Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka: Volume One Review

The Post-Crisis Diana of Themyscira has had a number of interpretations in her thirty year existence, and for a character that has largely been seen as a second stringer at best throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s, has attracted some considerable talent her way. There are the runs on her book that considered revered by comic books fans, and yet this is also the same title that during certain periods, contain storylines that are perhaps best forgotten. Creators have come and gone, left their mark, or had major chunks of their run ultimately ignored or retconned away, if things went really south.

George Perez’s run on Wonder Woman beginning right after Crisis of Infinite Earths is considered iconic. It is… an honest attempt. William Messner-Loebs did his best to reintroduce Wonder Woman back into the broader DCU, and while it is nice to see DC collecting that material recently, it’s not a necessary addition to a collection, unless you are a completist.

John Byrne did a much better job at what Messner-Loebs muddled with, but comic fans know you only get Byrne on a project for a limited time before he moves on, or storms off. Unfortunately, while Phil Jimenez’s run is a great, it experienced so much editorial interference, it probably will never receive the true appreciation or reverence it deserves, and is really not the full story Jimenez intended to tell. Which is where the Wonder Woman mythos more or less begins under new stewardship.

Greg Rucka’s run begins with a protagonist that has experienced incredible personal trauma in recent past. Her mother, and Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta, valiantly laid down her life against Imperiex during the 2001 crossover, “Our World’s at War”. Most recently she had foster her best friend and “little sister” Donna Troy, the original Wonder Girl. As a result, Rucka’s Diana has become both more thoughtful and decisive, not only in her beliefs but her actions as well. She mourns her looses, yet keeps her focus on the present and its potential impacts on the future. This is perhaps best highlighted in the new role that Rucka has put Diana into, that of Ambassador of Themyscira to the United States. It is a brand new dimension that presents a whole host of problems for Diana from two angles; geo-political and super-heroic.

This balance of challenges serves the narrative of the titles well, as a major thread in this collection is Diana’s moral barometer, and how far she is willing to go defend her ideologies. While some have griped about Rucka’s so-called “social justice warrior” slant in his writing, he in fact should be applauded for writing female characters who have conviction, with conviction. His Wonder Woman is no different from his other creations whether it be Bridgett Logan (Atticus Kodiak novel series) or Tara Chance (“Queen & Country”). His own experiences likely spill onto the page as many of Diana’s views seem progressive, but where she remains traditional or against the modern world, it is in very consequential ways.

Those conflicts are perhaps best illustrated in how they connect to the broader DCU in this opening set of arc. Diana’s encounter with Batman in Wonder Woman: The Hiketeai shows not how far she is willing to defend someone until proven innocent, but actually portrays a hero who is duty bound to respect ritual, something that would clash with the justice-driven Batman. This continues in similar fashion, but with a different point of contention later in the book with the Flash. It not only creates some very believable and tension filled drama, but shows that a character like Wonder Woman is often written in a particular way, without innovation.

And that is truly what this book feels like in the end; an innovation. New characters augment, not replace, existing secondary characters. Subplots have just as much opportunity to grow and shine as the main plot, and it is illustrated by J.G. Jones and Drew Johnson in ways that can only be described as that befitting a woman once a goddess, and still an Amazonian princess. This is truly some of the finest storytelling done within the Wonder Woman mythos, and there is a strong sense that Greg Rucka and company are just getting started in their run.

Collects: Wonder Woman (Volume 2) 195-205 & Wonder Woman: The Hiketeai