Wonder Woman #55 // Review
The final chapter of writer Steve Orlando’s “The Enemy of Both Sides” story arc, with art by Raul Allen and Patricia Martin, and colors by Borja Pindado, rolls out in Wonder Woman #55, but if you were expecting an epic conclusion, you might come away a little disappointed.
Previously, Diana and the wandering warrior Artemis returned to the Bana Mighdall (Artemis’ home) after rescuing their beloved Atalanta from the dark god Tezcatlipoca. It was not a happy return, however, as the Bana Mighdall had chosen a new leader: Faruka II. Their new queen had decided to throw off the nomadic ways of her people, and chose Qurac as their new home. Working with the Quraci villain Rustam, she secretly incited violence inside the Qurac borders, prompting them to attack the Bana Mighdall. Now, only Wonder Woman stands between the Quraci and the Bana Mighdall, with Artemis deciding to fight with her people.
Once again, Orlando displays his superior ability to write Wonder Woman’s character. Mostly wrapping up the conflict neatly, Wonder Woman is not interested in taking part in a pointless battle. Instead, she spends the entire issue trying to get people on both sides to see the truth of why they are fighting. Even when Orlando takes some liberties with Diana’s abilities--she can transport people inside the Lasso of Truth now?--the actions ring true to her character so well that all transgressions are immediately forgiven. This unique approach Wonder Woman takes in the story also leads to a less than ideal ending, but still leaves her and Artemis on the moral high ground and gives the readers a sense of hope that things will work out for the Bana Mighdall in the long run.
Unfortunately, the involvement of Rustam seems shoehorned into this story. Orlando gets extra points for pulling the seldom-used character in for this arc, but he seems inexplicably powered up for the sake of being able to go toe-to-toe with Wonder Woman. Not only are his powers and their origins ill-defined, but the lack of explanation does nothing but leave a big question mark over the character. What is this flaming sword he’s carrying? How is he trading blows with Wonder Woman, one of the strongest beings on the planet? There isn’t a hint of what Rustam is, or where he came from, despite being a central character to the story. He’s just there, because Orlando wants him to be, and he’s as powerful as Wonder Woman, because Orlando needs him to be.
Allen and Martin’s art is strong throughout the issue, and they deliver a clear, crisp story with a unique style. The action is done well, and their particular art fits perfectly into a Wonder Woman book. Both would be welcome on this title at any time, especially in stories dealing with the Amazons or Bana Mighdall. Pindado’s colors, however, are a little uneven at times. Overall, the colors look great, and the muted palette serves the story very well, but there are certain instances where readers might find it lacking. In the cases of magic being used, such as the Lasso of Truth, the Bow of Ra, or Rustam’s flaming swords, it would have been nice to see a little extra to make the mystical energy of those weapons stand out more. There’s even a panel where the Lasso of Truth is being used, and it’s not even lit up at all.
In the end, for a finale issue, it felt like Orlando could have done more. Stronger character development for Rustam and Faruka II, or a better sense of who they were or where they were coming from, could have helped make this arc infinitely better. Instead, readers were thrown into a story that feels like it began in another book, and there was no work done by Orlando to catch the audience up. If he had extra room to work, this would have been a much more enjoyable read. As it is, it was hard to feel invested in any of the characters or story for this concluding chapter.