ďWho is Wonder Woman? Part OneĒ
Writer: Alan Heinberg
Artist: Terry Dodson (p), Rachel Dodson (i)
Publisher: DC Comics
Wow. So thatís what all the hype was about.
Iím referring to Allan Heinberg. Well, and also the Dodsons. And Wonder Woman. And the rationale behind the relaunch.
So who is Wonder Woman? This issue never stops making the reader guess, and thatís half the fun in itself. There are at least six separate jaw-dropping twists in these twenty-two pages, and all of them throw the reader for a loop while thrusting the story onward. Thereís also a heaping helping of action and fighting, as well as necessary backstory, all crammed into a little debut issue that never once feels too condensed. Thatís the magic of Allan Heinberg. Well done, sir, youíve made me a believer.
In fact, he may have done more than he hoped. See, I had guessed at the outset of Infinite Crisis that Wonder Woman was going to wind up dead by its end, leaving the role open for replacement. Now, Iím not going to spoil anything that happens in Wonder Woman #1, but Donna Troy does make an interesting appearance, so interesting that itís the first time Iíve given a damn about the character Ė ever. Heinberg, just . . . I know where youíre heading, but consider the potential you have here. Donít let me down!
For comic fans, 2006 is a great time to have eyes. All these artists I remember being mediocre from the Ď90s Ė Pascal Ferry, Joe Bennett, Pete Woods Ė have all become the next ďitĒ guys, and the Dodson duo have just earned their membership as well. The facial expressions are powerful, the action scenes dynamic, and the details subtle enough not to give the script away (youíll see what I mean). A total of five characters get shocking makeovers that are instantly suiting.
I donít want to give this book a perfect score. Iíve got a nagging feeling that the aspects that worked so well for this issue wonít last past this arc. And thatís probably going to turn out to be true, but who says Heinberg doesnít have a new bag of tricks prepared when the time comes? Readers of Young Avengers have praised this guy for turning every issue into a winner, and though I havenít read enough yet to know, I sure hope he keeps that record of perfection going. I just canít help fearing that the thing that might cause me to lose interest in Wonder Woman . . . will be Wonder Woman. Iíll leave it at that.
DC has now managed to do the obvious-yet-until-now-impossible: producing books about their big three mascots Ė Superman, Batman and now Wonder Woman Ė that are high-quality essential monthly reading. Stand up and take a bow, fellas.
Kevin T. Brown
When it was announced that the above creators were going to be doing Wonder Woman, the general consensus was a very positive one. Based on the creatorsí previous works, this book will rock!
WellllllllÖ.. maybe next issue will rock, but this one came close to sinking like a rock until the last two pages.
Okay, maybe that opening statement is overly harsh, but I was very disappointed in the end product. Perhaps the table was set too high and there was no way it was ever going to be reached, but I donít think so. The best thing about it is the art by the Dodsons; it definitely made this book a joy to read. If there is such a thing as being born to do something, this book is one that Terry Dodson was born to draw. Each page is one of fluidity. And, of course, the women are lithe and luscious. Itís just page after page of gorgeous work. Itís also the artwork that makes this book so enjoyable.
The writing is what surprised me, and not in a good way either. Heinberg is a very good writer, but this issue is not indicative of it. He did a decent job, but it feel a little flat in a few areas. Some of the dialogue was very clunky in some spots. The retelling of the relatively recent back story just did not flow well. Basically, the story is just ďokay,Ē with a few nice bits. Not exactly a good way to start anew.
One thing that really bugged me was the use of one particular villain. (I won't reveal who as to preserve some surprise.) This villain has been extremely overused of late. And itís always the same M.O. in battling the heroes. It got to one point in the story that you knew what was going on, then the reveal as to who the villain is, and my reaction was: AGAIN!!!??? Can we try to do something more original, please?? That reveal ruined an otherwise inventive re-introduction and re-working of some villains.
As I said in the beginning, itís the final two pages that really pulled this story out. Two particular characters are re-introduced that had me grinning ear to ear. Now while there probably will be some who will say exactly who they are, it would be unfair of me to do so and ruin the impact of the ending. I will say that as a long time fan, it was great to see. It also gave me hope that the next issue will possibly hit that high mark that was expected for this first issue.
Overall, a decent story with fabulous art. Hereís hoping that DC finds a way to keep this creative team on this title for a long time and not just the previously announced five issues. At the very least, make sure this the art team remains in place. Itís the art that makes this book special.
Plot: That titular question is meant to be taken literally, as secret identities and new roles for favorite characters are in play in this debut issue, post Ö well, what can you call it but post-shame?
Comments: Donna Troy as the public Wonder Woman, huh? Itís a logical progression for the character, an upgrade that hasnít happened yet for her fellow Teen Titans. Speedy became Arsenal, Aqualad became Tempest, Robin became Nightwing, and Donna became Troia, but now sheís finally taken on the mantle of her ďparentĒ mentor.
This says some good things, in that sheís discounting the negative publicity Wonder Woman has garnered since executing Maxwell Lord by publicly taking up the name. Another good sign is the way the Dodsons donít depict the same tacky scene of Wonder Woman snapping Lordís neck weíve all seen way too much of, instead focusing on her mournful shock in the moments after his death in the one requisite scene that refers to it.
After that history lesson weíre back to a battle with Giganta, Cheetah and Dr. Psycho. This is about half of Wonder Womanís rogues gallery, and theyíre all united in making Donnaís day a very bad one. The new art team gives them all streamlined new designs, but I donít mind if weíre going to play them as more sane and competent than in the past. This issue, they succeed in capturing Donna.
Iím slightly less happy that sheís already a foil in her own title, as the final page makes an otherwise welcome return for her sister Diana, in a familiar and retro guise that was due a reappearance. But all these elements in place, including an illusive Steve Trevor (this is the book to tell us all the changes the Infinite Crisis hath wrought, a piece at a time), lets us know that Heinberg has done his Wonder Woman homework and is committed to exploring her world anew.
My wish list at this point involves letting Diana enjoy her secret identity for a while, and letting Donna grow to fill her shoes, even if she reverts back to Troia at some point. Iíd also like some compelling new villains instead of just focusing on these overused ones. But as of now, this title remains on my pull list, and thatís a very good first step.
Once again, Iím Tabula Rasa Girl. So, if youíve never read a Wonder Woman story, is this a good place to start?
Short answer: yes.
Long answer: Allan Heinberg does a very good job of streamlining Donna Troyís history, and introducing various characters such as Cheetah and Steve Trevor. These figures have obviously been around for a while, but Heinberg knows exactly how much information to provide so we know whatís going on, without burying us in dirt like weíre Margot Kidder. Whatís more, the context is folded into Donnaís narration as the story gets underway, so there are no awkward moments where the action stops so everyone can monologue about themselves and their pasts.
I came away feeling like I knew enough to enjoy this comic. And thereís a lot to enjoy: we have mystery (Dianaís disappearance, courtesy of ďOne Year LaterĒ), we have plenty of action, and we have Donna presented to us as the legitimate heir to the mantle, which means Heinberg can play her off against Dianaís old allies and enemies. At the same time, she clearly has her own identity, her own doubts and fears, which are brought to life in one scene that provides a glimpse of her insecurities.
Kudos to Terry Dodson on the new outfit - much better than the old Star-Spangled Stripper number. With the sword, the chestplate and the cape, Donna looks like a cross between a Roman Centurion and Xena, an appearance befitting someone of her origin and status.
Overall, this issue offers a very strong debut for Heinberg and the Dodsons. Donna Troy stands as an accessible entity, someone we can understand without a PHD in DC history/mythology. The type of story being told here (the rise of the ďsuccessorĒ) isnít one thatís very common to the superhero genre - Robin hasnít become Batman, Superboy hasnít become Superman - so it should be interesting to see what happens. I never, ever thought Iíd say this, but Iím really looking forward to the next issue of Wonder Woman.
Plot: Itís One Year Later, and Donna Troy is the new Wonder Woman! When anti-Themysciran terrorists take Steve Trevor hostage, itís up to Donna to stop them. Yet, the government has some ideas of its own too.
Commentary: Iíve been a fan of Donna Troy ever since I first read Titans. So, the idea of her being Wonder Woman both thrills and disappoints me. I'm happy sheís got an A-list mantle, but I kind of wished to see her in her own identity. I mean, Iíve never been a fan of Wonder Woman. Diana never interested me, and in fact, I found the whole character just annoying. Yet, itís a first issue. Itís a chance to jump on with a new character, and a whole new storyline.
This issue is for all intents and purposes a showdown between Wonder Woman and the terrorists, who turn out to be various villains who have faced Wonder Woman before. My hatís off to Heinberg for making the bad guys seem like a threat. Iíve never taken the Cheetah seriously. Iím still laughing at Gigantaís origin. Dr. Psycho? Please. Heinberg has managed to craft a strong action scene with truly dangerous opponents. Few writers could have done that, but he does manage to pull it off.
And yet, something rubbed me the wrong way with this issue.
Heinberg continually has characters refer to Donna as a pretender, not the real Wonder Woman. She even acts uncertain at times. This doesnít click with my memory of Donna. Sheís supposed to be her own person, confident, not an uncertain person. This all builds to the reveal on the last page which really doesnít bode well for our heroine. It bums me out. They go through all the trouble of bringing her back, yet we know Donna probably isnít going to hold the mantle of Wonder Woman for long. And itís probably going to be at that point where I lose interest and drop this series.
Still, the Dodsons and Sinclair go all out on the art. Donnaís Wonder Woman costume is brilliantly designed, taking her Troia costume and merging it with the armor Alex Ross designed for Wonder Woman in Kingdom Come. Considering that many flashbacks involved both Diana and Donna, and that both characters are tall, dark haired women, the artists do a great job at making both women distinctive. If nothing else, this book gets high marks for its art.
Final Thoughts: ďYouíre Not Wonder Woman.Ē As I jumped on this book for Donna Troy, Iím a bit bummed out by her portrayal. Still, the fresh approach to Wonder Woman combined with some all-star art makes the book worth its price and then some.
Caryn A. Tate
Now this issue is how Wonder Woman should be.
Let me clarifyÖI liked Greg Ruckaís run. I am a big fan of his in general, but I only liked his run on my favorite Amazon. I wanted to love it, but there sometimes seemed to be something missing.
This issue, though, had everything I want in a good superhero comic: Action, good pacing, storytelling, characterization, and gorgeous art.
I canít emphasize enough how much I enjoyed the art. It was literally breathtaking, and it didnít let up throughout the entire issue. Itís the kind of art that is beautiful in the truest sense of the word, but it doesnít only have beauty on its sideóitís expressive and helps the story along, never hindering.
Alex Sinclairís colors continue to blow me away. That old clichť about an artist creating colors that youíve never seen before? Yeah. Itís true with Sinclair.
One of my favorite things about this issue was that it caused me to realize that Wonder Woman should inspireÖwell, wonder. The first page of the comic provides a summary of Wonder Womanís mission, put into words that made her feel inspirational.
See, hereís the dealÖI loved Wonder Woman when I was a little girl because of Lynda Carter. After I started reading comicsÖI didnít love her so much. I wanted to, but there always seemed to be that elusive something missing. Something that didnít make her as inspirational or relatable for me as Batman or Superman.
For the first time, probably, since the TV series, the character feels fresh and pure to me. I think this may be the time when I can truly call myself a fan of the character, without making the claim and then mentally finishing the statement, ďÖthe way she should be written, anyway.Ē
As a lover of the 1970s TV series (which Iíve watched in syndication), I was ecstatic to see the return of two of the classic characters from the show (and the original comics). I applaud DC for finally doing what Iíve wanted so much for them to do with these top tier charactersóreturn them to their roots. They seem to have done that with Batman, somewhat with Superman, and, finally Wonder Woman. Itís exactly what theyíve needed.
Two classic Wonder Woman villains have been re-designed for the comic, too, which I found almost as refreshing as the revamp of our heroine. One of them has a significant surprise in store, and itís a good kind of surprise. Itís a welcome change that will enable the creators to explore a different side of the villain.
As a side note, the costume designs are fantastic. I love the new Wonder Woman costume, but the one revealed on the last page of the issue was one of those rare designs that looks so simple yet truly unique.
Cheers to the creative team on this book. I feel like Iíve breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, a portrayal of Wonder Woman that lives up to her name and iconic status!
What did you think of this book?
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