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Wonder Woman #195

Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2003
By: Shawn Hill



"The Mission"

Writer: Greg Rucka
Artists: Drew Johnson (p), Ray Snyder (ink)

Publisher: DC

Plot:
Jonah is the newest lawyer hired to join the fold at the Themysciran Embassy in New York, home and office of Wonder Woman. Alana, Diana's secretary, shows him the ropes on a typically busy day. Meanwhile, an unstoppable force heads to the military compound of the very frightened dictator, General Akabu.

Comments:
Talk about starting off w/a bang. Simonson's arc wiped the slate for Diana, who's lost both her paramour and her sister in recent months, and her mother the year before. Rucka has decided to focus not on Diana's personal life, as Jiminez did, but on her professional role. Diana runs a tight ship, but it's also a democracy of volunteers who couldn't imagine doing anything else. If this supporting cast lasts, look at this run to take Perez's concept of Diana as an Ambassador from a better way of life (a philosopher and warrior preaching for peace in "man's world") more seriously than at any time since Perez moved on.

Jonah is basically Agent Ross from Black Panther, an everyman through whose eyes we can glimpse greatness. Though for entirely different reasons, Diana will likely prove as challenging a charge for him as T'Challa was for Ross. Perhaps the nicest thing about this new setup is that these people Diana has hired are of the same calibre as one of Perez's best creations, Diana's friend and scholar Julia Kapetelis. Rucka has no need to re-invent the wheel here like Byrne did when he took over the book, choosing new friends, a new town and a new life for our heroine (one mostly filled by special guest stars and inappropriate villains).

Julia served a valuable function in this title in those early days, as a well-informed guide to introduce Diana to a world she barely understood. But that na´ve "Crisis" survivor is long gone, and Rucka promises to write an ambassador who knows exactly what she's doing.

I find it highly ironic that one of the most memorable scenes in the issue involves her staff rejecting an exploitative cover design for Diana's new book. Given the actual covers the comic has sported for over two years (sure, Hughes is better than someone like Greg Horn by far, but then even Vargas was still basically a soft-core illustrator). The question is whether such a style is right for Wonder Woman, and Rucka (at least between the pages) makes it clear that it's not.

I have hopes that the personal won't be rejected, either, as Diana's staff is at pains to anticipate her tastes and needs. Even Superman is hovering lately, checking in on his comrade more frequently since Donna's death.

I really meant to write about the art as well, but there's not much to say. It's serviceable, and suited to Rucka's realistic tone; but it's not on the Jiminez or Ordway level. Standard competent DC house-style.

Normally I would object to a first issue where the title character is mostly off-screen, but Rucka doesn't let us forget that Diana is the reason behind everything we see. It's a valid opening salvo; let's hope it gets down to the nitty gritty soon.



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