Diana and Maxwell Lord are on the trail of the person responsible for a rash of hallucinations. Wonder Woman’s newest enemy is revealed and I’m … I’m just so frustrated.
Beware of spoilers ahead, because I have to get very specific to discuss the major problems with this issue.
Last issue ended in the middle of an exciting action sequence. A nuclear missile had been launched and Diana was in hot pursuit. Several people had been murdered by a man who was being mind-controlled into infiltrating a military base. This issue begins, and…everything has been taken care of. The missile was apparently caught in mid-air (no explanation of how it was disarmed or disposed of), the app that’s been causing people to hallucinate has been disabled, and the mind-controlled general was apprehended (apparently by Max Lord). Every little bit of story from last issue was just … handled off-page.
Well, almost everything. The bits that do come back from last issue feel like retreads, particularly where Maxwell Lord is concerned. The comic itself even addresses this point with a handful of editors notes pointing out that “a lot happened” in the previous issue. I guess so, but it all feels extra pointless if the reader doesn’t actually get to see the resolution. Instead, it just feels like a full issue is missing, skipping over Wonder Woman’s heroic rescue so we can get back to another interrogation scene where Wonder Woman is back to believing that Maxwell Lord is behind all of this. Maybe this is harsh, but this issue just feels incredibly lazy.
This was a problem I had in the last few issues, as well. For instance, a previous issue ended with Diana having attacked the city in a hallucinatory rage. The issue after that opened with her having been apprehended and calmed down off-panel.
In my review of issue #760, I said that it felt like story beats were being reused from one issue to the next. Never has that felt more true than in this issue. Also, the jump from last issue to this one is the most jarring yet.
The heroic sequences are well illustrated by Carlo Barberi, who makes the crowded sequences of panic and unrest look dynamic instead of cluttered. Matt Santorelli’s inks are also fantastic in this regard, making even the most chaotic scenes feel well-defined. However, it’s hard to enjoy the events of the issue when so much of it feels like a retread of previous issues. They’re well-executed sequences in a story that feels like it’s barely paying attention to itself.
Even the “reveal” of the big villain of the arc (which was spoiled by the solicits months ago) is treated as an actual reveal — even though we got that reveal at the end of last issue, not to mention an appearance from this character early into this issue, when she mind controls a soldier into driving her to Wonder Woman’s location. And it’s not just that it’s finally revealed to Diana for the first time. The way the issue frames it, teasing out the reveal of the character’s pet and then a full reveal shortly afterward, makes it seem like the reader is supposed to be surprised. I mean, hell, she’s on the cover! It’s like the comic has selective amnesia, and it makes it a frustrating read.
There are some moments that I genuinely like. Even though we’ve already seen this argument, the dialogue between Max and Wonder Woman is solid, as is the sequence depicting Max’s look beyond the Source Wall. This colors the character’s motivations in some really interesting ways that I genuinely hope to see explored further, rather than making him a power-hungry villain. It seems like the series is on track to flesh him out further, which is exciting.
The opening narration of the issue is also well written and feels like it’s building to a realization for Diana. One of the highlights of this run has been seeing her flashbacks to her time on Themyscira, which seem to heavily inform how she sees the world in the present day.
However, every issue of this run seems to reboot itself from what was just seen on the last pages of the issue before it. I certainly hope that this story is leading somewhere, because it showed so much promise when it kicked off. As of now, it’s hard to feel invested in a story that doesn’t even seem like it wants to move itself forward.