Wonder Woman #778 review

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…

4 thoughts on “Wonder Woman #778 review

  1. Travis Moore is the only reason I’m still reading Wonder Woman! I slogged through the two months drawn by Andy MacDonald; appreciated the watercolor craft of Jill Thompson but didn’t actually LIKE it; and even Lupacchino made me think “eh.” I think she draws lovely faces but stiff action.

    So I held on for Moore’s return.

    I’m tired of the story line but still appreciate the light take Cloonan and Conrad are writing.

    I think Siggy might have returned to Asgard through the portal. Somehow he had some control over where it would send him? He promised to come back when needed.

    Did you notice how many more times Diana’s clothes changed? The skirt was gone in the Fifth Dimension (I don’t know which costume she’s wearing there but I suppose someone can evaluate the shorts, belt etc. to figure that out), then she’s got some purple skirt in Gemworld, pelts or whatever in Skartaris, flowing white (then tinted) robes in The End.

    I used to buy lots of variant covers, but over time most (but not all) of them have lost any connection to the contents, and are increasingly just portraits. But then too – the cost! A few years ago DC introduced card stock for $1.00 but only printed a few variants each month with that stock, rotating which titles got the treatment. The others variants got regular stock. But now – all variants are card stock. On top of the $4.99 base price for so many DC comics, as we are forced to buy these backup stories, it’s just too much – $5.99 for a single comic book. DC is uniquely this expensive. Marvel puts out only an occasional $4.99 book with extra pages.

    This week’s select is way off the charts in price:

    Aquaman 80th: $9.99 (96 pp premium bound)
    Batman Fear State Alpha $4.99 (40 pp)
    Batman Superman Annual $5.99 (48 pp)
    Harley Quinn Annual $5.99 (48 pp)
    Infinite Frontier $4.99 (40 pp)
    Midnighter Annual $5.99 (48 pp)

    The only 32-page $3.99 books are Static, Teen Titans Academy, and Wonder Girl.

    Aquaman will have a card-stock kind of cover since it’s premium bound.

    All of the others are regular covers with card stock variants for $1.00 more.

    Annuals used to be 40 pages, and had no variants at all. Do we really need such massive 40 or 38 page stories? And now with so many books seeing delays, September will have many weeks where the same title will be have both the monthly release and an annual.

    How can anyone think DC is less profitable than Marvel? Their prices are almost universally chart-topping.

    You did mention you wish the space for the backup were granted to Wonder Woman instead. Well, the Wonder Woman story is already 22 pages, so it normally won’t be longer, but your idea of ditching the backup is a good one. The 8-page backup is going to see its own collection soon – it’s already been solicited. And it wouldn’t be a bad YA or Kids book. Some books DC is putting out have 10-page backups, which has knocked their main stories back to 20 pages. So things could be worse for Wonder Woman – it could be a mere 20 page story.

    It’s a pricey hobby!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, it’s impossible to miss all those costume changes, it’s random but loads of fun. You’d think Diana had brought her old boutique with her… in fact, imagine if she’d turned up in a Mike Sekowsky white pantsuit… there’s still time, mind!

      Prices today really are appallingly. The last time I bought anything approaching a variant was when DC had all those lenticular covers – I couldn’t resist!

      Like

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