of action beats and establish that Diana doesn’t want to use violence unless absolutely necessary. She has great respect for her foe, and Diana’s pacifism is meant to illustrate that especially as it’s clear that she can handle herself when the moment calls for it. Still, mood-building notwithstanding, page after page of Diana walking through a jungle and speaking to no one in particular doesn’t make for the most exciting bunch of pages.
Liam Sharp’s work is greatly improved from Wonder Woman: Rebirth. There are still a few moments where his characters look more like they are striking a pose rather than people in motion but his character designs are very strong. In fact, the scenes with Etta and Steve Trevor really shine and are well laid out. The characters are very well-rendered and despite mostly being an opportunity for Rucka to dump a little exposition, they are fairly dynamic. Sharp does run into a problem with his main character, however. As mentioned earlier, Diana doesn’t have much to actually do in this issue. She mostly gets from point A to point B with a little bit of fighting thrown into the mix at the end. But in a locale that looks the same no matter how long she’s walking, it almost seems like Sharp runs out of ways to draw “Wonder Woman standing in a jungle.” As a result, he ends up using a lot of different angles and shots, but isn’t able to draw Diana all that consistently. Sharp’s best pages come at the end of the book, when Wonder Woman has finally found Cheetah — Barbara Minerva’s first appearance is a flash of fangs and claws that puts her deadliness on display, and the final splash page face-off is perfect. We’ve yet to see the full Cheetah design but judging just from the headshot, it looks to be an inspired take.
“Potential” was thrown around quite a bit when the creative team was announced and again when after Wonder Woman: Rebirth was released. Rucka and Sharp really seems to be starting to turn a corner with the character here and are giving us clues as to what we can expect from their story. Now we know that more of Diana’s expanded cast will be involved, and we’ve already gotten one of Wonder Woman’s most iconic foes. Rucka’s characterization is really what’s driving the book at this point and hopefully, that’s enough for readers. As Diana herself would likely tell you, patience is a virtue. Wonder Woman might be slow, but it’s deliberately so. Diana’s recent history has been mired in a lot of bad storytelling, the slow burn is one way for this creative team to avoid that as long as they’re able to pay it off.