Written by: Tom King
Art by: Daniel Sampere
Colors by: Tomeu Morey
Letters by: Clayton Cowles
Cover art by: Daniel Sampere
Cover price: $4.99
Release date: November 21, 2023
Without burying the lede, Wonder Woman #3 is simultaneously boring and gross. I don’t know how Tom King managed to do both in a single comic, but here we are.
When last we left Wonder Woman, she spent an entire issue in battle. In the present, she decimated Sergeant Steel’s forces when the small army sought to take Wonder Woman in by force. In the past, a younger Diana fought a masked Amazon on Themyscira for the right to be the emissary to Man’s World. In victory, Diana learned her opponent was Emelie, the Amazon who started this arc with a mass murder.
Now, Wonder Woman casually walks into the office building where Sergeant Steel works with the intention of learning what information Steel has about Emelie. Meanwhile, the Sovereign entertains one of the surviving soldiers from the last issue in his stately home. The soldier is a good-natured fellow who took his loss to Wonder Woman in the previous issue in stride, but the Sovereign uses the Lasso of Lies to inflict emasculating trauma on the soldier’s mind, driving him to suicide for shock value.
Warning: Veterans or individuals touched by the effects of PTSD will find that sensitive topic used as a plot point in this issue. Unfortunately, that sensitive topic is not treated with any sensitivity at all.
On general appeal alone, it’s nearly impossible to guess what Tom King is trying to do with Wonder Woman in this run. Wonder Woman displays abilities that seem out of character. Her manner of speech and understanding of the nuances of Man’s World are oddly regressive for someone who’s lived in America for years. The Sovereign’s actions make him seem like a vile villain, but King uses a sensitive topic for shock value without using that shocking development to progress the plot.
Presumably, this plot leads to a showdown with the Sovereign, but King is going about that journey in the least direct and almost nonsensical manner possible.
What’s great about Wonder Woman #3? Daniel Sampere’s art is fantastic. Whether or not you agree with King’s creative choices, this comic is stunningly beautiful. And in fairness to King, Wonder Woman is elevated to a powerful badass, even if the circumstances used to show her prowess don’t make sense.
What’s not so great about Wonder Woman #3? The art is gorgeous, but the story is thematically ugly and boring. Broken up into two threads, you have Wonder Woman entering and scaling Sergeant Steel’s corporate office in one thread, and the Sovereign entertaining a soldier from last issue’s battle in the other.
In Wonder Woman’s thread, Sovereign’s overwritten narration slows Diana’s ascension to Steel’s office to a crawl. Strip away the ponderous pacing, and all you have is Diana entering the building, beating up soldiers along the way, and confronting Steel for his information about Emelie. The meat of that thread is worth only three or four pages, but readers are forced to listen to Sovereign pontificate about glory, America, and Wonder Woman’s opposition to the country’s ideals, as the Sovereign sees it.
What’s missing? Any good faith attempt by Wonder Woman to find Emelie. With the world’s greatest detecting resources at her disposal (Batman, the Justice League, Oracle, Constantine, etc.), it’s next to impossible that Wonder Woman would have this much trouble finding Emelie and resort to strong-arming Steel for information. Here, we have a manufactured scenario that doesn’t make sense for the sake of engineering drama.
In the Sovereign’s thread, he invites one of the soldiers (Delgado) from the battle in the previous issue to his home. Whether as a warning to others about the price of failure or simply because he can, the Sovereign uses the Lasso of Lies to convince the soldier that his loss to Wonder Woman emasculated him and destroyed his identity. The soldier is brainwashed into believing his only recourse is suicide.
King’s creative choice to use PTSD and suicide as a plot point could have worked if the outcome somehow connected to Wonder Woman’s investigation or changed the direction of the story. However, it doesn’t. Based on the conclusion of the story, Delgado’s suicide doesn’t add anything to the story other than to show the Sovereign is a nasty character. In effect, King used a real-world, sensitive topic for shock value for its own sake. Delgado’s death is pointless, so King’s use of a sensitive topic for a cheap shock is gross.
About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of ComicalOpinions.com, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.
Bits and Pieces:
Wonder Woman #3 has the honored distinction of being both boring and gross. Wonder Woman’s characterization makes no sense for a character who has lived in Man’s World for years, and her efforts to find Emelie are bizarrely lazy. Further, King uses the topic of PTSD and suicide among soldiers as a cheap thrill for its own sake without treating the topic with any sensitivity or value.