Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka Volume 2
Reprints Wonder Woman v2 #206-217 & Flash v2 #219
Written by Greg Rucka with Geoff Johns
Art by Drew Johnson, Rags Morales
This is an odd one because it shifts away from many of the storylines centered around Veronica Cale, Doctor Psycho, and Vanessa Kapetelis. Those stories sort of fade into the background as the action here is centered all around the conflict between Wonder Woman the Olympian Gods. The story is very good, and Rucka proves he’s a worthy successor to George Perez’s legendary opening run. I think he actually balances Man’s World and the mythological elements a little better than Perez. There’s time spent on both old villains and introducing new ones in the context of this run of Wonder Woman, Diana acting as a United Nations ambassador.
For the first couple of issues, Wonder Woman deals with various problems left over from the last volume. In the background, Circe aids the Gorgons and Medusa, who wants her revenge on Wonder Woman. That first attack is a fantastic moment at the White House, where Diana happens to run into Steve Trevor. Diana is bitten by the snakes that make up Medusa’s hair resulting in her losing her eyesight for the rest of this volume. All the while, Athena plots in Olympus and manages to enlist Ares into her plan to overthrow the triad of main gods: Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. Medusa eventually attacks the embassy, which leads to another amazing fight moment that ends in tragedy. Ultimately, there is one final battle with Medusa that leads Diana into a deal with Athena.
One giant flaw in Rucka’s run, especially in this volume, is the artwork. I do not know why they gave him the artists and fill-in artists they did, but some of these issues are remarkably ugly. The artists don’t seem to understand female anatomy in the slightest resulting in some comically amateurish work. The expected cheesecake poses don’t come from Diana, but Circe is definitely presented as a sex object. This really isn’t Rucka’s doing because the writing doesn’t make this a necessity. It’s the artists thinking they are being cute or something? I just wish they had paired Rucka with an artist that matched the quality of his writing. Thankfully, he’d get to work with Nicola Scott when he returned to the book about a decade later, and those issues are so much better.
I think it’s always more interesting for Circe to be in a position where she has lost her status. Having her slightly under the thumb of the Gorgongs makes her situation dramatically better. Especially when she’s dealing with someone as volatile as Medusa, you’re not sure where things are headed for her. There’s also some genuine pathos given to the character as she desperately wants her daughter Lyta. I love that Rucka carries over storylines from past writers like William Messner-Loebs & Phil Jimenez. I think when a writer comes onto a long-running character and tries to start from scratch, it’s a bad idea. Take the good stuff from previous runs and build on it.
Ferdinand the Kithotaur (not Minotaur because he’s not from Minos) gets a fantastic storyline where he develops feelings for Dr. Leslie Anderson. When Ferdinand was initially introduced, it was a sort of a quirky joke element. But Rucka certainly had plans to humanize him and develop a fully dimensional character. His heartbreak at seeing Anderson withdraw from his flirtation reveals this isn’t the first time he’s experienced this. He reflects back on being considered a monster and becomes almost suicidal, volunteering to go with Diana into the Underworld because what does he have to lose at this point?
Then you have the tragic story of Peter Garabaldi, Diana’s media director at the embassy. Rucka manages to make the battle with Medusa that happens there meaningful beyond just a brawl. There are consequences to this fight and Diana’s prominence as a public figure, making her a target. That risk put non-powered civilians in the line of danger, and you can see her guilt in the fallout from this storyline. Rucka would have one more volume’s worth of stories. I am worried that the looming Infinite Crisis event put out some of the storylines he had planned and will result in a rushed product.
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