Writer: Greg Rucka / Artist: Nicola Scott / DC Comics
Let’s begin by talking about Steve Trevor. Unlike Wonder Woman mythos staple Etta Candy (the vivacious and bubbly sorority sister turned stone cold badass in this particular incarnation), Steve’s presence has always irked me. For one, everything about his romantic involvement with Diana rings forced and false, from his corny nickname of “Angel” to Diana falling for his obnoxious posturing and sometimes downright sexist approach to flirting. Personality-wise Steve feels like the self-insert fanfiction of every fedora-wearing meninist on the internet, a WASP with a gun who has the power to get away with inappropriate remarks yet receives the loving attention of arguably one of the greatest woman superheroes in comics. In fact, if we’re being true to Diana’s character, here is a brief summary of how the first meeting with Steve should have ended:
That being said, despite the white savior complex I criticized in my previous review, I have to give Rucka praise for crafting a world in which I actually connect with Steve Trevor. One of this issue’s strong suits is its ability to crystallize the relationships of our main characters, a feat which requires caring for your supporting cast as more than plot devices or tokens. Surprisingly, Steve’s story focuses more on his friend Nick, a Black soldier with a smart mouth and a large heart. What I admire most about this interaction are the ways that Steve is neither hardened nor bitter as his friend matures in his relationship with Maya (shout out to Black love), but continues to be supportive and present.
And here’s where the beauty of paralleling Steve’s past with Diana’s lies. Rather than presenting Steve as Diana’s “opposite,” his loyalty mirrors and underscores Diana’s demonstrative affection with her Amazonian family. I adored reading panels on panels of casual but meaningful cheek kisses, hugs, and tender caresses between the Amazons. Themyscira may be Paradise but we rarely get to see this portrayed outside of a quasi-cruise commercial or — Athena forbid — a sexualized playhouse built for the enjoyment of the (presumed) straight male reader. In this vein, too, Diana’s sexuality is left open enough to interpretation that her queerness is present even if a partner is not fully confirmed. I definitely like the idea of Diana as a loving being who values relationships (in every sense of the word) for how they allow her to connect to other people, so the way that Rucka establishes a spectrum of possible attraction helps prevent fetishization and stereotypes.
Without a doubt Nicola Scott’s art cements the relational feel of this story, between soft lines and gentle, poignant facial expressions. In fact, in a world where DC is still recovering from its gritty everyone-must-be-Frank-Miller’s-Batman phase, this comic may hold the most recent record for most genuine smiles. Once more Wonder Woman also presents strongly in terms of background art, the vast pastoral landscape so convincingly cinematic you feel rather than see it. Pleasing in both its visuals and narrative, this issue leaves me excited to see what new risks Rucka might be willing to take to continue to add a fresh perspective to the Amazonian warrior princess’ history.