Collected Comic Review - Wonder Woman Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1

Wonder Woman Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1: Collecting Wonder Woman: Rebirth (2016) #1, Wonder Woman (2016) #1-14

When DC originally announced their Rebirth initiative, the title that I was looking forward to the most was Wonder Woman.  Greg Rucka was making a return to the character (he had already written one one highly acclaimed Wonder Woman run in the early 2000's), and artistic duties were going to be split between Liam Sharp (whose work I had not previously been familiar with) and Nicola Scott (who like Rucka, would be dancing with Diana a second time).  Many of the Rebirth titles were implementing multiple artist teams in order to keep up with the the bi-weekly shipping schedule, but Wonder Woman differed in that Rucka was going to juggle two story arcs at once, alternating issues between 'The Lies', a story set in present day (Sharp), and a 'Year One' story set in the past (Scott).  Rucka had signed on to steer the title for the first year of the Rebirth initiative, so this collection is only the first half of his run, leaving the second half to be collected in an as-of-yet-not-solicited Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2.

Art by Liam Sharp

Like the rest of the Rebirth Deluxe Editions, this volume begins with the Wonder Woman: Rebirth one shot that sets the stage for the beginning of the reboot of the main title.  With his Rebirth run, Rucka set out to streamline Wonder Woman's continuity in the present-day arc titled 'The Lies' (there have been a handful of origin variations over the years).  He does this through Diana's discovery that she no longer has the ability to return to Themyscira.  She's also having a hard time determining which memories are real and which are not, so she sets out to determine who or what is behind these changes.  With the 'Year One' arc, Rucka puts a more modern twist on what is essentially the most accepted version of her origin story: Diana's acclimation to man's world after giving up her immortality and other Amazonian gifts in order to see Steve Trevor safely home after he survives a plane crash on Themyscira.  As the 'Year One' arc progresses, it informs events occurring in 'The Lies' to tell a cohesive character history spanning story.  Rucka even slips in a handful of Easter Eggs referencing previous Wonder Woman creators.  George Perez and Gail Simone are both mentioned by last name, with Perez even appearing on panel as an expert in ancient Greek who is trying to translate for Diana when she first arrives in man's world.  There's also a mall scene later on in which the majority of the store names reference many prior creators on the title.

Art by Liam Sharp

Diana's back story isn't the only change Rucka has made for the Rebirth era.  He brought Steve Trevor back to the title after a prolonged absence and has also added some diversity to the cast of characters.  Etta Candy is now of African-American descent with hints to a budding relationship between she and Barbara Ann Minerva.  A discussion between Steve and Diana alludes to Diana's bisexuality (which honestly makes sense, given that she grew up in an all female society), but at the same time the arc also strengthens the bond between the two.

Art by Nicola Scott

Say what you will about the decision to retcon Wonder Woman's varying histories, but I feel that comic book continuity should be treated more as a guideline as opposed to a steadfast rule.  In comics, if you don't like something just wait a bit until another creator comes along and changes it.  Virtually nothing is permanent.  As long as the story being told is good, does it really matter?  Some of the best stories evolve from out of the box takes.  Case in point: the Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang New 52 Wonder Woman.  That run was similarly met with resistance, but it won over many fans with an excellent story.  It is now a big reason why people are as leery about the Rebirth era changes as they are.  Personally, I feel that this situation is a bit different in that Rucka isn't outright dismissing those events.  He is acknowledging them while trying to fold them into a story that combines the character's many origin iterations.

Art by Liam Sharp

The art on this title is top notch across the board.  As I mentioned earlier, I was completely unfamiliar with Liam Sharp's work, which is unfortunate because his detailed fantasy illustration-like style is perfect for the character.  He also draws the most feral Cheetah I've ever seen and it is probably my favorite take on the character.  Nicola Scott's rendition of a younger Diana discovering her powers and man's world for the first time is full of emotion and wonder.  The interlude issue focusing on Barbara Ann Minerva's early years is wonderfully illustrated by Bilquis Evely, foreshadowing her taking over greater art duties later in Rucka's run.  Renato Guedes also fills in admirably on an issue, and Matthew Clark gets the Rebirth one shot started off, bridging Wonder Woman's New 52 look to the Rebirth look that Sharp implements so well.

Art by Liam Sharp

The alternating issues/arcs may sound a little clunky or confusing but have no fear, it is executed extremely well.  Following the back and forth wasn't too bad when keeping up with the issues as they were released, and it's even less of an issue when they are collected all together.  There was a question as to what order this edition would print the issues in because DC collected each arc in its entirety in the trade paperback format (Vol. 1: The Lies, Vol. 2: Year One).  Honestly, the only  downfall to this collection is that it only presents half of Rucka's recently completed Rebirth run.  His twenty five issues comprise one large overarching story so this volume leaves you hanging midway.  I really wish DC was more expeditious in releasing their hardcover collections.  If the scheduled release of The Flash Deluxe Edition Book 2 is any indication, we likely won't see Wonder Woman's Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2 until sometime next summer.

Art by Nicola Scott

If you're a fan of extras in your collected editions, this volume includes a variant cover gallery (including covers from Stanley "Artgerm" Lau, Frank Cho, Jenny Frison - who provided the cover art for this edition, and Matthew Clarke), a costume redesign page, and some process/sketch pages from both Sharp and Scott.

Art by Nicola Scott

I am admittedly biased because Greg Rucka is one of my favorite writers, but I have absolutely loved his latest run on Wonder Woman.  With this being my second read through, I picked up on similar story elements between the 'Year One' story line and the Wonder Woman movie from earlier this year, making this a great starting point for any new readers exploring the comic world after having seen the movie.  All in all, I would probably still direct a new Wonder Woman reader towards the Perez run as the optimal starting point, but only because this run makes references to earlier incarnations of Diana's status quo including those found in the works of Perez and Azzarello.  This collection is another winner from DC's Rebirth initiative, with top notch storytelling and artwork.  I cannot wait for Wonder Woman Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2 to be released so that I can have the entirety of this run collected on my shelf.

Book w/o Dust Jacket - Art by Nicola Scott

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