Wonder Woman Annual #1 by Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott, Vita Ayala, Claire Roe, Michael Moreci, Stephanie Hans, Collin Kelley, Jackson Lanzing, and David Lafuente
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Summary
These four stories zero-in on the true essence of Diana Prince, making for a comic that is quintessential 'Wonder Woman.'
93 %
A portrait of heroism
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WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1

WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1 comes, not coincidentally, the same week as the WONDER WOMAN movie. The comic presents four different short stories, which collectively tell of the spirit, strength, honor, and courage of Diana, Princess of the Amazons. With the movie releasing two days later, it’s the perfect time to hone in on the heart and soul of Wonder Woman. The four writers and artists of WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1 clearly understood that. Their stories act as a reminder of Wonder Woman’s most prominent traits. While only one of the four stories has a truly deep resonance, the rest of them all do their part to capture the essence of the world’s most iconic female superhero.

Wonder Woman Annual #1

WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1: The Stories

“And Then There Were Three…” by Greg Rucka chronicles the first meeting between Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. At first mistrustful of each other, their fateful meeting eventually finds them on common ground. “In Defense of Truth and Justice” by Vita Ayala features Wonder Woman intervening in the trial and impending execution of King Shark. The Markovian government accuses the humanoid shark of murdering a decorated general. Yet Wonder Woman suspects there’s more to the story than meets the eye.

“The Curse and The Honor” by Michael Moreci tells a tale of honor and sacrifice. It features Wonder Woman going toe to toe with an old warrior of great strength. The warrior has been stricken by a plague and begs Diana to kill him before the curse consumes him, forcing the Amazon to make a terrible choice. Finally, “The Last Kaiju” by Collin Kelley and Jackson Lanzing revolves around a giant Godzilla-like monster. The beast appears to be locked in ferocious battle with Amanda Waller’s military forces. After Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth shows the beast’s true origins, the Amazon Princess resolves to save him from annihilation — even it means turning on the military.

READ: Catch our new interview with Samantha Jo, an actress playing an Amazon Warrior in both WONDER WOMAN and JUSTICE LEAGUE!

WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1: Origin of the Trinity

Of all these impressive stories, Rucka’s is — unsurprisingly — the best in WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1. As WW’s primary writer, Rucka has captured Diana’s story in several different times. Here he returns to the Year One storyline, using it to great advantage as he tackles Wonder Woman’s first meeting with Batman and Superman. The story is rich with character, one bright spot being the banter between Batman and Superman. Rucka captures their personalities brilliantly. It feels as though Rucka, who doesn’t usually write for DC’s top two heroes, wanted to get as much Batman & Superman action out of his system as he could.

All three members of DC’s Trinity feel richly defined. As these are younger versions of the characters, there’s also a kind of fresh energy in the air. All three heroes are still testing the waters. This kind of vibe is difficult to capture, but Rucka nails it. By the end of the story, we come away with the sense that Wonder Woman just might have one up on her male companions. Batman sees in her a purity of spirit, a certainty and an honesty in her brand of superheroics. It’s this purity that allows Wonder Woman to shine and hopefully translates to her silver screen portrayal.

WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1: Truth and Justice

Ayala’s story comes a bit out of left field compared to the first story, which was a natural extension of Rucka’s work. Yet the tale of Wonder Woman fighting to save the life of an innocent man-shark holds a lot of resonance. This is particularly true in the way the story draws parallels to the injustices of our modern war on terrorism and its inherent prejudices. A corrupt military veteran sets up King Shark to take the fall for the crimes of a respected general. Because of King Shark’s fearsome appearance and criminal history, he’s easy bait.

Ayala appears cognizant of how easy it is for a society to become prejudiced because of people’s appearances or associations. Wonder Woman plays a wish-fulfillment role in this sense. She’s the hero who should exist in the real world, but doesn’t. In the story, Wonder Woman is able to intervene and prove the charges false. In the real world, there would be no one to save King Shark. Ayala’s point, though a bit obvious, comes across nicely. Most importantly, it proves the heroic integrity of Diana Prince.

Wonder Woman Annual #1

WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1: A Warrior’s Code

Moreci’s story boils down the essence of Wonder Woman even further, as it’s all about the warrior’s code. Beginning with what appears to be a ferocious battle, it turns out to be a simple test of strength. The real test comes when Wonder Woman’s combatant, Kikori, transforms into a hideous beast and begs her to kill him. It’s a fascinating test of ethics when Wonder Woman obliges. She kills the old warrior and takes his place as defender of the village.

One can’t deny that Diana is a hero to her core. Tet, she kills a man — something that Batman or Superman would never do. Where Batman and Superman follow a black and white no-killing principle, Diana’s code is different. As Moreci’s story proves, Diana’s is the code of a warrior. Her Amazonian background instilled in her the understanding of a warrior’s pride, and also brought to her the knowledge that there are some things worse than death. This story acts as a lovely exploration of Diana’s principles, testing the boundaries of heroism.

WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1: Defending the Innocent

The final story, by Kelley and Lanzing, is the simplest of all the stories in WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1. Diana defends a creature who appears to be a monster, turning against her own allies in order to take him to a safe place. The simplicity of this action shows Diana’s goodness and moral strength overall. It shows that she’s willing to protect the innocent, no matter how large or small, no matter how scary looking they might be.

Her willingness to turn against her usual allies shows the benefit of Diana’s lack of a national identity. While many of her fellow heroes identify with American values, Wonder Woman — despite her outfit — doesn’t really abide by any nation’s laws. She abides by the law of the Amazons, the moral code she was taught by the Gods and Goddesses. This story, in its splendid simplicity, shows Diana turning on a dime, dropping everything to do the thing she knows is right. Once her lasso shows the truth, Diana knows exactly what to do.

WATCH: Take a look at episode #19 of our Weekly Comics News Show, featuring an exciting announcement of the first annual Wonder Woman Day!

WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1: Four Stories, One Noble Spirit

WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1 is a lovely collection of stories, structured in a fascinating way. It boils down the essence of Wonder Woman further and further, starting with Rucka’s, which is the most plot driven, and ending with Lanzing’s, which has almost no plot. Yet Wonder Woman’s noble spirit shines brighter and brighter with every story. I do think it could have perhaps been better to end with Rucka’s story. It provides the most depth and also the most natural link to the regular Wonder Woman series. Ending in a more story-focused place could have provided a natural transition to next week’s WONDER WOMAN #24, rather than with Lanzing’s story, which has a finite ending.

It’s also worth noting that the original conception of WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1 was to have a book end with stories about Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman (according to DC’s website). That would have provided the sense of continuity I’m referring to and would have given WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1 a more guided sense of purpose.

WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1: Artwork of the Amazon

Last but not least, the art. Each of these artists provides a distinctive sense of style for their respective stories. Nicola Scott brings back her critically acclaimed “Year One” art style for Rucka’s story, infusing Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman with a wonderfully youthful energy appropriate to the time period. Claire Roe’s more angular style for the King Shark story takes advantage of the false crime narrative by portraying the army as a mass of indistinct evil. They take over the comic panels with their jutting and oppressive character designs.

Stephanie Hans’ work on “The Curse and The Honor” is my favorite, with the wintery Japanese setting proving the perfect opportunity to treat the panels as a series of paintings. The character designs are majestic, appearing to come out of another place and time. The story’s code of honor seeps through the stalwart images. David Lafuente’s style in the final story is appropriately the most simplistic. He delicately treats his art like images from a fairy tale. Without the need for much depth, the artwork is designed much like an anime. This nicely honors the monster baby’s Godzilla-inspired origins. Moreover, the simple designs zero-in on Wonder Woman’s purity of spirit, shining through better than a bevy of artistic detail would allow.

Final Thoughts on WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1

Overall, the writers and artists of WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1 unite to bring us a series of very different tales, that all connect under one concept — the essence of Wonder Woman. Each of these stories analyzes her character from a different perspective, but all remain true to the core of who she is. Perhaps there could have been a better way to structure these stories. As they stand, the tales presented are a wonderful (pun unintended) showcase of Wonder Woman done right. With Gal Gadot’s WONDER WOMAN right around the corner, it’s the perfect time for these rich tales to hit the stands. If the Amazon Warrior of the movie is presented with the kind of integrity found in these stories, fans will find their wildest expectations surpassed.

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