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‘Wonder Woman #769’ (review)

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

 

Steve Pugh is back!

If you’ve been reading my reviews of this title, then you already know how much I enjoy his detailed, expressive illustrations and his rendering of Wonder Woman that is truly Amazonian.

The cover promises the big showdown between Liar Liar and Wonder Woman that we’ve been waiting for, and seeing “Pugh” on there gave me confidence the art would deliver.

And it does, along with Mariko Tamaki’s writing. The beats of that showdown are common enough for Wonder Woman fans. Diana, a paragon of truth, hope and love, chooses defense over offense as she attempts to reach her foe’s better nature. But the package the confrontation arrives in changes the game a bit.

Throughout Tamaki’s run, we’ve seen Diana and Maxwell Lord stumble through what the truth is. Each of them holds a different truth.

For Lord, his truth is built out of control and fear of what he sees as the inevitable outcome. Regarding Wonder Woman, his vision beyond the Source Wall, in which Diana kills him to stop his most fiendish schemes, burns into a self-loathing because all he can see is the end.

Diana remains the character we follow through the story, so her truth is based in the power of empathy and understanding to bring about justice.

But what about Emma Lord aka Liar Liar? What happens when a valid grudge against her father’s machinations to control her and her inherited/enhanced mental abilities – from afar, never revealing himself – intersect with complex post-traumatic stress and apparent schizophrenia?

What’s the truth to her, when she can’t tell the difference between the objective reality and the fantasy playing in her own mind and literally changing what she sees? Inside her mind’s web, she’s a noble knight in armor wielding a righteous sword. But the panels shift to the objective world, and she’s a scared young woman, holding nothing but thin air.

As the story progresses, Tamaki’s talent for dramatizing emotional states and the processing of traumatic events comes to the fore. Diana shows Emma how there’s no way but through the pain and bad impulses created by that pain, pulling on the common thread between them of absent, horrible fathers. (This is one of the few times I’ve actually liked the post-New 52 change that Zeus is Diana’s father.)

Furthermore, choosing love and support can lead us back to who we truly wish to be. It’s a choice made again and again and again, because that’s what our lives are. The shadows don’t go away, but we don’t have to choose them.

This is exactly the kind of stuff I was hoping for when Tamaki took over the book, and it pays off big time in this issue.

 

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