Wonder Woman #26
Writer: Shea Fontana
Art: Mirka Andolfo
Cover Art: Jesús Merino (variant by Jenny Frison)
Summary: The new creative team takes Wonder Woman and her friends in a new direction as Diana goes international in her crusade for peace. The story moves back and forth between Diana’s childhood and her present showing how events that have passed connect to where she is now. The story moves at a nice pace and sets up new events with a good amount of plot development, action, and intrigue, the book is jarring when trying to connect the last issue to this one. Overall a solid solid issues, with some rough transitions.
What has gone: Last issue ended Rucka’s multiple arc run, tying all of the stories together and setting up for the new team. Wonder Woman had learned she was forever cut off from her mother and the other amazons, resolved her conflicts with her gods, and made her peace (perhaps) with her enemies. Etta Candy had begun her search for Barbara Minerva, now Cheetah once again and unwilling to return to normal. Etta seemed to be distancing herself from Wonder Woman, asking explicitly to conduct her search on her own.
Where we are: We begin the issue in a refugee camp, learning that Diana and Steve Trevor have taken their efforts to stop the madness of war on the road. We see that Diana has been at this for some time and throughout the issue we are given the impression that the constant battle and tension is weighing on Wonder Woman. In between scenes at the camp and military compounds we also are shown an incident from Diana’s past in which her mother is criticized by other Amazons for not training Diana in battle, instead opting to let her play with dolls. Diana overhears Hippolyta question whether Diana has the strength of a warrior, upsetting Diana greatly as she cries herself to sleep. This leads to the impression that this arc will be about the warrior’s strength in Diana’s heart (hence the title “The Heart of the Amazon”). We also see that Etta Candy has joined Diana and Steve, and apparently has lost all hint of anger at Diana. We meet Dr. Crawford, learn there is something mysterious about her (cough, cough) related to something secretive going on at the base (pardon me while I speak in code about something in front of you). Speaking of secretive, apparently Diana’s mission there is also a secret, which is why the random guy looking to start an intermural team is able to just run into her. The story rounds out the action and fighting with a wedding (of course). While Etta is cutting a rug with a friend, Diana finds a young refugee girl she had befriended earlier hiding under the table….next to a time bomb set to go off in just a few seconds. Next issue we will find out if Diana makes it in time to stop the boom.
What does it all mean: As a standalone issue, the books is pretty good. The plot is good, though at times the dialogue seems to be on the level of a children’s book compared to the writing that preceded it. That is Fontana’s wheelhouse and it could be an intentional effort to bring in younger readers, but sometimes the flow of the plot was hindered by scenes that were almost trite in their treatment. It’s not bad per se, but as transitions go, the writing from the previous issue to this one didn’t seem to flow. Hopefully the story will grow into things as the arc progresses. There were some interesting developments, my interest is definitely piqued as to what could be going on with Dr. Crawford, and I’m looking forward to that unfolding.
There were also some odd developments, such as Etta Candy seems to have done a complete 180 about looking for Cheetah, and doesn’t mention her even once. This may be explained later on, but given it was of paramount importance to Candy at the time, there had to have been something that happened that changed her direction so much. They found her, she gave up, she go amnesia, she’s an Etta Candy clone-bot…..something. There are many questions I have that I feel like could have been treated and tucked away instead of just dropped. I raised an eyebrow at the “random guy being able to walk into secure compound using a fake company as a front” business, it seemed a bit too forced as a way to show how much stress Diana is under. I also take issue, as I often do, at the notion implied in some of the Themyscira scenes that girls are not naturally warriors. Hippolyta’s reluctance to make her daughter fight is perfectly understandable, but statements implying she is acting like a “girl” rather than a “warrior” always leaves a bad taste in my mouth in terms of reinforcing some false notion of gender roles. But I’ll spare you the rest of that, at least for now.
I was in a similar situation with the art. Good……but definitely a different direction. The art matched with the writing, which is a good thing, but it also gave the feel I usually attribute with books pitched for a younger audience. Again this could be intentional, or it could be just that the art was juxtaposed to the previous art team and it will take a bit to get used to the new style. The story and art are good enough to sustain things, and I’m happy with the feel, even if it’s not immediately engaging.
Ultimately, it was a decent start to a new arc. A few major plot lines seem to have been abandoned unceremoniously, but time will tell on that. A few major plotlines have started, some with a bang (sorry! It was right there, I had to do it). The art and the writing are new and may take some getting used to, but the team has at least thus far shown they’ve got ideas and they’re ready to run with them. Let’s see where they go!