The Phantom Stranger has dropped like a specter of vengeance upon Themyscira to whisk Paula von Gunther away for some divine punishment! It's up to Wonder Woman to save her friend-turned-enemy-turned friend from a punishment borne of wrath, not love!
But as the seemingly one-sided battle turns, Diana uncovers the truth about the Stranger's actions...
But in the end, will even this revelation save the erstwhile Warmaster?
Wonder Woman #758 brings to a conclusion writer Steve Orlando’s regular – and far too brief – monthly tenure on the book (although his storyline will actually be concluding in this year’s annual), before Mariko Tamaki takes the authorial reins next issue. Orlando’s run has, at its heart, been about what differentiates Diana from other heroes: her heart, her patience, and her capacity to forgive. It’s fitting, then, that for his final regular issue, Orlando would choose to craft a tale that speaks to those three things with equal measure, serving as a potent reminder as to who Wonder Woman is and why she matters.
Looking in the rear view mirror a bit, she’s an incredibly stark contrast to the Wonder Woman who broke Max Lord’s neck back in the lead-up to Infinite Crisis, and easily far truer to the spirit of the character. That’s not to detract from any previous writers of Diana’s adventures in the subsequent years, but the poignancy with which Orlando delivers his message of love and forgiveness this issue is a true testament to his understanding of her, and as a result gives readers the best Wonder Woman since that dark moment way back in the ’00s. (Nothing happens in a vacuum and in context, Lord’s death made sense at the time – but looking back, it just feels like DC lost the script on who Wonder Woman was supposed to be.) It’s a shame he’s leaving this title as he seems to be settling into his groove; indeed, it feels like he just got here.
Diana’s battle is simple: leave Warmaster (Paula von Gunther) to the not-so-tender mercies of the Phantom Stranger (who, to borrow a turn of phrase from Buffy, deux‘d this machina last issue and whisked Paula away utterly out of nowhere), or fight for her friend against overwhelming odds?
What do you think Wonder Woman does?
Even before the revelation about Phantom Stranger’s true motives, Diana goes to battle for her friend’s soul without a moment’s hesitation. She does so because that’s who she is: someone who loves and forgives above all else, who only resorts to violence as a final resort. Does she win the day? Does a second helping of divine intervention in as many issues bear itself out in as many issues? Is Paula redeemed? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, ya don’t know Wonder Woman!
There’s some excellent set-up in the back half of the issue for what’s to come in Diana’s world, and it’s a real game changer. Without getting into spoilers, get ready for Wonder Woman’s world to open up to new possibilities like never before, at least not in the post-Flashpoint era of her existence. I honestly have no idea if this was something Orlando was leading toward, or something Tamaki asked him to set up for her on the way out the door – but either way, look for big things in the near future.
As a bonus, Steve Orlando had one heck of an artistic send-off from Emanuela Lupacchino this issue. This lady was utterly born to draw Wonder Woman in a way I’ve not seen since Terry Dodson oh-so-many years ago. She’s beautiful, strong, yet gentle in her demeanor and fierce when she as to be. Lupacchino absolutely nails Diana – and by extension, her world – in every way possible. Hats off to an already-phenomenal artist for such a loving, warm, and perfect rendition. It’s a shame neither she nor Orlando won’t be around to guide the Amazon Princess further into the future – but hey, at least we’ve got this issue, right? Hats off to the entire creative team on a superb job done.
Wonder Woman #758 is a textbook example on how to tell a fantastic, character-defining story about a given lead character. It's a shame we won't get anymore from this creative team, so enjoy this issue with everything you've got!
Wonder Woman #758: “Ours is to Offer Patience, Not Punishment”
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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