Wonder Woman #31
Writer: James Robinson
Pencils: Carlo Pagulayan
Cover Art: Bryan Hitch & Alan Sinclair (variant by Jenny Frison)
Summary: After finishing with the Heart of the Amazon, we’re on to a new arc. This one’s going to get personal, bringing in family ties on both sides. This arc is starting off with a lot of classic nods, entertaining but also raising the question of where Rebirth is heading for Wonder Woman.
What has gone: The past two arcs have seen Diana dealing with truth and lies. At the beginning of Rebirth, Diana dealt with the harsh realities that she had been living a lie, largely through the deception by her Patrons. The next arc led Diana through a web of betrayal that left her questioning who she could trust and finding the strength of her own heart. Wonder Woman seems finished with her official government ties, at least for now. With a new creative team and a new story, it looks like it’s once again a fresh start for the Amazon.
Where we are (possible minor spoilers): We open our story with a lumberjack. A bold move outside of a Monty Python skit perhaps, but never fear we soon learn this is no ordinary mountain man. Through his short-lived narrative we learn of a plot hatching pitting the old gods against the New Gods and an effort to return a key player to his former glory. Diana meanwhile has pulled up roots and taken to the road yet again.
We catch up with her and Steve Trevor in Los Angeles duking it out with Giganta over a good old-fashioned robbery. Diana seems to be enjoying her break from moral ambiguity and deception, noting that it’s refreshing to have a clear-cut mission for a change.
After the battle, a stranger approaches with an odd manor and even odder news, Diana is the heir to an estate! An inheritance that will no doubt put her on the radar of the New Gods, and the Great Darkness on the edge of return…….
What does it all mean (possible minor spoilers): The arc begins with a fairly sedate opening scene, but the pace quickly increases and most of the issue is fairly action driven. The motivations of everyone all around seem simple on their own, but promise to intertwine to create a tangled web for Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor. The story contains a lot of classic elements, but they’re combined together in a way that unfolds naturally and keeps the energy throughout the issue. The art keeps pace with the story, the detail is spot-on, with more details in the narrative scenes and more focus on the action during fight scenes. Pagulayan does a great job drawing the reader’s eye to where it needs to go for the story.
The written word and the art are tied together beautifully in no small part through the letterer, Saida Temofonte, who I really have to mention here. Letterers don’t get enough credit for their craft. The words in this issue fly off the page, and in many places they’re almost as expressive as the pencils. This is a great example of how carefully chosen placement and emphasis on the words can tie the elements of a book together.
If I were to levee a criticism for this issue, it’s that once again it seems like a completely different book. Given that I wasn’t enamored with the last storyline that’s not necessarily a negative, and not the fault of any particular creative team, but the book is starting to suffer from a bit of a split personality. This issue at times felt like a Pre-Crisis book (with elements like Steve’s “Angel” references and Giganta, I really felt like it was the 80s again), sometimes like a Post-Crisis book, and sometimes like a Rebirth book. The first arcs in #1-25 threaded through a coherent narrative and carefully laid out the reconciliation between Diana’s memories and her realities, putting her life into context. Since then, it seems like that roadmap has been been discarded and the book is casting around for a direction. I worry about investing in any particular incarnation of Diana, because in the next arc she may disappear.
Final Thoughts: The current arc is off to an interesting start and I’m enjoying both the art and the story but I worry that Diana is going to suffer from a perpetual identity crisis. For now though, I’m looking forward to the next issue!