In this issue Rucka brings us the very satisfying conclusion of his “The Lies” story arc. In what I personally felt was a masterful example of adept and clever story-telling, he managed to undo all the harm that had been during Azzarello’s New 52 run – as far as the Amazons’ origin was concerned – and in a very believable way that made sense too. No longer were they child slaver murderers but instead were restored to their noble selves – selflessly protecting the world from ultimate evil and violence.
He also resolved the jarring and rather unsettling role Diana herself had been given by Azzarello, when he had made her the God of War. Like the faux Themyscira, this was all revealed to have been just another lie created to distract her from the truth.
Some fans had enjoyed Azzarello’s tenure on the book, feeling he had brought a fresh new version of the Amazing Amazon. Many however, like myself, had found his run to be purely an exercise in anarchy – purposely disrupting the ‘apple cart’ and almost going out of his way to cause controversy. This may have helped to sell books initially, due to the sheer “shock value”, but soon the damage that was being done to this character’s mythos, roots and core values became clear even to DC.
Wonder Woman has stood the test of time for over 75 years for a reason – and the New 52 was taking her further and further away from her true self.
That’s why I personally view “Rebirth” as DC’s apology – although they would never admit to that. A recognition that for the sake of chasing sales they had taken their eye off the ball and forgotten what an incredible legacy this character has and that they carry the ultimate responsibility of ensuring she endures.
And for me at any rate, Rucka’s arc had managed to bring home our Princess from the dark place she had been living in for many years. Finally we had a Wonder Woman that acted, thought and felt like the Diana we know and love. But with Rucka’s departure from the book, as well as the talented Liam Sharp, whose incredible artwork had been a joy to behold, would the baton be handed over to a receptive new creative team – or would they in turn have other ideas for Wonder Woman?
Ares explains to Wonder Woman and Veronica that while war is a forge that destroys and rebuilds greater civilisations, it is also a never ending hunger that eventually drove him mad. The other Gods could tell that Ares was falling further into insanity and so Hephaestus forged chains that could bind him while Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, gently wrapped them around Ares. In peace came clarity and he resolved not to be mad again. Instead he would be kept safe – in this prison.
But he also knew that others – namely his two sons Phobos and Deimos – still craved the blood lust and would look to either free him again or kill him and take his place. So the Gods created a guard to watch over Ares prison and who were dedicated to eternal peace – the Amazons…
Meanwhile on Themyscira those same Amazons sound the alarm as Deimos and Phobos materialise before them. Hippolyta knows what they have come for and orders her soldiers to prepare to defend the prison with their lives. The fact that they have made it to the island would seem that Diana has failed – so now, with the Patrons by their side – there is nothing left but to fight to the last.
Back in the prison Ares senses his sons are very close. He then says to Diana if she now realises why the way back to Themyscira had been hidden from her. She replies that she should have been told and entrusted with the truth. Ares tells her that it was a question of trust but she says that she should have been given the choice. He then reminds her what her words to her mother had been the day she had left the island. “I will return”. Her mother had replied “Do not make such promises” but Diana had vowed “I will.”
The Patrons had feared her sense of purpose and resolve and that if anybody could find their way back it would be her. Stealing the knowledge of the island’s location would not have been enough because she would have set out to seek the truth – it is her nature – and her will would not admit defeat until she had achieved it. So they felt it best that she believed she already knew the truth.
He goes on the explain that when she had confronted him not long after leaving the island it had been his two sons masquerading as him. And the first thing they had done was to try and wrest the location from her mind. “But what you don’t know you cannot betray.” adds Cale. So when she proved a dead end they had turned to Veronica instead in the hope that she could do what they could not. And she had managed it.
As Diana takes in the knowledge that she had in fact never faced Ares in combat and that they have never even met before, he tells her that they had met once before when he had given her a little gift. The snake bite was a way that she could find her way back here in the event she ever needed to.
Cale smiles as Wonder Woman looks at her wrist where the bites had once been and explains that it is like having two stage encryption. She cannot reach Ares until she reaches Themyscira.
Cale then asks how her daughter had made it here. Isabel ensures her that the War God had no sexual intentions and he explains that her sons had trapped her essence and Cale had now made her whole again. But he fears the price.
Just then they hear a commotion outside and he fears that the Amazons are on the brink of falling to his relentless sons. Wonder Woman says that surely the patrons will assist but he replies that Gods will not kill Gods and they will at best merely delay the inevitable. Her sisters will perish.
Cale says that he was stopped once by chains but he replies that what Hephaestus had forged did not contain him but had merely been a vessel to contain his essence, nothing more.
On hearing this Wonder Woman reaches for her lasso which had also been forged by Hephaestus as Ares adds “It was not the chains that bound me. It was Aphrodite’s love.”
Wonder Woman then turns to him and softly says “Let your sons in”.
On Themyscira things are looking bad as Hippolyta steals her troops for one final stand but Castalia suddenly tells the Queen to stand down and that he daughter is here. They watch Phobos and Deimos enter the prison where they are met by a kneeling Amazon Princess.
As the two gods transform back into human form they smile at the sight of Wonder Woman in supplication. As they asks her where they can find their father she simply smiles back at them, clutching her lasso in her hand. As she continues to ignore their questions they become angry and demand she answers. She finally stands up and simply replies “I love you.” They cower at her words in surprise before hurling themselves at her in anger. But she uses to ensnare each in turn as they crumble to the floor sobbing as she tells each of then that they are loved. It is over. The threat is no more.
Ares tells her that now they have been subdued more permanent bonds will be found for them. He then shows her and Cale the portal exit back to where Steve is waiting patiently. But as Cale takes Isabel’s hand she pulls back. Ares sadly explains that she is only whole again here and if she returns back with Cale she will split again and become a shell. A devastated and angry Cale snarls that her daughter will now have to stay here in this prison!
But Ares suggests there is another alternative. She can go to Themyscira, which is linked to the prison and she will therefore remain whole. A sad Cale says goodbye to her daughter and watches as she steps through the exit and is greeted by the Amazons.
While it is open Diana can momentarily see her home and more importantly her mother, although Hippolyta cannot see her. The Amazon Queen places her hand on the trunk of the tree , sensing her daughter is there and murmurs “My daughter…you always make me proud”.