Review: Wonder Woman #38

With its third issue, Simone kicks “Warkiller” into high gear with one of the book’s strongest issues.  Trapped in an impossible situation by the whims of the gods, Themyscira is on the verge of all-out war.  Alkyone, now Queen of Themyscira, is fomenting war with her every move.  The Bana-Mighdall are threatening rebellion, the apes have been betrayed, and Diana is scheduled to be executed in a matter of days.  And that’s far from the worst.

As with the best issues of her run on Wonder Woman, Simone deftly combines exciting action beats with notable character moments that add to the issue’s flow, rather than detracting from it.  Much of the set-up of the previous two issues comes to fruition as the climax strikes, though part of the excitement is derailed by two strange twists that almost detract from the thrill of seeing everything fall apart – the return of Genocide’s spirit, and a monstrous entity living on Paradise Isle.  Though the book loses a little bit of momentum with those moments, there’s still an issue left to see how they play out.

With Lopresti and Ryan continuing to do stellar work on art, Wonder Woman #38 is certainly a success.  Simone’s run has been uneven, but between the action-packed “Rise of the Olympian”, the fun-but-slight “Birds of Paradise” and the impressively condensed “Warkiller”, an argument could be made that Simone has finally found the book’s sweet spot.  Few books get second chances with today’s audience. Wonder Woman deserves one.

Grade: A-

– Cal Cleary

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Wonder Woman #37

Wonder Woman #36

Review: Wonder Woman #37

WW37

With part two of “Warkiller”, Simone continues to move her pieces in place.  The Olypmian rules a Themyscira undergoing rapid, inexplicable change – women are spontaneously impregnating on an island now rocked by storms, while Hippolyta is prisoner to her former, mad guard Alkyone, now wife of Achilles and Queen of Themyscira.  And while Ares’ physical form might have been destroyed by Diana, truly killing a god proves vastly more difficult than that, resulting in an uncomfortable visitation from the God of War.

“Warkiller” doesn’t have the snappy pacing of “Birds of Paradise”, nor the epic action of “Rise of the Olympian”, but it has nonetheless been been fairly satisfying.  Simone continues to lay groundwork for a massive overarching story throughout her run here with the massive changes to Paradise Isle, and at times, that’s part of the problem: both this issue and the last have, by and large, felt like set-up.  Simone has a deft hand for character-based drama and comedy while Bernard Chang continues to gain skill and confidence, so it was certainly entertaining set-up, but the pacing definitely feels off.

Grade: B

– Cal Cleary

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Wonder Woman #36

Wonder Woman #35

Review: Wonder Woman #36

WW36

After the slight, fun “Birds of Paradise” arc, the Wonder Woman master-plot is back, though the issue takes the longest route possible in getting there.  After a brief confrontation, Wonder Woman and Giganta sit down for some major girl-talk.  Simone manages to wrap up a number of the more troubling aspects of Diana’s relationship with Tom Tresser in this issue, and while I can’t imagine that we’ve seen the last of him, his arc is finally at a place that jives more fully with Diana’s character.

Of course, far more than that is going on.  Giganta and Diana together face down the Olympian’s army, while the Olympian himself has made a few powerful bids for more total control of Paradise Island.  While just about every aspect of the issue is well-handled, and Giganta is always welcome (especially as a not-entirely-bad-guy), it’s a rather loosely-strung-together segment to happen in such an important arc, and it takes up a great deal of the issue.

Lopresti continues to make Wonder Woman one of the best looking titles on the shelves.  Whether it’s Wonder Woman and the Olympian throwing down on the field of battle or a Polynesian Goddess growing out of the sand, furious, Lopresti seems to have a clear handle on everything Simone is throwing down.  While I still hold that he was not the best choice to illustrate the brawls with Genocide, the quicker, more civil fights with the Olympians and his army, as well as Diana’s scenes with Giganta and Nemesis, display his skill to far greater effect.

Wonder Woman #36 was a promising, if slow, start to the book’s latest big arc.  Simone has become adept at zagging when we all expect a zig, so the brief scenes giving character to the Diana’s current enemy, the Olympian, are surprisingly tender and awkward, suggesting an essentially likable guy who is merely keeping the faith that she broke.  The issue introduces a number of potential conflicts and trials, most of which are extremely promising, suggesting that, post-“Rise of the Olympian”, the book has no interest in slowing down.  While many of Simone’s earlier arcs on the title were meandering and unfulfilling, she seems to have stepped up her game in the last year and made Wonder Woman one of DC’s most delightfully readable current books.

Grade: B+

– Cal Cleary

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