In Review: Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1

This Rebirth left me unsatisfied.

The covers: Wonder Woman smiles at the reader as she holds her sword before her, a warning that she can follow through with anything she says. This is a dynamic cover by Liam Sharp and Laura Martin. The details on her face and her tiara look incredible. The coloring is also slick, with the tiara and the tones on her skin amazing. This is impressive. The Variant cover is by Stanley “Artgerm” Lau. This follows the format of other Variant covers for Rebirth books with the title character striking a pose over the redesigned DC Bullet on a white background. This image is beautiful: Diana has her sword and shield ready as she leaps up, her cape splaying out behind her. The look on her face is one of determination. This is even better than the Regular cover, and that looks great. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant A+

The story: This was a frustrating story. The first page demonstrates the problem with this issue: narrating her origin, Diana states two conflicting tales from her past. Both origins have been used to tell how the Amazon princess came to be, but now one has to be hammered down, or the two combined somehow, to give a concrete, final origin of her. Spoiler: Greg Rucka’s story does not do that. These competing origins are left momentarily with the turn of the page to show the heroine in action, saving a woman from gunshots from several nemeses. As she battles these individuals she ponders the name used for her: ‘Wonder. Woman. I remember believing that “Wonder” meant “awe.” That the name they gave me spoke of admiration. Perhaps it did, once. But the story keeps changing.’ With the action over, Diana returns to her apartment and continues to think upon why she has conflicting memories. Two objects assist her in trying to determine the truth, with the actions on Pages 10 and 11 being awesome. In fact, this was the high point of the book. Realizing that she has been fed lies, she goes when she believes she can find the truth. This turns into another action sequence, but one that seems to fill pages rather than move the story forward. The final page has the title character ending up where she began: confused and unsure. The reader is right there with her. This was very unsatisfying to read. I admit to not reading a Wonder Woman since Jill Thompson was on the book in 1993, but this book added nothing to her story, nor explained anything new about her. Outside of the first action sequence, which demonstrate her abilities clearly, the remainder of the book is a head game with no resolution. I needed more than this to fall in love with this character and motivate me to buy a monthly series. I didn’t get that. Overall grade: D+

The art: Matthew Clark does the pencils for Pages 1 – 14, with Sean Parson doing the inks, and Liam Sharp the artist for 15 – 20. Clark and Parson get the opening action sequence which includes a spectacular full page splash on Page 2: this the type of intensity and action a fan would want to see. When Diana uses her lasso on the top of 4 it’s pretty amazing looking. In fact, I’d love to see the two give a try on a cinematic archaeologist because of this panel. The top of 5 is also good looking, and the hero doesn’t even appear in it: it shows the fallout from the battle she’s just been in. The final two panels on the same page also look good as she makes a fleeting appearance on a television broadcast. The origin sequences, whichever is true, also look good, though the pair don’t get many opportunities to show the setting on Paradise Island. There’s a double-paged spread on 12 and 13 that is really nice, with some impressive work on tiny images. When Sharp takes over as artist it’s fairly obvious, as the item at the bottom of his first panel is much more detailed than it appeared on previous pages. 16 has some really strong setting work; in fact, it’s so good I would have been happy with the visuals if Wonder Woman had just walked around for the remainder of the issue. She does encounter three antagonists at this location, which constitute the final action sequence. There’s no serious tension generated in this battle. This may be due to constraints from the story to have the skirmish occur in three pages or because of the heroine’s seeming distance from the antagonists. Whatever the case, it visually doesn’t work. The final page has some outstanding character work on the title character, which is impressive because she’s not in drawn in any panels close to the reader. However, the background really falls apart in the final panel (no pun intended). Every piece of debris in that panel looks nothing like any part of the setting previously shown, or created by the same artist. Being the final panel of the issue, this is very disappointing. A mixed bag of visuals. Overall grade: B-

The colors: Like the Green Lantern books, I expect the adventures of Wonder Woman to be brightly colored. I’m not used to seeing her run around in gritty, urban environments. The opening pages have the heroine involved in a back alley rescue with glaring lights. Credit must be given to Jeremy Colwell for making the lights of this sequence, as wells as bullet deflections and the golden lasso really shine. At her apartment, Wonder Woman’s costume and the setting’s interiors are very dim. Only in her ruminations of her origin do any bright panels appear. The coloring takes a major turn in the book’s final six pages because of the location and because colorist Laura Martin takes over. With the setting being so sinister the colors go crimson. This really increases the dark tone for the actions that occur. However, such a red setting renders the coloring of the antagonists washed out: it’s practically impossible to tell what colors they’re meant to be. The taming of the reds would have helped make the villains stand out more. Overall grade: B-

The letters: Jodi Wynne creates narration and dialogue (the same font), the story’s title, the book’s credits, a yell, and the tease for the upcoming series. I wanted to see the narration and dialogue be two different fonts. I also wanted to see a more dramatic font employed for the title of this story: it’s not befitting this character and is more suited for a comedic tale. There are no sounds in this book. It’s not Wynne’s call to insert them, that’s up to the writer, but the lack of sounds was painful on some pages, especially on the climatic double-paged spread. I expect better. Overall grade: C-

The final line: This Rebirth left me unsatisfied. The story is nothing but questions, with the biggest being What in this book compels me to buy the monthly? Nothing. The visuals are fine, but I’m seeing nothing that’s recalling the book’s visual glory days from over two decades ago. I’ll eyeball the first regular issue, but if the visuals don’t impress, I’ll be passing on this series. Overall grade: C

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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