Wonder Woman #53 // Review
Wonder Woman #53, written by Steve Orlando, with art by Aco and Hugo Petrus, inks by David Lorenzo, and colors by Romulo Fajardo Jr, is part two of “The Enemy of Both Sides” arc, in which Diana has teamed up with her old friend/enemy, Artemis, and the new Aztec to take down the dark god, Tezcatlipoca.
This is a simple story, with a pretty flat villain, but that seems to be all done by design. Orlando didn’t develop the villain more, because the real story is all about the interaction between its three protagonists. They are all very different women, and they operate equally different, but they are having to come together to stop a god that is, at first look, greater than the sum of their parts. That’s not an easy thing to do, considering Artemis seems to flatout dislike Diana, and Aztek is just rough around the edges in general. Of course, this is Wonder Woman’s book, and she is the natural peacemaker of the group, so it’s up to her to bring the trio together, but she is definitely not the sole hero of the issue. It takes Diana’s strength and Lasso of Truth, Artemis’ indomitable will and Bow of Ra (more on that later), and Aztec’s brains and mystically enhanced war helmet, to save the day. So, in the end, it’s really a story about women working together to accomplish the impossible, which is a pretty uplifting message, and perfectly on-point for a Wonder Woman book.
If this issue has a weak point, it’s the Bow of Ra. This is Artemis’ secret weapon, usually gifted to the mightiest of the Bana-Mighdall warriors, and it is not only one of the deadliest objects in existence to have pointed at you, but it’s also potentially lethal to its user. Sounds cool, right? It is. The problem is that it’s used as somewhat of a deus ex machina in this issue to take out the “big bad.” Granted, it didn’t just show up out of nowhere (Artemis has had possession of it for a while over in Red Hood and the Outlaws), and it has to be used by all three women, which is the whole point of this story, but it still seems a little like a bit of a cheap solution to the problem. The only other solution would have been to make Aztek more key to Tezcatlipoca’s defeat, considering she is his brother’s champion, but that wouldn’t have had the same unifying effect on the group. The use of the Bow of Ra isn’t really a fail, but it seems like the least creative way to accomplish the goal of bringing the protagonists together for a solution.
The art in this issue is all very nice, and even with two different artists providing pencils, everything flowed together seamlessly. Aco and Petrus are both ideal Wonder Woman artists, and they had a monumental task this chapter, with so much going on in each panel. At times, between the three leads, the giant god, and his army of warriors fighting in a mystical realm, other artists might have been overwhelmed, or provided cluttered panels where it’s hard to decipher what is going on, but that wasn’t the case with these two. Lorenzo’s inks were also a major contribution, adding depth in crowded panels, so every figure doesn’t just look like they’re right on top of each other. And, of course, as always, Fajardo Jr. provides superior colors, enhancing all of the magic and fire being thrown around in the overwhelmingly mystical settings of this issue. He would be great in any magic-based book, like SHAZAM or Justice League Dark, as well (hint, hint DC).
As stated above, this is an intentionally simple story, by Orlando’s design, and that’s fine. He has a limited amount of time to work on this title before the permanent creative team comes in, so he can’t set up a long-term story. Given those limitations, he has been doing a heroic job as a fill-in writer, so far. This issue is no exception, and he seems to have more fun planned for his makeshift trio of heroes next issue, so it should be worth sticking around to see what happens.