There are a lot of comics out there, but some simply stand head and shoulders above the rest. With “Don’t Miss This,” we spotlight series that we think need to be on your pull list. This week, we look at G. Willow Wilson’s current run on “Wonder Woman,” which began in November, 2018 with issue #58 and kicks off a brand new arc today with issue #63.
Who Is This By?
Writer G. Willow Wilson is best known for her work on “Ms. Marvel” where she introduced Kamala Khan, the first Muslim character to headline a Marvel series. With a Pakistani teen protagonist from New Jersey in the titular role, Wilson not only changed the game, she also won a 2015 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story, as well as Eisner and Harvey awards for Best New Series that same year. Recently, Wilson ended her “Ms. Marvel” run, handing over the reins to celebrated author Saladin Ahmed, who is currently penning a new Kamal Khan series under the title “The Magnificent Ms. Marvel. Needless to say, Marvel’s loss is DC’s gain as Wilson takes the helm at one of the most iconic and enduring superhero series of all time
What’s It All About?
Whoever’s written the scripts, “Wonder Woman” books have long focused on themes of war, violence, power and justice. Wilson’s debut arc, “The Just War,” definitely explores these ideas, but re-centers the narrative slightly to look more sharply at the human cost of it all. It’s not so much about glory as it is the personal toll – the unintended collateral damage to those inadvertently caught in the crossfire. Even to the victor, in fact, the cost of war is remarkably high. As the imprisoned God of War Ares explains in the open pages of issue #58, “I used to think that conquest was the same as immortality. That history belonged to those who carve their names into the ruined monuments of their enemies.” Moments later, he concedes, “In the end, the real victor is not war. It is time.”
And the one thing that transcends time is justice. Thus, Ares breaks free from his underground prison on Themyscira and vows to battle alongside Diana against tyranny and injustice, seemingly transforming himself from perpetual villain to hero – though obviously things aren’t that simple.
What Makes It So Great?
Viewed in isolation, Wilson’s first “Wonder Woman” arc is strong, but not really all that different from other standout arcs in this storied franchise. In fact, in a lot of ways, it can be seen as more of the same: factions of gods, superheroes and humans physically fighting for justice while they struggle to understand what justice actually means. Naturally, as the external battle rages, the real conflict smolders within, embodied by thorny questions that have no clear-cut answers. These are weighty and intriguing concepts, but we’ve definitely seen them before in multitudinous iterations. Ares’ personal transformation is a cool, largely unexpected twist, but not necessarily enough to carry the series to new heights.
With “Wonder Woman” #63, however, Wilson’s “Just War” arc – and the entire series – are subtly reframed once again. Rather than a central plot point to be mined endlessly for dramatic action, the fall of Olympus becomes prologue and a great starting point for new stories. True, the gods are in disarray, wandering this earthly realm, but Wilson is more interested in exploring the plight of lesser beings (as determined by their status and privilege in this strange new plane of existence) than she is extolling the epic exploits of gods and goddesses. Ares and Aphrodite are certainly present, but the real story centers on a rather motley collection of displaced mythical creatures that previously seemed like tertiary characters at best. Instead, for the first issue of her second arc, “The New World,” Wilson turns the camera on Eirene the minotaur, Damon the satyr and Cadmus the pegasus, strangers in a strange land.
Damn, it’s some really good stuff. It’s funny, heartfelt and tender while functioning perfectly as a thinly disguised, but hugely entertaining metaphor for displacement, immigration, definitions of “us and them” and contemporary life in our increasingly interconnected, globalized world. It took a little while to get there, but Wilson’s “Wonder Woman” run is perfectly positioned to take things in a bold new direction.Continued below
How Can You Read It?
“Wonder Woman” #62 just concluded Wilson’s first arc on January 16. You can likely find single issues of “Wonder Woman” #58-62 at your Local Comic Book Store, but the trade won’t be out for a while. Meanwhile, “Wonder Woman” #63 drops today, kicking off a brand new arc that you can fully enjoy without having to read Wilson’s previous issues. Available via your favorite digital comics platform or in physical format wherever you buy comics.