Review: Wonder Woman #772
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Michael W. Conrad & Becky Cloonan
Art: Travis Moore
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain
Letters: Pat Brousseau
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Diana finally succeeds in getting the key to the Valkyrie’s fortress. Against all counsel from friends new and old, she remains committed to entering the fortress to save Asgard. But is she dooming herself and Olympus in the process?
Great fiction puts character first. Sure, sometimes a story might be more plot directed, but in the end if the characters aren’t done well the rest usually doesn’t resonate. Storied characters like Wonder Woman often need a shake up to reinvigorate the franchise. It’s not clear if the current run is motivated by story or sales concern. Either way, after the end of Death Metal, Wonder Woman was scheduled to ascend to the realm of the gods and join the Olympians. In Wonder Woman #770, she found herself on a bit of a detour into the realm of the Norse Gods. This is quite a different direction from the short run by Mariko Tamaki that began in Wonder Woman #759 which tried to build some synergy with the Wonder Woman 84 film and its storyline featuring Maxwell Lord. Michael W. Conrad, Becky Cloonan and Travis Moore manage to maintain a heavy focus on character while taking Wonder Woman on a truly unique journey.
One of the elements of this story line that is being explored is the notion that Diana doesn’t remember exactly who she is. Therefore, there’s a bit of an identity crisis as Diana has to sort of relearn who she is. This allows Conrad and Cloonan to re-introduce Diana to the reader as well. The previous two issues have effectively teased the notion that she could get stuck in Asgard and consequently doom Olympus that is having its own crisis. Each time she dies in battle and is sent back by a mysterious voice from beyond the voice encourages her to remember who she is and forget the Asgardians and their issues and get back to Olympus. Diana refuses and we see her tenacity exhibited as well as her empathy for the dying Asgardians who are unable to pass properly since the Valkyries are missing.
In Wonder Woman #772 we get the reveal of that voice and I won’t spoil it suffice it to say that it is a clever addition to the story. Additionally, there are some other references to her life on Earth that remind the reader that Diana hasn’t completely gone Cimmerian or Hyrkanian. However, the story is correct in pointing out that Wonder Woman does into this warrior culture quite well. Of course, Conrad and Cloonan are again being clever as this allows them to explore this dichotomy in Diana’s nature in order for her to figure it out herself in-story. Plus, they go ahead and allow Diana to meet the possible self she could become in Asgard if she stayed. This greater conflict allows for a unique story and take on Wonder Woman, while at the same time also being true to her character. This, of course, goes hand-in-hand with the empathy she feels for Sigfried and the other Asgardians, and seemingly an opposing aspect of her nature.
This arc is peppered with other characters who are a joy to behold in both the story and art- Ratatosk, Odin, Thor, Sigfried or even the surprising Dr. Psycho (you read last issue, right?). His appearance plants the possibility that he’s somehow behind all of this, but it doesn’t seem possible. Truly, it is yet another clever story element from the writing team to make the reader think.
Travis Moore and Tamra Bonvillain are doing great stuff as well creating an Asgard that is as unique as any fantasy world and also familiar as a take on Norse Mythology. It clearly differs from the Marvelous Competition’s existing imagining of said world as well as feeling more authentic to the source mythology. Moore excels at the action as well as the quiet moments. Bonvillain has a truly evocative color palatte and it’s always a pleasure to see how she uses it to created the right mood.
When Diana went on her “Odyssey” in Wonder Woman #601-#614 the series attempted to take a new approach to the character, reinventing her. There’s no sense in the current run that this is what’s happening, despite the fact that the character is experiencing something very different. This leaves the current fun feeling just as fresh and different, but at the same maintaining the continuity as well as the essence of the character- add two points for that!
A solid and strong focus on character makes Wonder Woman #772 and indeed the entire story arc a beautiful and engaging read. It’s simply great fiction and a chapter that should prove to be another iconic run on Wonder Woman. The small ties to the DC Universe keep the character grounded and keep the reader invested in the outcome. It’s not too late to get on board this title to see one of the most enjoyable of the “Infinite Frontier.”