By Zack Quaintance — Wowza.
This is maybe the least elegant opening line for any review I’ve ever written, but I just don’t think there’s a better summation of what Aco does in Wonder Woman #53 within all the massive mythological Aztec battle scenes. It’s stunning stuff, whether it be the intricate double-truck splashes or the askew panel grids filled with colorful detail that burst off the page. When you get your hands on this issue, do me a favor and linger on some of Aco’s linework. I suspect wowza will start to make a whole lot of sense to you, too.
I didn’t even really mind that Hugo Petrus (whose work is also quite good) had to come in to spell Aco for a handful of pages between the bigger set pieces. It would have been nice, of course, had Aco been able to draw this entire issue, but Petrus’ pages fit in seamlessly between the absolutely jaw-dropping bits done by Aco. It all adds up to a gorgeous comic.
The story is great, too. As I noted in my review of last issue, Steve Orlando is well aware of the two central qualities of Diana Prince’s character: her stubborn and limitless compassion, and her inherent place as a swaggery ass-kicking mythological goddess who walks among us. Orlando’s first issue on this book—the supremely beautiful Wonder Woman #51—examined her compassion, while Wonder Woman #52 setup an old school adventure romp fit for the aforementioned swaggery ass-kicking mythological goddess. Wonder Woman #53 knocks down what its predecessor setup, having Diana and her crew (Artemis and the new Aztek) deal with the antagonist they initially united to confront.
Wonder Woman is undeniably the star of the show here, but the panel time that Orlando and Aco devote to both Aztek and Artemis is used efficiently, yielding great results. There's such a mutually-beneficially vibe to this team-up, with all three characters having logical reasons to be together here.
I particularly enjoyed Aztek confronting the foe that her predecessor essentially kamakazied (ineffectually) to defeat waaaaay back in the late ‘90s when Grant Morrison was writing his Justice League saga. One of Orlando’s best strengths as a writer is his nuanced and surgical wielding of DC’s vast continuity, and it’s certainly on full display within this issue. Finally, not to spoil anything but the story does a great job of extending the adventure into next issue, which is to be drawn by Raul Allen, a favorite of mine based on his work over at Valiant.
Overall: Wonder Woman #53 is ultimately a gorgeous comic that nicely wraps up the adventure in Aztec mythos that was set into motion last issue, while simultaneously laying groundwork for more action. 9.5/10
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