Although she will forever be known as the co-creator of Marvel’s first Muslim superhero, Ms. Marvel AKA Kamala Khan, G. Willow Wilson has written for other publishers, whether it be the excellent Invisible Kingdom for Dark Horse or creator-owned work for DC’s soon-to-be defunct imprint Vertigo. Speaking of DC, Wilson returns to Marvel’s biggest rival to be the latest writer on the main Wonder Woman title, which seems to be the ideal fit.
Diana Prince has adjusted well to her new home where she lives with her true love Steve Trevor after being exiled from her birthplace of Themyscira for so long, but she still yearns to reconnect with her mother Hippolyta. When Steve goes missing in action during a mission in Eastern Europe, Diana rushes into action to rescue him, only to come face to face with the God of War himself, Ares, who has been reborn on Earth after something cataclysmic has happened to Themyscira.
The first big arc to start Wilson’s run immediately sets out to define Wonder Woman’s brand of justice, which is to stop wars. Throughout these five issues, she may be fighting her way through the war-consuming streets with her sword and shield, as well as the Lasso of Truth, but she is about caring for others and realizing that the solution to end wars is through words, not guns. The art by Cary Nord and Xermanico often displays our eponymous hero in these battle poses — although the former’s character designs can be lukewarm compared to the latter’s more detailed figures — and there is also a delicacy that shines through thanks to Wilson making her a comforting presence, even if the harsh politics don’t agree with her values.
Despite this strong characterization, however, the main arc itself is problematic. It juggles a lot and raises many questions right from the start, especially if you are not well-versed in Wonder Woman’s previous adventures since the start of DC’s Rebirth. For starters, why does Ares have to be the first villain for any new Wonder Woman writer to tackle? He may be the God of War, and Wilson tries to change up the status quo of him as well as the other Greek gods that are left stranded on Earth, but “The Just War” just ends up being the typical slugfest between hero and villain.
With the interesting premise of the Greek gods and mystical creatures exiling into Earth – including the former Goddess of Love Aphrodite now staying into Diana and Steve’s home – it’s the smaller stories that bring out the best in Wilson’s writing in terms of heart and humor. The best issue of this volume, drawn by Emanuela Lupacchino, is not even about Wonder Woman, but about the comedy antics of a Pegasus, a Minotaur and a satyr. The situations may be hilarious, but at the heart of this trio is the search for that place of belonging and although Diana does help, I would like to see more solo adventures with these characters.
Concluding the volume is the two-part arc with Wonder Woman’s Luthor-like nemesis Veronica Cale controlling the Goddess of Grudges, Nemesis. If you’ve read Greg Rucka’s Rebirth run, you’ll know that Cale has been through a lot, especially losing her daughter to Themyscira, which now suddenly having disappeared, shakes the emotional core for both her and Wonder Woman. Although the confrontation with Nemesis is underwhelming (despite the impressive art by Jesus Merino), the relationship between Cale and Diana strikes a greater note with both of them initially against each other, to eventually bonding over the tragedies they’ve both experienced, which will hopefully in later issues.
An interesting premise and strong characterization is ultimately what saves the first volume, which suffers from unfocused storytelling. Not quite a home run for G. Willow Wilson’s debut of writing the Amazon princess, but sets up something intriguing for the near future.
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