REVIEW: Wonder Woman #53 by Steve Orlando, Aco, Hugo Petrus, David Lorenzo, Romulo Fajardo Jr., Saida Temofonte

By Zack Quaintance — Wowza.

Wonder Woman #53 is out Aug. 22, 2018.

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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Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.

REVIEW: Wonder Woman #52 by Steve Orlando, Aco, David Lorenzo, Romulo Fajardo Jr., & Saida Temofonte

Steve Orlando and Aco get the band back together from their character-defining run on Midnighter.

By Zack Quaintance — Two weeks ago, writer Steve Orlando and artist Laura Braga put out Wonder Woman #51, a stand-alone story about the depths of Diana Prince’s compassionate stubbornness to not give up on even her most dangerous enemies. That issue was—to me—the best standalone Wonder Woman story in years, a perfect comic that had me tearing up at the depths of our hero’s desire to help. As I wrote in my Wonder Woman #51 review, I loved it.

Wonder Woman #52 sees Orlando returning for a four-part adventure story with the character, this time joined by artist Aco, his collaborator on the 2015 Midnighter run that remains my favorite story about that character. In the intermittent time, both creators have progressed in their craft, and I'm happy to say that it very much shows.

There's just so much to like about this comic. It's confident, bold, and well-paced, but let’s look first at this issue’s plot. Whereas Wonder Woman #51 dove into the qualities and values that make Diana arguably DC’s most admirable hero, Wonder Woman #52 is a fast-paced adventure that makes fantastic use of the actual mythology inherent to the character. What results is, put simply, another great comic.

This is a tight story that expertly plays to Wonder Woman’s status as a figure within mythology to drive its narrative. Diana obviously knows this sector of the DCU well, and the book does a great job conveying this early, so that when something threatening or out of the ordinary comes later on, her reaction is telling and meaningful (and also badass).

The other thing this issue does especially well is incorporate additional characters, specifically Artemis and the new Aztek (fresh from Orlando’s run on Justice League of America, btw). Although Wonder Woman is undeniably the star, these other characters have separate priorities and desires that pull them into danger alongside her. Each having their own agency goes a long way toward engaging the reader in the holistic success of our erstwhile team, which ups the stakes.

In the end, Wonder Woman #52 is a real page-turner, a great start to a different type of Diana Prince Story. It's a confident and entertaining read that seems to set up some massive twists and fireworks to come. For a first issue from a new team, it's also remarkably polished, likely because Orlando and Aco had such a productive relationship in the past. The ultimate success of this arc, of course, remains to be seen, but Orlando once again displays a deep understanding of Diana. As such, it seems safe to assume this entire arc will be as rewarding as the standalone story that preceded it.

Overall: Whereas Wonder Woman #51 examined Diana Prince’s deep and stubborn capacity for compassion, Wonder Woman #52 utilizes her role as a living piece of mythology to launch a multi-part adventure. Orlando and Aco have clearly worked together in the past, and the result is a polished and fully-formed start. Fans of great superhero comics, take note. 9.5/10

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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.