Review: WONDER WOMAN #31

Written by James D. Robinson
Art by Carlo Pagulayan, Sean Parsons, Jason Paz, Scott Hanna, Romulo Fajardo Jr., and Saida Temofonte
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: September 27, 2017

Wonder Woman picks up some of the threads left dangling by DCU Rebirth and “Darkseid War” as James D. Robinson debuts on the title, beginning the story of Diana’s long-lost brother.

First issues of arcs, especially long arcs, can be tough to get a handle on, like reading the first chapter of a novel and trying to decide if it’s worth continuing or bailing. Does that first chapter satisfy? Does it give a good sense of what the rest of the story will be like? Does it tantalize with hooks that compell the reader to keep pushing on to later chapters?

Wonder Woman #31 is a reasonably compelling start to the next arc of Wonder Woman. There’s a decent action scene setting the plot in motion and a modestly compelling larger plot being teased (albeit one we’ve seen, in this very title, not too long ago). There’s also room for humor and fun and small moments. It’s by no means great, but it’s a perfectly serviceable start to what could be a fine story.

The story opens on a solitary woodsman who is attacked by Grail, the daughter of Darkseid. He reveals himself to be the demigod Hercules, son of Zeus, and a battle ensues. He loses that battle and his life force is drained. We then cut to Wonder Woman some time later, who is approached by a lawyer who informs her that she is now the heir to Hercules’ estate. Sorting out that estate, and the mystery of Hercules’ death, will presumably occupy Wonder Woman for the next issue or two.

It doesn’t necessarily sound like much, but it comes together very well in the execution. I’ll confess that, being an estate attorney in real life, I, perhaps, find the prospect of Wonder Woman going through the probate process to be a bit more compelling than the average reader. Still, I think the angle has some novelty, even if the “someone’s killing the children of the Old Gods” plot was already done a few years ago during Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s run on the title.

A lot of what elevates this issues are the subtleties and soft moments. After Hercules returns to his cabin, the passage of time is shown by two inset panels of identical scenes, one colored in the rich golden hues of sunset, the next in the dark blues of twilight. When Wonder Woman makes her, somewhat belated, entrance, another silent panel is used to similarly good effect as she surveys her handiwork after felling Giganta.

The satisfied smile as she looks back at Giganta, and the confused distress she shows when she learns of her inheritance, do great work fleshing out her character in a role that, at least in this issue, is relatively minimal. Pagulayan’s face work is both realistic and remarkably expressive, and he brings real depth of emotion to Diana.

It’s a shame, then, that there’s so little of Diana in this issue. Admittedly, that’s because page space is otherwise spent setting up the plot and, particularly, the villain of this story. It’s a shame, then, that Grail is somewhat blandly villainous. So far, she’s portrayed as a fairly generic servant of Darkseid, without the interesting personality quirks you see in, say, a Kalibak, a DeSaad, or even a Sleez. Hopefully she’ll be given something more interesting to do than fight and declaim in future issues.

Wonder Woman #31 is a decent start to what will hopefully be an entertaining arc. It’s not especially original and doesn’t distinguish itself much thus far, but the execution is solid and there’s potential for something interesting here.

The Verdict: 7.5/10


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