Writer: Greg Rucka
Artists: Nicola Scott, Bilquis Evely “Interlude”
Colourist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer: Jodi Wynne
Publisher: DC Comics
A review by Stephanie Pouliotte
The second volume of Greg Rucka’s popular Wonder Woman: Rebirth run collects the even numbered issues that comprise the Year One storyline, illustrated by Nicola Scott and Bilquis Evely. I admit, even though Rucka is a franchise veteran, I was concerned when DC put another male writer at the helm of a strong female title, especially considering the backlash they faced with the choice of writers on the film. Retooling Diana’s origins wouldn’t be an easy task, and I was afraid DC was poised to miss the mark on revamping Wonder Woman’s image. But by Wonder Woman #2 Rucka had really set the tone for what he wanted to do with the character. Shedding light on the truth of who she is and what she represents was quickly established as the driving force of the series, and each thread in the web of lies leads back to Year One.
In Wonder Woman: Rebirth Rucka manages to deliver two tandem storylines, simultaneously establishing Wonder Woman’s true origins in Year One and dismantling the inconsistencies in her character, remnants of countless reboots, in The Lies (which is collected in Volume 1). Initially both could be read separately as Rucka focuses on laying the groundwork in the opening issues, but eventually the loose threads from one are picked up in the other. He weaves a strong narrative that aims to detangle the Gordian Knot that is Diana’s origin by diving head first into its heart, instead of just cutting the cord. Rucka questions everything we knew about Wonder Woman through the lens of her self discovery and empowerment. It’s honestly a refreshing read and is certainly my favorite Rebirth title. Both storylines are solid and they really fill each other out, but from the get go I’ve been more partial to Year One as I felt it offered a more consistent throughline and bigger payoff than The Lies.
Maybe it’s the air of anticipation building up for the new Wonder Woman film, but going back to her true roots felt almost therapeutic in our current climate of misinformation and distrust. Even though the story mainly tackles the theme of deception in The Lies, it’s in Year One that the cloud of doubt is lifted and we get to see Diana’s true character. Her integrity, her strength, her resolve as she fights for the honour of being the champion of Themyscira, to leave her home forever to protect the outside world. It isn’t until her climactic fight with Ares in the final leg of the story, which echoes the shattered image of herself as the God of War early in The Lies, that we truly understand the piece of herself that Diana has sacrificed.
I’ve always loved the mythology in Wonder Woman, and Year One is precisely what Diana’s origin always should have been. It feels true, it feels authentic. Rucka takes an honest approach at depicting the society of fierce and loyal Amazons in which Diana was raised and doesn’t tip toe around establishing her as a queer character (which he later confirms in an interview with Comicosity, not that it needed confirming.) Rucka also takes a lens to our own society through Diana’s fresh eyes by revisiting origin story staples, such as taking her out to a shopping district, where this time she uncomfortably eyes the foreign representations of modern-day femininity that surround her. Rucka isn’t hitting the reader over the head with it, but unlike many of his peers, he knows how to keep his footing when writing a strong female lead. Though there were a few encounters with Steve that screamed out to the straight female audience a little too loudly in my opinion.
Nicola Scott simply blew me away in Year One, her depiction of Diana is so wonderfully authentic. Her aquiline nose, her long face, her muscular frame; she is every inch an Amazonian princess. As Diana tests the limits of her new powers, gifted to her by her patron gods, Scott puts her raw power, agility, and grace on the page. Her fight with Ares featured some particularly stunning spreads. The “Interlude” issue illustrated by Evely was placed at the end, despite being published midway through the run. This is likely because the series was handed off to Evely as Scott finished up Year One, so this works as a better transition when the next volumes are released. It’s a wonderful little issue that plants a few narrative seeds and really gives a richer backstory to Barbara Ann’s character, who rivals Diana’s strong presence on the page with her own compelling character arc. It’s almost like a mini-Year One issue, and Evely’s rendering of Barbara Ann as a roguish and fervent archaeologist is my favourite yet!
Buy it! You should be reading this title. Right now. Seriously. Though I do prefer Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Year One to The Lies, they are kind of a package deal. You can certainly get away with only reading Year One, but the reverse isn’t completely true. Even though The Lies was collected in the first volume, it relies on some key plot points revealed in the flashback storyline to fill in the narrative gaps. So whether you’re coming off the first volume or simply interested in a solid Wonder Woman origin story, you should absolutely be looking to pick up Year One this week!