This week the film “Wonder Woman” is being released on DVD and Blu-ray! TODAY TO BE EXACT!
As result, this week I will be reviewing the first three volumes of “Rebirth’s Wonder Woman” that have been released.
Rebirth – Wonder Woman: The Lies (Volume 1)
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Liam Sharp
Published by DC Comics
(Collects Wonder Woman: Rebirth 1 and Wonder Woman 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 of the single issue series)
This collection of the monthly published series of “Wonder Woman focuses on the fact that Diana, otherwise known as Wonder Woman, has started to recognize that her story keeps changing for some reason. That every time she feels that she has it figured out something else changes. She starts to recognize that she has been lied to by someone that is manipulating her memories. She isn’t sure who it is, but she wants to find her home of Themyscira because of it all. In this process she goes to find an old friend Barbara Ann Minerva, aka Cheetah, who she hopes will be able to help her find the home she has left behind. The story centers around her finding Cheetah and the story behind how Barbara Ann became Cheetah in this new Rebirth reality. The story centers around the demon monster that made her into Cheetah and all that entails. There is also a focus on other characters such as Steve Trevor and Etta Candy. Their stories are the parts that are B plots that will eventually obviously become major A plots in the future thus I am not going to give much away about them, especially since I am reviewing this week the first three volumes and they may contain some aspects of these stories.
It is important to note, quickly, that the way that this series was written was that it alternated issues of what is being collected in Volume 2. As a result, the stories at times may have intersected or revealed details in the second volume that we didn’t fully get here. I did not find this to be jarring though having finished both volumes at the time of this writing. The second volume simply adds another layer to the story, but can be read alone.
I went into this volume having already read the first issue it contains “Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1” because I read almost all of the Rebirth titles to see what they were going to do. I decided very quickly that as a comic book reader I was no longer a single issue reader, so I waited until the collected editions came out. I purchased Volume 1: The Lies while I was at the Indiana Comic-Con this summer. I read it almost immediately upon getting home because I wanted to see what Greg Rucka, one of my favorite Wonder Woman writers, had done this time with one of my favorite characters. He masterfully wove a tale that was a great story of refocusing the character on her strong points and developing her in a way that could also move her into the future. I decided since I had already read this volume I would skim it and reread it for this week, since I knew that I could start this week with a positive review of “Wonder Woman.”
The reason I can comfortably say that this is a positive review is because the tale that was woven by Greg Rucka focuses on the fact that Diana’s story has changed so drastically over the years, especially when you compare it to other characters like Batman or Superman that have remained somewhat static as characters. Her origin changes and is retold all the time. Her focus however always remains one of being compassionate and caring. That does not cease to exist here, but is made in a manner that makes logistically more sense to the core of the character. She knows that something is no longer right and she knows she needs to fix it. The beauty of this tale is that it does have classic characters in it (finally) with Steve Trevor and Etta Candy, but these characters are even refocused and revitalized in important ways. Etta is no longer just a bumbling character, but instead is a strong black woman that is a commander in some type of armed forces unit. Steve Trevor is still a soldier, but it makes sense for that character. The focus on Steve showcases this dynamic that Diana and him have and how they will always be there for each other and sometimes even when they don’t know that they will be there for each other it just happens, which is referenced.
The main Wonder Woman part of the story is focused and centered around her wanting to find an old friend, which is Barbara Ann (Cheetah). This focus on one of her most memorable and important villains was genius on the part of Rucka, but what makes it even more important is how the story plays out over the course of the collection. Without giving too much away Cheetah has been cursed by a god-like creature. Wonder Woman signs on to help her in order to find her own home, Themyscira. The way that the tale unfolds is powerful as it alternates between Steven and Diana/Cheetah’s story and ultimately collides together as any good story should with them all having to try to change some horrific situations in the area that the story is told. The beauty of the story is that it doesn’t try to reinvent Wonder Woman again, but instead showcases masterfully what makes her a strong female character. Also the story does an important task of reestablishing and redefining these side characters. Many of these characters have been mishandled in the past, so a refocus was definitely needed. This directs them in a more proper manner and gives some of them deeper meanings than they previously had in the Wonder Woman world, such as Cheetah and her much closer relationship with Diana.
Another aspect that I greatly enjoyed about this collection was that the artwork was superb. In my opinion, it was much better than the previous volume of the series that had become almost too hard for me to read because of the stylistic choices made in it. This returns to classic superhero artwork, but is highly stylized in a way that makes Diana less overtly sexualized and gives off the appearance more of strength and resilience through adversity. I believe this is all due to the work of Liam Sharp, which I am finding to be a great artist on this series and I wish he had stayed around past Rucka’s reign on the book. This did not occur though. His work really showcases Diana in her best light and really builds up the storyline that Rucka writes in a way that I feel was missing from the character for awhile now.
Normally, I would have a “I don’t recommend this book to” section of my review, but the fact of the matter is that this volume does a masterful job of recreating and reestablishing aspects of the character in an approachable manner. This allows new readers to jump on board, but also allows old readers that may have been lost during the New 52 era to become reacquainted with a lost love. People who enjoy strong female characters will get that in this volume. She is made and portrayed in a strong fashion and she is written in a way that shows that the writer understood what this character needed, but also understood part of her problem was a lack of true side character development. If you want to see Wonder Woman finally coming into her own as a character it feels like this book pushes that agenda. I cannot think of a singular person who would not enjoy this particular graphic novel collection, unless you are someone that does not like strong female characters and someone that just does not like Greek Mythology (this volume though does not really focus on that much). This volume really focuses on that reestablishing of characters and refocusing this character, which was the entire point of Rebirth in the first place. Masterfully done DC, Rucka, and Sharp.
There have been numerous versions of “Wonder Woman” as noted above. This means that there are numerous collected editions of the character. Some are harder to find than others, for some reason. There is, however, a lot of other books if you find yourself wanting to delve into the character and see other stories containing them. You will be pleasantly surprised on some of the phenomenal ways that this character has been written.