Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman: Dead Earth
Medium: comic
Year: 2020
Writer/artist: Daniel Warren Johnson
Series: << Wonder Woman
Keywords: Black Label, superhero
Format: 4-issue DC Black Label series
Website category: Comics
Review date: 19 July 2023
wonder woman dead earth
Ah, that's more like it. I was starting to wonder if I should avoid DC Black Label.
It's set in a post-apocalyptic Mad Max future. A nuclear war devastated the planet and monsters roam the ruins, attacking any surviving humans. Wonder Woman wakes up from a centuries-long sleep (near Gotham City) and sees that she has a job to do.
...and we've seen versions of this template before. Batman: Last Knight on Earth, for instance. Old Man Logan. There will be more. A hero wakes up to find him/herself the last superhero in a devastated world. The hero's greatest enemy will probably become their only friend. The apocalypse is likely to have happened for reasons that are personal to this particular hero, or at least there will have been some kind of traumatic event.
The good news, though, is that that's a strong template. This book is great. The world is horrible, its inhabitants are nearly as bad (apparently) and the emotional connections are powerful. Wonder Woman is going to learn some ghastly truths and be faced with impossible decisions.
I like the art. Wonder Woman doesn't look like herself, or at least like any version of the character I'm familiar with. I think she has a child's face, actually. The art, though, is bold, simple, violent and extremely readable. Action sequences look great. The devastated landscapes and the characters' emotional states are evocative. Daniel Warren Johnson is clearly a name to watch. For what it's worth, this book got him nominated for IGN's Best Comic Book Artist of 2020 award, then he won the ComicBook.com Golden Issues Award for Best Artist in 2021 and was Eisner-nominated in 2022.
I like the use of iconography. Batman, Superman... they're dead, but they're also all-important. I liked Cheetah, whose story role here would be strong even for readers who don't remember the character. If you know who Barbara is, great, but don't worry if you don't. Everything you need to know is in these pages.
And the Lasso of Truth... bloody hell. I'd never seen a writer use it this powerfully before.
The word for this book, I think, is "primal". The human race is on the brink, as indeed is the entire planet. Monsters are tearing up the wilderness. There's no room for heroic platitudes. Wonder Woman still has her noble principles, but even she can be pushed into what could be described as betrayal. The stakes couldn't be more personal for her. It's great stuff.