Wonder Girl (#1) – Joelle Jones

3 out of 5

As much as I love Joelle Jones’ artwork, and its evolution from its rough-edged energy to its detailed precision, I haven’t quite gotten a feel for her writing. I keep floating by books here and there, because writer / artists admittedly bias me – I want to like them, in admiration of their dual skills – but I’ve not yet read an issue that necessarily grabs me. It’s possible the stuff reads better in trade, but in single issue form – and that includes this Wonder Girl #1 – I don’t close the cover with a clear feeling of what the book is, or what it’s about.

We open up with an intense flashback scene of what appear to be Amazons protecting a young girl from some warriors, overlain with presumably modern day narration of a flight landing. Jones – illustrating her own tale, with the storybook flair of James Jean, and beautifully colored by Jordie Bellaire – ends the flashback on a closeup of the young girl’s eyes before we segue to Yara Flor, indeed deplaning. She blabs to a fellow passenger about needing to reconnect with her roots, and then heads off on a Brazilian tour to do so. Cut to various mythical lands – Themyscira and the like – in which the various leaders keen on the reappearance of some vague threat, which we take to be Yara, and marshaling, in each of their locals, the troops to handle her. Meanwhile, Yara continues her tour.

All of this is hunky dory, and not poorly written. That’s not Jones’ issue: her dialogue has a good flow, and avoids the usual Marvel / DC shtick of banter, which I appreciate – people actually talk. Scenes transition effectively. But at the same time, I’m not sure I get a very strong sense of personality, either from the story, or the characters. And when we end on a “cliffhanger,” I’m not even clear on what the stakes are in terms of those elements. I mean, on an obvious level, said cliffhanger puts Yara in peril, but who is she, and why should I be concerned about what we’ve seen?

This is why I suspect the stories may read more effectively in trade, when there’s room to better establish such matters; and so perhaps Jones – to me – just isn’t great at the single issue.

Wonder Girl is a breezy (and gorgeously arted) read, but for a #1, I can’t say it sets up anything that necessarily demands I go for issue #2, unless I’m already invested in the character or her world from the previous DC books from which she sprung, which I admittedly haven’t read.