When the Rebirth initiative was announced, I was admittedly very skeptical. Nearly the only thing we knew for the months leading up to the DC Universe: Rebirth one-shot’s release was who the creative teams were going to be on the books, and for the most part there weren’t any huge surprises, as they’d nearly all been people who were already working for DC. One of the biggest exceptions to that was on Wonder Woman, which was seeing Greg Rucka return to writing the character for the first time since 2005. Rucka’s pre-’One Year Later’ run on the character is just a great bunch of comics both on their own and as part of the larger DCU, and I was really excited to see that he was coming back to Diana’s world. The Wonder Woman: Rebirth one-shot did a nice job of setting up the identity crisis that she’s currently going through, and part one of “The Lies” in Wonder Woman #1 gives us a glimpse of how Diana intends to get her answers.
The issue is split evenly between two sets of characters. The first, naturally, is Wonder Woman herself. Her search for the truth about her own history begins in a rainforest in Bwunda. Her journey through the forest is slow, but it reveals a lot about her as a character. Menacing creatures lurk in the darkness, and she gives them ample warning not to cross her. What feels on the surface a bit like grandstanding is actually a perfect example of Diana’s character. She doesn’t want to fight anyone, but she will if she’s attacked and it becomes absolutely necessary. Her actions through her half of the issue are purely character-driven, and while it may look like she’s just walking through a forest, she’s actually actively refraining from engaging with the forest-dwellers who want her gone. It’s a great bit of writing from Rucka, and it’s fantastically rendered by artist Liam Sharp. His jungle is gnarled with age, and Diana’s smooth features stand out against it and its inhabitants really well. Laura Martin’s colors accentuate the contrast of Diana’s red and blue against the forest’s thick green. It’s a great-looking sequence overall.
The other half of the issue is devoted to a couple of classic Wonder Woman supporting characters, Etta Candy and Steve Trevor. In a nice switch from how things have been between the characters in the New 52 up to this point, Etta is no longer Steve’s assistant, but is instead his commander, presumably still as part of ARGUS (it’s not specified in the issue). The interaction between Steve and Etta is entertaining, and there’s real emotion and history that comes through when they talk about Diana. Sharp and Martin’s art again shines during these scenes. Compared to jungle scenes that are packed full of greenery and life, Etta’s command center is dark and sterile, while Steve’s various locations within the country of Bwunda are barren, rocky desert. The issue jumps back and forth between Diana and Etta/Steve, and it’s both jarring and extremely easy to follow as a result.
There’s not a ton of action in Wonder Woman #1, but it more than makes up for it with fantastic characterization and some beautiful art. I worry that the way this title is being published – odd-numbered issues are “The Lies” with art by Liam Sharp, while even-numbered issues are a ‘Year One’ storyline with art by Nicola Scott – will make it difficult for the series to build any momentum. Hopefully the bi-weekly schedule will help avoid that. Either way, this new Wonder Woman series is off to a great start.