Wonder Woman #781 review

A catch-up lunch date with Etta Candy is curtailed when a call from Steve Trevor summons Diana’s pal to his side. Wonder Woman asks Etta for a favour.

Diana isn’t at a loss for something to do, having just learnt that longtime enemy Dr Psycho has put out a book of his poisonous thoughts. She finds him at the TV station where he’s been doing an interview.

Later, an annoyed Dr Psycho used his mental powers to remind Diana he’s not one to be messed with, taking over a random man on a building site.

It’s a clear message – if she doesn’t leave him alone, innocents will die.

Later, Diana seeks out Boston Brand, Deadman. He’s borrowed the body of a recently autopsied corpse.

Deadman uses psychometry to get a lead on where Diana should lay the sword to rest.

Steve Trevor, meanwhile, has been pining to see Diana. That turns out well…

Another crazed Wonder Woman-alike? We’ve only just had one in the Afterlife storyline, and we’ve seen a fair few down the years. And the cliffhanger, an arresting image, hints that there are more to come. I’m a tad tired of seeing Diana battling ‘herself’, bring on the bad guys.

Dr Psycho fits nicely into that category, being unashamedly vile, a super-incel. Deadman, on the other hand, is certainly a hero, but I’m very uncomfortable with the idea of his moving from ‘borrowing’ a live person’s body to stealing a dead one’s. In principle, taking over a dead soul is better than taking over a live one – the live person likely has things they’d rather be doing. But really, it’s awful… somewhere there’s a funeral that’s being held up and friends and relatives wondering what’s become of their loved one.

How is Wonder Woman OK with this?

And Diana going off on a Siegfried-related quest while Dr Psycho – real name Edgar Cizko – is planning heaven knows what is a headscratcher, even though Diana’s reasoning is right there on the page.

Surely the threat of Dr Psycho is the impetus Diana needs to focus – how distracting can a sword be? Hopefully this won’t lead to a months-long diversion; ideally, this is writers Michael W Conrad and Becky Cloonan putting Diana-as-sword-wielder to bed once and for all.

Quibbles aside, I enjoyed the issue, there are plenty of interesting things happening, with engaging dialogue and visuals.

The art this time is by Marcio Takara, and it’s terrific. Out of costume the Amazing Amazon looks great, sexy-wholesome as Diana Prince should be – we even get her in the traditional glasses, with a pair of Donna Troy’s old star earrings. In costume, Diana looks equally good, strong, and not over-sexualised. And Dr Psycho is just freaky, while that dark Wonder Woman has a real horror vibe. There’s a keen sense of place and the composition choices work – I especially like the upshot of the possessed guy looming above the street, and that moment of revelation for Deadman, above, is suitably startling.

Tamra Bonvillain’s naturalistic colours work well, with the arrival of faux/foe Wonder Woman beautifully lit. Pat Brosseau’s letters are typically smart, though I’m not keen on the freehand look of the word balloons in which they sit.

There’s a new back-up strip, Prologue to Trial of the Amazons, said event being a crossover between this book, Wonder Girl, Nubia and the Amazons and maybe even Justice League. And it’s so far, so good, as writer Vita Ayala and artist Skylar Patridge deliver the best Bana-Mighdall focus in years. The surprising set-up is that women from Patriarch’s World can apply to join the sister tribe to the Paradise Island Amazons.

Becoming a BM Amazon allows the taking on of a new name, and here Mabel Jefferson becomes Yaa Asantewaa, which sent me to Google… an editor’s note or dialogue reference would have kept me in the story. Yaa Asantewaa was a queen and revolutionary leader in Ghana, and I can see Ayala wanting to publicise an inspirational woman, but so far as the story goes, I’d rather see Mabel own her own name, just as she ‘presents her truth’. Anyway, I hope Yaa is a presence in the event, perhaps as our POV character. I like her.

Complementing Ayala’s sharp story is the lovely artwork of Patridge, who does a terrific job with not only established characters Artemis, Faruka and Atalanta, but Yaa and her rivals for Amazon-hood. The subtle facial expressions really work, and when we get to some final page action… wow! Brosseau does another fine job with the lettering, while Romulo Fajardo Jr’s colour choices enhance every page.

The cover by Terry and Rachel Dodson feels so classic I went looking for previous ‘Diana reflected in sword’ images. I found nothing, but I know it’s out there! Anyway, even if a previously done idea, this is still a great version, with the little reflections of Diana’s head especially good. Mind, does she have her false eyelashes on upside down?

All in all, this is another great issue of Wonder Woman, thanks to a talented, committed batch of creators, including the so-far unmentioned editors, Chris Rosa and Brittany Holzherr. If you’ve not tried Wonder Woman in a while, this is a great jumping-on point.

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