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‘Wonder Woman #765’ (review)

Written by Mariko Tamaki
Art by Steve Pugh
Published by DC Comics

 

Buckle up, kids – we’ve got a Tortuga!

After Wonder Woman and Maxwell Lord’s misadventures in Miami, our hero-villain team-up heads to the seedy Zandia, the “super-villain Vegas” as Lord calls it, in Wonder Woman #765.

(And we’re back to calling him Maxwell Lord, not Max. Make up your mind, DC!)

Tortuga is one of my favorite tropes in fiction.

Yes, Tortuga aka Turtle Island is real-life Haitian island that was hotbed of piracy’s golden age. But Tortuga gathered more mystique in fictional pirate novels and movies as a haven of villainy, sex and danger, where the rum flows like rivers, the knives always ready, the strongest survive, and everything – and everyone – is for sale.

If a Tortuga shows up, I’m a happy lad. Even better when it’s … in space! When the ragtag crew of Star Trek: Picard went to Starlight City, I screamed “Let’s goooooooooo!!” in my living room, OK?

And we don’t get enough Tortugas in superhero fiction. Gimme all of ’em.

Wonder Woman and Maxwell Lord head to Zandia after tracking down some organizations looking to sell off more of Lord’s hallucinogenic tech hidden in smartphone apps.

This current storyline is a variation on a classic for action-adventure: the hero and their companion race around the globe piecing together a mystery and hunting down some doo-hickey or other (the McGuffin, as Hitchcock called it) that will lead to the bad guy behind it all. That’s every Fast and Furious and Indiana Jones movie, the Aquaman movie, or Avengers, both Infinity War and Endgame. It even works in parodies, such as Medical Police.

I raved about Steve Pugh’s art last issue, and I’ll do it again! It’s big, fat lines, with dynamic posing and tons of expression-filled faces from panel to panel. As Diana and Lord walk through the madness of Zandia, Pugh floods the panels with background actors and depth. He breaks up the horizontal, widescreen-style panels with full-figures of our leads driving the conversation.

And when it’s time for Wonder Woman to lay a smackdown on somebody, Pugh appears to take special pride in drawing Diana with the meatiest strong legs this side of a rugby match. We get a full flying kick at a bug-faced baddie, with both feet!

This issue breezes past, though one complaint I have with Mariko Tamaki’s writing is that Diana feels a little too snappy with the running, self-aware commentary on whatever Maxwell Lord is saying. It works for Lord, who’s consistently been a real snit throughout Tamaki’s tenure. It doesn’t suit Wonder Woman, quite, for me. It reminds me too much of Tamaki’s take on She-Hulk. That made sense for Jennifer Walters, the snappy Manhattan attorney. But not for this demigod superhero.

That said, Wonder Woman #765 is a fun read, so fun that I forgive my least favorite story construction where things open on something catastrophic, and then – smash cut to text reading, “two days earlier.”

Some surprise cameos turn up in this issue, and the next cliffhanger brings up some fun ideas if you know your Wondy lore.

Check it out.

 

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