'Wonder Woman #25': From Rebirth to Resolve

Greg Rucka completes Wonder Woman's rebirth journey with heart, compassion, and wonder.

Liam Sharp

Wonder Woman

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
Writer: Greg Rucka
Publication date: 2017-06-28

By every measure, Wonder Woman is having a great year. For the first time in her history, it's not unreasonable to say that hers is the brightest star in the DC trinity. Superman and Batman can have their epic battles and bitter disputes, but only Wonder Woman can say she raised her profile while maintaining the heart that makes her so endearing. She's conquered both the box office and the critics on Rotten Tomatoes, something that Batman and Superman's epic clash cannot claim.

Wonder Woman's star is burning so brightly at the moment that it's easy to forget that part of that flame has been regularly stoked by Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp in her comics. After the events of DC Rebirth, Wonder Woman goes through a sobering process of sorts. The world she thought she knew is shrouded with lies that she didn't know were plaguing her. The life she thought she had lived has gaping holes in it that she cannot ignore. For a woman used to extracting truth with her lasso and her charm, that's an unfamiliar feelings.

Like many other DC Rebirth titles, the narrative in Wonder Woman is crafted in a way that builds and escalates. At times, it tends to drag. On top of that, Rucka and Sharp explore some of the gaps that emerged while the DC universe underwent its messy rebirthing process. They end up having to retell, reshape, and update Wonder Woman's story, often while trying to tell a parallel story in the present. It's easy to lose track of the story, but it can make for a uniquely satisfying payoff.

Wonder Woman #25 marks the end of Rucka's run on the series. It also marks the epilogue of sorts of all the various plots within Wonder Woman's rebirth-induced history. It's no easy feat, revamping and retelling Wonder Woman's entire history in just 25 issues while a major Hollywood movie is making headlines in the background. Rucka rises to the challenge, providing a capstone of sorts to a journey that balances the hardened warrior, the loving spirit, and the feminine ideal that she embodies.

It's an important balancing act for Wonder Woman. Throughout her history, multiple writers approach her from various angles. For some, she's only that hardened warrior. For others, she's only that loving spirit and feminine ideal. As iconic a character she is, the stories about her tend to segment her character. All too often, only parts of her personality are explored. Rucka dares to use every one of them in Wonder Woman #25 and in many ways, it completes her rebirth process.

The story itself is built around the aftermath of a lengthy arc that jumps between time periods, exploring Wonder Woman's initial arrival into man's world and her latest clash with a couple menacing gods. Along the way, she faces an identity crisis that makes a rebirth all too necessary. She faces a painful, soul-crushing revelation. For someone who's used to getting the truth out of everyone with ease, that's an accomplishment, even for gods.

Entire chunks of Wonder Woman's life are called into question. Her faith in the gods, her heritage, and herself become subject to major doubt. At the same time, she's still trying to help her friends and still be a full-time member of the Justice League. It's stressful, to say the least. It sends the message that if someone like Wonder Woman can crack under the strain at times, then what hope does anyone have?

That hope doesn't stay lost for long, though. Early on, Rucka shows that Wonder Woman can still be Wonder Woman in the midst of so much upheaval. She can arrive on the scene with the Justice League, fight giant monsters, and hardly break a sweat in taking it down. The hardened warrior aspect of her character is rightly preserved. However, that's not the sole focus of the story or Wonder Woman's journey over the course of the past 25 issues. It's never more than a secondary focus because Wonder Woman embodies more than just a fighting spirit.

Much more of Wonder Woman #25 focuses on her heart, which is heavy and wounded. She spent a great deal of her recent journey trying to save Dr. Barbara Minerva from the clutches of Cheetah, but circumstances beyond her control make that impossible. That's pretty heart-wrenching because when something is impossible for Wonder Woman, who regularly deals with gods, monsters, and Batman, that makes clear that some things are just beyond anyone's control.

She still makes an effort to help her former friend. She also makes a desperate plea for help from the last person who would want to help her. Even with all her love and heart, it isn't enough. It shows in the way she fights. Even her fellow friends on the Justice League sense it. When she finally gets around to confronting it, she has to essentially accept what she can't control. The truth may hurt, but that doesn't make it any less important. There are people who go their entire lives avoiding that. Wonder Woman confronts it, even when she's angry and wounded. Given her immortal heritage, that's quite an accomplishment.

Rucka goes heavy on the symbolism, giving Wonder Woman a love/hate relationship with her magic lasso at a time when the truth can hurt even an immortal warrior woman. Sharp's colorful artwork keeps the tone of the story from getting too bleak or dire. In the end, her willingness to take back her lasso and accept the harsh truth for what it is highlights the end of a journey that Wonder Woman needed to take. It's a journey that strengthens every part of her character, as well as those around her.

As fitting an end as Wonder Woman #25 is to that journey, it does gloss over a few issues and rushes a few others. There's never a clear resolution with Cheetah and Wonder Woman's acceptance of the truth feels somewhat rushed. The fact she only needs a pep talk before taking back her lasso feels somewhat unremarkable, if not contrived. There are a lot of arguments she could've and probably should've had with the gods that deceived her. However, those conversations are essentially shrugged off in favor of some sexy time with Steve Trevor. On some levels, though, that's a fair trade-off.

Overall, Rucka's run on Wonder Woman is a remarkable accomplishment. At a time when Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, and Patty Jenkins are elevating Wonder Woman's star to new heights, her DC: Rebirth journey finds a way to make that star burn a little brighter. Wonder Woman is tough, compassionate, loving, loyal, and beautiful on every level. It's not something that most people need to be reminded of, but some reminders are still worth having.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

Keep reading... Show less

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.