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‘Wonder Woman #766’ (review)

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

 

There’s a version of Wonder Woman #766, titled “Max Lord’s Revenge: Part 1,” where we’re reading a horror story.

Count Vertigo, augmented by Maxwell Lord’s mind control/hallucination tech, now has bent physical matter and reality instead of just the mind’s perceptions. Everything is pulled inside-out and twisted into knots.

The more you think about the premise of Count Vertigo’s attack, the more horrific it is.

The basic premise reminds me of the psychofraculator ray from the Mystery Men movie, when it turned Greg Kinnear’s Captain Amazing inside-out and all the way dead.

We get a peek of that similarity in just one panel.

Artist Steve Pugh illustrates Vertigo’s mental blast knocking a tractor-trailer into the air, the trailer rippling, and homes twist into Tim Burton shapes. I shudder to think of what’s happening to the people inside those things.

Emerging from the forest after the plane wreck, Diana and Maxwell are walking through ruins of Vlatava. We don’t get much detail – mostly gray, warped rubble as if buildings were melted into heaps. But Steve Pugh gives us one close-up of a skull, the lower jaw stretched like taffy, the remaining teeth jagged, and a large bone sticking out of a pile.

“The ground is twisted like a pretzel,” Maxwell Lord says, adding, “Vlatava is dead.”

Good thing, I guess, for Diana that she can’t see the devastation. Count Vertigo’s attack also robbed her of her sight on top of wrecking her invisible jet.

It also makes you think: How much death and destruction, cruelty and evil has Diana seen? She’s fought wicked beings across multiple dimensions and galaxies, even parallel Earths. How does the never ending battle wear on her somebody, even a super-somebody?

“I have been to this place before. Fixing what is broken in an endless loop,” Diana says in narrative voiceover, also referring to it as “superhero trauma and self-destruction.”

By holding the lasso of truth, Diana can only see the world in distorted shadows. And within some of those shadows, other things emerge – things only she can see, apparently. What haunts Diana? Why is she so full of self-doubt through much of this issue? Is Maxwell Lord messing with her mind?

For me, this issue was more about feel. Wonder Woman has to take on this suped-up Count Vertigo, who now considers himself a god. Of course, Diana will prevail – or will she lose by victory? The end of that fight is a bit of a shock, and it’ll leave you wondering whether she’s gone over the edge.

Maxwell Lord gets some of his own story here, as you would expect from something titled “Max Lord’s Revenge: Part 1.” And you can bet your bottom dollar that revenge begins with a betrayal that will get us to next issue’s Part 2.

As a man haunted the by-the-multiverse fate he saw beyond the Source Wall, Lord may react to his death at Wonder Woman’s hands by seeking some path to immortal power. It would make sense, then, that Mariko Tamaki would throw Count Vertigo into this story, serving as an attempted-godhead appetizer.

We’ll see how it comes together soon, because it looks like we’re headed toward the main event: Wonder Woman vs Maxwell Lord!

 

 

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