Review – Wonder Woman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super-Spectacular #1: Amazons Through the Ages

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WW 80th Anniversary variant cover, via DC Comics.

Wonder Woman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super-Spectacular #1 – Michael W. Conrad/Becky Cloonan, Jordie Bellaire, Amy Reeder, Mark Waid, Tom King, Vita Ayala, Steve Orlando, Stephanie Phillips, G. Willow Wilson, Writers; Jim Cheung, Paulina Ganucheau, Amy Reeder, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez/Joe Prado, Evan “Doc” Shaner, Isaac Goodhart, Laura Braga, Marcio Takara, Meghan Hetrick, Artists; Marcelo Maiolo, Kendall Goode, Marissa Louise, Trish Mulvihill, Jeremy Lawson, Romulo Fajardo Jr, Colorists

Ray – 9/10

Ray: She already had the oversized Wonder Woman #750, but now it’s Wonder Woman’s turn for a mega-size anniversary special. Surprisingly, though, many of the iconic WW writers of the modern era—Rucka, Simone, Azzarello, Tamaki—do not have stories in this book. Instead we get a more current roster of all-stars putting their spin on the character. So how do the nine stories inside shake out?

Credits. Via DC Comics.

It starts with “In Memoriam,” a tale by current series writers Cloonan and Conrad and artist Jim Cheung. Set in current continuity, it’s the longest story in the book and focuses on Steve Trevor as he shows Etta Candy a documentary he’s putting together celebrating the life of the presumed-dead Wonder Woman. Steve’s been almost entirely absent from the current WW run—to a bit of controversy—but he’s written very well here and the documentary footage is genuinely emotional. It does a great job of showing Diana’s strength both as a peacemaker and a warrior for what’s right, and ends with a powerful gut punch that will likely be followed up on in the main book shortly.

Legacy. Via DC Comics.

Next up is a Young Diana story, following up on the recent Bellaire/Ganucheau backup by the same creative team. “Dreamers” finds the young princess retreating from her responsibilities by swimming with some friendly sharks, only to encounter Nubia in the chambers below. Nubia is serving as a guardian of the doorway protecting Themyscira from supernatural horrors, and it’s a lonely existence. The bonding between these two Amazons both destined to serve the island in different ways is very well-written, and the art is stunning as always.

Amy Reeder goes solo on the next story, “Fresh Catch.” This Golden Age tale pits Diana against a gang of corrupt fishermen, which doesn’t sound like much of a challenge—but they’ve somehow managed to capture her with a giant magnet. That’s fine, though, because this is really just a spotlight for Etta Candy and the sorority girls of Beeta Lambda to enter the fray and take out the bad guys with bullhorns and cheerleading moves. It’s a silly, lighthearted tale that breezes by and has brilliant art by Reeder, of course.

Mark Waid’s long-awaited return to the DCU has been great, and he teams with Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez here on “Dear Diana.” This JLA-focused story seems set in the Silver Age, and pits Diana against a conflict she can’t quite solve—how to stop being the team therapist. Her compassion and understanding has turned into a double-edged sword, as every member seems to want her help with their personal conflicts. We see Diana so often as the iconic, unflappable hero that it’s great to see her struggle with something so human—and something that countless women no doubt relate to.

Tom King and Evan “Doc” Shaner move us to the 1970s in “Dated,” a story focusing on Diana and Clark Kent. In a hilarious twist, Lois Lane visits Diana’s boutique—and things it would be hilarious to fix her nerdy co-worker Clark up with her. Their date is interesting as we see Diana try to get Clark out of his shell—knowing full well who he is—but the Diana/Clark pairing is controversial to say the least. Which is why it’s great that King shows us exactly why it doesn’t work in a clever way, and does the work to set up Clark and Lois. This is a strange, retro version of Diana from a weird period in the comics, but it works for this tale.

Vita Ayala and Isaac Goodhart take the helm on “Better Angels,” which brings in Diana’s arch-enemy Cheetah. Done in the style of ’90s comics, it takes place entirely during a brutal fight between the two rivals that winds up endangering a building full of children. Desperate to stop the fight long enough to save them, Diana takes a massive risk and puts her fate in Cheetah’s hand to bet that there’s enough of Barbara Minerva left to preserve innocent life. It’s more action-packed than the other tales, but also works as a great character piece.

“Saturn Rising” by Steve Orlando and Laura Braga, is the first story to continue a previous run in this book. It unites the four Wonder Women—Diana, Artemis, Nubia, and Hippolyta—as they discuss the ongoing threat of invasion from Saturn. Artemis and Hippolyta both share tales of their battles against agents from the alien planet, but it’s only when Diana’s story is told that the whole story comes together. It’s a unique story and one that pays tribute to some often-forgotten runs from the 1990s with alternate Wonder Women.

Stephanie Phillips and Marcio Takara lead up “Immortal Mysteries,” a tale focusing on a young archaeology professor whose investigations lead her a little too close to something supernatural. This is an ambitious story, drawing in classic legends from Greek myth, some powerful Gods, and an epic battle in less than ten pages. The new character looked a little too much like Barbara Minerva, making me think this was a tale in early continuity, but this creative team shows a lot of promise for a future WW run.

Finally, it’s G. Willow Wilson and Megan Hetrick following up on Wilson’s fan-favorite run from the Rebirth era. Set almost a hundred years in the future after Earth’s environment has collapsed, it follows a diverse group of humans living on a space station as they search for a new home—all the while Diana continues to watch over them as an immortal guardian, and maybe the last superhero. It’s a melancholy coda to the volume, but it’s a perfect fit for Wilson’s more contemplative WW run.

Overall, another great giant anthology issue without a miss here.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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