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Wonder Woman gets a new start with a masterful first issue

Mariko Tamaki teams the warrior princess with one of her most dangerous enemies

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Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Like virtually everyone else on the planet, Wonder Woman has had a rough summer. Her sequel movie was delayedtwice — and the debut of her new creative team was delayed by the Diamond shutdown.

But now Wonder Woman #759 is here, and it immediately establishes this new era of Wonder Woman as one to watch.

Who made Wonder Woman #759?

The new six-issue arc is from newly Eisner Award-winning writer Mariko Tamaki (Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me), and the superlative artist Mikel Janín (Batman, Grayson).

What is Wonder Woman #759 about?

In the micro, the issue is about Diana moving into some new digs and going to Ikea for the first time. But we know from summaries of upcoming issues that we’re really gearing up for a reluctant team-up between Wonder Woman and one of her most famous modern foes: Max Lord.

Lord, played by Pedro Pascal, is also set to be a major antagonist of Wonder Woman 1984, which, back in the halcyon days of early March, was planned for a theatrical release within a week of Wonder Woman #759’s original release date. In the comics, Lord is a business mogul who often worked alongside the Justice League, until he became disillusioned about superheroes’ ability to effect real change. So he found a way to get mind-control powers and nearly destroyed the Justice League by taking over Superman’s brain, until Wonder Woman killed him on live television, ruining the League’s reputation.

Sure, he came back later, but he has remained linked to Wonder Woman after the whole she-snapped-his-neck thing. When Polygon talked to Tamaki, she said that though she was handed Max Lord by Wonder Woman’s editors, she wasn’t sorry about it.

“For a hero story, I want my villain to play into the protagonist’s weaknesses, or vulnerabilities.” Tamaki told Polygon via email:

For me, Wonder Woman is a pretty direct character. She’s a warrior who is very clear about what she’s doing and why. I imagine the world of Amazon warriors to be a place where if you have some baggage with someone, you like duel it out immediately. Even when Wonder Woman talks to animals, she’s to the point and honest. She has a lasso that’s about revealing the TRUTH. Truth is her weapon! On the other side you have Max Lord, who is a manipulator. He’s a moral shapeshifter. For him, the truth is … maybe it’s a factor in his process, like how you use sage when you’re cooking. Maybe it’s there. So. To me that’s an interesting combo of people. What do you do when that person, a person you really cannot trust, is the one you need to help you save the day?

What’s Wonder Woman been doing lately?

A white rabbit with lop ears hops swiftly into Wonder Woman’s apartment, past several Amazons carrying moving boxes. A voice shouts “Mullaney! You jerk! Get back here!” in Wonder Woman #759, DC Comics (2020).
Meet Mullaney, the breakout star of Wonder Woman #759.
Image: Mariko Tamaki, Mikel Janín/DC Comics

Oh, you know, she fought Judas. Unlike her cohorts, Batman and Superman, Diana’s core book has had a variety of creative teams over the past four years, so she’s had some good stories, but no solid themes. Tamaki and Janín are signed on for at least six issues.

Is there any required reading?

Wonder Woman #759 is a great starting point for the character. There’s no lore in the issue that isn’t unpacked within its pages. But if you really wanted to dig into the backstory, you could check out Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka Vol. 3, which includes the issue in which she kills Max Lord.

Or you could wait a couple weeks for the release of Wonder Woman: The Many Lives of Maxwell Lord, a collection of Max Lord stories.

Is Wonder Woman #759 good?

Wonder Woman #759 has everything you could want from the first issue of a new story. A restatement of purpose, the hero fighting a bunch of bad guys, the hero doing some mundane human stuff but in a superhero-y way, big splash pages, gorgeous art, instantly compelling new characters, and a final page splash that teases what’s to come without giving too much away.

Tamaki set up a new status quo and then left me wanting more. Jordie Bellaire’s colors pop off every page, while Janín’s layouts are inventive and slick. The issue also showcases his eye for mundane fashion, which can be a rare talent among male comics artists. I can appreciate a book that puts Diana in sneakers to move into her apartment, has her don heels for “Ikea,” and leaves her barefoot when she suddenly has to run down a speeding car.

One panel that popped

Running barefoot, Wonder Woman catches up to a speeding SUV driven by a mind-controlled woman and leaps onto its roof in Wonder Woman #759, DC Comics (2020). Image: Mariko Tamaki, Mikel Janín/DC Comics

And they say slow motion only works in movies.

Wonder Woman #759

  • $4

Prices taken at time of publishing.

It’s a brand-new day for Wonder Woman! As Diana starts to pick up the pieces of her life following her battle with the Four Horsewomen and her run-in with the Phantom Stranger, Man’s World has become more complicated to navigate than ever before. It seems everyone has a take on who Wonder Woman should be — some who look on her heroics with admiration, and some who lie in wait to seek revenge. A familiar threat is watching Diana’s every move, and now is the perfect time to strike…

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