REVIEW: Wonder Woman #61

Wonder Woman #61 Cover

WONDER WOMAN #61 / Writer: G. Willow Wilson / Artist: Xermanico / Colourist: Romulo Fajardo Jr / Letterer: Pat Brosseau / Cover: Terry & Rachel Dodson / Variant Cover: Jenny Frisson / Publisher: DC Comics / Jan 2, 2019

Cover for Wonder Woman #61

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SIGNIFICANT SPOILERS

Former Marvel superstar writer G. Willow Wilson’s first story since switching sides to DC continues to unfold in Wonder Woman #61 with the conflict in Durovnia raging on. After last issue’s final-page reveal of the goddess Aphrodite and her nymph assistants, this issue wastes little time in establishing Aphrodite’s position on her role; she’s tired of love, convinced that it’s destructive, and sick of watching humanity tear itself apart over it.

It’s an interesting and fresh take on the Goddess of Love and puts Steve Trevor in the position of trying to convince a largely disinterested deity that he needs her help to end the war and find Diana. This is interwoven nicely with Steve’s commentary on war itself and the broader political thrust of this arc. He believes that there’s no longer such a thing as a “good” or “just” war, that long-distance drone strikes, artillery, and bombed civilians have corrupted what could once be a noble cause. The balancing act of Steve (a lifelong soldier trained to fight, seeking an end to conflict and by extension an end to his purpose) is handled well, and gives a compelling reason for Aphrodite to help him try and find his lover.

Aphrodite and Steve Trevor talk from Wonder Woman #61

We switch storylines to follow Diana through a devastated city as she seeks to guide two abandoned children to their grandfather – who happens to be the Prime Minister of Durovnia. It’s a good way to bring Diana into contact with somebody important to the overarching conflict, if a little convenient, and spins into an interesting meditation on what it means to be a god. Diana is still upset with herself after her intervention with Ares last issue arguably made things worse, and lacks faith.

Are we really gods? Your gods are made of stone, but I am made of flesh and blood. What does it mean when we are as flawed as mortal men?

Diana, Wonder Woman #61

The reunion between Steve and Diana, as well as Diana and Aphrodite, provides another great opportunity for the central ethos of Wonder Woman’s character to come through. It’s voiced by Steve in this instance, but the insistence that love is the thing that makes you try to overcome overwhelming odds is right on the money.

I’m getting heavy shades of last year’s Wonder Woman movie from Wonder Woman #61, not least because the ensuing action scene perfectly hits some of the notes from the awe-inspiring “No Man’s Land” scene from that film. Diana blocks artillery fire with her shield, defending those in her care. She even catches a rocket with the Lasso of Hestia and harmlessly tosses it aside. As the group seem to be out of danger, they’re hit with another shock: Ares has descended from the skies, his pledge to stay neutral shattered by Diana’s choice to side with the Prime Minister, which sets us up for a humdinger of a conflict in the next issue.

Diana defending man from artillery fire from Wonder Woman #61

Artwork

Artist Xermanico and colourist Romulo Fajardo Jr. have done an absolutely incredible job on the art for this issue – the action scenes are dynamic and powerful, and the linework is crisp and precise with gorgeous, warm colours. The facial expressions are expressive and detailed, really selling the range of emotions on display, from Aphrodite’s indifference in the first few pages to Diana’s angst at her failings and subsequent joy at reuniting with Steve.

It’s gorgeous, cinematic storytelling, with simple layouts that nevertheless always draw focus to the most important part of each page. Pat Brosseau’s lettering is clean, placed in a way that never interferes with the stunning artwork and making good use of sound effects to sell the chaos of running through an active warzone. I can’t finish this review without mentioning the gorgeous covers – Terry and Rachel Dodson adorn the main cover with a gorgeous depiction of Aphrodite, while variant cover artist Jenny Frisson continues to pump out some of the most beautiful images of Diana ever created.

Verdict

Wonder Woman #61 definitely manages to mostly sidestep one of the pitfalls of ongoing sequential storytelling, which is the need to constantly maneuver characters into position for the next big conflict. It can sometimes lead to a feeling that “nothing really happened” in an issue, a problem that’s eliminated once the story is collected together.

However, Wilson has displayed in this issue her ability to keep the pieces moving while also fitting in the kind of character development that is the lifeblood of a series. Aphrodite’s indifference adds an interesting wrinkle to the story, while Steve’s demonstration of his love for Diana is heartening to see, and Diana’s power and inspirational nature is on full display. Xermanico and Fajardo Jr. appear to be on art duties for the next issue of the series as well (according to the solicits), and I’m excited to see how they tackle the titanic struggle between Diana and Ares!

Verdict: 5 out of 5

Chris has been writing comics for a large chunk of his life, but only started making them properly in 2011. He's worked with chap-hop superstar Professor Elemental on a series of anthology comics as well as writing stories for a number of prestigious small press publications including Futurequake, Aces Weekly and the Psychedelic Journal and creating his own comic book series 'Brigantia' with artist Melissa Trender.

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