I was creating links to all my old series overviews over at my little reviews portal when I realized that I could no longer find the original "What Comic Books Have You Read Lately?" thread anywhere. Fortunately, I archived some of the older reviews from that thread on my computer. I'm reposting them here so that I have them online somewhere where people can still reply to them, if interested:
Wonder Woman vol. 2 #1-62 plus Annual #1 (The full George Perez run)
Perez's run on WW truly reads like a maxi-series. It's fascinating how the premise first outlined in the first issue is so thoroughly concluded by the last -- and on every level, from basic external plot to the more complex internal conflicts of an entire tribal nation. This run was clearly a carefully considered labor of love. Surely enough, every other conflict or theme established throughout the series concluded by the end. The final story arc (War of the Gods) even managed to include every major character ever to appear in the title without dying (except for Ares), while crossing into nearly the entire DCU.
But...was it any good?
As far as I'm concerned, Diana's greatest moment will always be the second to last page of the first issue. Here, Diana is undergoing a sort of trial before becoming Wonder Woman. The trial involves her deflecting a series of bullets fired from a gun. Diana deflects them with an endearing look of absolute terror on her face, only to ultimately ask "By the gods! What is that thing? Where did it come from?" It captures a significant balance in the Perez series - Diana's absolutely lovable naivety versus the greater destiny that awaits her (shrouded in mystery and a plethora of clues). We don't know why there's a gun on Paradise Island, but we know it's a small part of something BIG that lies in store for Diana. It makes us understand that a great legacy awaits her. Meanwhile, we both laugh at and love the adorable face of a completely horrified young woman that has never seen a gun before and now is being made to deflect bullets. Perez's art is amazing in its empathy, and the pacing of the layout is dynamite.
Unfortunately, less than halfway into the series, things begin to change. And, by the end of the series, Diana has lost most of that wonderful naivety (yet replaced it with little else), has achieved her destiny and replaced that only with "how shall I restore my good name" and "should I be a superhero now?", and Perez's first class art and layouts have been replaced with the outright horrific work of (first) Chris Marrinian and (later) Jill Thompson. In both cases, their inability to draw faces is so disruptive that it utterly annihilates any emotional subtext that Perez may have still been working at. By the end of the series, everything that made it great in the begining is now lost. We teeter on, resolving plot points, but plot points were never a strength of this series. The antagonists and premises were always bearable at best. The highlights were always those moments BETWEEN plots where Perez would take a moment to really explore Diana and the people around her.
So the series faded out pretty quickly.
My reading recommendations for this series:
The series is intermittantly dogeared by pivotal moments in Diana's journey. Any of these would serve as excellent stopping points.
-If you're curious (or a completist), there's no harm in reading until the end (issue #62) unless you can't tolerate bad art. It's a nice resolution to the run that comes probably thirty five issues too late. The stories are never terrible. They're just adequate.
-If you'd like to follow until Diana fulfills her mysterious destiny (it's a bit less interesting after this), read until issue #50. It's a bit of disappointment as the climax to a sixty two issue run, but it's still worth reading.
-Reading up to issue #41 will give you the first diplomatic visit to Paradise Island (as well as the chaos that ensues), and a nice "between plots" story that strongly develops Vanessa (an important supporting character in the series).
-Reading up to Wonder Woman Annual #1 (which directly follows #22) will give you all of the best moments in the run while bypassing what I consider to be the biggest wrong turn the series took (relating to Lord Hermes and begining in #23). It culminates with the first time the insular Amazons allow strangers (friends to Wonder Woman) to visit Paradise Island, and the annual depicts the visitation and celebration with great detail (and avoids introducing a conflict alltogether - quite bold and different). This arc also includes the departure of the gods (issue #21) which is, itself, quite a culminating moment for Diana, and the "Who killed Myndi Mayor?" story in issue #20 (quite possibly the most powerful issue of the series).
So I strongly recommend the first 22 issues and the annual. These are essential stories for WW, even when the plots are often sub-par. Plus you get all that great Perez art before Marrinian takes over. Beyond that, it really depends upon how curious you are.