While I’m talking about things that wowed me in the second issue after an initial disappointment, I’m sure that I should mention Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman – I wasn’t too down with the first issue, which seemed to be trying too hard for my tastes, but the second was exactly what I’d been looking for: An almost effortless tying together of the mythical with the superheroics, and a story that seemed true to the character and that it could only be told with this character. A shame, in that case, that WONDER WOMAN #16 is (like ASM #548) a third part that isn’t quite as good.
A lot of that, sadly, comes from the fill-in art in the middle of the book. Ron Randall is a fine artist, but his strengths aren’t the same as Terry Dodson’s, so seeing him attempt to take on some of Dodson’s chunkiness (and stylistic touches – Check out Etta Candy’s nose when she appears, which is very Dodson), or fail to bring the same heft and power to the fight scenes, makes for an uncomfortable and awkward break, especially when the switch occurs mid-scene and you’re left with the more delicate art for the splash page promise of carnage. The switch takes the reader out of the story, and the switch to that particular artist robs the scene of the dynamism and plain, dumb, oomph that it should bring.
Elsewhere, the story suffers from external pressures that really aren’t its fault; people who read Countdown know the outcome not only of the battle for Paradise Island and also of the issue’s cliffhanger, because we were already told that this story takes place prior to what’s happening in the weekly series. It’s frustrating – and, to be honest, almost moreso when you consider that this threat to the island is more interesting than the one happening in Countdown – because, taken on its own merits and away from the context of the greater DC Universe, this is a good story, and the cliffhanger a great one, considering the recent history between Diana and her mother.
After a first issue that still, upon re-reading, feels too eager to please, Simone has found her footing with the series and the script for this issue is a pretty good slugfest-middle-issue that keeps plot and characterization up there along with the punching Nazis. If you ignore inappropriate artist switching and a lot of the tension gone because of plot spoilers, then it’d be something to tell people to track down and read, if they’d rather their Wonder Woman wasn’t on the cover of Playboy. Even with those things taken into consideration, it’s still rather Good, after all.