With over 75 years of comic book history, there are a hell of a lot of options when it comes to diving into the Wonder Woman mythos. Whether you jump right back to the wonderful work by George Perez in the 1980s or you pick up the ongoing Rebirth series by Greg Rucka, you’ll always find a great run to read. With the success of the recent Wonder Woman movie, we here at TiCGN compiled a short list of a few comic runs that you should pick up if you enjoyed the big screen incarnation. This list is suitable for both newbies and long-time fans of the character who may be looking for something a bit different. In this first installment we take a brief look at a modern classic run.
Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka Volume 1
Greg Rucka is one of the great modern day Wonder Woman writers. His work on the character has proven seminal, and is generally the benchmark by which all other writers are judged. He is the writer on the current Rebirth run (which will get a TiCGN review in the future) but he also did a lot of great work on Wonder Woman in the early noughties. Wonder Woman Volume 1 clocks in at 380 pages and is well worth picking up. It contains the original graphic novel, The Hiketeia (2002), and then the first 11 issues of his subsequent run on the character.
The standalone story, The Hiketeia, opens the book. It is deeply entrenched in Greek tragedy and is Rucka at his best. It introduces the character of Danielle Wellys, whose backstory may seem somewhat generic at first glance, but is in actual fact deeply unsettling and heartbreaking. Rucka and artist J. G. Jones do not flinch, and it tells because what is shown in the panels is harrowing. Wellys ultimately brings two of the greatest superheroes face to face – Wonder Woman and Batman. Both rigid when it comes to their codes and laws, it’s a case of who will break first. Definitely a comic to check out. It’s even more perfect because it is in this collection which features issues from Rucka’s subsequent run on the character which began in 2003.
Following the conclusion of The Hiketeia, this collection jumps straight into Rucka’s run and collects issues #195 to #205. A second volume featuring #206-217 will be out in July. These issues focus in on Diana’s role as Ambassador for Themyscira in New York City. The first arc, Down to Earth, is a beautifully woven together story which takes on a handful of story threads at once. Diana lives out her busy schedule as Ambassador but has so much more on her plate. The release of a new book brings a challenge from certain groups in society who disapprove of Diana’s morals whilst a mysterious force also looks to take down the Amazonian. And that’s only the threats located on Earth! Ares, the looming threat in the new movie, is part of another thread that takes place in Olympus and which concerns Zeus and Diana’s home, Themyscira.
There’s a lot going on and the arc is only five issues long but it’s engrossing stuff. It never feels overstuffed as the stories are all paced so well by Rucka. He really has a great handle on all of these characters, and Drew Johnson draws (and Ray Snyder inks) a fantastic Wonder Woman. There are some stunning panels, of course in part due to Snyder’s colouring. The double page spreads are inventive, as Johnson steers away from the action scene norms, and creates something more visceral.
We then get the first few issues of the next arc, Bitter Pills, which continue to build upon the unfinished stories of the first. It also expands upon characters and moments only mentioned briefly in the first five issues, thus expanding the universe.
This collection is an easy jumping on point for any fan looking to get into comics after seeing the film. Rucka’s storytelling may have lots of threads but it’s simple to follow. He introduces lots of different supporting characters, around Diana, but also in Themyscira (if you wanted more after seeing it in the opening scenes of the movie) and a handful of key gods too. Rucka shows just how the different worlds of Diana’s interact, perhaps more effectively than any other modern day writer. The Hiketeia is a great opening to this collection too, giving readers a real sense of the morals of Wonder Woman, and of course added Batman always helps. This is a seminal piece of Wonder Woman’s history so check it out.