I am writing this review to congratulate Greg Rucka on his handling of these Rebirth transition titles. There appears to be an obsession with the Rebirth to tie everything together, especially with the opening one shot. This has led to some troubled and slow foundation building in many of the Rebirth books. This is not a surprise because reconciling old and new character tropes for all fans alike is a difficult task for any writer. Linking that to the DC buzzwords of legacy and core character ideals provides an additional caveat to the tenuous agenda. In essence this relaunch of titles bears an admission that the new 52 had some good ideas and some bad ones. Acknowledgment of the background to characters does no more than to provide recognition, than to build a new story moving forward. Which is important because that history is what the new 52 attempted to erase. Every writer is coerced into the apologist mentality DC are perpetuating and it is exceptionally tough especially when all any creator wants to do is write comic books.
Greg Rucka is masterful at introspective character work and we eagerly await his fresh take on Diana, but this transition issue is handled with aplomb. Consider what happens when a new writer and artist begin on a superhero book, there is no need for an explanation of a new angle or perspective. They are left to express themselves as freely as they wish and take a character in a direction of their choice. There was rarely a decree to explain why something else happened or was retconned to provide rationale for a new story. This is what Rebirth actually is and Repentance would be a better title as they are spending weeks asking for forgiveness. Rucka is not doing that. He is quite clever and almost coy in his monologue in his reflection of previous storylines. This comic reads as a summary of events but it is not apologetic. It plays out quite wonderfully as a person looking at themselves, trying to understand who they are by understanding from whence they came. That theme has been portrayed with a heavy hand in other Rebirth titles but Rucka uses the iconic concepts of Wonder Woman to navigate Diana through her existential crisis.
The story begins with a brief origin recap, the latest version where she is fathered by Zeus. It then moves into a Wonder Woman saviour moment where she rescues the vulnerable from gangsters in a strip bar. That serves as a perspective piece on how normal people view her, and feeds into a discussion on her portrayal as a being of wonder. Her pondering takes a turn to her weapons and balances the headwear of Ares and her own lasso of truth. The writing is particularly poignant as it focuses on the meanings of these accompaniments and how they reflect on her own individuality. There is a beautiful moment where the roles she plays in various situations are depicted as homage to her incarnations over the years. This self-reflective narrative actually occurs through shattered shards of a mirror.
This retrospection leads her a moment of clarity; She is Diana Prince, she is Wonder Woman and someone has manipulated her. Of course this is where the story set up begins and will eventually progress in the actual launch of the title. The Rebirth mantra has forced this aspect of the storyline into fruition and that has afforded Rucka a chance to pay respect to stories of old and give them a rightful place in the history. There is no mention of legacy or core ideals, because Wonder Woman has never deviated from them whether she was borne of clay, loved Superman or fought for her family. A physical artistic transformation actually occurs marking a definitive change from the Wonder Woman of recent times, to one that this creative combination will be writing. Liam Sharp takes over the pencilling helm from Matthew Clark and a whole new Diana appears.
It is quite a distinct change and my regular complaints of artists changing mid comic do not apply here. The pencils and colours could not be more contrasting, marking the beginning of this title. Wonder Woman even sheds her tiara and boots, and emerges looking more the elegant and classical warrior. The crushed God of War helmet cements her rejection of that mantle and she wields her lasso as a lovely reference to discovering the truth. The next few pages are stunningly powerful and suitably epic. The detailing of her hair and garb with Martin’s intense colour palette bring vigour to the page. The comic literally comes to life with passion and vibrance, providing an incredible juxtaposition to the initial two-thirds of the comic. Her journey to Olympus is picturesque and the guards of such an idyllic place are bronzed automatons, fierce and powerful. This moment is the beginning of a fresh and exciting Amazonian tale. There is no Rebirth. It does not matter what came before. There is a story to tell and Rucka and Sharp are going to tell it. Wonder Woman is fearless, strong and determined, she always has been and always will be.