Wonder Woman #42 review
Wonder Woman #42, by writer James Robinson, and artist Jesus Merino, is part two of the Amazons Attacked arc, and the pace is finally picking up after an issue of filler for part one. Darkseid continues to collect ancient relics that will allow him to attack Wonder Woman’s home of Themyscira, and Diana’s brother Jason has returned after being mysteriously absent for over a week.
Even though Darkseid is technically the main villain of Robinson’s story so far, his daughter, Grail, has been the one Wonder Woman has mainly been in direct confrontation with. Fortunately, she has been a great addition to Diana’s rogues’ gallery. Wonder Woman has always had a decent group of villains to pick from, but she has been sorely lacking in the opposite number category, unless you count the rarely seen Devastation from the 90’s era. Grail fills this slot perfectly, with an identical origin to Diana, born of an Amazon and fathered by a God. Robinson may not have created her (that credit goes to Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok), but he sure has made the character his own. Since his run began on this book, she has been on a reign of terror in the name of her father, cutting a swath through Zeus’s side of Diana’s family. She was no less ruthless this issue, actually managing to do the impossible and break free of Wonder Woman’s golden lasso.
Jason, Wonder Woman’s newfound brother, is another memorable addition to the Wonder Woman canon by Robinson. He, too, was a concept created by Geoff Johns, but he didn’t appear until Robinson’s Wonder Woman run. This is a character that has been well constructed, starting off as a villain, siding with Grail, and then reconciling with his long lost sister to begin a journey of self discovery. He wants to be a hero, but he barely understands his powers. This issues marks his return, after an abrupt disappearance, and he has come bearing gifts. He doesn’t fully remember where he has been, or how he got his new armor, but he has come back with a new mastery of his powers, and a sense of purpose that he lacked before. Robinson is setting up an intriguing character in Jason, who is still trying to figure out who he is, and it will be interesting to see where the character ends up in the near future.
The downside to this issue is the continued odd pacing that started in the first part of the arc. It’s like Robinson somehow simultaneously had too much story and not enough story to tell. At times, he rushes through an oddly placed flashback, such as the first meeting of Jason and Grail in this issue. This is something that should have been covered earlier, and with more detail, as it tells us why Jason was so easily persuaded to Grail’s side. Other times, the story seems to barely progress. The first part to Amazon Attacked seemed like pure filler, and this issue, despite the sudden reappearance of of Jason, gives us no real answers as to what’s going on with him, and a brief encounter with Grail that leads to nothing. If not for the cliffhanger ending, no one would be compelled to come back for the next issue.
Jesus Merino’s art in this issue is flawless. There really isn’t a sour note in the whole book, and in a title that has had three different pencilers in three consecutive issues, a top notch artist is very much needed. It wouldn’t hurt for them to keep Merino around for a bit longer. Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colors also compliment Merino’s art beautifully. Even in a scene like Jason’s “dream of giants”, where there is nothing but the faint outline of figures in dark, red clouds, the colors make the panel look like something out of a Lovecraft story. If the powers that be can keep these two together on this book, it would be a major win for Wonder Woman.
In the end, this was a solid read, despite the wonky pacing, and it promises to pick up next issue. The teaser at the end alone pretty much guarantees an epic battle is coming, and Darkseid hasn’t even reached the shores of Themyscira as the title of the arc promises, so there is plenty more excitement on its way.