Review: WONDER WOMAN #16

WONDER WOMAN #16
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Bilquis Evely, Mark Morales, Andrew Hennessy, Raul Fernandez, and Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: February 8, 2017

Six months after Princess Diana’s arrival on the shores of the United States, Wonder Woman has become a phenomenon — and not without good reason. From battling mythological threats to speaking out on behalf of women everywhere, Diana has attracted a lot of attention, including from twin gods and a brand new set of villains set out to destroy her. Introducing Godwatch.

Wonder Woman #16 represents the beginning of a fourth arc for the biweekly series, still alternating issues between present day (rendered by artist Liam Sharp) and the first year of Wonder Woman’s career post-Paradise Island. Taking up the reins for the flashback arcs this issue is artist Bilquis Evely, whose beautifully restrained rendering of Barbara Ann Minerva’s origins served as a perfect preview for her now ongoing run.

Like that issue #8, Evely has a lot of lifting to do with nary an Amazon in sight, working through Rucka’s narrative set-up for the creation of what would become Godwatch: Veronica Cale’s anger, the sacrifice of Dr. Cyber, and ultimately, I believe, the recruitment of the Cheetah. Wonder Woman does make a few appearances here, more than it feels in retrospect, but mostly as a background player.

That’s not necessarily a complaint, as Rucka has certainly established an innate ability to maintain a powerful ensemble (particularly of women) in the book to date. What it does, though, is underserve a little of Evely’s big debut, relegating some potentially powerful scenes to background or small panel, so much so that Diana nearly fades into the environment.

Some of this is some rather oddly muddy coloring from regular series colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr., whose palette appears much less sophisticated than for the whole of “Year One.” But a lot of the visual flattening for me also seems to appear in the second half of the book with the third and fourth inkers. Presuming the credits are provided in order of appearance, Hennessy and Fernandez are taking Evely’s pencil work and losing a lot of the subtlety of line weight and detail that we’re getting in the first third of the issue.

When Evely is inking her own pencils, as she seems to do in the first four pages of the issue, we get a beautiful crispness of line, razor thin, that leaves room for Fajardo to come in and flesh out some tones and light contrasts with his palette. Mark Morales, too, with a heavier line, but no less precise, pops each of the characters — particularly young Isadore — off the backgrounds in a way I wish had been duplicated in later pages with Princess Diana herself.

It is interesting, however, to ponder Rucka’s choice of the twins in this issue — Deimos and Phobos — portrayed as quite dandy young men, and not in some other anthropomorphic or largely metaphoric way as the other gods have appeared. True, Ares appeared in human form, but not exactly AS human, so it leaves me to wonder if the children of the Gods, these second rate deities, have less complex motivations, are simply less powerful, or just happen to be the first of any to choose to appear in such a way.

An interesting read, but a rough visual transition from previous issues — Bilquis Evely’s own, included — Wonder Woman #16 has some necessary building blocks for the story as a whole. In particular, in witnessing the creation of a new villain, we get to see Wonder Woman start to rebuild her own rogue’s gallery from the ground up. With the promise of more to come (Circle, Dr. Poison, the Cheetah), there’s no question you’re going to want to return in four weeks to keep seeing where Diana’s first year takes her. Hopefully we just get to do so with Evely on her own inks, settled into the series with as much fanfare and bravado as she deserves. (But damn it, isn’t that cover just something else? Wowza.)

The Verdict: 7.5/10

 

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