Wonder Woman's arch-nemesis Cheetah on the loose on Themyscira, and terrorizing Amazons everywhere!
Her mad scheme is to torment and even kill the Amazons until their patron god, Hela, intervenes - and can be cut down with the infamous god-killer sword! Half a world away, though, Wonder Woman herself is uncomfortably settling into a new civilian life, unaware of the drama unfolding in her native land...
Diana receives a distress call from one of her fellow Amazons, Nubia (having the black Amazon named "Nubia" feels ill-advised), but knows she needs an edge to get the drop on a foe as crafty as Cheetah. Without skipping a beat, she commissions Steel for a new Invisible Jet, gets a substitute lasso from her Chinese counterpart, and before you know it, the battle is joined!
As far as opening statements for writers’ new runs go, Steve Orlando’s first regular issue of Wonder Woman has its moments, but is still working toward coalescing into a unifying statement. Perennial Wonder Woman foe Cheetah is running amok and yelling a lot in Themyscira, but readers would be hard-pressed to know what the heck’s going on if they haven’t been reading the title regularly, or at least have a familiarity with recent events in Justice League (and even there, Cheetah has been shoved to the back of the Legion of Doom). Why does Cheetah have Wonder Woman’s lasso? Why does she have the god-killer sword? When was she imprisoned, and why does the issue’s retelling of her freedom so horribly out of sync with her current role in Justice League as a member of Lex Luthor’s Legion of Doom? Why does she have such a mad-on for Hera? The issue sort of provides some answers but also dances around too many specifics, as though Orlando is very aware of the continuity contradictions at play. He’s a canny writer like that.
Cheetah is one of those characters who is important because comics have always told us she is, not because she’s a particularly well-defined character with understood motives. Wonder Woman has a notoriously thin rogues’ gallery (Ares? Dr. Psycho? Am I missing anyone else?), so Cheetah has always been propped up as Diana’s equivalent to Joker or Lex Luthor. But in reality, she’s highly underdeveloped: generally, she’s angry about this, that, or the other, and then she fights Diana, gets whupped, and goes away for a bit. And readers are told she’s a really big deal because reasons. Steve Orlando has a golden opportunity here to make a definitive statement on a character who’s been under-utilized for far too long. Pitting her as an angry foil for Diana’s compassion and love is a great place to start.
The art is a bit problematic, though. Kieran McKeown brings a bit of a Mark Bagley-esque flourish to his linework, but throughout the entire comic, Cheetah looks off-model, and is inconsistently drawn. (Animals aren’t easy. I get it. Her face especially looks wonky.
Although the issue is still juggling story elements as it sets itself up, what’s clear is Orlando’s love for Diana as a three-dimensional character. This is predominantly apparent during the “at-home” scenes, with WW struggling to adjust to even an hour of down time. The scene with her meeting her new neighbor is precious without being cloying, but all-too-brief before a magical gewgaw summons her to the trouble at Themyscira. I’d like to see some more balance – or struggle therein – between Wonder Woman’s two worlds, but all good things to those who wait. For now, the table is still getting set… To be continued.
Wonder Woman #82 works hard to bring more than a few storytelling elements into play, and while the end result may feel a bit rushed, there's no denying there's a lot of potential. Writer Steve Orlando has a keen ear for Diana of Themyscira's dialogue and knows exactly where the heart of the character lies: in her compassion for all. Game on.
Wonder Woman #82: Cheetah Print
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 7/107/10
Art - 6/106/10
Color - 7.5/107.5/10
Cover Art - 6/106/10
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