The story of any super hero is one of change. The moment when a hero gets their powers, the moment when they realize the cost and effects of using those powers, the moment when they understand how having powers gives them a life fundamentally different from those around them—it's all change. Outside of the story and behind the scenes, the longevity of super heroes means their origins and motivations fluctuate with the decades. Both kinds of change are faced head-on in WONDER WOMAN VOL. 1: THE LIES.
Featuring writer Greg Rucka, artist Liam Sharp, and colorist Laura Martin, this first collection of the Wonder Woman Rebirth series finds Diana feeling lost. Dynamic motions and evocative expressions punctuate big, pondering questions, one of which I'm amazed I haven't thought about before: What does the "Wonder" part of Diana's hero moniker mean? It's one of the existential mysteries she's considering.
When people think about her, do they use the word wonder because they're in awe? Because they're wowed by her abilities and fascinated by how she uses her powers? Or are people trying to make sense of her? As in, "We wonder who the heck this woman is." It's not exactly like being called Doctor Who, but it's close.
If you're in the state of mind that has you questioning what your name means, you spiral. I mean, if you don't know this one, simple thing about yourself, what is anything about? It's easy to chase yourself into a hole with question after question. And Diana does. She wields the Lasso of Truth, but right now, she doesn't know what truth is.
Putting Diana into this nebulous place makes her relatable in a way she doesn't necessarily need to be (hello, she's an Amazonian princess and I am decidedly not), but I still sort of want her to be. Maybe I should be shaken by seeing someone as powerful as Diana being this lost and muddled, but instead, I find it reassuring.
When your sense of figurative direction is off-kilter and unreliable, the natural decision is to go home. The beginning is as good a place as any to start searching for answers and to find out what is wrong. But Diana can't seem to catch a break. She can't locate the way home, despite the fact that she's returned to Themyscira multiple times in the past (which, by the way, she wasn't supposed to be able to do after her initial decision to leave). So now, she's figuratively and literally lost.
This is where the heart of our story here begins, and the journey it takes us on is delightful in how it connects to things we know about Diana while also questioning the character's past and merging it into new territory. Familiar faces come into the story at this point: Barbara Ann Minerva/Cheetah, Etta Candy, Steve Trevor. In a way, it's like giving the readers a pat on the back and saying, "Wonder Woman has people she knows around. They're threads to help her reconnect and get answers. It's going to be okay." Their presence has a similar effect on Wonder Woman. Having friends at your side makes even trying and dangerous situations better.
As Wonder Woman presses the pause button on her mission to return home in order to help Barbara Ann get back to her true self, the action goes to 11. She faces Urzkartaga, the god to whom Cheetah is beholden, who, as Steve points out, has "some toxic ideas about masculinity." The encounter infuses energy and anticipation into the pages along with something else important to any Wonder Woman story: girl power. It's an intrinsic part of the character and always there in one form or another, but anytime I see Diana encouraging other women to stand up and not be afraid is an occasion to rejoice. She inspires. Hopefully, she can see that part of herself as being true during her navel-gazing.
After the intensity of dealing with Urzkartaga, I loved having a lighthearted break with Diana and Etta accompanying the now back to human Barbara Ann shopping. Three kick-butt ladies hanging out? Yes, please. And the not-so-subtle dig at how people take great interest in Diana's wardrobe and hair was on point. Seriously. Think about any/every time the character has had different costume and hair styles over the years. As I mentioned, change is part and parcel to a super hero's history on the page, but despite that, any new look is a hot topic of discussion—and that applies to any hero's outfit, not only Wonder Woman's.
Mall time complete, Barbara Ann and Etta work together to help Diana find the way back to Themyscira. It's unfortunately not a straightforward task. Being a divine location, Themyscira doesn't have GPS coordinates; there's no plugging the point into a navigation app and following directions that will inevitably force you to try to make a left turn in a place where no such turn is possible. I wasn't expecting what happened when Barbara Ann figured out a way to access Themyscira. Diana realized she's been living lies. All those times she thought she had been home? It never happened.
Yeah, let that revelation sit with you a minute. No wonder Diana's been feeling confused. What she knows might not be reality, and now that she's aware of it, there's a mess of problems to untangle. I like how this challenge isn't a hulking alien or legendary monster; it's unseen and unknown and therefore, I think, scarier. I'm worried about Wonder Woman, and that's not a position I've found myself in often.
Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies is now available and highly recommended if you’re a Wonder Woman fan like I am. Let me know your impressions of the story in the comments.
New York Times best-selling writer Greg Rucka returns to Wonder Woman with a tale that will forever alter the DC icon.