This happened to be a big week for Wonder Woman at What’cha Reading. DC Comics released Wonder Woman issue 42, which in our review “misses the mark, again” and the latest issue of digital first Sensation Comics. We also covered Gal Gadot’s interview on her now role as the Amazonian princess, Diana – “Gal Gadot Talks Wonder Woman.” If you are a fan of Wonder Woman, there is no better time than now to finally start reading her comics and following her adventures. While I can’t recommend her solo title as a good place for fans to start, issue 12 of Sensation Comics happens to be one of the most accessible, suitable, and enjoyable of comics featuring the mythical land of Themyscira and the heroics of the only female and founding member of the Justice League.
What makes Sensation Comics such a find is that every issue is primarily a stand alone story. Much of that has to do with it being an online series built on showcasing a revolving door of writers and artists for every story. Think of DC Comics Sensation series as more of an anthology series reflecting on the ideas and theme of Wonder Woman. Whereas Meredith and David Finch’s run on her solo series have yet to offer a real take on the woman, not just the hero. The first story up, “Return to Gaia” is written by Derek Fridolfs, with art by Tom Fowler. The story, set within the mythological lands of Themyscira, presents Wonder Woman as a woman driven to protect her people. While not fearless, she is courageous. It’s Harvest Day and while the amazons are honoring their “heritage and courage,” the land soon erupts. Wonder Woman heads into the Dryadic Forest to investigate and encounters Poison Ivy. The Batman rogue and Princess Diana fight, but soon realize it’s only a misunderstanding. The Earth Mother, in communication with Ivy, reveals that “an evil festers beneath the surface” and of how much a threat that is poses to the globe. The story by Derek Fridolfs creates a nice balance between DC super heroics and mythology. You never get an overwhelming sense of one or the other. Wonder Woman, much like Azzarello’s run, was steeped in mythology and Fridolfs work plays right off of that. Queen Hippolyta, mother of Wonder Woman, warns Diana that Typhon is coming and that is the reason for the eruptions and quakes on Themyscira. Poison Ivy, only understanding Mother Earth, is not well versed in that of the gods and monsters.
“Return to Gaia” feels like a cross between Clash of the Titans and something far better. The tone of Wonder Woman feels right and she’s presented as a strong hero. Matching her with Poison Ivy was a creatively interesting decision as we have two characters that never spent that much time interacting with one another in mainstream continuity. So the end result with Sensation Comics issue 12 is that of a timeless Wonder Woman story. Artist Tom Fowler brings us a beautifully illustrated story and it’s a great way to open this issue. It’s one thing to write terrifying dialogue for Typhon such as when he tells Diana and Ivy “I shall enjoy melting your marrow and liquefying your essence.” but without a nightmarish look, he’d seem as flat as any other monster. In Fowler’s hands, he creates a creature fit for any great monster story and brings an animated life to that of Tartarus.
Where “Return to Gaia” is such a well done story, “A Moment of Peace” by Matthew K. Manning falls flat and it becomes disappointing, especially when considering the work Manning has done for DC. He’s no stranger to the mythology of DC and so he gives us a short story featuring Batman, Dr. Destiny, Solomon Grundy, Watchtower, and Wonder Woman. The story is fairly simple and sees Wonder Woman go on a vacation at Batman’s suggestion after she’s broken over how many were hurt when Dr. Destiny was feeding off a room’s full of peoples dreams. Whereas she was unable to help in that situation, while on retreat, she encounters Solomon Grundy and saves a small town in the Appalachians.
The story is fun in that it presents an interesting side to Batman and Wonder Woman’s friendship, especially that no matter how alone Bruce may feel, he does have a surprising amount of heart for his friends. If it wasn’t for the story appearing in Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman, it’d actually be a pretty good Batman story. But this isn’t his story and that’s why it doesn’t ultimately belong. The art by Georges Jeanty , with inks by Karl Story and Dexter Vines works, but plays second fiddle to Tom Fowler’s far more impressive work in the first story.
Sensation Comics and issue 12 are definitely worth checking out if you like DC Comics and Wonder Woman. It’s a timeless, fun read and you don’t ever feel as if the spirit of what makes Wonder Woman so iconic is ever being betrayed.
Return to Gaia gets five stars. A Moment of Peace gets two stars.
Sensation Comics issue 12 is available now.