Wonder Woman by George Perez Vol. 1 (Review)

Wonder Woman by George Perez Vol. 1
Collection: Wonder Woman #1 – 14, Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe 26, Who’s Who Update ’87 1 – 3 © 1985, 1987, 1997, 2004
Publisher: DC Comics © 2017
Writers: George Perez, Len Wein, Greg Potter
Penciller: George Perez
Inkers: Bruce Patterson, Bob Smith, George Perez
Colorists: Tatjana Wood, Carl Gafford
Letterers: John Costanza, L.S. Macintosh
Collection Cover Artist: George Perez
Wonder Woman created by: William Moulton Marston
Superman created by: Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel Family

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Say Wonder Woman and when it comes to comics most fans will think of the George Perez run. It’s strange given that Wonder Woman had already existed for 40 + years prior to this particular run in her publication history. Outside of her Golden Age mythos it could be argued Wonder Woman had nothing but downs prior to this such as the dainty young lady being carried across the creak by Steve Trevor, the now appointed secretary for the Justice League to the de-powered and highly emotional Diana Prince to a power restored Wonder Woman who left no mark with her subpar stories after her Diana Prince run. After 1984 Wonder Woman comics averaged roughly 52,145 a month. By today’s standards this would be OK, but not back then. Enter Post-Crisis with a new Superman and Batman in a sense. Wonder Woman sales more than double and starts selling 119,537 issues a month by the end of 1987. Much like how Frank Miller did to Batman or John Byrne did to Superman, George Perez did to Wonder Woman.

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The most impressive thing about this book and series in general is that Perez himself is the story teller, as he is writer and artist. Now, he did hand over scripting duties here and there but was still the narrator of this Wonder Woman in a sense. As mentioned before Wonder Woman had nothing but lows, with the feminism sponged away, too much over-dramatics, bad one-note, silly villains and overall uninteresting plots. Perez changes all of this as he brings back the feminism and firmly plants in within Amazon lore. The character is made strong, independent yet not refusing any voluntary help and of course compassionate. Meanwhile, Perez truly marries the character to Greek mythology, bringing in Ares as her main enemy now, unlike before in Pre-Crisis. Superman has his Lex Luthor, Batman has his Joker and Wonder Woman has her Ares now, thanks to this man. In addition, we get Cheetah as well.

20170516_125349One thing that set this apart from other Wonder Woman tales is Perez spends a decent chunk of time on her origin with Amazon. We go into Amazon lore and learn about her mother, her mother’s history, of Themisycra and the Amazons themselves and the Greek gods. In a way it is Wonder Woman Begins. Perez concocts a fine a way of tying in the Greek gods and myths as well as breaking them down to people who are new to them, without talking down to them. Greek mythology is the very essence of Wonder Woman here and not just treated as some backdrop. Steve Trevor is present but luckily not used as romantic love interest, Etta Candy is brought back since her lost WWII days and Wonder Woman’s American colors get a background and mind you a good one, instead of just ‘America good and we’re American.’ One note of interest was her new supporting cast with an ancient history professor with knowledge of Ancient Greece and her teenage daughter. This certainly helps send home the feminism lost before and Wonder Woman makes friends with a woman who is independent, incredibly gifted and brave enough to defend her new friend. In a way, we have a de-powered Wonder Woman in some sense but done right.

juliakapatelisMost of the time George Perez is better known for his art rather than his writing, nothing against his writing I assume but comic books are a visual medium. Perez offers a graceful, beautiful and somewhat realistic rendering of our Amazon warrior and others. Wonder Woman is not sexualized; Etta Candy is plump but is made to appear human and not exaggeratingly obese. Even with small panels or characters in the background Perez does not cheapen it. They are not flat characters without expression or folds in the fabric of their clothes. All of his panels came come off a bit busy at times, which can go either way, good or bad. His double-page spreads though are always glorious and should never be passed up. It must be said though, the art has aged well but the moment you look at it you cannot help but think of the 80’s. This is nothing against Perez, as this piece is a product of its time. Moving on – the action is truly wonderful, especially with Wonder Woman and many of pages and panels dealing with anything of Greek mythology is truly fascinating and leaving you in awe. Perez truly makes you feel you left for another world, if not another dimension. One example is the home of the Gods design alluding to Escher’s Relativity. One could argue some of these pencils could be lifted and used for books and documentaries on Greek mythology. Now the one ever-lasting thing Perez left was his terrific design for our war god Ares. The blue armor, cape and horned helmet obscuring his face, save for his eyes. The design brought everything out – the horns symbolizing a satanic like villain, the cold blue steel instilling his devotion to battle and lack of humanity. Years later this design would reach the videogame Injustice: Gods Among Us and would inspire Hades for the Justice League animated series.

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This book is of great value, being under $30 with 14 issues, a cover collection and character bios as well. It can be difficult to hit it all up in one reading, though not because it’s a tough read. Hades no, quite the opposite. The problem being the amount of material and the lack of time you may have with other responsibilities to tend to. This is a great jumping off point for any new Wonder Woman reader and fan, especially since it provided some inspiration for the film.

 

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