Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka Volume One (2016)
Reprints Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia, Wonder Woman v2 #195-205
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Drew Johnson, J.G. Jones, Shane Davis, and Stephen Sadowski
Going into reading Greg Rucka’s run on Wonder Woman, I wasn’t very hyped. I have never clicked with Rucka’s writing before. I can’t say I have read much of his work, so I think that might be relegated to some DC event adjacent books. I will admit that it can definitely hurt the overall quality when you’re forced to adhere to some editorial guidelines to mesh with a larger storyline. Isolated, I found I loved Rucka’s take on Wonder Woman. I associate him as more of a crime, street-level writer, but he really captures some fantastic Wonder Woman elements well, especially her relationship to the Olympian Gods.
Speaking of relationships, Rucka seems very interested in the interplay between Diana and Batman. The opening chapter is a reprint of the one-shot The Hiketeia. This one-off story is about Danielle, a young woman who has fled from Gotham City after killing the sex-slavers/drug dealers who murdered her sister. Batman has pursued Danielle to New York City, where he wants to bring the girl to justice for murder. Complicating the situation even further is that the Furies of Myth are stalking Danielle from outside of the embassy where Diana works and lives. Danielle invokes the Hiketeia, an ancient Greek rite of protection that Diana is sworn to uphold. This is a fantastic introduction to how Rucka began tackling Wonder Woman, who he has said is his favorite comic book superhero. J.G. Jones’ artwork is excellent, and Rucka gives Diana a complex and interesting voice, something she had been missing for a while in her own book.
In Rucka’s first regular issue, he puts us in the shoes of Jonah McCarthy, the newly hired member of the Themyscirian’s embassy staff. Through Jonah, we meet the other staff, including Ferdinand, a “minotaur” chef. There’s Peter Garabaldi, a single dad who acts as the spokesperson for Diana, going on a news program in one issue to defend her against conservative “moral majority” talking points. Rachel Keast is the part of the legal staff always trying to avoid the problems Peter wants to jump headfirst into. And there’s Alana Dominguez, the head administrator who handled most projects as Diana is frequently absent. This supporting cast helps it feel like Diana has a family based in Man’s World and continues the tradition started by George Perez with the Kapatelises.
The Kapataleis family comes up again when Vanessa returns as Silver Swan plays the tragic villain’s role in Diana’s rogues’ gallery. DC has kept Vanessa as the Swan, albeit with an altered origin, and I think she is one of the best parts of the heroine’s mythos. I hope some writer develops the character further, but Rucka does a great job with her so far in this first volume. It’s clear her arc is not over yet, and I look forward to seeing where it goes.
I love that Rucka puts Doctor Psycho front and center. He is such a creepy, horrifying villain for Diana to face, and this run appears to be ready to use him better than anyone had since Crisis. Psycho is part of a plot by tech genius Veronica Cale to embarrass and ruin Wonder Woman. Cale is Rucka’s attempt to create a Lex Luthor for Diana. She’s a self-made woman who resents the adoration Wonder Woman receives when someone like, oh say, Cale should be receiving that acclaim. In this first volume, we learn how woefully out of her depth, Cale is thinking she can handle someone like Psycho without problems arising. She’s a manipulator trying to use her skills to get others to do her dirty work, and there will be terrible fallout as a result.
Finally, there’s a larger story building in the background with the Amazons and Ares. Artemis & Phillipus share the leadership position on Themysciria. Because of some godly machinations, no weapons are allowed to exist on the island. That is until Ares appears to a blacksmith and his touch causes her sword to not fade away. Some anger exacted on the Amazons, their islands tossed about during an Olympian temper tantrum, will likely lead to more significant problems later in the series.