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Wonder Woman #23.1 - The Hunt Review

4

Barbara Minerva is free from Belle Reeve and on the hunt. But it's for a woman tied inexorably to her past, and it's definitely not the one you'd think.

The Good

John Ostrander already has plenty of experience writing villains with runs on Suicide Squad and Star Wars: Legacy under his belt, so he's a good fit to tell the tale of not only how Barbara Minerva came to be the Cheetah, but what she's been up to since the Secret Society went on their recruitment drive. Cheetah's never been anything near my favorite villain, even Wonder Woman villain, but since getting something of a boost in both power and visibility since the start of the New 52, she's definitely blipped on my radar. But while she was mostly a blur and a force of nature in her appearance in JLA, this gives us a look in her mind at what makes her tick, and it's actually pretty interesting. From her twisted upbringing to the events that caused her transformation to the modern day hunter trying to track her down, the character is fleshed out and says just enough to be menacing without being too stoic.

Victor Ibanez handles pencils and inks while the ever prolific Wil Quintana provides sharp, distinct colors with a wide palette, despite the story taking place almost exclusively at night or in the dark. The line work is also very solid with characters and settings being extremely distinct and standing out beautifully. The flashback events even have a slight tint to them, I'm not sure I'd go so far as to call it sepia, but it's very close, which helps make it clear when they happen without hitting the reader over the head with "THEN!" "NOW!" captions every single time. The filter looks very natural as well, making it an integral part of the story.

The Bad

Like so many Villains Month titles, this one seems extremely scattershot and either should have been longer or split in two issues. We're introduced to a lot of new characters and concepts, the FBI marshal especially, who get extremely short-shrift, despite being set up as a significant new player, while also getting shorted on a lot of the content that takes place in the past. It's definitely an origin issue, but since there are only 20 pages, we get 14 in the present and 6 in the past. The present has to juggle far more content and characters while the past just seems half-baked. With some of these issues, I really wish the concept would either fully commit to an origin or fully commit to exploring what the character is up to in the present because the issues that do that tend to be the most successful.

There's some pretty severe cognitive dissonance that happens in the cult that gave us Cheetah where they're completely dedicated to the hunt, to the extent that Cheetah won't even hunt someone if they're already wounded, but they turn someone loose in the woods with no weaponry whatsoever while they're armed with a weapon they're greatly proficient with. I understand that a great many times a real hunt is between two sides with vastly different means of defending themselves, but this comes off much more as a protracted execution.

The Verdict

There are definitely some pacing and content issues, but the book is still ultimately very well written and makes me really hope that we'll be seeing a lot more of Cheetah in the future. The art makes this book extremely easy to recommend, but the writing is no slouch either and does a great job of illustrating a character who isn't exactly sympathetic, but she's definitely well and realistically motivated, which goes a long way to making her more fleshed out and, more importantly, interesting to read and follow. It's always great when a B-lister makes it to the A-list, so let's hope that's the case here.

16 Comments
Posted by Outside_85

Heard some pretty poor things about this issue; something about this cult being a good reason for Barbara to have a messed up head, but at the same time fails to give her a real reason to be a Wonder Woman villain.

Posted by fables87

Brian Azzarello's not writing this issue?

Posted by Undeadpool

Heard some pretty poor things about this issue; something about this cult being a good reason for Barbara to have a messed up head, but at the same time fails to give her a real reason to be a Wonder Woman villain.

Her reason for being a WW villain is separate (somewhat) from her upbringing, but she has a good reason for it.

@fables87 said:

Brian Azzarello's not writing this issue?

Nope, like so many Villain's Month issues, this is a completely different creative team.

Posted by fables87

@undeadpool: I rather read Azzarello's take. I'm not a fan of the Villain event thing. I liked how the Wonder Woman comic wasn't connected to the rest of the New 52 titles.

Posted by Mulder15

I really enjoyed this issue. Made Cheetah more fleshed out then usual.

Posted by mightyrearranger

Very excited to read this. Azzarello's good, but Ostrander is one of my favorite writers. :)

Posted by The_Titan_Lord

Nice.

Posted by Wilbertus

No mention of the 3D "coming at you" cover?

Edited by Eivion

I actually dug the issue and didn't find much fault in it. I thought the length was perfectly fine for the particular story they were trying to tell. They can easily go into further development on other aspects of Cheetah down the road. Oh and the FBI agent is the New 52 introduction of Manhunter (Shaw). He isn't really a big player so I wasn't expecting too much from him here.

@fables87 said:

@undeadpool: I rather read Azzarello's take. I'm not a fan of the Villain event thing. I liked how the Wonder Woman comic wasn't connected to the rest of the New 52 titles.

Azzarello doesn't care much for WW's rogue's gallery or general cast. Its why he used practically none of them in his run. You can read Azzarello's writing with First Born next week.

Posted by judasnixon

Did not care for this...... I bought this thinking it would have Brian and Cliff doing the story. Nope. It would have been nice if DC put the creative team on the cover...........

Posted by Outside_85

Her reason for being a WW villain is separate (somewhat) from her upbringing, but she has a good reason for it.

I hope it's not just that bit from the preview where Diana dismisses Barbara's idea that the Amazons worship a goddess of the hunt more than others.

Posted by MartianManhunterIsBetterThanCyborg

I wish Azzerello did this story.

Posted by asjmooney

I enjoyed it overall and liked learning more about the character as being a feral hunter, especially in a universe where there are no where enough strong female villains.I hope to see more of her like this. I hated her in the Justice League Unlimited series.

Also I don't know if I liked it or not that she is now "as fast as The Flash".

Next battle: New 52 Cheetah vs Wolverine

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Posted by kikkomansa

What a bummer of a comic. When I saw that Azzarello and Chiang had nothing to do with this issue, I just knew that I was going to be disappointed. I wish I had specified to my local comic store guys to just not pull anything Villains Month-related.

Posted by Jake Fury

Good issue, really liked the work Ostrander did here.