Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad and Travis Moore complete their first arc as the creative team on DC’s Amazing Amazon with Wonder Woman #773. All the hallmarks of their short run are expectedly here — the sure-footed pacing, creative use of her supporting cast, and beautiful art, but the question is whether it finds that bit of magic that takes it from wonderful to iconic.
It can’t be understated how much Cloonan and Conrad have proved they deserve to be in this space. Their creative storytelling has added depth to Wonder Woman’s world in a way few creative teams have in over a decade, each issue has displayed an understanding of the themes which are most important to Wonder Woman’s world, and the craft of their work has been second to none.
All of that said, this issue makes clear the need for some fine-tuning in their formula. While they attempt an ending with a large revelation, and some topical social commentary, they largely whiff on both fronts. Neither is particularly insightful, exciting or overtly necessary in the context of what seems to be going on with Diana.
The Valkyries and Norse Gods as a metaphor for certain misogynistic practices doesn’t inherently not work, but it’s decades outdated. The simple observation of these issues with no larger message doesn’t do much for the story, nor does it inspire a new train of thought in readers. It’s simply been seen dozens of times.
The situation, as well as Diana’s handling of it, simply lack a certain nuance. Oppression isn’t a simple situation fixed with might makes right, yet that is largely how Diana’s victory is won here. It’s largely an out of character approach to victory for the character, and seems somewhat reflective of the more bloodthirsty character the series tried to set itself in opposition to in Wonder Woman #772.
The mischaracterization again extends to the way Diana speaks. Despite Conrad’s response to past reviews, saying, “we made a choice to have her speak in a less aristocratic way. This wasn’t an error, she can still do it… but to our mind, no one speaks like they’re addressing the court at all times.” the choice of colloquialisms still make little sense for her character.
The line, “I’ve got gods to knock around” is immature, and casually violent for a centuries-old scholar devoted to peace. This isn’t a lower level of decorum, but a lower level of intelligence she’s displaying.
Luckily, these aren’t series-crushing issues. Cloonan and Conrad’s inspired take on the lore is more than enough to warrant reader further investment in this series. Just in this issue, we see two of Wonder Woman’s rogues used in inventive ways unlike they’ve maybe ever been used.
Additionally, so much is simply just cool here. The Valkyries are awesome and worth coming back to. The final pages are an exciting and excellent cliffhanger. And little moments of interaction between Diana and Thor, or Diana and Deadman can be incredibly fun.
That extends to the humor of the book as well, which is very often on point. Whether it’s the recurring joke of Thor calling Diana “Wander Woman,” or his revelation that he actually does have flaws, the book earns a good chuckle from readers.
Lastly, though, Diana’s relationship with Siegfried is confusing, simply because the book never addresses why Diana apparently must not be in a relationship with Stever Trevor and/or care to be in one. It’s a weird hangup to leave there, especially when Diana and Siegfried are genuinely adorable together. They seem like a worthwhile pairing to come back to, if not for the feeling of awkwardness around it all.
Moore largely doesn’t suffer from much of the problems that bring this issue down. This book is directly comparable to the quality of each of its predecessors, in that it’s fantastic, maybe even a little better.
His design sense really shines with the Valkyries, whose understated regalia takes the reader by surprise but leaves a worthwhile impression. Each has a distinct personality on display in their design, which begs some further exploration of their stories.
Additionally, Moore’s page composition hits its peak for this series here. A standout spread a third of the way into the book captures the thunderous, adventurous energy this series has strove for since the first issue. And again it’s the Valkyries which really draw the readers’ eyes here, and which drives the desire to see more throughout the book.
Furthermore, the latter part of the issue is such a good showcase for how expressive and lively Moore’s characters are. Each feels warm and inviting, as if there is life and blood running through them.
Cloonan, Conrad and Moore don’t stick the landing here, but it should be understood that they’ve built up enough good will so far that readers should come back. There are so many exciting ideas present and developing in this series which could come to a fruitful end, and this could’ve been the first fruit the series bore. Sadly it didn’t come across in quite the way it seems to have been intended.
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