WONDER WOMAN #24
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Bilquis Evely, Romulo Fajardo Jr., and Jodi Wynne
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: June 14, 2017
Godwatch is over. Paradise Island has closed its doors. And the woman who has been left behind cannot be found again — no matter how much Diana may want to bring her back. The Cheetah, at last, wants to stay lost.
Coming up on the conclusion of this epic run is so essentially bittersweet for me. I knew all along there wouldn’t be a happy ending. I can sit here with Wonder Woman #24 in my hand, hoping against hope that the final chapter in #25 will end with Diana happy, Ann restored in Etta’s arms, and Veronica Cale resolved to some new mission — some greatness to offset the tragedy she’s suffered.
But I don’t think so. And nothing about this issue makes me believe that’s going to happen. If anything, Bilquis Evely and Romulo Fajardo Jr. do such a magnificent job of setting a somber tone from the very start, that I may be far greater prepared for an unsettling end than I think. Fajardo especially layers on these deep cooling blues and breaks them with the essence of fire that feels like it can hold the chill at bay.
It’s a perfect lead-in to Cale’s return from Themyscira, cold and distant, unable to properly grieve until in private. And likely forever resentful that her daughter now lives the life Diana left behind. It makes for a sharp contrast with the pure sadness and fury that the Cheetah experiences after being left behind — both literally and metaphorically — by her allies. She gave up everything for Diana and ultimately for Cale. And she’s left out in the cold. But like the flames Fajardo sets aglow in the first pages, her eyes burn to hold back the darkness.
Evely’s careful linework, begun in pencil and completed in fine point ink, is just a marvel to experience on every page. It could be so easy to speed past the facial expressions Ann exhibits, now gone from elegant feline to fierce, almost brutally ugly monster. But for as fine a presentation as Evely makes with every strand of hair gracing Diana and Veronica’s heads, she gives Ann the same consideration, line by line, in her furrowed brow and literal teardrops.
Rucka brings the book somewhat full circle, mirroring his now iconic scene of Diana hugging Ann back to sanity in issue #3 with a choke hold that comes from a place of love, but is likely not to produce the same results any longer. I doubt it’s overstating to say that the Cheetah has taken the biggest brunt of the tragic events that have unfolded. Diana and Veronica can’t reclaim their pasts — their mother/daughter lost to the whispers of time and space — but Ann can’t escape hers. She is forever denied the one thing she sought since the beginning of her career, and cannot reclaim either love or friendship either, as a result.
Cale may be the villain of the piece — and a victim of her own hubris, to some degree — but Ann is victim to something far more common. Ambition. Power not in the form of money or control, but in the form of knowledge. Everything that women are punished for pursuing, insidiously in our culture, far more outwardly in many others. In a book chock full of women — arguably entirely queer women — the Cheetah is the one who had the audacity to grab for too much, where “too much” is far less than a woman of her intellect and drive deserved.
One more issue and I know it won’t be the happy ending every story about a fairy tale princess normally gets. Because ultimately, I think Rucka, Evely, Sharp, Fajardo, and Martin owe us the truth. The world isn’t fair, and is far less fair to queer women of ambition than almost anyone else. But I don’t know that I’d be satisfied seeing this historic run end any other way. It concludes with “The Truth” after all.
The Verdict: 9.5/10