Comic Books & Graphic NovelsReviews

Review: YEAR ONE Begins – WONDER WOMAN #2

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Wonder Woman #2
Wonder Woman: Year
One, Chapter 1
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Nicola Scott and Romulo Fajardo Jr
Published by DC Comics
32 pages. Copyright 2016

A little less than two months have passed since DC started its Rebirth initiative. At this point, impressive sales numbers coupled with favorable critical reception have many singing the publishers praises. DC seems to have turned around the criticism that the legacy and history had been missing from their universe. Long time readers of DC had felt very strongly in recent years that the New 52 DC Universe had forfeited the single most important and unique thing about the DC universe.

DC Rebirth art by Jim Lee, Scott Williams & Alex Sinclair
DC Rebirth art by Jim Lee, Scott Williams & Alex Sinclair

Along with a return to the legacy feel of the universe, perhaps the most significant change is that many titles are shipping twice a month. This is an interesting choice by DC and each title’s creative team is handling the extra work load differently. Some are alternating arcs for the art teams; others are dividing up the pages of each issue or other variations of this approach.

Wonder Woman Rebirth Covers by Liam Sharp, Laura Martin and Stanley Lau
Wonder Woman Rebirth Covers by Liam Sharp, Laura Martin and Stanley Lau

The team of writer Greg Rucka and artists Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott are taking this division one step further. Sharp and Scott are indeed trading off issues, but with one critical difference. The storyline itself is trading off issues as well. Beginning in issue one, Rucka and Sharp are telling a story set in the modern day. Wonder Woman, arguably the most famous female superhero ever, has suffered over the last 25 years from a lack of consistency in her origin story. Various writers over the years have changed, shifted, retconned, and revamped her origin so much that it can be difficult to discern what is currently considered canon and what has been cast aside. So now Wonder Woman herself is in search of her true origin. Rucka has taken the inconsistencies of Wonder Woman’s past and made it part of the story itself. Is it metatextual? Absolutely. Is it working so far? Judging by the Rebirth issue and the first installment of the new ongoing series, the answer is: definitely.

Wonder Woman #1 cover by Liam Sharp & Laura Martin
Wonder Woman #1 cover by Liam Sharp & Laura Martin

The story is intriguing on various levels. From a readers perspective, finding out why this has happened is just as much a mystery as how it happened. The biggest mystery of all, however, may be just what exactly is the truth of Wonder Woman’s beginnings. For a hero who has been around for as long as Wonder Woman has, this is a unique position to be in. The other story, which will take place in the even issues, is titled Wonder Woman Year One. Traditionally, the DC Year One stories, starting back in 1987 with Frank Miller’s classic Batman Year One, are powerful and definitive stories of the first year of a hero’s activity. So while there are two different Wonder Woman stories being told, they are intrinsically linked. The story of the modern day, where Wonder Woman is trying to discover the truth of her past as well as the reasons for her multiple histories, will find its origins in the earlier story. The Year One story, taking place in the past, will show the definitive origin of Wonder Woman. That is the story which kicked off in Wonder Woman #2 that hit comic shops July 13.

Before I get into the specifics of issue #2, I want to take about what makes a novel great in my opinion. I love it when the story and characters are so engaging I just can’t put the book down because I am dying to know what happens next. This is especially true with books that contain many characters: I’ll be reading a chapter and completely absorbed in the story. Then, the chapter will end and I will anxiously plunge into the next wanting to read more from those characters only to find out that the next chapter is focused on a completely different set of characters. But, before I know it, I am so enthralled with their story that when that chapter ends I want more of that part of the story. For me, that is the sign of excellent writing and it really propels me through the books that are written like this at a fast pace.

Wonder Woman #2 Cover by Nicola Scott & Romulo Fajardo Jr
Wonder Woman #2 Cover by Nicola Scott & Romulo Fajardo Jr

The reason I am mentioning this is because the first two issues of Wonder Woman have me feeling this way about the title. As soon as I finished reading issue #1, I wanted MORE of the modern day story: more battle with Cheetah, more Wonder Woman searching for answers, and more of the answers themselves. I found myself feeling slightly disappointed that the next installment of Wonder Woman would be a completely different story.

That disappointment only lasted until I saw the gorgeous interior art from Nicola Scott. The art in this book is truly breathtaking. The rendering is masterfully done and characters leap off the page. I have rarely seen such emotion conveyed in storytelling. It is easy to understand Diana, her fellow Amazons, Steve Trevor, and the other supporting characters because we know what they are feeling at all times. All credit for this goes to Scott’s facial expressions. There are several pages that really don’t even need dialogue and there is one page that actually has none. The storytelling on that page doesn’t miss a beat, because it is drawn so very well by Scott. Of course, even though there is no dialogue, let’s not forget writer Greg Rucka stil scripted that page after all.

Wonder Woman #2 art by Nicola Scott and Romulo Fajardo Jr
Wonder Woman #2 art by Nicola Scott and Romulo Fajardo Jr

The basic plot of the story is fairly simple and one we have seen before. In fact, we have seen it before in regards to Wonder Woman herself. She longs to see the outside world for herself. She is not content to rely on the opinions and memories of others to explain the world outside Themyscira to her. She wants to see it for herself, make her own judgments. It is hard not to respect that actually: knowledge gained by one’s self is much more reliable than anything anyone can teach or tell you. The story covers a substantial amount of time as we see Wonder Woman grow but never lose that curiosity about the outside world. We see her relationships with her Amazonian sisters and it is clear that they all care for each other deeply. It is also apparent that the Princess Diana is beloved by all. We also see glimpses of Steve Trevor’s life over the years. It is good to see these interludes into our world as it serves to ground the story in a more familiar setting. The issue ends with the plane Steve is riding in to his latest mission crashing on Paradise Island.

Wonder Woman #2 art by Nicola Scott & Romulo Fajardo Jr
Wonder Woman #2 art by Nicola Scott & Romulo Fajardo Jr

It ends with a big cliffhanger, and now I have to wait a whole month for the next installment of this Year One story. I will be very happy to read what will happen between Wonder Woman and the Cheetah, but after reading this story I just want more Year One and more amazing Nicola Scott art.

One other thing I should mention. It isn’t just the art and the basic plot from Rucka that make this book shine. It is also all the little details Rucka weaves into the tale. It’s the way the Amazons interact with one another. It’s their apparent love for Diana, their princess. It’s the wonderful relationship Steve Trevor has with his friends. It truly is an incredibly well-crafted issue.  Easily the book of the week and perhaps the best Rebirth issue so far.

For more information on Wonder Woman‘s latest series, visit the series page at DC comics.

You can learn more about all things comic book related over at Jace’s website.

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