This will probably come off sounding like a review of Wonder Woman vol. 3 #1, but it’s not supposed to be. I don’t want to usurp Newsarama’s fine squad of reviewers. However, it’s not easy to talk about where the character’s been and where she seems to be headed without getting into the details of the issue, and that means talking at least a little about how well it worked. So be warned — there are SPOILERS behind the jump, and if we’re not careful, a review might break out.
Back in September, I wrote an essay for The Great Curve reacting to a rumor about Wonder Woman getting a new #1 issue. In part, I thought it would be unfortunate to “dumb down” the character’s complexities, in favor of more straightforward superheroics. I also thought killing Diana and/or replacing her with Donna Troy would be a “colossal mistake” and “a fix for something I didn’t think was broken.”
Not long afterwards, Infinite Crisis had Diana’s Golden Age ancestor encourage her to cultivate her human side. At that point I still didn’t think DC would replace Diana, mostly because I figured she would be a key part of the new Justice League. That, coupled with the solicitations which seemed to indicate a new Wonder Woman, got mashed together in my mind into a kind of Thor situation, where Diana would be melded somehow with a mortal. Looking back, something tells me I must have taken too much cold medication that day.
Here, then, is WW 3.0 #1, breathing life into the rumors I hadn’t wanted to believe, and … it’s pretty intriguing. Although Donna is Wonder Woman, nobody takes her seriously. While this is a playful approach to fans like me who think Diana should be in the suit over the long haul, it also lays the foundation for Donna to prove herself worthy, and thereby supplant her sister. I had supposed back in September that Donna could be the Themysciran ambassador and Diana could rule the Amazons full-time, but the end of Rucka’s run torpedoed that idea.
Well, half of it, at least. I did not expect Allan Heinberg and the Dodsons to put Diana back into the white spy gear, and that (along with Donna’s costume not matching the new WW duds on the cover) suggests that the arc will end with Diana’s emergence from exile, ready to take on the world again.
Still, what of Donna and her shiny new armor? (It’s a nice blend of her old Troia gear with the Wonder Woman style, but it seems very busy. Blockade Boy, any thoughts?) If/when Diana takes back the costume, I suppose Donna will likewise go back to her own super-career, assuming she’s done reviewing pre- and post-Crisis DC history.
In any event, that’s a few months down the road, and I’ve yet to discuss the larger question of the book’s tone. Although each of WW 2.0′s writers had distinct takes on the character, I didn’t think anyone had pulled everything together as well as Greg Rucka, at least before the book got mired in Infinite Crisis plotting. Rucka balanced superheroing, classical mythology, and politics pretty well, which is why I was worried a new writer might emphasize audience-friendly superheroics at the expense of the character’s other aspects.
While this issue is pretty heavy on the superheroics, it also at least pays lip service to Wonder Woman’s position as an ambassador, and perhaps cheats on that a little by including spies like Nick F– I mean, Sarge Steel — and Nemesis. They’ll go well with Diana’s secret-agent gig, of course. Reminding readers that Steve Trevor is now Deputy Defense Secretary is also a good way to get Wonder Woman back into the political realm. However, the extent to which the gods and Amazons will play parts in this new series is hard to tell just from the first issue. It seems more concerned with bringing readers up to speed on Donna and Diana, and establishing the updated versions of Wonder Woman’s familiar supervillains.
In that respect, the issue keeps busy (like Donna’s costume) and works pretty hard, although the expository captions devoted to Cheetah and Giganta break up the flow of Donna’s internal monologue. Considering that they both look like Ultimate versions of the characters (especially Giganta, whose outfit must have come from the Pym Collection), it seems a little unnecessary. I do have to hand it to Heinberg and the Dodsons, though, for encapsulating Donna’s history and “Sacrifice” in exactly one panel each. Efficient!
Overall, I’m very curious to see where “Who Is Wonder Woman?” will take Donna and Diana. Based on Heinberg’s comments leading up to this issue, it sounds like he has the utmost respect for both Perez and Rucka, so I should be happy. At the risk of sounding hypocritical, I do hope the status quo is changed in a somewhat meaningful way, to justify the new #1. Otherwise, in hindsight, this will look like another Artemis or Hippolyta cycle of replacement and renewal.
Regardless, taking the issue on its own, it’s a fun (if perhaps overly ambitious) primer on Donna, Diana, and the new direction. I’m eager to see issue #2!