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‘Wonder Woman #795’ (review)

Written by Mariko Tamaki
Art by Mikel Janin
Published by DC Comics

 

Wonder Woman #795 is a masterful new start both for the character and for the book’s creative team of Eisner Award-winning writer Mariko Tamaki and longtime DC exclusive artist Mikel Janin.

I first got to know Tamaki’s work through her run on Hulk. On that book, Tamaki refashioned a broken Jennifer Walters, and the giant gray Hulk she became during complex PTSD episodes, into a processing of feminine trauma.

Going into Wonder Woman #795, then, I’m expecting Tamaki to deliver another deconstruction and rebuilding of her hero. The issue wastes little time to establish the central premise.

As Maxwell Lord says mid-issue: “What if the line between good and evil is as twisted as every other part of this world and the worlds beyond? … If there is no simple definition of justice, who should we call our heroes? And who will be our villains?”

Wonder Woman is a rich character full of contrasts who was purpose-built for feminism and psychology. (One of her original villains was the mental manipulator Dr. Psycho, for example.)

We’re living in a moment when women continue to give greater voice to the psychological abuse and manipulation of patriarchal oppression.

At the same time, we’re living in a time when expertise is so threatened, facts so destabilized, and institutions so hollowed out, that objective reality often feels like it’s slipping away.

In this zeitgeist, it feels more apt now than ever to pit the world’s preeminent female superhero against Maxwell Lord, one of DC’s most powerful psychic supervillains, with the central question of what makes justice. (This storyline, of course, dovetails with Lord’s big-screen appearance in Wonder Woman 1984. Bully for them.)

Janin shows, as usual, why he’s such a hot talent in the industry, with clean lines, humanizing details, and backgrounds that move the story forward.

In a stunning sequence on pages 12-15, Diana spies a troublesome situation and speeds off to help. Janin employs diagonals – in compositions, and the panels themselves – to propel the reader’s eyes and Diana toward the action.

And, in case you were wondering what could make the Tamaki-Janin team stand out with this singular heroine, you see Diana taking off her heels to run. I don’t doubt that Wonder Woman can run in heels, but them things’ll get wrecked chasing down a car on I-495.

Some usual pet peeves about Wonder Woman stories do show up.

An action sequence in a prison riot shows Diana using a sword, when wouldn’t her lasso be more effective? But unlike some other stories, this time Wonder Woman appears with some female friends and depicts her striking up a new possible friendship with a neighbor down the hall. I hope this continues. Diana relying on other women always makes the character stronger.

The issue ends on a cliffhanger faceoff between Wonder Woman and Maxwell Lord that left me ready to read the next issue. I’m expecting Tamaki and Janin to dig deep, and Wonder Woman #759 is a fine start.

 

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