The inaugural issue of “Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman” reunites “The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men” co-writers Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver. In part one of “Gothamazon,” Simone sits in the writer’s chair by herself, with Van Sciver drawing the tale of Wonder Woman answering Oracle’s call.
That’s right — Oracle is back. This series, like “Adventures of Superman” and “Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight,” is out of continuity, allowing the creative team to bring in whatever they desire in order to tell their story. In this case, Simone has chosen to reflect back to the pre-New 52 era, with Barbara Gordon serving her role as Oracle, as she asks Wonder Woman to cover for an unavailable Batman. Simone’s Diana is a cerebral warrior, cognizant of her task and more than capable of accomplishing what needs to be accomplished. In this case, Wonder Woman is facing an alliance of Batman foes: Joker, Riddler, Poison Ivy, Penguin, Two-Face, Mister Freeze and Man-Bat. The situation absolutely plays to Van Sciver’s strengths and gives readers an unorthodox match-up.
Van Sciver’s art is filled with rugged edges and exquisite detail. His work on “Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman” #1 appears to be a natural extension of his artistry on “Batman: The Dark Knight.” His work is equally perfect for Gotham’s worst and Themyscira’s best, with Brian Miller’s colors hitting all the right corresponding notes. Diana is as gorgeous as Man-Bat is hideous, and the page with the two of them squaring off is well worth the Digital First price of admission. Saida Temofonte’s letters fall in lockstep with the rest of the visuals, rounding out the issue into a fine package, distinguishing Oracle’s captions from Diana’s while adding an extra chill to Mister Freeze’s word balloons. Visually, this is a stunning comic and a fun one to boot.
The most intriguing aspect of “Gothamazon” is also the biggest miss of “Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman” #1 as a Wonder Woman book. Simone and Van Sciver rely on Batman’s rogues to draw and keep the readers’ attention — the focus isn’t on Wonder Woman or her foes, but rather on her connections and similarities to Batman’s world and tactics. Yes, it’s fun to see characters matched against somewhat unfamiliar opponents, but the issue fails to deliver a self-contained Wonder Woman story that celebrates the character in her own right. This is still a fun read, with great art and fine characterization, but it falls short of being a great Wonder Woman story. That said, if you enjoyed “Adventures of Superman” and “Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight,” the $0.99 price can’t be beat, especially when two of the industry’s finer talents come together like this.