WONDER WOMAN: STEVE TREVOR #1
Written by Tim Seeley
Art by Christian Duce, Allen Passalaqua, and Josh Reed
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: June 7, 2017
While men may think they are being “sensitive” by turning to feminism, while white people may think they are being right on by opposing racism, no one will really be able to embrace the mission of tearing ‘this shit down’ until they realize that the structures they oppose are not only bad for some of us, they are bad for all of us.
– Jack Halberstam, The Wild Beyond: With and for the Undercommons
The idea of dedicating a comic to Steve Trevor, billed in this comic as “Wonder Woman’s Boyfriend Steve Trevor,” is kind of silly and maybe counterproductive. There’s an argument to be made that we should be teaching male-dominated audiences to adapt to feminine perspectives in fiction without the need of a masculine intermediary. In most cases, I don’t think I would have pushed myself any further than that argument and let a comic like this pass me by.
The only reason I did decide to give it a chance is that I’ve been reading Tim Seeley’s work for over a decade. He’s built up more than enough good will with me as a reader in that time to see what he has to say about the guy whose life is more or less defined by Wonder Woman in the public imagination, both in fiction and the real world.
One of the reasons that I’ve kept coming back to his work since Hack/Slash is that his writing evinces a clear effort to stretch his imagination beyond his own experience of gender. Even in his collaboration with Tom King on Grayson — the only extended run with a male lead I’ve ever seen him do — the best material came from their drive to queer and feminize the gaze they and Mikel Janin projected onto Dick. So maybe this is the pinnacle of Seeley’s career, finding a meta-fictional mirror for himself in Steve. Probably not, but maybe.
Either way, the main charm of the issue is Seeley lampooning the self seriousness of politicized toxic masculinity without turning Steve into either a self-flagellating sap or a self-aggrandizing tool. The comic starts out leaning hard into humor with Steve (arguably) being rescued by Diana from meninist terrorists and the giant penis monster they inadvertently unleashed. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere, I think.
The dynamic that Seeley sets up between Steve and Diana initially comes off as dictated by Diana, making it abundantly clear that she’s set her limit on their upcoming date as dinner and soft conversation, but by the end of the issue we understand that this isn’t simply Steve acquiescing to Diana, it’s equally reflective of the pace he wants to open up to her at.
The bulk of the issue is dedicated to Steve rejoining an old A.R.G.U.S. black ops group to help get a mysteriously and rapidly aging little girl back home while being pursued by a nazi adjacent doomsday cult. Seeley and Duce don’t need to waste much time on the villains, because they respect the audience enough to pick up on the visual and textual clues as to what they represent. Their doctrine of collecting powerful items and people towards a doomsday scenario that will let them repopulate the world in their own image is as clear as their leader’s choice of a whip as a weapon to provide a foil to Diana’s lasso.
Duce and colorist Allen Passalaqua keep the action clear and legible, which is about all you could ask for such a straightforward character study. Where they come together the best is in how carefully Duce knows when to deepen his inks with pooling shadows and where to pull them back to leave the figures open for Passaqua to fill out. That interplay comes out the best in the exterior nightfall scenes, where Passaqua has the room to play the bright flashes of explosions and muzzle flares off the deep blues he lays over the figures and backgrounds.
When the girl leads them to hidden community of children living around a fountain of youth, it becomes clear why the group called Steve in ahead of anyone else. They knew they could trust him not to alert the settlement to ARGUS or anyone else, putting the children in jeopardy of exploitation or murder precisely because of his reputation for having made first contact with the Amazons.
As with most stories like these, it’s all a contrivance for Seeley to tell us who he thinks Steve Trevor is, and in the final analysis, it’s that Trevor is a man who’s been made irreversibly aware of the impact that his gender has on the world around him and as a result has to re-evaluate the parts of him he’s encouraged the most to disregard. The Steve Trevor we meet in this comic isn’t “woke,” he’s learning a new sense of awareness, and if there were ever a reason to read a comic about Steve Trevor, appreciating the nuances of a portrayal like that is about as good of one you could ask for.
The Verdict: 8.0/10