WONDER WOMAN #62 / Writer: G. Willow Wilson / Artist: Xermanico / Colourist: Romulo Fajardo Jr. / Letterer: Pat Brosseau / Publisher: DC Comics / Jan 16, 2019
The first major conflict of G. Willow Wilson’s tenure wraps up in Wonder Woman #62, with the anticipated clash between Diana and Ares serving as an opportunity to reflect on some of the themes the former Ms. Marvel writer has raised throughout the last five issues. Continuing from where issue #61 finished, we’re thrust right back into the action as Ares demands his pound of flesh from the Prime Minister of Durovnia. Unfortunately for the God of War, the Prime Minister is under Diana’s protection… and she’s not about to give him up without a fight.
The real-world political parallels that have been dotted throughout this arc are most notable here in Ares’s declaration of intent to the Prime Minister, whom he accuses of hiding behind “the will of the people.” I’m from Britain, and we’re currently still going through a period of extreme upheaval with the Brexit vote – “the will of the people” has been used as a cudgel by our Prime Minister to try and force through an extremely unpopular and damaging right-wing agenda, so this line from Ares hit quite close to home. But Wilson (through Ares) also makes a good point about the appeal of right-wing demagogues – people are afraid of the dark, and prefer “the evil of the monster to the uncertainty of the darkness.” It’s a little ironic that Ares, towering over the Prime Minister with his axe held high and his eyes gleaming a monstrous red, believes that he’s about to dispense justice and end the life of a monster.
Nevertheless, his efforts are thwarted by Diana as she lets loose with the Lasso of Hestia, and battle commences. The ensuing combat is short but well-staged – the clarity of the artwork makes it easy to follow what’s going on, and the difference between Diana and Ares’s philosophies of battle is clear. Diana’s speech about justice highlights why she is, in my opinion, the true leader of the Justice League – she’s right that Ares’s thirst for vengeance won’t achieve anything and will only prolong the bloodshed. However, before the battle can continue unabated, Aphrodite steps in to end it, not through a display of power, but through her former relationship with Ares. She whispers something to the God of War which knocks all of the fight out of him and paves the way for peace talks to begin between the two warring factions.
The ensuing peace agreement definitely doesn’t have the feel of a triumphant victory, coupled as it is with a demand that the Gods (and Diana) leave Durovnia immediately. The mortals are tired of being used as pawns in a war that isn’t theirs. It’s easy to see the Prime Minister as ungrateful for having his life saved by Diana, but he does have a point that her desire to do good was subsumed by her need to defeat Ares. Ares struggles with his own misguided intentions – in our modern world where war is constant, what purpose does he have? Following Diana’s advice to seek the wisdom of Athena in order to understand his place in the world, Ares leaves with a veiled threat that suggests further trouble from him in the future.
As Diana and Steve reunite with Etta in the airbase where she’s recovering, we get another real-world reference from Wilson – Etta’s comment that there is “no middle anymore–only the very big and the very small” is a great summary of political polarization in both the United States and the United Kingdom, where extreme views have become the norm. Diana is vulnerable in this scene, which is good – we know she’s a powerful, competent heroine but that doesn’t mean she never has doubts or fears, and it’s good to see those feelings expressed. Whatever the next arc holds for the Princess of Themyscira, she’s in good hands.
Again, Xermanico and Romulo Fajardo Jr. establish themselves as some of the best artists Wonder Woman has ever had – Diana looks iconic and powerful on every page of this issue, a warrior to the core. Xermanico’s mastery of facial expressions is particularly highlighted in this issue – Ares’s shocked reaction when Aphrodite whispers to him is captured perfectly, as is Diana’s emotional turmoil at the end of the issue. The colours are once again gorgeous, infusing every scene with a rich warmth, and I can’t fail to mention the gorgeous, painterly sunset at the end of the issue. Pat Brosseau’s letters fit perfectly, and there are some lovely (and nicely placed) sound effects throughout the battle scene.
The struggle between Diana and Ares was one we’ve been anticipating for a little while leading up to Wonder Woman #62, and the team does not disappoint. As I noted in my review of the previous issue, Wilson has a talent for combining dramatic action with character beats and emotional weight. That’s on full display here as the battle is imbued with meaning – two opposing philosophies of justice clashing in mortal combat. If I have one minor criticism, it’s that there aren’t more pages to the issue – I’d have loved the battle to go on for a little longer! The art team have once again delivered an absolutely gorgeous book from start to finish. DC have a great group here, and I for one hope they stay together on this title for as long as possible.
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.