What does the Immortal Wonder Woman do in the afterlife? How does one respond to being lost in the Sphere of the Gods? This is the scope of story and mystery that Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad and Travis Moore are bringing to Wonder Woman #770. It’s a new adventure unlike anything Diana has faced before, while being a spiritual successor to the ideas that spawned one of her most famous stories, War of the Gods.
Wonder Woman: Winter Warrior
Cloonan and Conrad drop readers right into the middle of a large-scale battle, which the readers are able to discover alongside Diana. It’s the beginning of a tale that sets up an issue-long premise well, and sells readers on an appropriate amount of intrigue to keep them here. It’s also just incredibly fun — every page of this issue features some amount of excitement, whether it’s in action, discovery or joy. Readers are going to come away from this story having had a good time.
The book breaks nicely into four individual chapters, each separated by a vision. This gives the book a deliberate direction and pace while strongly hooking readers into the mystery at hand. The visions in particular are interesting as Diana communicates with a silhouetted figure, who is posed in such a specific position that it must be intentional. It’s a detail that will rumble around in readers’ minds as they try to discover the speaker’s identity.
The characterization of Wonder Woman just slightly misses the mark in some instances. She’s depicted with the appropriate amount of spunk and Cloonan and Conrad are effectively able to avoid the depiction of Wonder Woman as a sexless maiden which Greg Rucka has criticized, however, the portrayal missed a certain amount of scholarly dignity that Diana possesses. It’s not that she isn’t smart in the book, but there are times she should convey herself with more linguistic variety, or approach things with a more scholastic curiosity than a typical, “Oh, what’s wrong here?”
There are also things she should probably know given how well-studied her character would typically be. She should know who Siegfried is, though this might be explained away with her having lost her memory.
The book has a moment where she’s specifically introduced as, “I am Diana. I’m a warrior,” and that’s a reductionist take. Outside of that moment, she’s actually fleshed out with a jolly, adventurous demeanor that feels correct for her, especially in this story, especially as it matches the other characters that are depicted here.
Siegfried here is written almost with the same spirit as a pulp hero who at the end of the day knows everything will be all right. It’s an interpretation that layers into the world and story they’ve set up quite nicely. Ratatosk also politely straddles the line between Disney animal sidekick and mythic omen of things to come. It’s a great element of their interpretation to create a small sense of anxiety about what’s to come.
It’s also fun to see Diana talking to animals, something that was a large part of her classic interpretation and is often absent from modern portrayals.
Moore does stellar work on this issue. It even starts with the cover, which is a beautiful first take of Diana in a foreign land. Inside the issue though, he’s up to every task Cloonan and Conrad throw his way, and it’s largely because of him that elements of this issue succeed in the way they do.
For example, he brings a deep level of classic charm to both his depictions of Diana and Siegried, which will undoubtedly help endear them to readers. When Diana is celebrating among warriors in Valhalla, one would struggle not to find themselves grinning at Diana’s somewhat collegiate revelry, and when Siegfriend turns to help Diana at any opportunity, readers will be seduced by his chivalry.
It’s a friendship that will certainly become another kind of ship as readers begin to adore their interactions at every turn.
It’s also Moore who has adorned Diana in one of her best alternate designs in years. The subtle adaptations for the cold, as well as the use of rougher metals throughout, give the design a distinct, yet subtle quality. It’s also got an excellent balance of colors, slightly muted to match the tone of a frigid, white north. Readers might find themselves wanting this story to span multiple different pantheons so that Moore might provide alternate designs for each of them.
Throughout, Diana is telling full stories with the depiction of her body movements and facial expressions, which need no words to understand. A standout page in the book has Diana testing the limits of her powers in this new world, and the framing of the panels as well as Diana’s expressions tell readers everything they need to know.
It isn’t that Moore’s art is perfect in this book, but it’s that combined with Tamra Bonvillain’s colors, it might be existing just next to perfect. It couldn’t be a better complement to the script that Cloonan and Conrad have put together.
Cloonan, Conrad and Moore set the stage more effectively for a successful run than Tamaki, Orlando, Wilson and Robinson before them. In a story made up of an intriguing mystery, likable characters, fantastic art and cute talking animals, and only held back by a slight mischaracterization of the main character, it’s hard to find a reason readers should stay away from this book.
Young Diana: Writer Jordie Bellaire and artist Paulina Ganucheau give readers a story here that includes the single greatest thing in Wonder Woman canon: flying space kangaroos from Saturn.
You need more than that for a review?
It’s not enough?
OK! It’s also a fun story about a young princess that conveys realistically elements of the culture that shaped her. It makes Diana cute and sets up an intriguing premise for a follow up.
An intriguing mystery, likable characters, fantastic art and cute talking animals — it’s hard not to endorse this book.
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