Monday, May 18, 2020

Wonder Woman #752 Review

Written by: Steve Orlando
Art by: Max Raynor
Colours by: Romulo Farjado Jr
Letters by: Pat Brosseau
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: February 26, 2020

Last issue, Diana's sojourn in Boston got off to a decent enough start with our Amazon heroine more or less winning over her Boston PD chaperone with a fairly typical display of compassion, heroism, and strength. That issue also promised some interesting villains going forward, though. Will we see those teases being developed this time around? Well, we're not going to find out if we stand here chatting all day, are we?

As it happens, this issue follows on from the previous one in a rather unexpectedly abrupt fashion. If you remember, the last issue ended with Valda, the Iron Maiden (a relatively obscure supporting character from the Arak: The Son of Thunder series from the 80s), getting embroiled in a bar fight in downtown Boston. This issue begins a few seconds later, shortly after that fight has resulted in the unpleasant and ultimately fatal stabbing of one of the bar's patrons. When Diana arrives on the suitably impressive title page, the reader would be forgiven for assuming that the issue will be a straightforward one involving Diana bringing Valda to justice. And he or she would be wrong.

Admittedly, there are mitigating circumstances surrounding the killing. While the other patrons at the bar are quick to point out that the fallen man was trying to "talk sense" into Valda, there is a knife on the floor next to the body which lends credence to her story that he attacked her. (Although why he thought attacking an armed, possibly mentally deranged woman in armor was a good idea, I'm not entirely sure.) Good job that Diana's got that police detective following her around, isn't it? Well, about that…

It is true that Detective Nunes shows up in the company of a helicopter-riding armed response unit later on, but she doesn't show up before Wonder Woman and Valda have done precisely what you would expect in a comic book – fight. You would think that this would be a short-lived affair, but, again, you would be wrong. Valda, despite (as far as I know) possessing no superpowers to speak of, more than holds her own against Diana in a battle-conversation that lasts six pages. This is nice if you appreciate Max Raynor's pleasingly dynamic art, but not so great if you appreciate naturalistic or subtle speech. And, yes, I know I'm banging on about Steve Orlando's dialogue again and, to be fair if there's anywhere where a penchant for cod-Shakespearean flourishes and grand declarations of intent is allowable, it should be a fight in a Wonder Woman book featuring a medieval warrior maiden, but the lack of variation and subtlety in tone renders the whole thing a lot flatter and more verbose than it should be. The tendency of superhero comic book writers to meld action and exposition into one clunky behemoth of gorgeous-looking unreadability has, admittedly, been a feature of the genre for as long as I can remember, but what conveyed charm and excitement fifty years ago feels a bit… bizarre now.

Particularly when the fight ends with Diana, having effectively (finally!) beaten Valda after shattering her sword with her own, handing her weapon to Valda in a move that echoes the ending of Orlando's five-issue arc a year ago when Diana did something similar with Superwoman's lasso and Artemis. Eventually, she'll run out of super weapons to give away to misunderstood warrior women with whom she wants to make friends, but not today, obviously. Meanwhile, in a bar in Boston – and in that niggling corner of my mind – an unnamed man's blood-drenched body lies cooling…

But let's not worry about that! Not when there's an invisible plane for Diana to show off to her new BFF and a giant metal monster to confront on the issue's final page! Hurrah! Action! Sisterhood! Togetherness! It's. All. Good.

Oh, and there's some stuff about Paula von Gunther, Devastation and Leviathan that I didn't understand or care about all that much, although the news that von Gunther was descended from Valkyries (is this an Odyssey of the Amazons thing?) surprised me and Raynor's art rather blew me away at this point, too.

Speaking of Raynor, he's rather good. His facial features remind me a bit of Bilquis Evely's although without quite the same level of delicacy; his action sequences are impressively bold. He's a keeper, I think. As for this issue, it's a perfectly serviceable piece of disposable pop culture provided you don't mind a much-loved character teaming up with someone who brought a sword to a knife fight. (This could, of course, all be part of Orlando's masterplan. Perhaps, the dead guy has a sister who's going to swear to avenge him and take up the fight against armor-wearing warrior women everywhere. Hope Diana hasn't run out of ancient magical weapons to give away by then.)

Bits and Pieces:

Dynamic art and a cameo from the dark ages keep the action chugging along respectably enough, although Orlando arguably overdoes the compassionate Diana bit at times. Not mind-blowing but not terrible either.


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