Wonder Woman #5
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colours: Laura Martin
Letters: Jodi Wynne
Publisher: DC Comics
A review by Stephanie Pouliotte
Wonder Woman #5 is the third installment of The Lies plotline and feels like the calm before the storm. Rucka continues the story’s deliberate pace, keeping the action brief and the emphasis on his strong characterization. However, the mounting tension is disrupted by expositional dialogue and the burden of having so many moving parts. While Steve Trevor remains the prisoner of the despot Cadulo, Wonder Woman and Cheetah continue their trek deeper into the jungle, eventually discovering where the prisoners are held. Meanwhile, Etta confers with Sasha Bordeaux about coordinating a rescue for Echo team, deciding to give Wonder Woman a chance to intervene before acting.
The issue is essentially getting all the players where they need to be, shifting between the three groups. The reader is filled in a bit more on Cadulo’s endgame and we also get a new piece on the chessboard with Sasha. However, the transitions weren’t seamless and even though the scenes between Wonder Woman and Cheetah had strong dialogue, the other characters suffered from some stiff writing. Etta and Sasha’s opening conversation was a very muted start that didn’t really hold my interest and Cadulo’s villainous rant lost momentum due to being intermingled with the other scenes. I found Steve Trevor’s dialogue in particular felt like mere filler, interjecting sardonic retorts to Cadulo’s ravings.
Diana and Ann continue to bond over common difficulties and their shared connection to the Gods. Ann fears that she is losing herself and Diana reflects upon her fragmented memory, reaffirming her need to unravel the web of deception that surrounds her. Rucka is setting up a strong foundation for Diana’s character, as well as Ann’s, and so far this remains the most intriguing aspect. The next issue for The Lies will likely see Diana and Steve reunited as she confronts Cadulo, so I expect the story will pick up the pace a little bit. I’m a fan of Rucka’s character-focused approach, but the narrative flow is beginning to lag and it’s definitely noticeable in this latest issue. That being said, Rucka creates an air of anticipation in the final panels that effectively sets the tone for the next installment.
Sharp’s art was somewhat uneven throughout this issue, particularly with Diana’s facial expressions. I like the emotions he’s trying to convey, but the execution is lacking consistency. While his renderings of the jungle and of Cadulo’s prison were beautifully detailed with a hint of Swamp Thing’s horror, many of the scenes were literally talking heads–especially those between Etta and Sasha, which slowed down the pace considerably. Even when Cadulo is interrogating Steve, Sharp resorts to this grid-like panel layout that did nothing to ease the reader through some lengthy dialogue (though Rucka could have tried to show, and not tell, a bit more of the story). Sharp did get creative with some of the panels, using vines and the wooden cages as framing devices. I also love the hatching on the first page and Martin’s colouring strikingly mixed light and shadow to create a dim, heavy tone. I’m not sure how I feel about her skin colouring though, which I find has a kind of waxy sheen to it. Sharp and Martin deliver a few stunning full page bleeds that really showcases their talent and hopefully we will see more of this creative style in the issues to come.
Buy it! Though Wonder Woman #5 maintained its measured pace, Rucka is definitely gearing up for some conflict in the next part of The Lies. Before that we will get the next issue of Year One and I expect both story lines will mirror the focus on the relationship between Diana and Steve. I for one am curious to see the comparison between how these two are when they first get to know one another, to where they are now in The Lies, considering that Steve mentions their relationship has grown “complicated”. I’m not sensing any drama though, Diana’s cheery grin when she sees her friends near the end of the issue continues to reinforce Rucka’s refreshing take on her character.