Wonder Woman Annual #3 – Steve Orlando, Writer; V. Ken Marion, Penciller; Sandu Florea, Inker; Hi-Fi, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: New Origin For an Old Foe
Ray: Steve Orlando is taking over Wonder Woman with the next issue, and he gives us a preview of his run with Wonder Woman Annual #3, a largely stand-alone issue that introduces a major new villain – that may be a very old one.
There’s two main plot threads in this issue, with the first being the introduction of a major new character in Helen Paul. A young girl rescued from a white supremacist cult in a confrontation that looked a lot like Waco, she was placed with a foster family of ARGUS agents by Wonder Woman, who kept an eye on her through her childhood and supported her as she joined ARGUS herself. Now a young woman, she’s deployed on a mission along with Diana and Steve Trevor to infiltrate Gorilla City to rescue a spy who was trying to get intel on Grodd before he was captured. There’s a thorny geopolitical element to the whole thing, given that Gorilla City is a sovereign nation, and it feels like a real test of Diana’s determination to choose nonviolence.
We see a lot of this issue through Helen’s eyes, and she makes a compelling figure of something good coming out of an evil origin. However, there’s that dark secret that Diana never told her – that her parents were the ringleaders of the organization – that we know will come out and may put them on opposite paths. It all builds to a genuinely shocking twist ending that did something comics rarely do anymore – took me by complete surprise as a major character makes their return to the DCU proper for the first time in decades. The Diana segments were great and make me think the title is in good hands, but if I have one problem here, it’s the Steve Trevor characterization. He seems more ruthless, more willing to quickly fall back on violence, and I’m not sure if this is part of a larger plan or just a single-issue problem, but it’s hard to see Diana being involved with this hot-headed man. Overall, the major parts of this issue hit all the right notes and I’m excited to see where Orlando takes the title.
Corrina: I was suprised by who Helen turned out to be. But I wasn’t surprised at the path she choose. Wonder Woman Annual #3 was obviously leading to Helen being killed or her eventual heel turn. That’s why I’m less enthusiastic about this story than Ray: it was too predictable.
Not to mention the “well, you found out your parents were evil and no one told you, so now you become evil” is probably my least favorite trope in superhero fiction. Whenever it happens, I always think of a story I read back in the 1970s, featuring Karate Kid (Val Armorr) of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Unknown to him, Val was the son of a supervillain who’d been orphaned and raised by the hero who defeated/killed him. When Val discovers this, he simply says the man who raised him was his ‘true father.’ Yes, a long, long ago standard but it seems like if one had a loving, accepting adopted family, while you might be annoyed at the secret of your identity being revealed, it wouldn’t suddenly make you change your entire moral structure in a hot second.
But maybe that’s me.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.