By J. Michael Straczynski and Phil Hester (writers), Don Kramer with Eduardo Pansica (pencils), Andy Owens, Sean Parsons and Eber Ferreira (inks), Alex Sinclair (colors) and Travis Lanham (letters)
The Story: Diana–who, I can’t help pointing out, has actually started acting like Diana for a change of pace–and two of her closest Amazon guardians descend into a labyrinth to rescue the kidnapped boy, Harry. This being a labyrinth, there is naturally a Minotaur–along with a host of other nasties–to be conquered along the way. It turns out this is only the beginning of their problems though, as Harry’s kidnapping was only a ruse to lure Diana away from the rest of her Amazonian sisters, who are quickly engaged in a battle they may not be able to win without the help of their princess.
What’s Good: Wait a second, Greek mythology? Discussions about fate and the nature of Amazonian sisterhood? Diana actually, y’know, acting like a hero? Dang. It’s almost as if I’ve actually picked up a Wonder Woman book. Which is nice, because I haven’t seem to have read one in almost, what, eight months now?
This is a positive thing, I think.
On a less tongue in cheek (and less snitty) note, Phil Hester has been the best thing to happen to this title since JMS’s ill advised…reboot? Alternate reality? Temporary rip in the space/time continuum? I’m not sure exactly what it was he was trying to accomplish with this (and at this point we probably never will find out), but really, I don’t care. If Phil Hester can keep this storyline treading water long enough to get to its end, and if he can continue to repair some of the damage done to the character and continuity along the way, I’m more than happy to leave the questions of ‘what…exactly…happened here?’ aside. I assume he and the powers that be will have to come up with some sort of explanation at some point, but I really don’t care what it is anymore. Just having Diana–the real one–back again will be more than enough to satisfy this fan.
What’s Not So Good: I swear, I’m starting to get calluses on my fingers from typing all the names involved in the Wonder Woman art every month. This lack of consistency is definitely starting to show in the product itself, and makes itself known in this issue more than any other to date. It’s not that the art is bad exactly, it just feels…rushed. Backgrounds and characters aren’t as detailed as they should be (especially characters’ facial expressions, which, in many cases in this issue, end up looking exceedingly odd. You get the idea of what the artist was going for, but it just doesn’t look right in its execution.) The worst offenders in this regard are actually the longer shots of the Amazons (especially the battle scenes), in which the characters –especially, again, their faces and expressions–look almost like an afterthought. It’s not the worst thing ever, and I almost feel bad complaining about it since I’m so happy to have a decent Wonder Woman issue for a change, but its hard not to notice and wince at, especially the second or third time through the issue.
Conclusion: Against all odds, Phil Hester is actually pulling this storyline–and Diana’s character–back from the brink of absolute ridiculousness. I doubt it would be enough to bring a non-comics reader, or a non-WW fan onboard, but I’ll happily take it, and give Mr. Hester a large tip of my hat along the way. If he can continue to right this sinking ship one issue at a time like this, we may still have a wonderful character left by the end of this arc and–dare I hope?–perhaps even a fun and interesting conclusion to the storyline itself.
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