This review is based off a volume that collects Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1 and Wonder Woman #1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11.
Call me crazy, but no in continuity Wonder Woman story has really resonated with me since Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang concluded what I would call a definitive run. Believe it or not, I did think Meredith and David Finch’s material had some bright spots and, when it comes to Greg Rucka’s current take, I think it’s good but it doesn’t “wow” me.
Maybe that had to do in part with how this title was structured when it came to publishing. You see, all odd numbered issues – in this case, the ones that comprised The Lies – take place in the present, whereas even numbered ones are set in the past and make up the Year One arc. It was a clever way of balancing the respective workloads of artists Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott, but it did nothing to help folks like me who read so many comic books per week remember what happened in the previous chapter. Thus, I hoped reading The Lies as an uninterrupted work in trade paperback format would improve my opinion on it.
But before I move on, I’d like to take a moment to compliment the amazing work Sharp does here. His art is so incredibly detailed and perfectly suited to the character. In fact, I would go as far to say that he could probably pull any given page from this volume and have no problem selling it as a print at conventions. Seriously, peruse the gallery I’ve included below and judge for yourself.
As for the collected edition changing my opinion, I can say that re-reading the opening chapter – originally printed as Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1 – did nothing to sway my position. Presenting Diana’s past in multiple choice fashion is a nifty way to go about possibly setting a retcon in motion while simultaneously honoring her publication history, but I could see it confusing first time readers. Yes, you and I may get all the little references, but what of someone who just picked up their very first Wonder Woman comic? Simply put, a more streamlined narrative would’ve been better for hooking new and old readers alike.
Something I doe like about this book, however, is Rucka’s decision to make Steve Trevor and Barbara Ann Minerva/The Cheetah prominent characters in this opening arc. At this point, it’s hard to imagine a definitive Wonder Woman story without either and Rebirth has been all about embracing DC’s history while paving the way for the future. Plus, Sharp makes Cheetah look pretty damn cool.
Continuing on that note, the complicated relationship between frenemies Wonder Woman and Cheetah is not only a clear highlight of the book, but one could say it’s the also the backbone. In short, Diana has found herself unable to make her way back to Olympus and Themyscira, and feels Barbara Ann is her best hope. But in return, the tragic villain wants the Amazon Princess to kill Urzkartaga, thus freeing her from the curse that causes her to feed on mortals; one paw washes the other.
As fate would have it, Diana and Steve are working the same case from opposite ends, although you get the sense there’s a bit of orchestration by certain parties. Even so, their jungle rendezvous further illustrates how the two are inextricably linked and as synonymous with each other as Clark Kent and Lois Lane.
You know, they say a hero is only as good as their villains and, truth be told, the villain in this book kind of sucks and is unworthy of such an icon. Whether you consider it to be Cadullo – the most generic and unforgettable of warlords you could possibly imagine – or Urzkartaga – a hulking god that looks like a hybrid of Swamp Thing and Mercyful Fate’s Don’t Break The Oath album cover – both are incredibly mundane and uninteresting when you get right down to it. What’s even worse is that Urzkartaga’s defeat felt incredibly anticlimactic – and that’s a massive understatement.
So, does the overall story read better as a trade? Absolutely. Did my opinion of it change after a subsequent readthrough? Not exactly. While I fully admit that Rucka gets the character, for whatever reason Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies doesn’t grab me. On the positive side, a mystery is definitely building here and I recommend all who may be interested to give this a read, even though it could end up being quite polarizing.
Despite The Lies featuring Eisner Award worthy artwork, it's far from the best Wonder Woman story I've read in recent memory.