“Wonder Woman” #1 kicks off Diana’s “Rebirth” series with a strong, rhythmically plotted debut issue. Most of the issue establishes the new terms of her world — Steve Trevor and Etta Candy’s updated roles, Steve and Diana’s relationship status — and builds toward two big reveals on the last page. This light plotting could have easily felt dull, but Rucka’s script is invitingly confident and Liam Sharp and Laura’s Martin artwork is bold and evocative. All told, “Wonder Woman” #1 is a capable, handsomely drawn issue that has me optimistic for the upcoming series.
The issue flips between two storylines. In one, Diana walks through the Bwundan rainforest seeking an enemy who can answer her questions. In the other, Steve Trevor and Etta Candy conduct a covert operation against Cadulo in another part of Bwunda. Sharp and Martin craft two very different settings for these stories: the dusty, modern battlefields where Steve and Etta wage their wars, and the wild, mythic settings where Diana wages hers. Sharp’s textures and Martin’s colors strongly differentiate the two, amplifying Diana’s godliness and suggesting a certain distance from Steve. It’s a pleasure to see her in high Amazon form, leaping down waterfalls and fighting magical creatures. Sharp also lets her body dominate more of the panel than expected, which emphasizes the larger-than-life nature of the character.
As mentioned above, though, both storylines really do focus on setup. Although “Wonder Woman” #1 demonstrates Rucka’s methodical, movement-based approach to story, there is admittedly not a ton of plot here. Steve and Etta spend much of their time discussing logistics and their mission, while most of Diana’s storyline is buildup to the big reveal on the last page. Her dialogue is almost entirely anticipatory, as she stalks through the jungle saying, “I know you’re here” and delivering warnings. I could definitely imagine some readers walking away underwhelmed at the lack of forward progress, though I came away from the issue curious for “Wonder Woman” #3 and delighted to find Diana with such a self-assured creative team.
The last page, which this issue spends so much time building to, is memorably rendered. Sharp zooms in on Diana and her enemy, placing them practically nose-to-nose in their struggle, and this intimate, intense panel is blown up into a full-page spread. The effect is arresting, giving us the tension, pleading and rage in epic proportion. Cheetah, the enemy Diana has been searching for, also appears with a new look. It’s sleeker and more animalistic, creating an almost werewolf-esque appearance. I’m curious to see how the rest of her physicality will play out, but I’m a fan so far.
Martin also deserves a special shout-out for her work on Steve’s photo of Diana. It looks perfectly softer, gentler and more faded than reality; seeing that photo in contrast with her tough, darkly lined panels in the jungle told me so much about how Steve sees her.
As a whole, “Wonder Woman” #1 has me optimistic. While I would have loved some more plot movement, particularly since issue #2 will focus on “Wonder Woman Year One” storyline, this issue firmly established my faith in the creative team.