A Return to Wonder – Wonder Woman #14 Review

Cover by Jenny Frison
Cover by Jenny Frison

With this latest instalment in the DC Rebirth Wonder Woman series, we return to the finale of Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott and Romulo Fajardo Jr.'s Year One story, presented us with a revised origin to the character in the current DC Universe.

And frankly, it feels like a return for the character.

Let me go no further without adding this admission: Wonder Woman never used to be my favourite comics character. Not that I didn't like her, but more that she left not as much of a lasting impression on me as she did others. And whilst this is seemingly unusual for a gay reader, it just simply was: for me, it felt like there hadn't really been a true story that spoke to me and made me understand the core of her character.

Art by Nicola Scott and Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Art by Nicola Scott and Romulo Fajardo Jr.

Maybe this is understandable. Wonder Woman is actually a fairly complex character to comprehend. Most writers and creators have a habit of making her a fairly generic Amazonian warrior archetype, even the best creators. This is understandable as Wonder Woman is a big part of the formation of that superhero archetype, but with so many out there in the world, being the first or an early example is not necessarily enough to make you distinguished.

And also, it technically isn't entirely faithful to the origins of the character, all those years ago by William Moulton Marston. A character who was meant to be an answer to the toxic and violent masculinity that dominated the medium of the time; Wonder Woman has nonetheless become a more garden variety sword-swinging, killer-if-required, violent action heroine.

Through this issue, the whole Year One story, and it's sister story, The Truth with artist Liam Sharp, Rucka, Scott, Fajardo Jr. et al. have achieved something truly remarkable: a true restoration of the character.

In fact, it is probably the truest feeling series to the idea of Rebirth than any other in the line.

Wonder Woman, by the end of this issue and arc, is returned to being strong not because she can lift a tank or hurl a man across the room, but because she has the strength to stand against impossible odds. She is beautiful not just for her physicality but for the seemingly boundless hope and love she contains. She is inspirational because of these things, and because of how her supporting cast all cannot help but be inspired to be better by her.

This is perhaps most dramatically emphasised in two scenes: the first with Wonder Woman submitting to her enemy, Ares. Because, yes, there is strength in this. In supplication, in this moment of seemingly giving up control, Wonder Woman is actually entirely in control. She knows, or at least suspects, that she does not really have what it is the God of War wants, but she takes control of the situation, shutting down his attack, and allowing her and her allies time to recoup and fight back.

Art by Nicola Scott and Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Art by Nicola Scott and Romulo Fajardo Jr.

The second, later in the book, sees Wonder Woman affected by Ares' weapon of destruction and chaos, and go on a spree of violence against her enemies, before stopping herself, wrapping herself in the Lasso of Truth (which this arc has also named the Perfect, which I think is a wonderful retcon) and purging herself of such a lie to the core of the character: Wonder Woman isn't violence and destruction, even though she is capable. She is love and compassion, and the desire to do something better.

The artwork in this issue is wonderful. Clear and flowing and beautifully laid out, with some truly great panel work from Scott too. And the colours to Scott's work enliven the art the add warmth, energy and depth to the artwork. I am particularly blown away by Fajardo Jr.'s rendition of skin tones, which feel so real and alive, and fantastically diverse too.

The team have done something which I feel has been a long time needed for Wonder Woman: they've created the story that speaks to the very core, the very essence of what Wonder Woman is. Of why she is important. They have made Wonder Woman's All Star Superman or Green Lantern: Rebirth. They've re-established why Wonder Woman is unique and vital.

And they have also cemented Wonder Woman as my new favourite character in all of comics.

Joe Glass is a Bleeding Cool contributor and comics creator. He is the writer of LGBTQ+ superhero team series, The Pride. The Pride is available on ComiXology and also at his online store. He is also co-writer of Welsh horror comedy series, Stiffs, also available on ComiXology and online here

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About Joe Glass

Joe Glass has been contributing to Bleeding Cool for about four years. He's been a roaming reporter at shows like SDCC and NYCC, and also has a keen LGBTQ focus, with his occasional LGBTQ focus articles, Tales from the Four Color Closet. He is also now Bleeding Cool's Senior Mutant Correspondent thanks to his obsession with Marvel's merry mutants. Joe is also a comics creator, writer of LGBTQ superhero team series, The Pride, the first issue of which was one of the Top 25 ComiXology Submit Titles of 2014. He is also a co-writer on Stiffs, a horror comedy series set in South Wales about call centre workers who hunt the undead by night. One happens to be a monkey. Just because.
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