Meredith Finch, David Finch and Jonathan Glapion’s “Wonder Woman” run is one that has inched forward from one issue to the next, in search of a voice. It’s admittedly hard to compare to one with as distinct a tone and style as the previous creative team (Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang and company) but it’s been long enough now that “Wonder Woman” #44 should have its own defined take on the character. Unfortunately, once again, the book feels aimless.
Meredith Finch’s script this issue is the dreaded exposition/transition pairing; characters are told pieces of information but nothing actually happens in the process. Things happen to Wonder Woman, but not because of her. A prime example here is the origin of Aegeus’ arrow that hit Wonder Woman last issue. When Wonder Woman pulls it out this month, she literally drops it and goes on her way without a second thought. It takes Hera checking in with Wonder Woman later to remind her of the arrow and explain that Hephaestus examined it and figured out where it was forged. Now imagine the same conclusion, only one where the actual title character of the series is responsible. Wonder Woman could have kept the arrow after pulling it out, noticed its incredible god-like craftsmanship, and determined that the best person to examine it would be Hephaestus. It’s the same end point, but one sequence makes the book’s star a protagonist, while the other has her as a background character in her own series.
That’s ultimately the problem with “Wonder Woman” right now. It nominally stars Diana, but she is perpetually in the backseat and catching up on what’s happening around her. The end result is a comic where the biggest turn of events this month involves Donna Troy getting a new (presumably) superhero outfit. (It’s also worth noting that Donna, like Diana, is being dragged through the story by other characters.) It’s frustrating when a minor character like Aegeus — whose flashback to having a bad day is questionable on if it’s supposed to make us feel bad for him, or if it’s there to show what a two-faced, slimy jerk he was — seems to be more in the driver’s seat of the comic.
David Finch’s pencils are perfectly reasonable this month. He’s at his best in alleyways and crowd scenes, but the action flows well from one panel to the next, and the more nonsensical moments like Donna walking in front of a double-decker bus are given as much drama as one can in such a situation. (Even if someone isn’t familiar with a piece of modern technology, a huge object barreling down on you is recognizable as a danger no matter where you come from. You wouldn’t walk in front of a charging animal that size, or a hurtling boulder.) Donna’s new outfit is all right in its black and silver, although it’s hard to say how it connects with the character, and I could have done without the midriff being bared. Brad Anderson’s colors certainly make the silver gleam, though, which is a nice enough contrast to the black leather.
“Wonder Woman” #44 is a frustrating comic in a run that doesn’t feel fully formed. I’m not sure what character is supposed to be well-serviced by this book, but it’s certainly not Wonder Woman herself. This is a comic that needs a much stronger editorial hand, one to look at severe problems with the script and work with the writer to make the journey more engaging and stronger. David Finch’s pencils looking good cannot hide that this is a comic that needed to be completely rewritten to showcase the character it’s supposed to be starring. For fans of Wonder Woman, this comic ultimately has her once more not in control of her own destiny.