Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 9: The Enemy of Both Sides trade paperback (DC Comics)

Steve Orlando's works have been hit or miss for me, thought I've always appreciated his enthusiasm for DC Comics (and some of our comics touchstones in common). But his quick stint in Wonder Woman Vol. 9: The Enemy of Both Sides is really great, surprising and compelling, as well as fleshing out important Wonder Woman-related material from another title. I'll give G. Willow Wilson's upcoming run on this title a chance, but Enemy strongly makes me think Orlando should get a turn as well.

[Review contains spoilers]

"Enemy" proper is a couple of stories in one. It starts with Orlando's new take on Grant Morrison's Aztek (late of Orlando's Justice League of America) recruiting Wonder Woman and Red Hood and the Outlaws' Artemis to stop the machinations of the shadow god Tezcatilipoca in two parts, but then ends with Diana involved in political upheaval among Artemis' exiled Amazons, the Bana-Mighdall. The first two chapters are strong in a good story and art, especially, by Orlando's Midnighter collaborator Aco; the second two chapters have a great political dilemma and real conflict for Diana, pair Wonder Woman and Artemis (together again for the first time since a previous continuity), and pick up strongly from Scott Lobdell's Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 2: Who Is Artemis? Orlando's is a Wonder Woman story that works quickly in a really small amount of space, and DC should be taking note.

The Rebirth Red Hood unceremoniously revived the Artemis character from limbo and established that the once-replacement Wonder Woman and Diana were acquainted in current continuity. It left it at that though, and despite that Artemis had just saved the Bana-Mighdall from eradication by their Quraci neighbors, she departs her people without fanfare when teammate Bizarro falls ill. This little corner, then, was rife for exploration (especially since, in Red Hood, Artemis is in another dimension and effectively not being used by the title) — whatever happened to the Bana-Mighdall, and what kind of other interactions might Diana and Artemis have had?

Orlando does well teaming the two in "Enemy"'s first two parts, giving them a respectful if bantering friendship. Back in Qurac, in the second two parts, Diana encounters trouble — the Bana-Mighdall queen Faruka, in the thrall of Rustam (from Justice League vs. Suicide Squad and later Suicide Squad volumes), intends to invade Qurac under false pretenses. Artemis knows the truth but feels she must show loyalty to the queen, putting Wonder Woman and Artemis on the opposite sides of the title. As was sometimes the case with Diana and Artemis before, Orlando effectively joins them and then puts them at odds before, in the end, they come back together; this is a great team-up of the two characters and, again, really well done for such a small space.

The first chapter of Orlando's volume is a one-off story, "The Fifty-Second Visit," branching off of Shea Fontana's Wonder Woman Vol. 5: Heart of the Amazon and relates Diana's stubborn persistence in befriending an imprisoned enemy. It's a great encapsulation of how Orlando sees Diana, which carries through to the other chapters; a warrior but not necessarily warlike, optimistic but not naive.

Orlando's Diana is even mourning here at one point, but there's an overall lack of angst. Whereas I thought James Robinson's Wonder Woman too effusive and Fontana's Wonder Woman too inexperienced, Orlando's seems the most straightforward in a while, lacking perhaps the writerly misgivings others seem to bring to the title. I found Fontana's story troubled, and the fact that Orlando can build off of it such a great single issue (fodder really for "best of" Wonder Woman stories) speaks to the writer's capabilities.

Along with these five issues is also the Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special and stories from Tim Seeley's Walmart-exclusive Justice League Giant #1-2. All of these are fine in terms of Wonder Woman anthology stories; Hope Larson has a cute take on Diana and the current-continuity soldier Etta Candy going furniture shopping, and also a couple of stories set Wonder Woman within her World War II origins.

Greg Rucka contributes a strong text piece, being an interview with Diana by Lois Lane, that not only hints at Rucka's then-plans for the character but also examines interestingly people like the Diana and Lois characters, people for whom work makes up a strong part of their identity. Seeley's stories are mild and continuity-light, as is appropriate for the Walmart books, but there's good brand usage, with Diana, Steve Trevor, Queen Hippolyta, and the god Ares.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Wonder Woman Vol. 9: The Enemy of Both Sides

For what is the last volume of this Wonder Woman "era," and after a couple of rougher outings, Wonder Woman Vol. 9: The Enemy of Both Sides is a good one to go out on. Orlando is now firmly on my list of writers I'd like to see write Wonder Woman (or just Artemis, for that matter); here at the end, G. Willow Wilson all of a sudden has big shoes to fill.

[Includes original and variant covers; 75th anniversary sketches and pin-ups]

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Wonder Woman Vol. 9: The Enemy of Both Sides
Author Rating
4.5 (scale of 1 to 5)


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