Steve Orlando has hit good flow as he gets to the end of his Wonder Woman run. This “Four Horsewomen” storyline has been Orlando’s best story during his run on Wonder Woman. The last issue did well in paying off a lot of the story elements that Orlando built around Wonder Woman, Donna Troy and Warmaster. But for how much “The Four Horsewomen” has delivered a strong story the last few pages of Wonder Woman #757 threaten to derail everything with the last minute appearance of The Phantom Stranger. Orlando has a lot of work ahead of him to make this Phantom Stranger twist work. Let’s see how it all goes with Wonder Woman #758.
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Jesus Merino
Inker: Vicente Cifuentes
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: When Phantom Stranger tells Wonder Woman she has already lost as Hera’s champion Wonder Woman is quick to say that she is fighting for Paula Von Gunther (Warmaster). Phantom Stranger is able to catch Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth strike and channels electricity through it to knock her down.
Phantom Stranger says that Paula will face the consequences coming to her. Wonder Woman disagrees and immediately overpowers Phantom Stranger. Phantom Stranger uses his abilities to create a large stone hand, which Wonder Woman is able to cut herself out of.
Phantom Stranger then grows and tries to crush Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman uses her strength and sped to wrap her Lasso of Truth around Phantom Stranger. Wonder Woman forces Phantom Stranger to admit that he betrayed the Von Gunther’s in the past and was trying to pass his sins onto Paula. Phantom Stranger is then taken by the Gates of Heaven to the next plain.
The Gates of Heaven’s Presence then tell Wonder Woman that the Phantom Stranger allowed himself to be led astray. Wonder Woman asks the Gates of Heaven if they were not what put Phantom Stranger on his path. The Presence state Wonder Woman doesn’t know what she is talking about. Wonder Woman says that forgiveness is a gift, not a prize, which is something she knows well with her own past.
Taking all this into account Paula is turned back to normal. Wonder Woman tells Paula about how Phantom Stranger tried to profit from her pain. Wonder Woman then admits she was wrong for lying to Paula and apologizes for it. Paula admits that she is tired of all this and hugs Wonder Woman as a sign of forgiveness.
Suddenly, both Wonder Woman and Paula are transported back to Themyscira where all of the Amazons surround them. Wonder Woman immediately calms everyone down by saying that Paula has surrendered, and this is over.
Paula then admits to everyone that what Wonder Woman told her previously felt true but also the story she heard of her ancestors, specifically Gudra, was believable as well. Paula goes on to say she is tired of not knowing the truth and understands Wonder Woman fought for her.
Wonder Woman tells Paula that she can choose to find redemption on Earth or Themyscira. Paula admits that while she does not trust the Amazons she does trust Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman then welcomes Paula to Themyscira. She goes on to say while the path forward won’t be easy but Paula will learn to atone but not as a prisoner as that is not something a person is on Themyscira.
Later, in Queen’s Chambers, Queen Hippolyta holds a supposium at Diana’s request. There Nubia and Orana talk about how the Amazons must evolve and do more for women everywhere and it is there time to be part of the rest of the world. Given her opinions of men and the world in general, Hippolyta says no to this proposal once again. Diana speaks up that as they saw with Paula becoming Warmaster that the Amazons have the ability to spread their gifts with the world so things like that don’t happen again. Diana goes on to say she sides with Nubia and Orana’s plans. Hearing all this passion Hippolyta tells Diana she is proud of her and says that they can begin their work immediately.
Some time later, Wonder Woman, Nubia, Orana, and a group of Amazon’s sail the Themyscira mobile embassy. There Wonder Woman holds a press conference that the Amazons will help build a future that outlives any hate and lies.
Somewhere in the Aegean Coast Jason (Hippolyta and Zeus long lost son and Diana Prince’s twin brother) is being attacked by the Dark Fates to force him to turn against Wonder Woman, while his boyfriend can’t do anything except watch. Jason takes all the punishment and swears he will never go against Diana. The Dark Fates state their disappointment in Jason not becoming their sword against the Themyscira Embassy. They quickly move on as they will use Jason as a spark to bring in new allies that will help destroy Wonder Woman’s new era of peace before it can even begin. End of issue.
The Good: Wonder Woman #758 is a tale of two half’s of a comic book. The first half of this comic that dealt with the Phantom Stranger never came together in a way that made sense to the story. Luckily everything after Phantom Stranger and the Gates of Heaven disappeared was able to pick up the quality that we got for the remainder of Wonder Woman #758.
When it comes to this “The Four Horsewomen” story arc Steve Orlando has done a great job in getting us to understand what is driving Paula Von Gunther’s character in becoming Warmaster. Even though her actions caused a lot of death and destruction you understood where she was coming from. That place was one of confusion and anger over her family legacy being hidden from her. Add in how her own ancestors were able to prey on that Paula’s transformation makes sense.
Which made the tie to Wonder Woman have even greater emotional impact. Diana Prince knows that she played a role in Paula’s anger and confusion. If she was honest with Paula from the start then Diana could’ve avoided most, if not all, of this from happening. That understanding from Diana’s part made the trust that Paula showed she had in Diana come across as a natural conclusion to Paula’s character arc in this story.
The way Paula’s story resolved was made more satisfying with how Diana spoke about what road she will be on now. As Diana said, Paula’s path won’t be easy moving forward but she will not have to feel like a prisoner on Themyscira. Paula will have a new chance at life and learn from the Amazon’s teachings moving forward. It sets up a good redemption story for Paula as she can be part of Wonder Woman’s supporting cast in the future.
Having the conclusion of Paula’s character arc launch into the next phase of the Amazon’s history added importance to “The Four Horsewomen” impact. More so than ever, since the New 52 began, DC Comics has separated Wonder Woman from the Amazons and Themyscira so she works on her own. While Diana has worked with the Amazons and visited Themyscira several times its never been on a permanent basis. Now Orlando changes all that as he establishes how the Amazons will now be looking to build a bridge between Themyscira and the rest of the world.
Having Nubia and Orana join Wonder Woman in this new vision for the Amazons was a good move. It establishes how Diana won’t be the sole ambassador in spreading the Amazons’ teachings to the rest of the world. With Nubia and Orana by her side Diana can have others on her level that can effectively work to get this new mission statement of peace out. It adds a fun dynamic that gives the opportunity for Mariko Tamaki and other future Wonder Woman writers to have an expanded playground to utilize with this new mobile Themyscira embassy.
Orlando concluding Wonder Woman #758 with an appearance from Diana’s twin brother, Jason, was a surprise. Jason is a wild card as a character given his connection with Diana. It was good to see in the short time he was in Wonder Woman #758 that Jason’s loyalty to his sister shined through. This makes things more interesting as to what role Jason will play in the final issue of Orlando’s run in the upcoming annual. It could set Jason up to play a larger role in this series moving forward, especially with the Themyscira embassy being established that he could possibly be a part of.
Jesus Merino delivered solid artwork throughout Wonder Woman #758 as he has throughout this story arc. Merino effectively showed the powers that Wonder Woman and Phantom Stranger each have in their battle. More importantly, Merino was able to effectively capture the emotion on Wonder Woman, Paula Van Gunther, Jason and other character expressions to get over the dialogue they all spoke.
The Bad: Wonder Woman #758 solidified how the entire Phantom Stranger sub-plot was not needed at all. The entire appearance of Phantom Stranger was nothing more than a distraction to extend the story that did not need it. There could’ve been more effective ways to get Paula to the spot where she can be positioned for her redemption arc moving forward that was part of the story.
And Phantom Stranger’s entire reason for getting involved came across as a last-minute addition. There was no point in his appearance that he felt like someone that would be part of this story. Which in turn made the use of Gate of Heaven a story that made no sense. Orlando should’ve done a better job using all the previous build-up to this “Four Horsewomen” arc to show the connection between the Valkyries and Phantom Stranger beforehand.
It was also odd that Donna Troy, after being a major part of “The Four Horsewomen” arc, became nothing more than a background character in Wonder Woman #758. It was a major missed opportunity to not have Donna more involved in how things go resolved. Whether it was backing up Diana in defending Paula or being established as one of the leaders of Themyscira’s new embassy, there should’ve been some role given to Donna.
Overall: If Wonder Woman #758 was judge only on the last eleven pages it would’ve been a fantastic issue. Unfortunately, the first half of Wonder Woman #758, which involved a battle between Wonder Woman and Phantom Stranger, was a big swing and a miss. Luckily the second half of this issue was strong enough to lift up the entire story. The final few pages specifically effectively sets up a future filled with potential for the Wonder Woman series for Mariko Tamaki and other writers to follow-up on.
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