Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Liam Sharp, Laura Martin
I’ll say straight out the gate that I’m not a big fan of Wonder Woman. I’ve never understood the appeal of the character, and everyone seems to prefer a different version of her. Some like her as the warrior woman, others like her as an ambassador, and others want a specific balance of both. Some think the New 52 run was trash, while others think it’s a refreshing take on the character, while others think it’s got good aspects. Wonder Woman’s fanbase seems divided more than any other barring the Legion of Super-Heroes’, until something truly hated comes along like Amazons Attack! or the more recent run by Meredith Finch. But Rebirth was supposed to be a golden age for Diana of Themyscira, with beloved Wonder Woman scribe — and generally awesome writer — Greg Rucka helming her ongoing once again. Along with art by Liam Sharp (never heard of him) and Nicola Scott (awesome lady who loves butts)! And with Rebirth’s nature as a a pseudo-reboot, it was gonna be a good place to jump on right? Well… no. The Rebirth issue was one event happening stretched out to a whole issue. Not only that, but it also felt kind of offensive as Diana physically destroyed aspects of her character that Azarello introduced. The first actual issue was boring as nothing really happened on Diana’s end and Steve Trevor’s plot was more interesting. Second issue was much better, but that’s the “Year One” story (the series is telling two stories in an alternating fashion). So now with issue 3, we’re back to the main storyline and… I enjoyed it! I really did enjoy it! In fact, I think I can really appreciate Wonder Woman as a character now! That’s how good this issue was!
The story focuses on Diana’s continued quest to uncover her true origin with the help of the Cheetah. While I know nothing about the two’s relationship, Rucka clearly shows that the two were friends, and that Diana still values that friendship and regrets what Cheetah has become. Rucka excels at making exposition engaging and natural with this issue, while still allowing for characterisation. While not much happens (again), the humanity of Wonder Woman is demonstrated beautifully in how she interacts with her enemy. It’s not overblown, it’s not ham-fisted, it’s just really well-written.
Steve Trevor’s plot begins to intersect with Diana’s, while still remaining distinct. Trevor’s group of soldiers is in some war torn region, and he comes across as a good man doing what good he can in something that’s kind of above his pay grade. He actually reminded me a bit of Captain America, actually. I think using both a modern, grounded setting for Trevor’s story as well as a more mystical story for Diana’s is a good way to please new readers. Not only that, but it’s a solid contrast as both character approach conflict in a different way. So while, like the previous issues, the plot didn’t progress that much, there was much stronger characterisation and more character moments in this issue that made it feel like a lot happened.
Sharp’s art is very strong. He alternates between thick and soft lines depending on the scene and this works very well. His soft lines combined with Laura Martin’s colouring gives the series a an almost painted look at times. While the previous Sharp issues weren’t anything special, he really brings his A-game to this issue. He can draw Cheetah as a savage beast or a sympathetic creature with humanity. He excels at expressions more than anything, and I think his Wonder Woman may be my favourite: strong, but compassionate. The artwork reminds me of Doug Mahnke and Marco Checchetto, with the former’s detailed faces using thick lines and the latter’s penchant for colour filters and softer facial features. Sharp’s style takes the best aspects from both and creates a unique look for this series.
I had my doubts about this series. The Rebirth issue seemed to be an issue-long middle finger to the New 52 Wonder Woman, including the stuff people liked, and the first was just incredibly, excruciatingly slow. But this issue made me like Wonder Woman. Rucka has gotten past Diana seeking her next retconned backstory and instead is allowing her humanity and love to shine through. This is the Wonder Woman I want, this is the kind of Wonder Woman story that will make you like the character and I wish Rucka had opened with this issue! A very, very good read and a good sign of things to come. As long as Rucka loses his fixation on Wonder Woman’s origin and history and focuses more on Wonder Woman herself and those around her, I can see this being an another great run by him.