The 'Rebirth' movement at DC Comics put together some fantastic creative teams that are capable of wonderful things. In Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1, Greg Rucka returns to the title and is joined by two great artists in Matthew Clark and Liam Sharp who'll be the regular penciller on the on-going.The book looks amazing and Rucka does what many 'Rebirth' writers have asked to do: recap the origin, acknowledge sins of the past, and look ahead to what's to come.
Part of the excitement of 'Rebirth' was the expectation of our favorite heroes washing off the grime and soot of the New 52 era and embracing their true selves going forward. The frustrating part has been the mandated exposition that rehashes the character's origin story and waxing eloquently about what went wrong.
Meanwhile, there isn't a lot of consequential storytelling going on. It's great for new readers. 'Rebirth' is the perfect jumping on point for readers who left a long time ago and want to not only get caught up but feel reassured this is the character they know and love. Rucka goes to great lengths to remind us of what makes Wonder Woman so elemental to the Dc Universe while having her narrate the follies of storytellers of the past.
Surprisingly, The New 52 Wonder Woman was one of the better titles to survive with Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang at the wheel. They introduced some new origin structures - child of Zeus, becoming the God of War - which some considered controversial but their run seemed to be independent of what else was going on in the DC line. Azzarello appeared to have carte blanche with regards to creative freedom and the series benefitted. Diana's dysfunctional family of gods were explored in ways we rarely had seen. It was one of the most entertaining runs of the Amazon Princess has had.
Rucka knows a thing or two about great runs in Wonder Woman history too. It's that fact and simply because Rucka is one of the best writers in the industry that raised expectations and why he can overcome this first convoluted introductory issue.
'Rebirth' issues are a tricky thing. If the majority of the issue is used to apologize and renounce the recent past you're appeasing the critics but alienating the fans that actually liked the New 52. At its core, 'Rebirth' blames whatever problems the New 52 birth to some mysterious force. Diana feels like she was deceived. Her story kept changing, what is true and what is false. Metaphorically, she dons a new costume (ironically, the one from the maligned film Batman V Superman), shedding her past self and looking for answers to who altered her history. Is she after Azzarello and Chiang? Probably not.
The "story" in 'Rebirth' is part montage, part mystery, and part fantasy. She's heroic in her actions, pensive in her thoughts, confused by the muddy continuity of her own past, and then thrust back to Olympus to face some unseen threat. The saving grace of it all is the stunning art by the many artists on hand.
Matthew Clark, Sean Parsons and Jeremy Colwell handle the first half. After a frenetic and fast-paced rescue of a girl at a strip club, Wonder Woman's history is quickly recapped before returning to present day where she wonders who she really is. Clark's style is very clean with sharp lines and very modern designs. Parsons' inks aren't heavy handed but well balanced adding the perfect amount of shadow and depth.
The second half, more like a quarter of the issue, is Liam Sharp and Laura Martin taking a more fantastical approach in a place Diana believes is Olympus. Martin's colors are bold and rich while Sharp's Diana is regal, classic, and majestic. The difference in style is evident and abrupt but not jarring. If nothing else, the art makes me want to return to see more of it.
I don't blame Rucka for this issue being mired in prologue. It's the directive from DC for 'Rebirth.' With a team this talented, it'll be exciting to see what they can do once the handcuffs are off. Fans should pick up the new ongoing series in spite of 'Rebirth' not because of it. There are some great stories ahead from Rucka and Sharp and that's all you need to know.