Review: Wonder Woman #796
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Michael W. Conrad & Becky Cloonan and Jordie Bellaire
Art: Amancay Nahuelpan and Paulina Ganucheau
Colors: Jordie Bellaire and Kendall Goode
Letters: Pat Brosseau and Becca Carey
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Diana and company make a final stand, even if divided, against Eros and Hyperion. Plus, Diana learns an important lesson from Persephone in The Adventures of Young Diana.
Much like last issue, Wonder Woman #796 leads with the action! Diana and Yara face off against Eros while Sigfried and Steve continue their assault on Hyperion. Meanwhile, Etta and Barbara Minerva do their best to protect the citizens. These different sequences work really well because the pacing is just right, cutting back and forth at just the right moments to heighten the tension. This is a major conflict in the streets of Washington, D.C., so it’s nice to see the action balanced effectively with the character moments.
Eros is a total ass, and it’s great to see Yara get the chance to deal with that. It’s a complex situation because we know that Eros manipulated Yara with an arrow back in Wonder Girl #3. However, it is suggested that at some point Yara could’ve loved him, yet she was starting to fall for Jaoa when Eros got her with his arrow. What happened to Jaoa??? That storyline got shortchanged because of the way things went with the Wonder Girl series so it could synch up with “Trial of the Amazons,” at least that’s how it felt. Still, I highly recommend that series and it gives some context for what’s going on in this comic.
The rest of the Wonder Team get some time to shine as well. Steve’s concern for Sigfried is truly heartfelt. And, it’s something quite interesting in that while it’s clear that they aren’t interested in each other as a couple, they have a bond that is clearly a strong friendship that borders on family. It’s not played as a tacky “bromance,” however there’s no doubt these aren’t just to dudes who like to hang. That connection may at first seem to be their mutual attraction/ history with Diana, but it feels like there’s something deeper that’s developed. Barbara Minerva has a softer moment as well, and it shows that there’s still a chance for her to turn it around to the side of the angels. Again, this harkens back to early Wonder Woman stories in which redemption was part of Diana’s mission, especially for women.
In “Adventures of Young Diana,” our title character learns an important lesson- not everyone can be saved. Sometimes there are circumstances that are insurmountable. It’s a great thing to show, not just for Diana, but for the reader in the real world as well. Diana also learns that these people shouldn’t be forgotten and that it’s important that we show them that we care about them. Let’s give it up to Paulina Ganucheau who’s evocative depiction of Persephone and Diana sells these moments. Her art style, though very different from what we expect in modern, Western super-hero comics, is every bit as effective. Her storytelling is perfect as she depicts Diana’s emotional state as the young Amazon learns of Persephone’s fate in the Underworld as the bride of Hades.
As mentioned above, it seemed like Wonder Girl’s series got truncated and reworked in order for it to synch up with the “Trial of the Amazons” event from this past fall. There’s an element of Wonder Woman #796 that feels like it needed more space to breathe, and it easily could’ve taken up another issue or two, or even four or five. I suspect it has something to do with the final surprise ending. While the surprise ending shows potential, it’s obviously tied to the Lazarus Planet event. I’d much rather see how Diana deals with a population loving her too much. That’s how this issue opens, and it could be a very interesting and provocative storyline.
While it’s not something that can be laid at the feet of this creative team, it would be nice if DC got over the events that interrupt other good storylines. DC thinks it sells comics, but in actuality it takes readers away. I’ve no doubt that Wonder Girl would still be going if the event hadn’t dictated the pace of that series. It was well received by critics and fans alike. Not knowing anything about the behind the scenes, I can only guess that the scheduling with the event was too much for writer/artist Joelle Jones. There was so much left on the table with that series. That’s how I feel about this bit in Wonder Woman #796. It was the cliffhanger ending from last issue and it ends too quickly here.
Wonder Woman #796 demonstrates why this has been a consistently great series over the past two years. While it can deliver on the action, there’s always something bigger at play with the characters and emotional beats. Bellaire and Ganucheau do this in the second feature, and it’s a hallmark of the main storyline. This more thoughtful approach is nuanced and nostalgic.