It would have been difficult for anyone to follow Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang's three-year run on "Wonder Woman," so I've always hoped for the best with Meredith Finch and David Finch's follow-up. In "Wonder Woman" #47, Miguel Mendonca and Dexter Vines join Meredith Finch, and -- while there are still some rough spots -- I'm pleased to see that this is easily her strongest script to date.
The plot of "Wonder Woman" #47 is nominally Cheetah's attempt to steal the Eye of Antiope, a massive jewel that grants the Amazons immortality so long as it stays on Themyscira. What Finch is really doing, though, is continuing her exploration of what it means to be a god, and how Diana's position as the God of War affects her far more than she had initially bargained for.
That look into godhood has been coming to the forefront more and more with each issue in Finch's run. The idea that the God of Peace was becoming unbalanced by Diana's non-warlike behavior as the God of War was intriguing (if abruptly swept under the rug at the conclusion of the previous issue), and here we are given more follow-through on that concept. I like the idea that -- as a rival deity -- Wonder Woman can't enter a temple sacred to Hera, despite their recent friendship. Similarly, the continuing problems with Wonder Woman's godly abilities separating her from the rest of the Amazons is worth exploring. (With the recent rebirth of Ares, it's hard to keep from feeling like Finch is preparing to end Diana's time as the God of War very soon.) The overall direction on "Wonder Woman" is in good shape now, and that's great to see.
Unfortunately, the storytelling still has some rough spots that need to be sanded down, and they can be summed up in one word: exposition. There's a tremendous amount of it, and much of it is unnecessary. Characters speak unnaturally as they remind us again and again what's happened before, or even what we learned a few pages earlier. I appreciate that Finch tries to make sure that readers are up-to-date on what's going on -- after all, every issue is someone's first -- but the sheer amount of it here is just too much. By way of example, we learn at the start of the issue about Cheetah's attempt to steal the Eye of Antiope to grant herself immortality. Ten pages later, Cheetah appears and says to herself, "According to this old map I stole from A.R.G.U.S. before I left, I'm almost at the temple, and then the Eye of Antiope, and the key to Amazon immortality, will be mine!" It's clumsy dialogue that no one in their right mind (or even with a twisted, super-villain mind) would ever say. The book is full of these sorts of exposition dumps, and right now they're Finch's greatest stumbling block that needs to be overcome.
Mendonca and Vines's art is a bit varied, but nice overall. Some moments -- like the opening page with Diana sitting on the beach -- are handled really well. I love the slight smile they give her as she states that Ares is back with a mixture of happiness and incredulousness; it sells the moment that Finch is trying to get across to the reader. The action we get is easy to follow, and is certainly energetic. Strangely enough, it's Wonder Woman's face that seems to be the most problematic here; she doesn't always look like the same character, most notably by looking very young in some panels and a bit older (and like the age we normally see her at) in others. That said, if Mendonca and Vines were to regularly draw "Wonder Woman," I suspect that issue would go away given more time and practice.
"Wonder Woman" #47 is a big step forward for the series, and at an important time. With a cinematic version of the character set to debut in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" in 2016, there needs to be a strong "Wonder Woman" comic. While we're not quite at that level just yet, the amount of improvement over Finch's first year on the title gives me hope we're on our way towards just that.