Wonder Woman: Land of the Dead review

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

When Wonder Woman: Mission's End comes out in June, it will cap off an incredible body of work for Greg Rucka--a five-volume set of stories that, at least as far as Land of the Dead, is as amazingly readable as it is textured and subtle. With each volume of Rucka's Wonder Woman, I'm impressed more than anything else with how consistent it is--never slow, and always surprising.

Wonder Woman, adjusting to her blindness in the aftermath of her fight with Medousa, finally learns of the plans of the gods that have been behind her recent troubles. First, she teams with the Flash against the pre-Villains United team of the Cheetah and the Reverse Flash. Next, Athena calls her to Olympus and charges her with rescuing the deceased Hermes from Hades--accompanied by Ferdinand the minotaur, and the Teen Titans' Wonder Girl; if successful, each is promised a transformative boon. Meanwhile, Dr. Leslie Anderson discovers evidence that ties Veronica Cale to the Silver Swan, and new embassy hire Jonah begins acting strangely.

Rucka brings Diana's sorrow's directly into focus in this trade, as the trip to Hades affords mention of the loss of Hipolyta and Donna Troy. Moreso, we we see here more hints of Diana's growing violence, as she advocates the death penalty for some of her enemies. The strength of Rucka's Wonder Woman run is that he's showing Diana clearly in transition, and in this transition Diana's personality is perhaps clearer here than it's ever been. And it's notable that trade ends with a devoutly optimistic victory for Diana, a moment happier than most we’ve seen in this run, even as we know the worst is about to come.

Aside from Diana, Land of the Dead contains important moments for a lot of Wonder Woman’s supporting cast. Ferdinand gets his time to shine, though his feelings for Dr. Anderson—while foreshadowed—seem to have little basis (what does he love about her?), it was interesting to see both his angst and his feelings about his own appearance, and I hope we have more scenes with him before the story ends. Anderson, for her part, comes closer to learning the truth about Veronica Cale, who was herself strangely absent from this trade; regardless, the Anderson/Cale/Wonder Woman showdown will be something to see. Wonder Girl makes one of her first major appearances in Rucka’s run, and while what she learns will likely have repercussions over in Teen Titans, her interactions with Wonder Woman here were strangely copasetic—I guess I thought the two were on the outs because of Wonder Girl joining the Titans in the first place (if not for Wonder Girl’s presence at Donna Troy’s death), but apparently all has been forgiven. Finally, Jonah, the staff member we were introduced to in the first pages of Rucka’s run, appears with a mysterious red-haired girl, and speaks as though he has something to hide. My guess is that the girl is one of the gods—Aphrodite, perhaps—and I’m eager to see what her role ultimately turns out to be.

I feel a greater sense of expectation in finishing Land of the Dead, knowing that whatever plotlines are left dangling, they must definitively be cleaned up in the next trade; some parts still have me guessing, and that’s a good thing. Again, as I’ve written these reviews, I truly feel that Greg Rucka’s run on Wonder Woman is unique, which largely didn’t garner the praise it deserved. When Mission’s End comes around, I’ll try to take a look at the series as a whole, because I think that’s attention it deserves.

On to some Green Lantern now, and then to Adam Strange. Ciao!
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2 comments:

  1. I've read a handful of post-Land of the Dead issues, primarily because of the OMAC/Infinite Crisis tie-ins. I doubt I'll be getting Mission's End though; it's a shame how DC is jettisoning Rucka's run for "the greater good". As far as I'm concerned, Land of the Dead is about as perfect an ending for his run.

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  2. Amazon now has a listing for something called "The Infinite Crisis Companion" written by Greg Rucka. There is even some cover art shown, but no hints as to what may be inside. I've been thinking/hoping it will have the Crisis mini specials, but what do you all think? Release date listed as October 4.

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