Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka Volume 3 (2019)
Reprints Wonder Woman #218-226 & Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1-3
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Cliff Richards, Nicola Scott, Rags Morales, Tom Derenick, Georges Jeanty, Karl Kerschel, David Lopez, Eduardo Panisca, and Ron Randall
What started with great promise came to a rather messy and unsatisfying end. I loved the opening volume of Greg Rucka’s Wonder Woman collection, but it appeared that editorial demands shifted the direction he started out with. By the time these issues were being published, DC Comics had made it clear they were headed towards Infinite Crisis, a celebration of the twentieth anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths. This meant every major superhero title would be roped into the event. Geoff Johns was writing Infinite Crisis, so if you were to read his titles, The Flash or JSA, they tied in much more neatly. For writers that were being folded into the event, like Rucka, you see slightly awkward inclusion.
This collection is best read in tandem with The OMAC Project. That was Rucka’s mini-series lead-in to Infinite Crisis and featured former JLA founder Max Lord going rogue as the leader of Checkmate. Lord seizes control of Brother Eye, a spy satellite initially built and run by Batman. Using Brother Eye, Lord unleashes the OMAC virus, a swarm of nanobots that convert ordinary people into mindless sentries. Throughout the story, Superman is mentally influenced by Lord, and Wonder Woman realizes there is only one way to stop the villain. She snaps Lord’s neck, but he took this into account and made sure the moment was broadcast internationally without context. People just see Wonder Woman killing someone.
Rucka begins his third collection by quickly wrapping up the story arc between the Olympian Gods and the Amazons. There are also signals that Jonah McCarthy’s identity as a Checkmate agent will be revealed soon. But then we sidetrack to a tie-in with The OMAC Project that shows the infamous Max Lord death scene. The rest of the series spends its time focused on the fallout of the murder. Diana finds that people are suddenly frightened by her, having seen that she can kill someone in a very brutal fashion. She is forced to have to come to terms with this new perception.
Brother Eye unleashes hordes of OMACs at Diana, and she has to hold back, realizing innocent people are inside the cybernetic husks. The US military makes a move against Paradise Island with the Lord situation as a setting off moment. Simultaneously, The Cheetah shows herself in an issue that feels off with what was going on with the character in Villains United, where she was a part of Luthor’s Society. The last few issues are pretty cacophonous by wrapping up many plot points with Infinite Crisis looming over everything. There is this feeling that DC Comics has with series that are ending during an event just before a significant reboot. The art is very lacking. I personally do not enjoy Cliff Richards’s penciling style; it feels unpolished and rough. After seeing Perez, Thompson, and Jimenez on this title, it’s really disappointing that Rucka’s run would be accompanied by such inconsistent art.
The next time Greg Rucka specifically wrote Wonder Woman would be in a three-issue tie-in to 2009’s Blackest Night. In this event, Green Lantern villain Black Hand used his black ring to bring the dead back to life. This pitted Diana against a vengeful Max Lord who still has his head twisted 180 degrees. It’s a straightforward opening issue elevated by Nicola Scott’s spectacular artwork. These two would re-team when Rucka came back to Wonder Woman in the Rebirth-era, a run we might revisit in a few years.
In the second issue Diana, because she has died before (see John Byrne’s run), is taken over by Black Hand and becomes a dark, undead version of herself. She ends up in a battle with Mera, Aquaman’s partner, and then Wonder Girl and Donna Troy. Rucka finally pays off all the flirtation between Diana and Batman by having his kiss free her from Black Hand’s control. This ties into the fact that she is connected to Star Sapphire’s power of Love. In the final issue, she has a Star Sapphire ring and has to talk down Mera, who is under the control of the Red Lanterns’ power of Rage. These three issues are my favorite part of the collection because they are both well-written & beautifully drawn. Rucka would get a second shot at Wonder Woman, but that’s a review for another day.