Wonder Woman Rebirth #1
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artists: Matthew Clark, Liam Sharp
Colourists: Jeremy Colwell, Laura Martin
Inker: Sean Parsons
Letterer: Jodi Wynne
Editors: Chris Conroy, Mark Doyle
A review by Stephanie Pouliotte
Wonder Woman has gone through a resurgence of sorts. With a confident and grittier persona, her appearance in Dawn of Justice as well as the upcoming release of her own feature film in 2017 have given her mainstream exposure, but also placed high expectations on what the Amazonian has to offer. The character’s most recent comic runs were not very well received and with the launch of the DC Rebirth this seems like the perfect time to bring in a ringer who’s already had an extremely successful run with the character.
So with Wonder Woman Rebirth #1 Greg Rucka returns to DC after splitting with the publisher in a heated dispute in 2010. Though a veteran of the franchise, Rucka has his work cut out for him in retooling Wonder Woman’s character; and not merely to change her physical image, but to change how the character is perceived within the DC Universe. In the opening of the first issue, we discover that this begins with changing how Diana Prince perceives herself.
Wonder Woman is doubting her own memories, as the various narratives of her past and origins bring each other into question within her mind. What is real? What is she? What is the truth? Seeking to cast off her uncertainty, Diana wraps the Lasso of Truth around her own arm and reveals to herself what she sensed was true, but feared to know. Shattering the illusions of the past, Diana casts off the false image of her former self as a symbol of war and heads to Olympus to challenge the source of this deception face to face.
If this all sounds a bit meta, that’s probably because it is. Though this first issue serves a necessary purpose in exploring Wonder Woman’s past in order to deconstruct it, the plot isn’t as gripping as expected from a seasoned pro like Rucka. It struggles to hold the readers interest through a bit of melodramatic introspection and doesn’t really hit its momentum until about halfway in. But when it does, the first issue of Wonder Woman Rebirth skillfully sets the thematic tone of the story, where Rucka will boldly explore the unifying theme of truth as the core of Wonder Woman’s character.
The art for the issue is split, with Matthew Clark and Jeremy Colwell tackling the lengthier first half and Liam Sharp and Laura Martin taking over when Diana makes her transition in the final pages. Clark depicts Wonder Woman in a cleaner, more traditional art style, sporting her armour from the beginning of the New 52 and carrying all the baggage that goes along with it. She’s going through the motions, but questioning the veracity of the image she’s cultivated. Clark reinforces this with a conventional panel layout that borders on repetition, which is suddenly shattered by a beautifully powerful double page spread juxtaposing Diana’s various selves, which are merely smaller reflections of her truly strong and imposing character.
A shift occurs and Sharp takes over, drawing Diana clad in new armour fashioned after the one she wears in the feature film, casting off her old outfit and the unreliable past it was tied to. Sharp’s art style is much richer, with heavy detail and inking that truly returns the mythical to this Amazonian Goddess. Though Sharp’s spread isn’t as thematically charged or imposing as Clark’s, he uses deep contrasts to capture the darkness and grit we’ve been wanting to see, setting the tone for the rest of the series that intends to pit Diana against a dark and ever-changing enemy in her quest for the truth.
Wait and see. Though it was a slow start with less action than expected, I believe Wonder Woman Rebirth has a very promising story, especially with Rucka at the helm. Addressing Wonder Woman’s muddied past was key to recasting her role as a warrior of truth and not merely of war. Forging her own path ahead, Diana is challenging everything we thought we knew about her and everything she thought she knew about herself. It is a true rebirth. It was hard to tell from the few pages he drew how the action will flow through Sharp’s artwork, but I personally think his otherworldly, yet gritty style suits the Amazon Princess just as well as her new threads. Hopefully, Rucka will ramp up the action and lead Wonder Woman to find her footing in the DC Universe in what could potentially be one of the most defining and interesting character resurgences of the Rebirth titles.