A review by Stephanie Pouliotte
Wonder Woman #6 is Diana’s first contact with the world of men and it goes basically as expected: they lock her up in the brig. Still struggling with the language barrier and with no one to vouch for her other than Steve, Diana spends her first night in the new world behind bars wondering if she’d made a mistake leaving home. But the fates have more in store for her when she is visited by the patrons, who bestow upon her the gifts she needs to continue on her journey to becoming Wonder Woman.
On the surface, the plot of this issue appears to be mere filler as Rucka tries to get us to the point where Diana starts being a more active agent in the story. In this third part of Year One, Diana is still fairly passive (if not wary) and lets events unfold around her, trusting Steve that things will work out (until she takes matters into her own hands at the end… literally). She only briefly defends herself after a minor misunderstanding early on and the reader spends the entire issue waiting for a break in the communication roadblock so that the story can progress. But Rucka uses this necessary lull in the plot to his advantage, introducing familiar characters and finally making some strong ties between the tandem storylines.
I expected Wonder Woman #6 to focus more on the relationship between Diana and Steve, but really there can’t be much progress when the two don’t even understand each other. Even though they have little interaction in this issue, a key moment occurs between them when Diana, unsure of what’s happening, knocks down an officer who moves to detain her. Immediately the other officers pull their guns and Diana takes her defensive stance, recalling the poignant moment in issue #4 when her mother forced her to parry a gunshot — an exercise that injured two of her Amazonian sisters. Steve steps between them and talks Diana down by telling her to trust him; even though she doesn’t understand what he’s saying, they communicate on a completely different level. In this brief interaction, Rucka lays the foundation of trust between these two characters, a necessary underpinning of their relationship. It’s Diana’s trust in Steve that keeps her from revolting against her apparent captors (because let’s be honest, she would have wrecked them).
The highlight of this issue for me was how Rucka begins hinting at the correlation between Year One and The Lies. The mug shot taken of Diana is the same photograph Cadulo finds on Steve in the latest odd-numbered issue and a young Etta Candy, who was also introduced in issue #5, meets Diana for the first time. The most notable and striking connection is the arrival of Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva, who eventually becomes Cheetah and is, so far, a central character in the other storyline. The loss of self is an existential struggle for Cheetah in The Lies and in this issue of Year One we get to see who Barbara Ann used to be and how she’s changed. It’s a stark contrast, one that helps fill out Cheetah’s character in The Lies and also establishes the deep connection Diana and Barbara Ann share, as Dr. Minerva is the only one who is able to communicate with Diana in her native tongue, albeit on a rudimentary level. The panel in The Lies where Cheetah recalls herself as Barbara Ann is in fact referencing this first meeting between them, as it’s shown from Diana’s perspective behind bars.
In this issue, Rucka and Scott wonderfully reveal more of Diana’s personality. Her character may be a bit passive, but she isn’t naive, nor is she needlessly headstrong. She deftly protects herself when threatened without rashly lashing out and her transition from anger to worry to trust is beautifully captured in Scott’s facial expressions. Diana’s good-hearted nature also quickly wins over the personnel at the base, who even take selfies with her (before reluctantly locking her up). It’s easy to see why people are drawn to her personality and even though she’s more serious and troubled in The Lies, the lightheartedness from Year One shines through in the other storyline.
Buy it! In terms of plot, Wonder Woman #6 doesn’t offer much progression, so you can skip this issue if you’re only following Year One and aren’t down for the slow-burn of character introductions. But if you’re reading both storylines (which I’m now convinced you should be), you absolutely need to pick this one up as it establishes the shared history of the players we’ve met so far in The Lies and especially gives some meaningful colour to Cheetah’s character. I was a bit disappointed with the last issue of The Lies and I’ve definitely enjoyed Year One much more thus far, but if anything Wonder Woman #6 showcases how Rucka is going to let both storylines complement and strengthen each other and I think it could amount to some brilliant storytelling.