Wonder Woman #51 // Review
Wonder Woman #51, written by Steve Orlando, with art by Laura Braga and colors by Romulo Fajardo Jr, is a character study that serves as a one-shot palate cleanser after James Robinson’s run. Focusing on Wonder Woman and her relationship with the villain Mayfly after her incarceration, this simple story of Wonder Woman’s never-ending patience and love for all of humanity perfectly encapsulates everything great about the character.
Orlando’s portrayal of Mayfly, a C-list foe of Diana’s who once came dangerously close to killing her, is beautifully handled in this issue. She truly seems to despise Wonder Woman, but Diana won’t give up on her because she knows there is a good person inside. Yes, Mayfly is pretty much a blank slate for Orlando to work with, but the amount of character development he has achieved for her in one issue is rarely seen in comics. She goes from refusing to talk to Wonder Woman, to violently acting out against her, to begrudgingly conversing with the hero, to becoming a true friend that looks forward to her visits. Unfortunately, since Orlando is only a guest writer and the book takes place over the course of several years of Mayfly’s imprisonment to tell a complete story, we probably won’t get to see this relationship blossom in any future issues of Wonder Woman.
Orlando’s portrayal of Wonder Woman in this issue is also spot on. Coming off of a run on this title where the writer’s understanding of the character was spotty at best, this story was a refreshing return to focusing on Wonder Woman’s superhuman compassion and her talk-first-punch-second attitude. When Diana tries to extend an olive branch to Mayfly, she is met with nothing but anger and violence. Still, Diana makes many trips to the prison to show her that she cares and doesn’t just see her as a criminal. Through this story, the readers can imagine that Wonder Woman has done this many times with a variety of different criminals. Most probably don’t work out, but this success story shows Diana’s dedication to not just putting supervillains in prison, but also helping to rehabilitate them.
Guest artist Laura Braga is perfectly suited for this one-shot issue, as she is great in showing the deep emotions on the characters’ faces throughout this quiet story. There is a total of one action scene, so it’s all about Diana and Mayfly, and their development throughout. With a lesser artist, or someone more action-oriented, something would have been lost between the script and the panel. Romulo Fajardo Jr. also does a great job on colors, as usual, especially, in a scene where the radioactive Inside-Out Man attacks Wonder Woman while on one of her prison visits, and his green radiation shines from within his helmet. Fajardo has established himself as one of DC’s best colorists, so hopefully he’ll be sticking around on this title throughout the creative changes.
In the end, this was an extremely satisfying issue, providing a great one-off story with amazing character work, not only for Wonder Woman, but for the villain Mayfly as well. Few writers get the delicate balance of Wonder Woman’s love of peace and her skills as a warrior, but Orlando nails it. She is not in “Man’s World” to fight. She does not enjoy violence. If possible, she will talk to someone first, because she truly cares about all people. That’s the character in a nutshell, and Orlando proves he understands her perfectly with this story.