Marking eight decades of DC’s Amazing Amazon, here’s another giant anthology. Is it a thing of wonder?
Michael W Conrad and Becky Cloonan begin with a character piece, as Steve Trevor shows Etta Candy a film he’s put together in tribute to the recently departed Diana. It includes tribute comments from fellow heroes, daring rescues, supervillains… and an excruciating conversation with Lois Lane about authenticity. Honestly, it’s pure Paltrow meets Markle Hollywood nonsense. Steve’s portrait is pretty shallow, painting Diana as a total paragon, and perhaps that’s the point. We’re promised a continuation in the next issue of Wonder Woman… maybe we’ll meet the new girlfriend we’re told the supposedly devastated Steve has. I trust Conrad and Cloonan, they’ve been doing superb work on Diana’s monthly series. Jim Cheung seems to put more effort into drawing a nice Diana than he does Steve and Etta… mind, the current Etta model is such a bizarre reimagining of a classic character, who’d want to draw her?
A typically pretty Young Diana story by writer Jordie Bellaire and artist Paulina Ganucheau has the tween Amazon chat to Nubia at Doom’s Doorway about weighty expectations. I was counting the panels until someone mentioned ‘my truth’ and yup, there it is. I’m so sick of this modern cliche – there’s the truth, and then there’s opinion. Feelings. Interpretations. But Diana should be concerned with The Truth, not versions of it.
As I start to suspect this issue is going to be all earnest messages, Amy Reeder comes through with Fresh Catch, which spreads the Gospel of Diana, but with humour and heart. It’s Golden Age-inspired joy with an authentic Etta Candy and her Holliday Girls helping Diana out of a tricky situation. Reeder’s words and pictures pop off the page, while Marissa Louise ensure the bad guys are suitably colourless compared to the good gals.
Diana’s wisdom is a quality sorely neglected down the decades – well, it’s tough to write. Mark Waid manages it in a story spanning the Bronze and Silver Ages, pencilled by the incomparable José Luis García-López, working with inker Joe Prado. Fellow JLA-ers are constantly asking Diana for advice, what’s a Wonder Woman to do? Expect delight.
Writer Tom King and artist Evan ‘Doc’ Shaner take us back to Wonder Woman’s Mod era as Lois Lane sets Diana up with her hopeless workmate Clark Kent. King captures the vibe of the time while giving us a delightfully gauche Clark and super-hip Di. Shaner channels his inner Mike Sekowsky for Di, while nodding towards DC’s Romance books of the time. Plus, the final panel of the perfect page below gives us a fantastic facial expression for Clark that was never on Curt Swan’s famous style sheet.
All this, and not one, but two classic Lois Lane cover references in a single panel.
It’s the zillionth battle between Diana and the Cheetah, and this time a teacher and her pupils are caught in the middle. Will Barbara Minerva help save everyone? Diana takes a gamble… With so many Wonder Woman anthology comics over the last decade, it feels like we’ve seen this tale a fair few times, but writer Vita Ayala’s script is peppy, while Isaac Goodhart draws a stunning Diana.
And did you notice that ‘KRAK!’? That’s the unmistakable hand of veteran letterer John Workman.
There’s another Golden Age callback, from writer Steve Orlando, as Diana, Hippolyta, Artemis and Nubia discuss the coming annual invasion attempt from Saturn. Will the experience of Hippolyta and Artemis help Diana – who in this continuity has never dealt with the pesky Saturnians? Daft as their names are, it’s enjoyable to see Saturnette and Mephisto Saturno again, and it’s always good to have some Laura Braga art.
The mythological roots of Diana chime in an encounter with Demeter. There’s action, a moral quandary and even a bit of philosophy in a sharp short from writer Stephanie Phillips and artist Marcia Takara.
Finally, it’s the far future and the people of Earth are looking to the stars. While Diana is sad that people have worn out the world, she’s inspired by their optimism, their ability to look outward. Writer G Willow Wilson and artist Meghan Hetrick provide a nice message of hope to go out on.
All the colourists and letterer do fine work, while editors Brittany Holzherr, Bixie Mathieu and Mike Cotton deserve credit for putting together a better-than-average celebration. It even includes a handful of pin-ups, with standouts by Nick Robles, David Marquez, and Nicola Scott & Annette Kwok.
Hitting many periods of Wonder Woman history, this special is, overall, a pretty great read. It has a couple of standout stories, plenty of good reads and no real clunkers. Plus, a great cover by illustrator Yanick Paquette and colourist Nathan Fairbairn. That’s my Diana!