Wonder Woman:
Spirit of Truth

Paul Dini &
Alex Ross, writers,
Alex Ross, artist
(DC Comics, 2001)

This is the fourth oversized book in an annual series of tributes to DC's iconic heroes. Once again, writer Paul Dini and artist Alex Ross have created a phenomenal piece of art that is a must-read if for no other reason than the glorious art. As usual, Ross has provided stunning visuals that seem unbelievably realistic. His characters seem to move, to breathe, and it's a wonder they don't leap from the page.

Like previous books in this series, there is no maddened criminal out for global domination to fight. There's no epic battle with costumed villains to fill the pages with "biff," "bam" and "pow" action sequences. Dini prefers to delve into the moral and emotional issues of heroing -- he doesn't give us perfect paragons of strength and virtue, he crafts people with depth, whose exceptional gifts are sometimes no match for their own doubts and the overwhelming ills of the world.

A portion of Wonder Woman's crisis is the reaction and distrust she sometimes encounters in some global forums and some conservative cultures -- a reaction sparked in part by the scantiness of her costume. While drooling fanboys would no doubt protest so drastic a solution, it seems Diana could solve the problem entirely by changing her look and wearing something a bit more modest. But no, dear readers, do not fret (and wipe that drool from your keyboard, please!) -- Diana doesn't retire her red, white, blue and gold-spangled bathing suit for anyone!

But she does ponder and address the cultural differences that can divide the world, and she does act to solve what she can without concealing her legs or cleavage from her fans. While not as emotionally moving as the earlier books in this series, it is a touching narrative of self-exploration.

In Spirit of Truth, Dini and Ross have created a definitive Wonder Woman, who is noble, graceful, determined and, of course, beautiful. Sure, they played a little loosely with her established background, borrowing a bit from past versions that have fallen from favor in the DCU. On the other hand, they've given readers the ultimate invisible airplane to play with -- one that is actually, believe it or not, invisible!

Fans of Paul Dini and/or Alex Ross should not do without this book. Wonder Woman buffs, too, shouldn't hesitate to add this to their collection. If we're lucky, Dini and Ross will decide to extend their four-book series further and give us more for years to come.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 9 March 2002

Buy it from Amazon.com.