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Review: ‘Wonder Woman’ #58

Wonder Woman 58 header

Wonder Woman #58
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artists: Cary Nord and Mick Gray
DC Comics; $3.99
Rated T for Teen

Wonder Woman 58G. Willow Wilson, the comics writer and novelist probably best known for her work on Marvel’s Ms. Marvel, returns to DC Comics to take over the adventures of the premiere female superhero: Wonder Woman. Given the continued success of Ms. Marvel—surviving as a monthly, ongoing concern in the picky and prickly direct market and thriving in trade paperback form in the bookstore and library markets–Wilson is quite a get for DC, who published Wilson’s first comics work in the late 2000s.

Whether her success on one superhero comic is necessarily transferable to another, however, is an open question: Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan is a new and unique character that Wilson was able to build from the ground up, while Wonder Woman has been around for almost as long as comics have, and high-quality, popular runs featuring the character have always been notoriously difficult to pull off.

With Wilson’s first issue now released into the wild, I’m afraid the quality of Wilson’s Wonder Woman is still something of an open question, as this first chapter gives readers reasons for hope as well as reasons for skepticism.

Wilson, who arrives on the title as part of a new creative team that includes superior artists pencil artist Cary Nord and inker Mick Gray, certainly doesn’t seem intent on reinventing the wheel here, but rather seems to simply be taking the baton from the previous few writers.

The supporting cast remains the same: There’s soldier boyfriend Steve Trevor (drawn by Cord to have Chris Pine’s smile), U.S. military commander Etta Candy and Themysciran queen/mom Hippolyta. The villains seen here are familiar, perhaps tiresomely so: War god Ares and Darkseid’s daughter Grail. And the mode and tone are familiar, with Wonder Woman serving as a sort of super-soldier working alongside the U.S. military to fight generic soldiers and terrorists in fictional countries that only vaguely suggest real-world locales.

There is a twist of sorts, but it comes on the last page. At the issue’s opening, Hippolyta and Amazon general Philippus are investigating the prison/tomb where Ares and Grail have been chained until they learn their respective lessons; Ares seems to have finally learned his, that there is a force greater than war, and that force is justice.

From there we jump to a war zone in the fictional nation of Durovnia, where Steve has disappeared on a mission and Wonder Woman is searching for him. Also moving in and out of the gun battles between government forces and insurgents are a trio of mythological creatures following a mysterious little boy and the new warlord of the insurgents, who turns out to be none other than Ares.

Now free from his Amazonian prison, Ares seems to have devoted himself to making war not for conquest, but for justice, which, in this case, puts him in opposition to the U.S.-supported side of the war, putting Wonder Woman neatly in the middle of the conflict.

Because it is so early into the run, it’s very difficult to assess where the story is going and how good it will be. Wilson is a comics writer who writes by arc rather than issue, and her Ms. Marvel has always had better success in collected form than in comic book form, but she seems to have opted for a very gentle, very gradual change in direction.

It’s definitely a good-looking comic, though. Nord, who previously drew the Conan revival for Dark Horse Comics, is well suited for a comic mixing pseudo-Bronze Age warriors with the modern world, and he does an excellent job of refining some of the fussier, overly complicated designs of characters like Grail, Ares, and the Amazons into looks that are simple, identifiable, and striking.

Even if we have to wait another five or six months to get a good sense of whether Willow’s Wonder Woman will end up being DC’s answer to Marvel’s Ms. Marvel, based on the art and the more promising parts of the first issue, keeping an eye on the serially published Wonder Woman comics to find out won’t exactly be a chore.

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J. Caleb Mozzocco About J. Caleb Mozzocco

J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.

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