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Wonder Woman #601

Posted by Luke Brown On July - 31 - 2010

This week saw the release of the first full issue of J. Michael Straczynski’s Wonder Woman run. Teamed with Don Kramer on art, the much hyped revamp of character has drawn its fair share of criticism without even having officially begun. I had some pretty high expectations for what Straczynski could do with the character, and even though I absolutely loved Gail Simone’s run, Wonder Woman was in desperate need of a shot in the arm. While it remains to be seen whether or not what JMS has planned will work in the long run, Wonder Woman #601 gets things off to a promising start.

Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Art and cover by Don Kramer & Michael Babinski

The prologue left off with this new Wonder Woman speaking to an oracle who agreed to show her what had happened to Themyscira, and how the Amazons fell. This issue starts off with that vision, and though longtime readers have seen the Amazonian island destroyed before, there’s something raw and brutal about Kramer’s rendition of Straczynski’s script. Kramer’s pages are filled to the very edge with action, almost as if the battle itself could only barely be contained, and you’re able to get an idea of the scale and breadth of the war in just a few pages. The layout on page seven breaks down the conflict to its absolute essence, showing both how strong-willed the Amazons are, while also displaying the ruthlessness of their opponents. Despite the crushing defeat, and being tied up with the golden lasso, when questioned about the whereabouts of hundreds of escaped Amazons, including her own daughter, Straczynski’s Hippolyta refuses to cave in to the mysterious leader of men who’ve laid waste to the island. Knowing full well she’ll be forced to talk thanks to the powers the lasso holds, she defiantly throws herself into a fire, promising the mystery man that Diana “… will rise from my ashes, and you will not know a day of peace!” It’s an incredibly impactful moment, made even more so by the fact that the reader knows Diana is now watching her mother burn alive to save her.

After seeing this, we’re brought back to reality, and Wonder Woman vows to find the rest of the refugee Amazons, and hunt down the man responsible for destroying their home. Sadly, the rest of the issue doesn’t quite live up to the first dozen pages. We find that this unknown army/agency is still trying to locate Wonder Woman by staking out her last known location in an ice cream truck in the middle of the night. Of course, Diana pulls the old “Millennium Falcon-on-the-side-of-the-Star Destroyer” trick, and sneaks into one of the enemy bases. There she finds out about a sect of Amazons that’s been found, and grabs onto the roof of a troop transport plane departing for that location. As the plane nears its destination, WW jumps off, landing in her best Iron Man formation, and finds herself on the outskirts of a battle once more. Only this time, she can do something about it. Well, at least I think she will. We won’t find out until the next issue. The whole last half of the book slows the pace to a drag, particularly when you consider an entire war was recapped in just a few brief pages. I know JMS is building the drama, but the whole sneaking around sequence could have been shortened (perhaps starting the whole page where the undercover agent debates with a child about ice cream), allowing for us to see at least the actual beginning of the next conflict.

Though Wonder Woman‘s new direction is off to a good start, it does stumble a bit out of the gate. As an opening act, it does its job, though I really feel like more could have been accomplished. I loved the way Straczynski didn’t pull any punches when it came to Hippolyta’s death, and I think Kramer’s art is the perfect choice to bring this book to life. I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens. I just hope the next issue pushes the pace a little more.

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