Wonder Woman #40
“A Murder of Crows, Part One: Hit the Ground Running”
Writer: Gail Simone
Pencils/Cover artist: Aaron Lopresti
Inks: Matt Ryan
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Travis Lanham
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US
I lost touch with this series a few issues ago, as I grew a bit bored with the Genocide/”Rise of the Olympian” storylines last year. However, I’m generally a big fan of Gail Simone’s writing, and when I saw that this issue (a) featured the beginning of a new story arc and (b) featured the creepy visual on the cover of a quintet of evil kids, I decided to revisit the adventures of the best-known super-heroine. The introduction of new antagonist (and the absence of the previous ones) has renewed my interest in the book. I really enjoyed the darker elements that contribute to the conflicts in this issue, but the strength of those elements comes as no surprise, as Simone has proven she handles the dark stuff adeptly over in Secret Six. But the writer balance the ugly side of human emotion with a heart-warming scene between two friends that really gets to the heart of the title characters dichotomous nature as being representative of both war and love.
Something is amiss in Washington, D.C., as people begin acting out of character, acting upon hatred, mistrust and fear, and in every instance of violence and destruction, rational thought seems to have been thrown out the window. The negative influence is doing more than turning ordinary people against one another, as Wonder Woman is forced to contend with a Mexican serpent god running amok in the city’s subway system. As chaos brews outside, though, Diana also finds the time to visit with Etta Candy in the hospital, desperate to alleviate her grief and to atone for the harm she feels she brought upon her friend.
Aaron Lopresti clearly has a strong grasp on the title character. He depicts her as beautiful, fierce, strong, caring and vulnerable, all in the same package. The artist does an excellent job of conveying her emotions through her body language. Furthermore, he captures an appropriately creepy tone in the appearance of the five “children” who serve as the villains of this story arc, and his depiction of Power Girl emphasizes her power rather than her girly parts. I also appreciated his portrayal of Etta Candy as being slightly plump but still lovely, confident and fit. Really, the only aspect of the art that didn’t quite work for me was Quetzlotl. At first, he’s appropriately monstrous and weird in appearance, but when the scene shifts from one of action to a humorous exchange between the serpent and Wonder Woman, the art fails to reflect that goofier tone. When Quetzlotl starts behaving sheepishly, a more exaggerated, lighter look is really called for.
The emotion-manipulating Crows make for some great villains. Not only does Simone depict their power to influence as being somewhat subtle (at least when it first manifests), but depicting them as children adds to their dark, supernatural appeal as well. Is there anything as frightening as a diabolical little child? Well, five of them, I suppose. It’s clear from their dialogue that they’re gods of some sort, and I like that Simone keeps Wonder Woman’s little corner of the DC Universe rooted in classic mythologies. The only problem with the Crows is that they’re not overtly identified in the script under that group name. Solicitation copy for this issue refers to them as the Crows and the story’s title refers to crows, but it would’ve been nice if this first appearance had some more obvious reference to the characters as a group.
The hospital scene — during which Wonder Woman tries to appease her guilt and Etta makes her confession — isn’t the most exciting one I’ve read in a super-hero comic, obviously. The scene is linked to the previous storylines, which I’ve already admitted had lost my interest, and furthermore, Etta gets into her background as an agent for an international espionage/security organization, which again I have little interest in. However, the scene does succeed in winning over the reader, not for what it contributes (or doesn’t) to the plot, but rather in what it says about the characters. The strength of the friendship between Diana and Etta and the love they have for one another really comes through. The sensitivity of these women pours off the page, but at the same time, it doesn’t weaken them. Their honesty with each other speaks to their integrity. Furthermore, Etta`s down-to-earth attitude makes for a nice balance with Diana’s more formal demeanor. 7/10
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