Diana finds herself in the afterlife, but not the one she was expecting as Michael W. Conrad, Becky Cloonan, and Travis Moore explore a cross-pollination of religion in Wonder Woman #770.
Written by Michael W. Conrad, Becky Cloonan, and Jordie Bellaire
Art by Travis Moore, Tamra Bonvillain, Paulina Ganucheau, and Kendall Goode
Letters by Pat Brosseau and Becca Carey
Published by DC
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
Wonder Woman #770 opens in the midst of battle as Diana is greeted by a warrior who recognizes her unfamiliarity with the location. This is Asgard, realm of the Norse gods and the Valkyries. The warrior, who goes by Siegfried, introduces Diana to the rules of Valhalla, where the warriors fight by day, are resurrected if they perish, and party all night. Diana is understandably mystified by the place – this is not the afterlife that she knows. However, as a warrior, she soon finds joy in the endless, seemingly inconsequential, cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
The art by Travis Moore and Tamra Bonvillain is a real highlight. Moore gives Siegfried a dashing handsomeness that makes him pop off the page. And though Moore's action scenes are exciting enough, it's the moments between the bloodshed where his work really shines. As the story progresses, there's a palpable change in Diana's expressions as she goes from completely wary of the situation she finds herself into celebrating wholeheartedly with the other warriors in Valhalla. Bonvillain's colors create nice shifts between the warmth of Valhalla and the coldness of the battlefield, as well as the white void that is reaching out to Diana in her dreams. Bonvillain's colors bring out the icy beauty of this world, with a myriad of blues and greens creating dynamic vistas.
But all is not right in this world, and Diana is visited by a talking squirrel, Ratatosk, who alerts Diana to the dying of the world tree, Yggdrasil. Letterer Pat Brosseau uses a looser font, with both capital and lower case letters, for Ratatosk's dialogue, giving a smaller voice to the diminutive being. Writers Michael W. Conrad and Becky Cloonan use this moment to highlight the difference between being a warrior and a hero. Diana may fight every day in preparation for Ragnarok, but these fights are empty beyond the joys of combat. A hero's task is to protect others, and so it is at the request of Ratatosk that she begins back along that task.
The contrast between Diana's heroism and Siegfried's contentment with the daily battle also highlights the differences between the two mythologies. While other stories have played with the mixing of mythologies, centering that difference around Diana makes this story decision feel more inspired than derivative.
Wonder WOman #770 preview
The second story in the issue focuses on a younger Diana as she struggles with being "the kid" on the island of Themyscira. Artist Paulina Ganucheau and color artist Kendall Goode utilize a cartoon style that works well for the younger lead. Writer Jordie Bellaire gives voice to Diana's anxiousness to get out and see the world, and in doing so, gives more weight to the issue. Readers have seen Diana's adventures in the afterlife of another pantheon, and so reading her younger self's desperate desire to experience more is rendered even more satisfying.
Wonder Woman #770 thrives on the strength of its lead character. By providing stories about Diana, both in the past and the present, the comic creates a well-rounded narrative that works whether this is a reader's first Wonder Woman comic or not. Both stories feature beautiful artwork that shows off the differences in art styles that comics can contain and the strengths of each. Whether a reader desires action and mystery or good-natured fun, Wonder Woman #770 delivers.
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