Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Just War hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)


G. Willow Wilson's Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Just War ends better than it begins, but this is still a halting start to the writer's run. Wilson ventures into familiar, ambitious territory with "Just War" proper, the kind of thing a Wonder Woman writer shouldn't try unless guaranteed success, and here Wilson doesn't quite make it. The final story, "The Grudge," shows more promise, but this feels like largely the cache of Wilson using other writers' notable characters than the writing itself. In the middle, Wilson tries to do some world-building, but for me the first story hadn't drawn the reader far enough in to make the middle story work.

I'm hoping for better coming up, but also I know Steve Orlando's already scheduled to replace Wilson. Orlando's done great work on this title before, so one volume in to Wilson's run and this already feels like placeholder.

[Review contains spoilers]

The hulking problem here is that for her first story, Wilson uses Ares — which is not a bad choice for a Wonder Woman story, but a risky one. George Perez used Ares in Wonder Woman's post-Crisis debut, for one, and the iconography of such was so great that it was also referenced when they used Ares in the recent Wonder Woman movie. Brian Azzarello made Ares a central figure (drawn very Brian Azzarello-like by Cliff Chiang). And indeed, in reference to Perez, Greg Rucka just used Ares (with a twist) in his Rebirth Wonder Woman stories, which is why the character now languishes imprisoned under Themyscira at the beginning of Wilson's story.

I had none of these same concerns with Azzarello and Rucka, following Perez, as they used Ares in new or interesting ways. But Wilson's Ares has much less cache, a one-dimensional figure confusing justice and vengeance such that the reader knows certainly that Diana is right and Ares is wrong. What follows is a story mostly of just Diana and Ares knocking each other around, a barebones and dull repetition of what we've seen before. In other parts of "Just War," Diana is involved in an international conflict, but Wilson writes her more like a beginning superhero — shocked, for instance, that the two warring countries don't want her interference — than the seasoned diplomat that most knowing writers portray Diana as.

Following that rather flat five-parter is Wilson's "The New World," which spotlights mythical creatures Cadmus, a pegasus; Damon, a faun; and Eirene, a minotaur, all exiled from Themyscira as a result of Ares' escape. The issue is meant to be light comedy, with these creatures bouncing around Washington, D.C., and trying to navigate ordering food at a restaurant. It's comical but not necessarily humorous; one sees in this Wilson beginning to try to make the story her own, with her own characters (a la the great white apes of Gail Simone's run), but again there's nothing new or novel (or particularly funny) here. The best part is when Wilson introduces Eirene to Ferdinand, the popular kithotaur from Rucka's runs, though I feel this trades more on our feelings for Ferdinand than it does any credit Wilson has built up with Eirene.

Similarly, Wilson's final story, "The Grudge," uses Veronica Cale, my favorite-est villain from Rucka's runs, and also Nemesis — not Tom Tresser, unfortunately, but the god Nemesis who plagued Diana in J. Michael Straczynski's Wonder Woman: Odyssey. That story was not very popular, but I liked it, and the fact that Nemesis returns and indicates she remembers that alt-continuity encounter was a lot of fun. Also Wilson writes Cale well here as Diana's frenemy, uniting them in the end in common purpose. But again, a lot of this is Wilson benefiting from our feelings about other characters in other stories by other writers; none of this is notably strong or groundbreaking on its own.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Just War

In the initial Rebirth Wonder Woman stories, Greg Rucka set up a paradigm that, while interesting, did not seem viable or long-lasting — that Diana had exiled herself from Themyscira when she left with Steve Trevor and hadn't actually ever been back since. This has lead to a couple of "near-miss" stories (including involving Diana's apparent twin brother, never mentioned since), in which Diana almost gets back to Themyscira but not quite. That doesn't seem like it can last, lest Wonder Woman become the Star Trek: Voyager of the DC Universe, and at the end of Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Just War we see Diana and the god Aphrodite venturing off again to find Themyscira.

At this point, if DC can't just leave Themyscira alone (as would be the right opportunity to take from what Rucka set up), DC ought just do it and let Diana come and go from there at will. If my brief scans of the upcoming solicitations are correct, I think that's what's going to happen. The other outcome is that G. Willow Wilson writes another "Diana tries to get to Themyscira" story that ends in futility, and given the way this book went, that would just be compounding the problems.

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Just War
Author Rating
2.5 (scale of 1 to 5)

Comments ( 4 )

  1. CE, My daughter and I both really enjoyed the alt reality Nemesis storyline and don't quite understand its low standing. Unfortunately your review confirms my low expectations for the current run.
    I am yet to enjoy G Willow Wilson's writing and was hoping her taking over one of my favourite characters might be the one to change that.
    I'll await your review for her follow up collection before I decide to purchase her run.

  2. This should have been a slam-dunk, but I just kept waiting for it to get great. Again, DC seems stuck without a direction for WW; I’ve completely lost track of her status quo or even what origin they’re using for now. I liked the Robinson run and Orlando has done some fun guest-star stuff with the new Aztek, but GWW’s run has just not grabbed me.

  3. The Just War was a bore. The rest of Wilson's run gets better after but still drags out a bit with all the Cheetah stuff. Orlando might have a better run. Really dug his writing on Wonder Woman Annual #3 that came out this past week.

  4. As much as I love the character it seems like only Greg Rucka can write truly great Wonder Woman comics


To post a comment, you may need to temporarily allow "cross-site tracking" in your browser of choice.

Newer Post Home Older Post