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There is nothing like witnessing the development of a pop culture icon like Wonder Woman with modern society in mind. After completing Crisis on Infinite Earths in the mid-1980s, DC Comics restarted their entire superhero universe opening lots of opportunities to reintroduce their superheroes, super villains and other characters to readers updated with the times. The Post-Crisis Wonder Woman involving the legendary George Perez and other creators saw the Queen of Superheroes updated with the 1980s in mind.
Even though Princess Diana and her fellow Amazons clearly expressed themselves in English to use readers, it turned out within the comic series that English was not their native language. In fact, Wonder Woman and her Amazon sisters all spoke Themysciran which is derived from Greek. Fortunately for Diana, she met someone who could understand her and communicate well. The language barrier is just one of the challenges Diana had to go through as she discovers man’s world.
We can now rejoin Wonder Woman and her journey of discovery in man’s world with this look back at Wonder Woman #5, published by DC Comics in 1987 with a story co-written by George Perez and Len Wein. Perez’s art was inked by Bruce D. Patterson.
The story begins in Themyscira where the Amazons wait as Menalippe (their oracle) tries communion with their deities. One of the women expressed worry that the god of War – Ares – continues to gain power across the world. Even as she tries, Menalippe could not figure out the signs from their gods and Queen Hippolyte is eager to find out something about her daughter Diana.
Beneath Mount Olympus, Apollo remains in dreamless sleep. The women, in the presence of Hermes, remain uncertain about what has been going on. An ancient is near them.
In man’s world, war and chaos spreads. Steve Trevor appears in the television news as a rumored spy of the Soviet Union. At the same time, Wonder Woman makes waves in the news as a result of her battle with Decay…
Unsurprisingly, the very high quality of art, storytelling and characterization that started since issue #1 is well maintained by the creators in this comic book. What I love in Wonder Woman #5 aside from her continued journey of discovering more of man’s world and interacting with more with Steve Trevor (plus Etta Candy and other supporting characters) is the strong shift into the realm of fantasy which is full of action and other forms of spectacle!
For the plot, George Perez and Len Wein made a fascinating story that had a nice mix of Greek culture, fantasy and contemporary military battles. There were layers of intrigue as the creators made clear how Ares and his minions from the spiritual realm (related to Olympus and their deities) influenced mortals to fight each other so fiercely without even pausing to be clam and reasonable. This raises the stakes for Wonder Woman who is still adjusting to man’s world.
On characterization, each character here is well-written and clearly defined as believable individuals. The interactions between Wonder Woman and the others (plus their interactions in between themselves) are very rich to read and analyze.
When it comes to spectacle, this one is really loaded and, at the same time, much more imaginative! The shift from man’s world into the realm of fantasy (specifically a location often inaccessible to mortals) gave this comic book a fantastic atmosphere! There is a lot to enjoy here.
While it is not surprising that George Perez excellently illustrated this comic book, I should mention that his use of multiple panels per page here is quite clever. While using more than five panels per page is considered excessive by today’s standards, Perez managed to tell clearly the story and took time to control the pace. The spectacle scenes are fast but never disorienting. The character development and worldview scenes are never boring to look at.
Undoubtedly, Wonder Woman #5 is a great comic book. Elements of militarism, fantasy and Greek mythology were excellently blended here and ultimately it presented Wonder Woman’s personal development and interaction with the supporting players with a lot of depth. At this stage, her interaction with Steve Trevor as well as Julia Kapatelis really blossomed here.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Wonder Woman #5 (1987), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition and the newsstand edition costs $26 and $51 respectively.
Overall, Wonder Woman #5 (1987) is highly recommended!
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