I don’t keep up with variant covers but I can’t imagine that even the loveliest shot of Diana posing moodily would beat artist Travis Moore and colourist Tamra Bonvillain’s tremendous opening image for Wonder Woman #778. Wonder Woman in Bronze Age outfit and pals Siegfried and Ratatosk falling through a rabbit hole of multiple earths? I’m there.
As we join Diana inside the issue she’s actually in Golden Age mode, on the trail of twisted godling Janus, and while at first she suspects she’s in the Christian heaven, a sinister figure puts paid to that thought.
But threatening as Xa-Du, the Phantom King, is, another player tips the balance in Diana’s favour.
There follows a stop off in the other-dimensional realm of Zrfff…
… a trip to Gemworld…
… and a Skartaris-like land.
The issue ends with Diana alone, facing Janus, and things looking very bleak for one DC favourite. Before that, though, it’s fun all the way – even the high adventure comes tinged with wackiness, while the sheer nuttiness of Zrfff is a surprisingly good fit for Diana.
Or maybe it isn’t such a surprise, given the combination of poise and humour Diana has shown in this current story, Afterworlds, courtesy of writers Michael W Conrad and Becky Cloonan. Janus is a threat, ready to slice her will on reality with a magical maguffin, but there’s no panic – a determined Diana follows her from place to place, and almost defeats her on one battleground. All the while, though, she’s debating with Janus, aiming for a non-violent solution.
While I’m a big fan of peak Steve Trevor – the late Bronze Age version of writer Dan Mishkin – I’m enjoying current man pal Siegfried very much. He’s a fun fella, very easy on the eye and a big fan of Diana.
As for Valhalla messenger squirrel Ratatosk (I’m happy to say that after all these reviews my autosuggestion wotsit spells that name for me), he’s mad cute, hanging onto Siegfried’s hair for dear life.
Seeing Superman bad guy the Phantom King is a big surprise, I love the melodrama he always brings. As for Aethyr – that’s the floating purple head and matching claws – it’s bizarre to see him anywhere so soon after he showed up in the recent Action Comics 2021 Annual, him having not appeared since the Eighties.
And who doesn’t love Fifth Dimensional imps? It’s just a shame that Amethyst doesn’t show up for the Gemworld sequence, I bet she and Diana would get on like a house on fire.
I don’t know whether it’s something about this issue’s script, but I’m only now noticing how much charm there is in Travis Moore’s storytelling. Whether it’s ‘Siggy’ landing after dropping through a multiversal portal, the debut of the Integrity Squad (Who? Buy the book!) or Diana rocking a star-spangled skirt, the visuals made me smile repeatedly. Did you notice Diana hanging on to the edge of one of the panels back there – I love playfulness. The quality of the storytelling matches the characterisations, with dynamic layouts getting us directly from A to Joy.
Tamra Bonvillain’s eye for a catchy colour scheme is to the fore, with the varying realms allowing her to display a dazzling range of hues. The warm Earth tones of Maybe Skartaris are particularly pleasing.
Completing the regular creative team is Pat Brosseau, with fonts for all, every one appropriate for player and situation.
The Adventures of Young Diana back-up also continues, with Diana mulling over recent revelations around Amazon history and her mother’s role in them. It’s another solid episode of the YA Wonder Woman from writer Jordie Bellaire, illustrator Paulina Ganucheau and friends, but it feels like we’re treading water – we know the people and emotions by now, it’s time for more action. Massive panels with little happening makes for a too-speedy read.
And yet I still feel pretty warm towards the strip. Sure, I’d rather more pages went to the main story, but it’s great DC is making material for younger readers. Let’s see where it goes.
Wonder Woman has become one of DC’s most consistently enjoyable superhero series. Afterworlds is going to make a great collection, especially if we get some extras from our talented creators. Maybe those cover variants…