Wonder Woman: Black & Gold #1
Art by: Various
Written by: Various
Just in time for Wonder Woman’s 80th anniversary, DC Comics proudly presents a new anthology series starring the Amazon Princess embellished in the the color of her famous lasso. You won’t want to miss this thrilling series celebrating the woman who inspires us all…and that’s the truth! Kicking things off, John Arcudi (B.P.R.D.) and Ryan Sook (Legion of Super-Heroes) reunite to show us the grace immortality grants a hero. Becky Cloonan (Wonder Woman) weaves a spine-tingling tale of Diana’s most precious weapon against the darkness. Then Amy Reeder (Amethyst) takes us back to the Golden Age for a fun romp co-starring Etta Candy. AJ Mendez and Ming Doyle (Constantine: The Hellblazer) travel to Themyscira for a tense family reunion. And finally, Nadia Shammas and Morgan Beem (Swamp Thing: Twin Branches) show us a story of Diana’s past failures coming back to haunt her.
Wonder Woman Black & Gold is an anthology series meant to celebrate 80 years of one of DC’s greatest successes. It’s got one of comic’s all time biggest stars, some of today’s most popular artists, and a great idea for tying all the stories together – everything is told in black and white with splashes of gold throughout, in honor of WW’s famous lasso and unique metal. I really like the idea behind the series – its a great way to take a closer look at the things that make Wonder Woman so special without interfering in any ongoing series or just reprinting familiar tales from her history. But as much as I like the idea, something about the execution of it falls a little short of my expectations.
For one thing, I just don’t think the spot color worked out very well. It gets off to a great start showcasing the gold that Diana is wearing, and anything that might be made of the same metal. But before long it’s anything even remotely yellow, such as butter and carrots and candies and… trash bags. That really makes what is used so well in some stories feel totally mundane in others. And it changes the feeling of the very title of the book – it’s not exactly golden, is it, if you’re wrapping it around trash and discarding it? It’s an uneven use that has some spectacular highs and some miserable lows.
What bothered me most, though, is how the art in general is handled. For a series showcasing such a huge commercial success, some of the panels really feel phoned in. The quality of the art is as random as the use of the highlight color. There seems to be no rules enforced in the very idea behind this series. It’s like the one binding principal doesn’t bind much at all, and instead of a cohesive anthology highlighting how important the color and golden metal is to the Wonder Woman mythos, we just get a lot of yellow backgrounds and sloppy character art and are told it’s supposed to match. Well, it doesn’t.
Thank Hera then that most of the writing is top-notch. Instead of the gold, what really shines here is how each story focuses on something so important to either the character of Wonder Woman, or why the fans love her so much. A perfectly human story about her complicated relationship with her mother, Diana honoring a soldier she fought with in WWII years after his death, and even matching wits with Batman (and coming out on top) – these are all great examples of what makes her so special to her fans. Wonder Woman is not, and never has been, just a sword and lasso and some fighting expertise. At least the writers understand what makes her special to us better than the artists understand the importance of radiant, precious gold.
At the end of the day, I do think this would be a fine addition to any Wonder Woman collection. It’s got great writing throughout, some of the artistic highs makes the whole thing worth it, and it’s all about a huge moment in WW’s history. 80 years is a big deal. I just wish things had been a little better curated, that the art was more reliable from story to story, and that the use of gold had been even throughout. If you want a perfect example of how good this entire anthology could have been, look no further than the “I’m Ageless” story. If everyone had been held to these standards, this book would have been amazing.
Anthology Series to Celebrate 80 Years
Wonder Woman Black & Gold is a fun little series celebrating one of DC's greatest hits. It's sure to appeal to long time fans with its unique art style and varied stories about what makes the heroine so special, but I just don't see why any reason new readers should be excited for it.