“The Story keeps on changing, nothing makes sense.” – Diana of Themersycira
All it took was a single sentence, a single premise to make me lose virtually all interest in DC Rebirth‘s Wonder Woman offerings. It’s a shame too because this title has the mythical creative team of Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp behind it. Yet Wonder Woman serves as a monument to what can go wrong when a series clutches at cleverness, but falls short. Legacy is a word that has been banded about in the post- DC Rebirth world. Continuity and the problems that lie there-in are a bedfellow of legacy. If not dealt with in a succinct manner, continuity can overwhelm a title and act as a barrier to newcomers. What is often forgotten is that the attempt to tame continuity carries with it just as many risks.
No doubt many people will thinking this attempt at a meta-narrative about the state of the industry will deem it clever, but it’s very much the case of old wine in a new bottle. Previous attempts at doing so have been subtle and read as love letters to what came before. Wonder Woman don’t get to reek the benefits of addressed a messed up continuity it itself created. Like the attempts to explain Donna Troy’s many origins, each attempt only complicates the process further. Even when we are given a satisfactory answer, there is nagging feeling the story-line itself, is nothing but a contrived effort to seem like they are engaging in academic self-reflection. In reality, these stories are often cynical marketing grabs with little artistic merit. There is something interesting about the spirit of truth attempting to untangle a web of retcons, but the substance isn’t there. Rucka’s dialogue is as impactful as it always is, lending Diana a gravitas and presence that few can match. His skill is squandered on a story that lack heart or emotional resonance. This is a man whose past run on the character proves that he can do better.
The uninspired storytelling is in stark contrast to the interior artwork which is stunning, even if predictably loyal to DC house-style. There is something truly gladiatorial to how Sharp draws Wonder Woman allowing her to firmly stand out when compared to her foes. This is the caliber of artist that a book of this pedigree deserves. It’s just a shame that they aren’t being given enough to work with.
This attempted Rebirth is spoiled by the fact we received the definitive version of classic Wonder Woman earlier this year through the fantastical Legend of Wonder Woman from Renae De Liz. This title is set to alternate from two ongoing story-lines, one in the present day and one set during the past as a “Year One” tale. Hopefully, the trips back in time will give us an opportunity to truly see this creative team shine. As it stands, Wonder Woman is not as wondrous as it needs to be to truly make for an impressive run. Diana Prince needs to demonstrate that which has lead to her enduring for so long. The story of who has been messing with Wonder Woman’s origin will no doubt be revealed to have been the work of a god of mischief, a legendary trickster or a vengeful deity, but none of them are truly to blame. However, it is the god of complacency and incompetence that leads to oppressive continuity. Such a villain is a much harder one to defeat.