Years ago, Wonder Woman felt forced to snap the neck of friend-turned-foe Max Lord. Courtesy of the Blackest Night crossover, he’s back, murdering the innocents of Washington DC, successfully drawing Diana to him. The MO of the Black Lanterns being to feed on the emotions of the living, he thinks Diana’s anger is a sure thing.
He gets a surprise as Diana is chock to bursting with the apparently less-attractive feeling of love. Swinging that daft great axe she’s generally saddled with for crossovers, she slices off his undead head with sweetness in her heart. Whether it’s her general repository of love, or positive feeling for the Max she once knew – Justice League big kahuna and all-around great guy – we’re not told. It doesn’t matter, as writer Greg Rucka uses the Blackest Night maguffin to underline what Diana is all about.
Greg, who wrote the Wonder Woman book for a few years before the last revamp, shows his gentlemanly nature here by homaging current writer Gail Simone’s trademark narration style. He’s also good to the reader, not assuming everyone is following either Diana’s regular book or the Blackest Night crossover. So Diana recalls how she’s been affected by death over the years and we’re brought up to speed on what the Black Lanterns are up to. Unfortunately so far as lasting poignancy goes, almost everyone Diana recalls – Artemis, her mother, herself – has been reborn, and Batman is certain to follow. But this is a blockbuster in need of big moments and the many Amazons who have been slaughtered over the years, not least in the Max-inspired Omac business, don’t cut it as evocative on-panel images.
That’s OK, it all gets us to the meat of the book efficiently, and the terribly enjoyable fight with Max and his mortis mob. There’s even a vintage DCU guest, foreshadowed on a background TV screen in an early Blackest Night issue. Standing by Diana and representing the regular folk, once they’ve been released from Max’s malevolent mind control, are two brave members of the Honour Guard.
Nicola Scott, on loan from Secret Six, produces stunning pencils, finished off by a bevy of inkers. Her Diana is alive with determination while the wisecracking Max is still a frightening figure. The fight scenes are refreshingly clear and the storytelling overall spot on.
The issue is topped off with a terrific new splash page legend for Diana, and a horrifically good cover by Greg Horn. One issue in and I’m optimistic this will prove one of the better Blackest Night crossovers by the time the three issues are up.