WONDER WOMAN #23
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Liam Sharp and Hi-Fi
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: May 24, 2017
Diana finally comes face-to-face with Ares and his story is not what she expected at all. With the true enemy scratching at the door, Wonder Woman must make a last desperate attempt to save Themyscira — and the world — from the wrath of the God of War.
I am overwhelmed.
No exaggeration. The contents of Wonder Woman #23 bring to light so many aspects of Diana’s core essence and mission in one place, it’s unabashedly overwhelming to witness. It’s actually hard to know where to start, given how packed the issue is with purpose and emotion.
So, the separation of Diana from her homeland and mother — a sacrifice now made clear to be a necessary aspect of the Amazons’ purpose — is aptly mirrored by the heartache of Veronica’s separation from Izzy. Rucka and Sharp have drawn these traumas out over the course of the series run, but here each reaches its pinnacle with a critical moment. Each taking a frustrating turn after so much deliberation, effort, and near success. That feeling of “so close, and yet” is palpable in the final pages of the issue, with Sharp’s pained expressions and movements of yearning in Wonder Woman telling the tale for both mother (Cale) and daughter (Diana).
It’s bittersweetness to the nth degree, but it comes after a much more revelatory set of circumstances, once again reflecting a deep understanding on Rucka’s part about the very nature of Wonder Woman from her very beginning. The idea of loving submission has always been a hard one for me, particularly within the confines of seeking to understand (and practice) feminism. But the idea here is exploded out to something much more elemental than the differences between the sexes — leaving me to wonder why I ever doubted its efficacy.
As Ares submitted to love in order to hold back or extinguish his more base compulsions — his inhumanity, so to speak — so too have the Amazons submitted to the role they play (and the sacrifices they must make) in order to ensure the world remains safe from the unbridled madness of war. This submission isn’t a requirement for love or the currency one exchanges for being loved. It is itself love. The act of love — this powerful proactive motion — is an act of submission to the greater good, to a higher power, and one’s own very best nature.
If there’s one thing I know about Diana — as do Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp — it’s that her very best nature is the very best any of us can hope to achieve.
So much the sadness for the act of loving submission is a covenant we as humans fail to live up to, today more than ever. There are so many lessons in these pages, from the idea that what you believe to be your greatest enemy may very well be your salvation to the understanding that the seemingly smallest notions of giving of yourself constitute the greatest achievements. That love and truth are more powerful than fear and panic.
And ultimately, I fear, I am merely scratching the surface of what the creative team has done with this issue. It is unequivocally Liam Sharp’s finest achievement in a run that will go down as premier among the hundreds in a 76-year history. The level of detail when necessary and simplistic grace when more appropriate the artist lays out on every page is nothing short of astonishing.
Laura Martin’s collaboration with Sharp has always been a revelation, but guest colorist Hi-Fi’s color rendering of the early pages of Ares’ transformation from brute to submissive thinker is beyond reproach. And the two artists hit their stride in a single moment that’s nearly impossible to look away from: the moment Diana says those three most powerful words that stop Deimos and Phobos, seemingly for good.
Beyond the grace and beauty of it all, Wonder Woman #23 conveys layers and layers of messaging for the times we live in, the timelessness of Diana’s message, and the best explanation for the Amazons’ core message that I have ever seen grace the page. And all without a single punch being thrown by our dear heroine. If that’s not a call to action for the world around us, I don’t know what is.
The Verdict: 10/10