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“The Story Keeps Changing” – Reading WONDER WOMAN #1 (2016)

With Wonder Woman finally (finally!) hitting theaters this year, I’m going to spend the month looking back at big moments in Diana’s history… starting with recent history. DC revamped Wonder Woman with a new number one with their Rebirth initiative, bringing fan favorite Greg Rucka back to write the title. He’s joined on this first issue by artist Liam Sharp, colorist Laura Martin, and letterer Jodi Wynne. For the first set of issues, Rucka was telling two separate stories. The even-numbered issues, drawn by Sharp, were the current storyline titled The Lies which I’ll be reading today. The odd issues running from #2 – #14 told a Year One storyline, drawn by Nicola Scott, of whom I’m a huge fan. I’m sad that we won’t be covering Nicola’s take on Wonder Woman for this review, but that’s just how it shakes out – this month, we’re all about the big moments, and you can’t get much bigger than relaunching a title with the history of Wonder Woman.

This first issue finds Wonder Woman fighting through a mysterious land, making proclamations and threats to an unseen foe… and perhaps former friend. She encounters blockades and feral creatures attempting to stop her, but Diana attacks with confidence, warning her quarry that, no matter what, she is going to get through. Meanwhile, Steve Trevor is working with an all-business-all-the-time take on Etta Candy, who I believe was introduced in the New 52. We learn that Steve hasn’t spoken to Wonder Woman in a while, though Etta is suspicious of possible connections between them, alluding to strain in these iconic relationships of both the business and personal variety.

Steve’s objective is revealed when he finds a stronghold of people who have been injured by a warlord, and he vows to help them. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman’s purpose is revealed in the end when Cheetah shows her face. As they face off, Diana doesn’t lash out at Cheetah – instead, she asks her old frienemy for help… because she can’t find Themyscira. This seems to tie into the theme that threads through a few of the Rebirth titles about the changing nature of superhero stories, and the metaphysical affects those changes – fictionalized brilliantly by Geoff Johns in the DC Universe Rebirth one-shot – have on the characters. It’s all summed up in the beginning, when Wonder Woman says, “The story keeps changing.” It’s true… it does, and addressing that from jump gives this title a mythic feel. Which, obviously, is apropos.

I did feel, though, that this was uber decompressed. We get some cool fight scenes and we find out a little info on what Steve Trevor is up to, but the issue is basically “Wonder Woman looks for Cheetah for reasons we do not know / Wonder Woman finds Cheetah and explains why she’s looking for her.” It’s dramatic and interesting, but for a relaunch of such an iconic title, it felt a little light on story and character moments. Granted, the preceding Wonder Woman: Rebirth one-shot, which is the true debut issue of the Rucka run, was more character-focused, but I think we could’ve lost half of the relatively silent pages with Diana searching through the land and replaced them with a bit more content that shows readers exactly who this version of Wonder Woman is, which I think is the greatest purpose that a #1 issue of an iconic superhero can serve.

In any case, I enjoyed the issue and, though we’re not covering it in this piece, I liked the Year One storyline even better. The art in The Lies is good, but it’s what we’ve come to expect from darker superhero stories in this era – hyper detailed, shadowy, liney, perfect for dramatic fight sequences. Year One is bright and bold, warm and gorgeous, full of life. Both styles are good, but when looking for a Wonder Woman story that stands out, I’m all about Year One both in artwork and narrative.

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