Wonder Woman: The Last True Hero Book One (2020)
Reprints Wonder Woman Special #1, Wonder Woman #63, 64, 66-75, and Wonder Woman Annual #3
Written by William Messner-Loebs
Art by Jill Thompson, Paris Cullens, Lee Moder, and Brian Bolland
In the wake of War of the Gods and the conclusion of George Perez’s Wonder Woman run, DC had a fresh start. Around the same time, Giffen & DeMatteis were wrapping up their tenure on Justice League, so several books were getting a fresh coat of paint. William Messner-Loebs was brought on to write the Amazon. His most prominent work to this point had been a lukewarmly received run on The Flash, where he emphasized the working class elements of the speedster. He brought this same element to Wonder Woman while still trying to bring in fantastic details.
Wonder Woman kicks off this new era by teaming up with Deathstroke the Terminator, the former Teen Titans villain turned DC antihero superstar of the early 1990s. This was a two-parter that had Diana dealing with the disappearance of Themyscria in the wake of the War of the Gods. She decides to help out her longtime nemesis, The Cheetah, who has been kidnapped to become the host of a demon’s long lost bride. The story also features a prominent role for Boston PD Inspector Ed Indelicato, who would be a relatively crucial supporting character in Loebs’s run.
That’s followed by a one-off about Wonder Woman and Indelicato’s relationship. It’s a decent day in the life type of story. This was followed by Wonder Woman Annual #3, which tied into the summer event Eclipso: The Darkness Within. It’s a pretty okay story, and I really enjoyed the Eclipso event. What’s most important about the Annual is its introduction of the White Magician, the villain who would become one of the chief antagonists of Loebs’s run on the book. There’s a one-off not included in the collection written by Joey Cavaleri that has Doctor Psycho tormenting young Vanessa Kapatelis. I was a little disappointed that wasn’t here because Psycho is such an enjoyable creepy villain.
The next big arc sends Wonder Woman into space with a Russian cosmonaut Natasha Terenova. The White Magician sabotages the space mission and sends the two women far off course into another solar system. They are captured by an alien race who enslaves them and subjects them to toil in mines. The hook here is that the aliens appear to be an entirely male race, and all the slaves are female. Diana forms a coalition of female beings to fight back, and she learns about the hermaphroditic nature of their captors and the deeply chauvinistic society they have created.
Once she’s back on Earth, we have another single issue that serves to retell the origins of the Amazons and Wonder Woman. This leads into her blue-collar phase, where Diana is forced to get a menial job at a taco restaurant. She wants to help carry her weight in the Kapatelis household. While working this job, she meets Micah Rains, a private detective in Boston who she begins to help in some cases. This creates tension with Ed Indelicato, who sees Rains as a rogue operative. This also leads to Wonder Woman becoming involved in a super-powered gang war between the Sazia and Longo crime cartels. Wonder Woman struggles with the nature of being super-powered and forgetting how frail humans are during this time.
The collection is a decent read, but it pales compared to the scope that George Perez brought to the book. I think Loebs knew he was going to need to go in a different direction and went with what was familiar to him. The result is stories that aren’t very memorable but enjoyable enough to give a read. Nothing here feels consequential to the overall Wonder Woman mythos as the Amazons’ absence is obviously going to be temporary. The next time we check in with Loebs though the stories will follow a very different style.