Wonder Woman #4 review

Steve Trevor and his Air Force colleagues have crashed on Paradise Island. Trevor is the only survivor and while he recovers, the Council of Themyscira discuss what the brush against Man’s World could mean, and what to do. 

Is it the will of the Amazons’ patrons or the first act by enemy gods? Queen Hippolyta persuades her sisters that ‘the survivor, he is the key’ and a champion must take him home and learn if war god Ares is at work. A contest will decide who goes, the winner fully knowing they will lose their immortality in the process. 
As they discuss the situation, Hippolyta’s daughter Diana watches the recovering Steve, and when he wakes, they make a connection. 
The Amazons work through the night, repairing – and changing – Steve’s plane, and preparing weapons for their champion. In the morning, the contest is held and a winner emerges. 
So, that’s part two of Greg Rucka’s tweaked take on the origins of Wonder Woman. No longer does Diana don a mask to defy her mother’s wishes that she take part in the contest. Instead of being familiar with Man’s World via Hippolyta’s Magic Sphere, Amazons are stunned by the guns carried by the airmen. The Invisible Plane begins as Steve’s transport. Bullets and Bracelets is no longer a game played by Amazons, it’s something Diana invents here to prove she’s the Amazon most qualified to go out into the world. Unfortunately, we don’t see this – Rucka knows that we know how the story goes. 
In which case, why are we getting the origin again at all, with changes that don’t seem to add anything? In the case of Hippolyta being fine with Diana competing, the change takes away from Diana, removing the wilfulness, the defiance that characterises Diana’s generally loving relationship with her mother. If we’re not getting Steve waking to his ‘angel’, what iconic-moment-to-be are we given in its place?
Over and over, Nicola Scott has proven herself a terrific comic book artist and here her work is pretty…. well, pretty. Without an inker, her art appears more delicate than previous DC work; generally, it’s lovely, but the money shot – Diana appearing in costume for the first time – isn’t as awesome as it should be. 
There’s no dynamism, Diana looks like she’s trying not to stumble, and her over-large head lacks a determined expression. The overall impression is of a bunch of aunts watching their favourite niece show off her new outfit. 
One panel, though, stands apart from the rest of the book, as Scott and colourist Romulo Fajardo Jr break away from the quiet compositions for a second. 
Scott and Fajardo also produce the cover, which again suffers from Unfortunate Head Syndrome, even allowing for perspective. Frank Cho’s variant, though, is gorgeous all round; I wonder if the lack of colour is due to it being a replacement image – you’ve likely seen the well-documented disagreements between Cho and Rucka. Whatever, it looks pretty darn wonderful. 

I’m just not feeling this comic. I’ve read two issues of the dreadfully slow Lies storyline and two issues of the awfully genteel origin and I’m wishing I were reading daft but zippy Bronze Age stories. Lots of action, a touch of soap, mysteries galore… While Phil Jimenez this week gives us the packed-to-the-gills Superwoman, Rucka wastes panel time with bits of unnecessary dialogue – enough preamble and procedure people, just get to the point! 
Wonder Woman isn’t terrible. It just seems to be for someone other than me. I’ll give each storyline one more issue, see if things finally get moving. Otherwise, it’s time for another of my depressingly frequent breaks from a favourite character. 

17 thoughts on “Wonder Woman #4 review

  1. Wow…you and I are thinking exactly alike on this one. While I like the “back-to-basics” notion, it seems a little bit diluted. The “fire” of her original decision to defy her mother to become a champion has been replaced with a Luke warm sense of duty to country. I generally love Nicola Scott's art, it just seems off to me.

    This issue is like seeing a familiar friend in the distance…but upon further investigation, finding out its someone with a resemblance and not who you thought it was.

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  2. I still like the individual pieces of it quite a bit — and am loving the art — but I can't shaking the feeling of wanting to put my foot on the gas pedal. Rucka is always very patient about putting his ducks in a row…but sweet Jesus, we're 5 issues in. Let's get a hint of the deception that made the Rebirth issue so intriguing already.

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  3. “Diana appearing in costume for the first time – isn't as awesome as it should be.”

    Because she looks like a bloke . . .in drag. Scott is trying her hardest to show women without them being too sexy, hourglass, etc. Rucka goes so far as to write Steve saying that his clothes are too big for him, implying that the Amazons are burly as Guinness Extra Stout. The outfit is nice, but there is nothing wondrous or womanly about the shot. Diana looks long and gangly, a pretty teenage boy on his way to NYCC.

    When did the Amazons become such hardcore lesbians?! I always believed that those on Themyscira were enlightened to the point sex wasn't a factor, as there were only women there. If not, what do the heterosexual Amazons do? Make other clay figures? The preoccupation with women and their sexuality is just too much here. I remember a Bronze Age Wonder Woman story that explained why men weren't allowed on Paradise Island: if they were, the women would go crazy with deep-seeded lust! Steve Trevor got off lightly, it seems. The idea that no woman but Diana would have any attraction to a man, and an handsome one at that, is ludicrous. Oh well, guess you know where I stand on the story. LOL!

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  4. This is the first issue I've skipped since Diana was given pants pre-New 52. I used to love Wonder Woman pre-Crisis but everything Perez and Potter took away also took away my enjoyment. It feels like Rucka wants to just (sloooowly) wants everything reverted back to that state…

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  5. Wow, I really disagree. I like that Rucka is taking his time, and that he is not falling into that trap of making the Amazons a bunch of bloodthirsty savages. I loved Azarello's inventiveness, but hated his depiction of the Amazons. I like that they seem, in that image, like proud aunts seeing their beloved niece in her brand new uniform for the first time. And Diana seeming like she is not self assured seems like a fairly normal emotion for her to be feeling. Nervous, not arrogant, because at this point, Diana may not realize what a true power she is. She has no experience with what awaits her.

    As for Lies, I am enjoying that for bringing Diana back from that always jumping into a battle sword drawn image that hse has taken on in other comics in the DC Universe. I like that she is taking her time to approach and address Cheetah and that her instinct is not to battle her into submission, but to remind her of their former friendship and her humanity. I like that he took the time show us this.

    As for hard core lesbians, they are still human, and on an island of women, from an ancient culture that did not have the same ideas about sexuality that we do, it makes perfect sense that they are lesbians. Sex not mattering? Do you really foresee a human culture in which sex would not matter? It is part of our nature, part of how we bond, how we play, how we establish families and loving partnerships.

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  6. I think you've hit the nail on the head – Greg Rucka's Wonder Woman doesn't get to be a naturally sexy person, which goes against the original stories – you can be sexy without being all Nineties Deodato

    As for the lesbian wallpaper, I'm good with assuming thee are relationships, but I don't want to see snogging all over the place, in any combo of genders or sexualities – just give me the story, don't try to hard to make a point.

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  7. I liked the soap of the Pérez years, to an extent, but Diana was so insipid. I pray that isn't what we're getting again – I want something between sword-happy Diana and dull Diana. No more writing preachy books…

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  8. Which is what I was just saying, well, sort of… I certainly don't want Azzarello's horrible tribe, but neither do I want them sitting around with love hearts on their heads (Seventies reference thee for oldies like me). Sci-fi Amazons, that's my bag.

    The pacing is what really puts me off, Rucka seems to think he's writing novels, on which you can really take your time – I remember a scene in his first run in which a page is spent following Diana crossing a room. But we're not getting any younger, I want character and action and certainly, depth, but I don't want to spend years getting it.

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  9. Maybe not bloodthirsty but it was Perez and Potter who made the Amazons savages. Pre-Crisis, the isolated island advanced scientifically and philosophically but we lost all that. All the Amazons have been since is a group of women who stalled in development from the time they set foot on that island. I know immortals not evolving is a common trope but it replaced an advanced society and I have disliked that major part of Wonder Woman ever since…

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  10. Hector, in a way I'm with you. I love Rucka's approach to WW and the Amazons. I just wish he'd get to the story he's telling with that approach, rather than giving us what's reading like an extended establishing shot.

    The other Rebirth books are all in motion. This book — partially because of its unique on/off scheduling — feels like it hasn't left the starting gate. I like its indicated direction, but for Hera's sake, set out already.

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  11. Did you notice that the main cover was altered? The original image has Diana grinning, but here she's more serious.

    Maybe the defiant woman challenging her mother but was taken out because that aspect has led to constant butting of heads throughout incarnations. Still, the mask is iconic, I'm not certain why when the original origin was good enough for decades why it has to be altered so much. I also don't understand why there's this constant passion to take WW to her Greek roots yet forget that from the beginning her roots also lay in science fiction and fantasy. It took years after Perez to establish WW as an actual super hero and whose people were scientifically advanced as well as Ancient Greek.

    With WW Year One all over again, I suppose we'll suffer another “Who is Donna Troy?” Lol

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  12. Is Diana having a brother gone now since rebirth? I thought it was interesting that there was a scene about the word brother

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