Wonder Woman: Who is Wonder Woman?
Collection: Wonder Woman (2006) #1-4 and Wonder Woman Annual #1 © 2006, 2007
Publisher: DC Comics © 2017
Writer: Allan Heinberg
Penciler: Terry Dodson
Inker: Rachel Dodson
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Artists on “Backstory”: Gary Frank & Jon Sibal with Dave McCaig
Wonder Woman created by: William Moulton Marston
While perusing through the Wonder Woman catalog it was intriguing to note she had a re-count (meaning new #1 issue) back in 2006. I do not recall any huge event at the time, at least not with others that granted them new #1’s. With that said though, I figured it may be a decent jumping on point, plus the husband-wife Dodson art team intrigued me, as they always churn out good work. I looked at the writer; it felt familiar at face value but could not recount anything. Later on I knew the name. This was the screenwriter of the Wonder Woman film! That was great, so this has to be good, right?
The story takes place after Infinite Crisis in which Wonder Woman killed Maxwell Lord. I will not waste time exposing all the details of how and why, except as she argues in this comic “for self-defense” as Lord was also up to not so good things. Nonetheless, this was a huge shock to readers and the universe. A hero killed? And not just any hero, but Wonder Woman! Now Diana has gone into hiding, the Gods have left our Earthly plane and it would appear Diana is no longer Wonder Woman, and Wonder Woman is no longer the Gods’ champion! Piling on top of this is the arrival of basically all of Wonder Woman’s foes looking for her and to just cause havoc.
Heinberg does a great job in crafting a tale of Wonder Woman finding herself and establishing her identity. Here, Wonder Woman is Diana Prince now in the Department of Meta-Human Affairs. I can’t deny it was odd that people there not knowing who she truly was, given she was basically pulling a Clark Kent disguise. However, the white outfit she shows up in feels like a throwback to the original Diana Prince series of the late 60’s. But who is Diana? Who is Wonder Woman? Is she a superhero? A mentor? A feminist icon or what? The comic addresses this, especially with the other wonder women like Donna Tory & Circe. It’s safe to say there never was Wonder Woman or a Diana Prince, just some symbol and just an alter ego for convenience. Heinberg sets out to find out who she is and pins her under pressure from her peers, mainly women not the boys club of Batman & Superman.
I feel I need not repeat myself, but the Dodsons are great. Every character, every panel they have no matter where or who it is sexy! I will note Terry sometimes gives Wonder Woman completely different hair styling from panel to panel sometimes, but a minor gripe. The one thing I love is how all the women look different. You can buy Donna Troy as a clone but somewhere in her twenties, compared to the more mature looking Wonder Woman or teenage Wonder Girl. In addition, no extreme 90’s modeling and horrible proportions here, given this comic is chalk-full of female characters. On that note, this story feels like “yeah girl power” in certain parts like with Circe or the double-page spread with all they key female superheroes out in front and the men in tow. Top all of this off with DC’s number one colorist Alex Sinclair, who always manages to liven up every panel, making everything feel cosmic and fantastical with his exuberant variety of colors.
Prior to this, with other incarnations of Wonder Woman, yes, she does not seem like much. Not to say she’s no good and other writers failed no. Before she was but an empty vessel; a superhero in the hollowest bit. Heinberg clarifies, re-identifies and humanizes Wonder Woman for us. Did Wonder Woman fail before? Is she a traitor? Is she bloodthirsty? Hard to say, no one ever posed such questions before, if anything people would have just moved on from Infinite Crisis with just some new, run-of-the mill arc for her. Heinberg instead challenges us and Wonder Woman. Plus, he makes it tons of fun by throwing in tons of characters from her history like Doctor Psycho, Hercules and more.
I will note the art is lacking in the Backstory issue, this is a nice touch to provide us with history on the lesser known characters of Donna Troy and Wonder Girl. Although, bringing in three different artists makes for rather ugly faces for our characters, odd details and downright inconsistency. A nice addition, but not a must have story. One last small gripe with this comic is how it reads. It is not broken up into separate issues by their covers, it reads as one whole thing. This is kind of nice, but makes it difficult in judging where to take a break if you are not planning a read in a single sitting. This trade also comes with the usual, but awesome cover gallery, some sketches from Terry Dodson and a nice introduction from Y: The Last Stand co-creator Brian K. Vaughn.
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