In “Wonder Woman” #52, the New 52 era ends for the God of War as writer Meredith Finch’s fast-moving script neatly wraps up the title’s loose ends from the last five years in a gut-wrenching finale. Joined by artist Miguel Mendonca, Finch provides a satisfying conclusion to the New 52 storyline that should serve as a good springboard for Greg Rucka when he becomes Diana’s scribe in “Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1.”
Diana’s journey from hero to god was characterized by the struggle between love and war, and the various writers of these last 52 issues have made interesting use of that and its effect on Diana’s decisions as she protects Zola and Zeke. Finch’s scripts have made it very clear that — within families — sometimes love and war are actually the same thing, especially when your relatives are gods. Trust has long been a hallmark of Diana’s basic personality; she trusts until she is given a reason not to, and even then she prefers to offer second chances, and Finch addresses whether or not this is a character strength or weakness.
In issue #52, it is both. Finch used the last several issues to set up this finale as a showdown between Hecate, Hera and Diana with the lives of Zola and Zeke hanging in the balance. Desperate to cure the dying Zeke and spellbound Zola, Diana trusts the words of both goddesses, thus leading to the life-changing conclusion. Some of the twists in issue #52 were predicable to longtime readers (if not Diana herself), and Finch seemed willing to let us have those because she had a couple that readers likely won’t see coming. Ultimately, Finch presents trust as strength, and perhaps it is the central lesson of the run. For Diana, love and war aren’t separate entities, after all. Having embraced her place as the God of War, Diana chooses to protect someone she loves even if it means sacrificing her life.
Miguel Mendonca’s well-paced art complements Finch’s script, adding tension, desperation and callousness in details like Diana’s oft-clenched fists, Hecate’s fury and the smug satisfaction on Hera’s face. As with most depictions of Diana, however, there are some consistency issues with her face. Stephen Downer’s colors add a constant sense of emotion to the panels.
The issue’s artistic standouts are the two full-page panels. The first harkens back to Diana as the Goddess of Truth, while the second is Diana as the scary-as-hell God of War, complete with horned helmet and fiery eyes. Those panels beautifully sum up Diana’s New 52 journey from golden lasso-wielding hero to sword-swinging god.
In the end, “Wonder Woman” #52 is a storytelling success. Diana wins the battle, but she loses the war. Although Diana has achieved balance within herself, Finch and Mendonca’s conclusion leaves Diana with a profound sense of loss. As with all conflicts of love and war, the fine line between victory and defeat is a blur.