By Gail Simone (writer), Nicola Scott and Fernando Dagnino (pencils), Doug Hazelwood and Wayne Faucher (inks), Brad Anderson (colors/additional digital inks), Travis Lanham (letters)
The Story: Wonder Woman (with a little help from her friends) continues the fight against the invasion led by Captain Astarte, Diana’s own blood relative.
What’s Good: This book does a lot of little things right. Both Wonder Woman and Astarte have some wonderful lines (“the truth is a river that will not be dammed”), and there are a couple of fantastic scenes that really elevate the proceedings. (Chief among these is the opening flashback, as well as—small spoiler alert—Achilles riding in atop Mysia cavalry-style to dispatch the Citizenry’s giant serpent.) I also really liked Simone’s characterization of Diana; while its very obvious that the Princess can hold her own in a fight as most super heroes can, it’s very gratifying to see her resolve a situation (at least partially) using her own unique brand of truth and compassion. These are the things that set her apart from her heroic brethren, and it’s great fun to watch.
What’s Not So Good: Not a whole lot else, unfortunately. I was hoping that last month’s hiccup in quality was temporary, but this issue feels very, very rushed—as much as I hate to use it, “sloppy” is the word that kept coming to mind while I read this. Simone is a talented writer, so it’s not quite as apparent on the authorial front, but even Diana’s inner monologue—usually a huge strong point of the Wonder Woman title—is just not up to standard. More than a little bit of the dialogue feels overly forced as well; in particular a lot of Astarte’s emotional dialogue feels like it came from a book of clichés rather than the talented pen of someone like Simone.
Where this book really suffers, though, is the artwork. It lacks any sort of real detail, especially in the characters’ faces and expressions, and only a few panels have anything other than a simple colored background. The layout of the panels themselves is not aesthetically pleasing in the slightest—“workmanlike” would be the adjective I’d chose. It is possible to follow the story well enough, but the art does not flow in any way, and each panel feels very cut off and isolated from the others. I certainly don’t expect every book or artist to present a uniquely brilliant and organic layout à la J.H. Williams, but this book’s art desperately needs some semblance of cohesiveness to hold it together. When the only thing holding your panels together is white space, your artwork and layout have serious issues to overcome.
So that this doesn’t close on a completely negative note, I will say there were some very nice art moments in this book as well (once again, minor spoilers forthcoming.) The Serpent’s deployment and attack is very well handled, and a great dramatic moment, Achilles’ elephant-charge is unexpected and awe-inspiring, and the story’s prologue is quite beautiful. I just wish the artists could have stretched the quality of those individual moments to encompass the entire book.
Conclusion: If you’re a fan of Diana and have been following this book for a while, it’s worth picking up just to stay current (and for the aforementioned good moments it contains.) If you aren’t, this is absolutely not the issue that’s going to convince you to become a regular.