Wonder Woman #51 review

Some time ago, Wonder Woman sent would-be murderess Mayfly to jail for a long stretch. The last person she expects to visit her is Diana. But here she is.

Maybe it’s Diana’s aura of truth, but despite her deep antagonism, Mayfly opens up.

Diana visits once more.

And continues calling every couple of months for years. Will she ever turn this hawk into a dove?

Writer Steve Orlando tries something different this issue, showing us that for Diana, the end of the battle is just the beginning of the relationship. He did something similar with his stint on Supergirl, showing that the Maid of Steel never gives up on anyone. But he’s hardly stealing from himself, reformation as a theme goes right back to the days of co-creators Charles Marston and Harry Peter. Their Amazons has a whole island dedicated to making even Nazis better people.

Today’s Wonder Woman is banished from her home, and isn’t likely to use bondage as a rehabilitation tool. She has something a little more acceptable fo 2018- her words, and her quiet, affirming presence.

I did wonder how Orlando would sustain a story centre on repeated prison visits, but he manages it. Throughout the issue we see Mayfly – her name revealed to be Moon Robinson – and Diana trying to get through to one another; one wears her difficult beginnings as a badge of honour, something to hang onto, while the other acknowledges pain, but tries to move forward. While I’m not down with Mayfly’s killing ways, I admit to finding Diana a tad irritating at first – the current version is nice, but not in an interesting way, she doesn’t have the sense of humour of the pre-Crisis version, or Gal Gadot’s screen Wonder Woman. But the fact that she genuinely cares, and keeps on caring, is hugely admirable and maybe she can get through to Mayfly (I’m not telling).

Orlando gives us an interesting back and forth conversation, though his choice to stagger it over several years – we quickly move beyond DC’s present day, giving artist Laura Braga a chance to clothe her in outfits old and new – is slightly problematic.

Diana is engaging Mayfly in her chosen language, violence, and it seems she pops in every couple of months to be attacked and say a single line before buggering off again. And the fact that she keeps attacking a woman she knows is basically invulnerable makes Mayfly seem rather the dimwit.

As ever with Orlando, there are references to DC’s rich past and future, with at least three of Diana’s previous continuities thrown into the mix. In this case, we get a bonus Bronze Age supervillain so forgettable that even this old comics elephant had to look him up.

Braga’s art is very easy on the eye, our two protagonists look great, but never ‘cheesecakey’ (OK, one is in prison uniform most of the time). Her storytelling is first rate, with a useful mix of close-ups, mid and long-distance shots, an understanding of how the human form moves and tight action moments. I’d love Braga, and sharp colourist Romulo Fajardo Jr, to stick around in the book. Orlando too – this is my favourite issue in ages, and I’m one of the apparent few who rather enjoyed the recent run by James Robinson.

A tip of the blogging hat, too, to letterer Saida Temofonte, without which this issue wouldn’t have worked, and editors Dave Wielgosz and Chris Conroy for their talent wrangling and production skills.

This issue also gives digital readers two stunning covers – a snowy Diana by Stanley ‘Artgerm’ Lau and a blind justice variant by Jenny Frison… that last image seems familiar, has someone done it previously?

Done-in-one tales are all too rare in comics these days. Here’s one to cherish.

7 thoughts on “Wonder Woman #51 review

  1. I loved this issue. I thought it was a really good choice to space it over the years and watch Moon evolve. I saw her fighting Wonder Woman even though she knew she had no chance as an outlet for her rage. A temper tantrum if you will. It is irrational but in the end that is what extreme rage is and Moon had to get it out of her system before she was able to take the next step.

    I thought this was one of the best issues of Wonder Woman I’ve read since the crisis. It highlighted Wonder Woman empathy and compassion at the same time holding Moon accountable.

    The art wasn’t my favorite, Diana looks too young for my taste. But over all? The story more than compensated for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, man, I loved it! Really one of the best Wonder Woman stories I’ve read in ages. And to have an appearance by Inversion, one of the first Wonder Woman villains I ever encountered? That’s just the cherry on the top.

    I’d like to see more Laura Braga art on the book, too. Her work reminds me a bit of Bernard Chang’s run on Wonder Woman when Gail Simone was writing the book.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Basically a B ploy without a main story. I was hoping for the Orlando who wrote Midnighter and Supergirl and got the writer of JLA instead…

    Liked by 2 people

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