The Lies takes Wonder Woman in an intriguing direction.
Amazon princess Diana begins to doubt both the stories about her past she’d been told and her even her own memories. Discovering she’s lost access to both Mount Olympus and her island homeland Themyscira, Diana seeks out former friend-turned-enemy Cheetah to help her unravel the tangle. Their jungle odysseys dovetails with a mission led by Steve Trevor, on the trail of a power-mad warlord who intends to sacrifice a number of young women to the same elder god that torments Cheetah. Back in Washington, DC, Diana’s friend Etta Candy stumbles onto a conspiracy that’s a lot closer to the Amazon than she realizes. Diana’s latest attempt to return to Themyscira brings a stinging revelation: every “visit” she’s thought she’s made since leaving the island has been an illusion.
Greg Rucka is one of the modern writers most associated with Wonder Woman and is a sterling choice to lead the book into the Rebirth era. He has a strong feel for Diana’s voice and personality, she just immediately feels like the classic version of Wonder Woman. Recent years had cast the Amazon in many different lights, from the God of War to half of a disturbing Aryan power fantasy coupling with Superman (a relationship that Rucka effectively dismisses with a few well-placed lines of dialogue). Rucka zeroes in on Diana’s compassion and strength of character, and her dedication to the transformative power of faith and belief. But he also demonstrates she’s a fierce, strong warrior when there’s no other option. It’s a refreshing return to the character’s core that demonstrates a keen understanding of what makes Diana tick.
Rucka’s premise is intriguing, setting up an exotic mystery that plays with the often wildly contradictory strands of Diana’s past. Confronting all those differing takes on Diana’s mythology is inventive, daring and a sterling example of how to apply the Rebirth ethos in a way that makes good use of the often strikingly divergent work of past creators while exploring fresh terrain with a veteran character.
It’s great seeing the Diana/Steve relationship get some badly needed attention, after being either ignored or downplayed for most of the past three decades. Rucka easily captures the pair’s unique rhythms and has a lot of fun inverting classic action clichés: it’s Diana who swoops in to rescue a shirtless Steve before he can be sacrificed to a bloodthirsty elder god. Steve humanizes Diana in a way that her fanfic hook-up with Superman never did, adding dimension and depth to her characterization while still letting her hold the center of the narrative. The Diana/Cheetah relationship is also central to the arc and Rucka infuses a lot of depth into this complicated dynamic, using it as a platform to explore Diana’s core values without being preachy or relying on heavy-handed exposition.
Because of the book’s unique way of addressing the twice-monthly schedule (running two separate stories with distinct art teams), Wonder Woman sidesteps the issues other books have faced in having to deploy multiple art teams within an arc. Veteran Liam Sharpe handles the bulk of the work (with Matthew Clark contributing a few pages). Sharpe is a fascinating choices for the book, bringing his background with fantasy and horror storytelling to the mix. He crafts some agreeably bizarre imagery, anchored by his truly graceful, almost majestic, depiction of Diana (restored to a stylized version of her classic uniform). A-List colorist Laura Martin wraps the proceedings in a soft focus palette that emphasizes mood and drama for a bewitching effect that steers the finished product more toward the fantasy wheelhouse than is typical in superhero comics.
For fans who haven’t read Wonder Woman in a long time, The Lies is a great way to return to the character.