Review: Future State: Wonder Woman trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Future State: Wonder Woman is another study in contrasts as compared to the other Future State books I’ve read so far. The two Batman books and the Superman book each had their strengths, but one notable aspect was the stories all starred known characters (maybe the Next Batman being the lone exception). Batman, Nightwing, Red Hood, Catwoman, Superman, Superman (Jon Kent), Superwoman Kara Zor-El — everyone, for the most part, known quantities.

The Wonder Woman book bucks that by being, three out of four, about new characters. And bringing some diversity of character, at that. Many of these feel like rough drafts or first tries, more so than in the other Future State books but then again the other Future State stories aren’t trying to do what these stories are. But none of these are “bad” per se, well illustrated even when not well written, and it gives me hope for a Wonder Woman renaissance that springs from here and goes to “Trial of the Amazons” and beyond.

[Review contains spoilers]

The good news coming out of Future State: Wonder Woman is that the “Immortal Wonder Woman” story, starring Diana and written by upcoming Wonder Woman writers Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad, is among the best of this volume. I was worried, because their “Midnighter” feature in Future State: Superman was frenzied and muddled, such to make me worry if their writing style just wasn’t to my liking (I enjoyed Gotham Academy way back, but Cloonan’s Dark Nights: Death Metal: The Multiverse Who Laughs contribution didn’t land for me either).

[See the latest DC trade solicitations.]

But “Immortal Wonder Woman” is a strikingly care-full depiction of Diana, incorporating both her aspirations toward peace and her ability to knock heads when necessary. There is discussion of Wonder Woman as “a harbinger of both submission and dominance” that I thought got to the core of the Diana’s contradictions in, again, a thoughtful rather than sensational way. And let’s not overlook, too, Wonder Woman hugging the Spectre in the remains of Brainiac’s ship, floating in an empty void, seconds away from the end of everything. I thought it was well done, beautifully drawn by Jen Bartel, and it made me very optimistic for the character’s future.

The Nubia story was fine, one of these I’d again say read like something of a rough draft. What struck me most of all was the art by Alitha Martinez, which reminded of Jerry Ordway, and gave the Nubia story a “new classic/fabric of the DC Universe” kind of feel that a story about a new (iteration of a) character needs. Admittedly I didn’t recognize Grail right away, but using Grail and Circe nicely cements the Nubia story in recent Wonder Woman continuity. The business with her aunt felt too perfunctory to me — of course her aunt is a bad guy, and of course that’s demonstrated by her aunt owning a bar and operating out of a shady room in the back. I wouldn’t be sorry to see those aspects jettisoned when Nubia joins the DCU proper.

Future State: Wonder Woman’s other two stories, “Wonder Woman” and “Superman/Wonder Woman,” both involve the once and future (past?) Wonder Girl Yara Flor. The callout blurb on this book’s cover alone suggests the far greater plans that DC had for Yara than what ultimately manifested (given that her CW series didn’t get made and her miniseries was cut short). For “Wonder Woman” proper, it’s hard to find fault in two issues' worth of gorgeous Joelle Jones art, but I was shocked to look back and see these were two whole issues and not backup stories. As I sometimes felt on Jones' Catwoman run, at times the story seems in service to the art and not vice versa; a lot of the first issue is narration on top of Yara’s hijinks. The second issue is a predictable take on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, wrapped up very quickly, without the time to get us invested emotionally.

Writer Dan Watters has a lot coming up with DC, so I was pleased to see his “Superman/Wonder Woman” was more successful than the previous — mostly in his Superman Jon Kent trying to be a bit more super-man-of-the-people than his father. (Also who can frown at a story with Solaris in it?) But his Yara Flor doesn’t quite feel in step with Jones', except that both Yaras are “do their own thing” scamps that I don’t find quite as endearing as I think DC does. To be sure, artist Leila Del Duca draws both characters exquisitely, with simple, straightforward lines, and I’m glad she’ll be drawing Yara more in the forthcoming miniseries.



In the end, then, what we have with Future State: Wonder Woman is a story of the new Nubia that’s good but a little rough, two stories of new Wonder Girl Yara Flor that don’t coalesce completely around the character, and a story about Wonder Woman Diana by her new creative team that’s quite good. That’s better at least than if the opposite were true; I’d as soon there be trouble with the new characters, where there’s room to grow, than the old. I’ll be curious to see how the Yara Flor in Future State: Justice League lines up with all of this, coming up next.

[Includes original and variant covers, design gallery]

Comments ( 1 )

  1. Superman/Wonder Woman was a nod to All Star Superman. I loved Jones’s Wonder Woman. Easily my favorite Future State comic, full of a kind of personality that’s rare in comics. Whatever she does next I’ll be paying attention, and hoping Yara Flor sticks around, too.


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