I'm getting some Deja vu with this one, and not just because it's one of many recent takes on Diana's origins (one of four in the last three years), but because it's the third Wonder Woman #1 in a month's time from Greg Rucka. The first was Rebirth which, in the manner of rebirth issues, is safely ignored. The second was last month's rock solid modern day Wonder Woman story. This, is the start to a year one story that will follow Wonder Woman in her fist days as the champion of Themyscera. Let's put aside the subject of double shipping and the oddities it creates and consider this as the start to its own distinct story. As such, it's really good, and possibly the superior of the two Rucka penned Wonder Woman stories. There are two key decisions set Rucka and Scott's origin story apart from the recent others (Azzarello's, Renae De Liz, and Grant Morrison's) and both are hugely effective. Firstly, the book begins after Diana is already grown, foregoing, at least for the moment, the Greek mythology origin story that is neither interesting nor deserving of a retread. Secondly, the story doesn't just follow Wonder Woman, splitting its time instead between Diana and Steve Trevor. This keeps the necessarily dry Themyscera portions from overpowering the book and builds anticipation for the two characters to have their significant meeting (which sounds like a euphemism but isn't).
And on that note, it should be noted, even with Rucka using his not inconsiderable skill and experience to write it, the Themyscera woman warrior culture remains extremely dull. Names like Kasia, Areto, and Evrayle blend together until all I could remember was that most of the women’s' names sound like fuel-efficient mid-sized cars. Sword and sandals intrigue isn't something I tend to enjoy, which is a matter of taste and wouldn't be worth noting, were I not sure that a lot of people agree. But there is an upshot: while I don't care even a little about oracles, princess training, or royal birthrights, Rucka infuses it all with the underlying pathos of a small-town girl who longs to leave home. Instead of emphasizing her spunk and rebelliousness, we are given a glimpse into the soulfulness that is to me, the character’s key attribute. Scott draws a few beautiful, silent scenes of a melancholy but peaceful Diana staring at the night sky which are paralleled with Trevor slowly realizing his own life is a little empty.
It's a bold choice to not make the character’s origins overtly dramatic or high-stakes. There's a certain tendency in prequels to telegraph where the story is going by exaggerating the character’s iconic characteristics, but the book takes a subtler route. And subtle is a good term for Scott's art, which is extremely pretty and refined with a certain softness to the characters’ facial features that makes everyone a little unnaturally lovable (it sounds odd to say, but it's true). One full page image of Diana finding a withered, blackened tree is notable not only for its beauty, but for its reserve, not hitting you over the head with its ominousness.
As always seems to be the case, I have reached the end of the review without really touching on the plot. There are a few elements in her that seem to set up something of a mystery going forward (that may tie into the fractured state of Diana's memories evinced by last month's issue), but for the moment, there's not a lot to hang onto beyond some good characterization and impressive pathos. Frankly, that's enough not only to make this a great read, but a clear candidate for the best issue of DC's Rebirth so far.
[su_box title="Score: 4/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]