By Zack Quaintance — I tend to keep a running list of my favorite single comics in any given year, in part because I’m compulsive but also because it helps when December rolls around and it’s time to spin some Best Of lists. One of the first books for 2018 was from Valiant. It was a one-shot comprised of vignettes about random items conjured by a guy with special powers. It was called Secret Weapons: Owen’s Story, written by screenwriter Eric Heisserer and drawn by the duo of Raul Allen and Patricia Martin. Meanwhile, one of the more recent additions to my list was Wonder Woman #51, a one shot about the depths of Diana Prince’s compassion, as drawn by Laura Braga and written by Steve Orlando.
See the connection? Now in Wonder Woman #54, the artists from that first comic and the writer from the second have united to tell a two-part Wonder Woman story, and the results in this first half are fantastic. It’s easy to see why DC tapped Allen and Martin to draw this issue. First of all, they’re super talented, and second, the plot of this book takes us to a mythology-tinged anachronistic setting, not unlike territory often covered by stories over at Valiant, where the duo typically works.
Their detailed and fully-rendered linework really grounds the world of the Bana-Mighdall, emphasizing the exotic timelessness of their culture. Orlando’s Wonder Woman writing continues to be strong, as it has for the entirety of his time on this book. Orlando just gets this character, depicting her as he does with equal parts limitless empathy and boundless swagger. It’s a delicate balance, and he nails it, giving us a Diana who knows full well how important her role is, and is also determined to have fun while doing her duty.
There are some sequences in this comic wherein the sensibilities of the writer and the artist come together impossibly well, thinking specifically of the page in which Borja Pindado’s yellow palette accentuates Rustam’s power as he blasts Diana out of the panel as well as of the bit where the center of the page depicts Diana deflecting bullets within the actual letters of the sound effects she’s making. There’s an old school adventure sensibility to both the writing and art here, as welcomely unstuck in time as the immortals who star in the story.
Overall: Separately, Steve Orlando and the duo of Raul Allen and Patricia Martin have fast become some of my favorite emerging creators in recent years, and so I found it an absolute treat for them to collaborate, especially with a character for which Orlando in particular possesses such an evident understanding. 9.0/10
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Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.