I haven’t been impressed with how G. Willow Wilson started her run on Wonder Woman thus far. The first two issues had trouble finding the voices for all the characters involved in this story arc. That was fixed a bit with the last issue as Wilson focused on a few key characters. What was particularly interesting in the last issue of Wonder Woman was how Wilson brought up the possibility of all the Greek Gods changing. Those changes could be a good or bad thing depending on the direction Wilson takes this development. Let’s find out how things turn out next with Wonder Woman #61.
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Steve Trevor is stunned to find himself in front of Aphrodite. After introducing himself he asks Aphrodite is doing in a location such as this. Aphrodite reveals that since she arrived at this place she has been reconsidering her position as the Goddess of Love. She goes on to state that she has become bored with how people fight because of love. Steve says love isn’t a bad thing and uses his drive to be brave being based around his love for his family, country and unit.
Steve suddenly collapses due to his injury. Aphrodite uses her powers to fully heal Steve’s wounds. Steve then asks Aphrodite to allow him to convince her that love can stop this war by helping him find the woman he loves.
Aphrodite isn’t sure this war can be stopped. Steve says what is going isn’t a war but a slaughter that goes. He goes on to say that war is no longer about two countries fighting for their respective honorable causes that would end in a period of piece. Aphrodite is surprised by the fact Steve has such deep thoughts on war.
Elsewhere Wonder Woman protects a couple of children she found from oncoming bullets and explosions in the area. Wonder Woman eventually grabs the kids and decides to fly them over to the Parliament building. The kids reveal that their grandfather works there.
Inside the Parliament building the Prime Minister of Durovnia continues to act stubborn by not leaving as he does not want the government to show weakness even in a time of war.
Wonder Woman shows up with the Prime Minister’s grandchildren. While the Prime Minister is happy to see his grandchildren he wonders what he can do with how the Gods have been involved in the war. Wonder Woman says she does not have an answer since her allies are all scattered.
Suddenly Steve arrives and Wonder Woman is quick to hug him in relief. Steve then reveals that he is there with Aphrodite much to Wonder Woman’s amazement. Wonder Woman asks Aphrodite if she knows the status of Themyscira and her mother. Aphrodite says she does not have any answers to that. Steve reassures Wonder Woman that they’ll find out what happened to her mom together.
A government official shows up and reveals that the insurgents have agreed to peace talks. The Prime Minister reads the letter that while they want peace talks the insurgent group cannot guarantee his safety. Wonder Woman and the others say they will keep him safe.
A little later Wonder Woman, Steve and Aphrodite run through the battlefield while shielding the Prime Minister from the battle that is going on. As things get more intense Etta appears with several jets to back Wonder Woman and the others up.
Wonder Woman eventually gets the Prime Minister to the peace talk meeting location.
Ares appears and states Wonder Woman has distracted him while taking the wrong side. He then proclaims he will make everyone pay for this. End of issue.
The Good: Wonder Woman #61 is a comic that is an odd place. G. Willow Wilson has finally presented us with a very intriguing story around the Greek Gods questioning their respective positions and what they represent. Unfortunately that intriguing story is not able to be tapped into because the story around the war in Durovnia must be settled first. And with the story around Durovnia never really developing the layers needed to build interest around it dragged this issue down.
Before getting into what went wrong, I will say Wilson did a very good job in quickly developing where Aphrodite finds herself after being forced out of Olympus. Wilson is able to use all of the conflict that has happened in the world to give Aphrodite a believable arc as she has become a God bored of everyone fighting because of what they believe is love. Its a hook that makes Aphrodite a character that you want to see stick around and see how she develops with these latest developments.
The presentation of Aphrodite provided a surprising platform for Steve Trevor to get some strong character development. Up to this point in Wilson’s run Steve has been nothing more than a prisoner forced to walk around. There’s been a lack of actual personality shown from Steve. That changed with Wonder Woman #61. Wilson got us to buy into what drives Steve as a person and soldier. Establishing this made his reunion with Wonder Woman have greater importance than it was building up to having.
The dynamic between Steve and Aphrodite also gave each character a chance to shine without having any sort of action involved. In the process Wilson was able to give greater context to the impact of what was going on in Durovnia. The back-and-forth between Steve and Aphrodite did a better job at getting across the war everyone found themselves in the middle of than the last few issues of Wonder Woman and Ares back-and-forth.
Wilson also started developing more interest around Wonder Woman’s concern for what is going around Themyscira and with her mom with this issue. Seeing how Wonder Woman reacted to Aphrodite’s presence made her concerns feel much more real. It was a reminder that in this continuity Wonder Woman has not been on the best terms with her home island and her mom. But even with that standing it does not change the importance they have to her. With how the Greek Gods are showing up in another part of the world it does create an intriguing question around what is going on with Themyscira.
While Wonder Woman’s concern was a good emotional note Wilson also took the time to show how she is able to push through to still be a strong, confident superhero. It is not necessarily that she is burying her emotions. Instead Wonder Woman has a good understanding of how to keep her emotions in check when needing to get a mission done.
The artwork for Wonder Woman #61 was the best this story arc has had thus far. Xermanico was a much better fit in terms of art style for Wonder Woman. The consistency of his artwork helped move the issue forward at a steady pace. He also delivered when it came to the big battle scenes. With how he drew these pages I’m looking forward to how he will do with a major action scene with a possible Wonder Woman and Ares clash.
The Bad: The biggest problem for Wonder Woman #61 is that the story around Durovnia has outstayed its welcome. This story has never been able to get off the ground as the war going on in Durovnia has been nothing more than a backdrop for Wonder Woman, Ares, Steve Trevor and Aphrodite to have an ideological discussion. That makes the setting that these characters find themselves in feel less important than the story would like us to believe.
With how we are four issues into this story around Durovnia this is unacceptable. It makes it look like Wilson is stretching a story to fill the typical five to six issue story arc structure that is common place with the comic book medium. With how the story has progressed it has felt like that this arc should have been no more than three to four issues long.
This fact has been made even more obvious by the fact that neither side of the war going on in Durovnia has had any sort of development. There has been hardly a reason to care about either side winning or peace talks to be struck. Up until the Prime Minister was introduced everyone involved has been nameless soldiers and rebel fighters who are easily replaceable. Even the Prime Minister character is just another nameless character since we don’t even know his first or last name. Without that as a reader the connection to what is going on is made harder since the human factor is severely lacking.
The Ares plotline has not fared any better. At this point Ares has thrown him in such a back-and-forth direction that it is hard to care if he is actually going to change. Each issue of this story arc we have seen him go from reform God of War to back to his old ways of creating conflict and fighting Wonder Woman. Even when there is hints of depth to Ares character it is cast aside by how bipolar he is with his actions. Much like Wonder Woman and Aphrodite’s character arcs, Ares arc will benefit from moving back to what is going on with Themyscira and the rest of Olympus.
Overall: Wonder Woman #61 presents a lot of intriguing ideas for the future of G. Willow Wilson’s run on this series. Unfortunately this first story arc has felt stretched due to the lack of development around the conflict Wonder Woman and the others find themselves in the middle of. The sooner that this first arc can be wrapped up the better this series will be as Wilson has shown she has much bigger plans in place for her run.