Ricky Church reviews Wonder Woman: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2…
When DC Rebirth began, one of the best series to come out of the reboot was Wonder Woman with Greg Rucka returning to the character after his prominent run in the early-mid 2000s. The first volume collection focused on a pair of alternating stories that tied into each other with Wonder Woman in the present discovering much of her past has been a lie while flashing back to her first encounter with the man’s world. Wonder Woman: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2 picks up on those threads as Rucka concludes his latest run with some great character beats and fantastic art from Liam Sharp and Bilquis Evely. Though Rucka’s Rebirth run proved all too short, it ends in a satisfying manner that speaks to Diana’s best attributes.
Whereas ‘The Lie’ and ‘Year One’ were loosely tied together in their plots, ‘The Truth’ and ‘Godwatch’ are intrinsically paired as each flash into the past informs more about what is happening in the present. Rucka succeeds the most in his depiction of the villain Veronica Cale, rebranding her from a woman envious of Wonder Woman’s popularity from the previous continuity to a mother willing to do anything to save her daughter from the machinations of devious gods. It makes her a much more interesting and rounded character that garners just a little bit of sympathy, though she still remains a clear and mostly unrepentant villain once all is said and done.
Between the two stories, ‘The Truth’ is the highlight over ‘Godwatch’, mostly because it deals directly with Diana learning the Greek gods have deceived her and she’s never returned home at all. It’s a revelation that upends her world, forcing her to question nearly everything she’s known with Rucka offering some introspective views on her character. It’s some nice character work that places Diana in a spot she’s hardly been in before as she’s always been so confident and sure of herself and faith in the gods. Most of her journey throughout ‘Truth’ is re-establishing that trust while emphasizing her inner strength as she goes on the offensive against Cale, Colonel Maru and the sons of Ares.
‘Godwatch’ has its own moments too, of course. This story focuses on Cale much more than Wonder Woman and is where Rucka redefines her. As said, Cale becomes a much more captivating bad guy as Rucka chronicles her descent into villainy. He also spends a bit of time giving new origins to Doctor Cyber, Maru and even throws in Circe for an issue. It’s certainly a compelling tale that creates some interesting parallels between Cale and Diana, especially in a chapter where they both spend a somewhat-friendly evening together. ‘Godwatch’ also delves a bit into the creation of the Cheetah and the tragedy of Barbara-Ann’s life, making her transformation back into Cheetah and Cale’s role in it – once again – all the more painful.
Liam Sharp is once again on the artwork for Wonder Woman’s present timeline while Bilquis Evely handles ‘Godwatch’. Sharp’s work is again rich in detail and he creates some excellent layouts in the chapters where Diana is in a mental hospital. From the zig-zagging way the layouts are made to the visceral imagery of a snake in Diana’s veins to the various battles later on, Sharp is on fire throughout the whole book. His character work is also great as he captures the emotion and body language of the cast, particularly Cheetah, making her look both human and a ferocious animal.
Evely carries a style distinct from Sharp’s, but no less detailed in her layouts and character designs. She gives a lot of life to Cale and emphasizes her dwindling emotions as she grows colder with each chapter. Evely redesign of Circe is also great to look at, combining elements of the Circe’s sorceress background with a modern flair. It’s actually a shame we don’t see more of Evely’s Circe in the book. She also shows a good handle on the action beats, particularly in the climax with a full-out brawl between Wonder Woman and Cheetah with Cale caught in the middle. Evely succeeds in creating some dynamic and energetic imagery. Laura Martin and Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s add a vibrancy to the book that makes Sharp and Evely’s art pop off the page with their mix of darks, brights and other colours. In addition to Sharp and Evely’s work, one of the back-ups featured in the book brings back ‘Year One’s Nicola Scott for the first meeting between Diana, Batman and Superman. Its a great short story that highlights the friendship that grew between the three, though it oddly enough is at the end of the book when it should be at the front due to the final chapter’s callback to this tale.
Rucka delivers quite an adventure for Wonder Woman that highlights who she is at her core. With a great ensemble cast and intriguing new takes on several villains, Wonder Woman: Rebirth Deluxe Edition bolsters a captivating story with some excellent artwork from Sharp and Evely. Fans of the Amazonian Princess and DC Rebirth will enjoy this collection from one of Wonder Woman’s most prolific writers.