Over the course of Rucka’s Rebirth run on Wonder Woman, the writer, alongside main series artists Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott, has called into question Diana’s strange and fractured past. For years, she has been torn apart by gods and monsters; she has been betrayed by the people she has sworn to protect. Then, she learned so much of what she thought she knew has been a lie. Diana has never returned to Themyscira since she left with Steve Trevor. Every return and every lie has been a trick– all manufactured and engineered to keep Diana’s body and mind in conflict and bring her closer to Ares, the God of War.
Over the years, Ares has become one of Diana’s most prominent foes, but as we learn here, Diana never actually fought Ares at all. It was Phobos and Deimos, the sons of Ares and gods of Terror and Panic, seeking to steal their father’s power from Ares’ inter-dimensional prison. To make Ares the victim rather than the villain is a powerful and intriguing turn. Rather than characterizing him as an actively malevolent force in the world, this God of War sees his role closer to how the Endless do in Sandman— he is an engine of a human constant rather than an ambitious power-monger. Conflict, according to Ares, is not inherently bad– it is a tool for change and can build new life as easily as it can destroy it. The danger of war is not in the act, but rather its constant need to propagate itself. War as the only solution rather than the last solution. Fighting for the sake of power rather than the need to change.
The polar opposite to war? Love. Aphrodite’s love grants power to the chains that bound Ares and seeped him of his bloodlust. Veronica Cale’s love for her daughter, Isadore, pushed her to cooperate with Phobos and Deimos, but also, in the end, pushed her to work with Wonder Woman as well. To love someone is to put aside your needs and fears in favor of another– to embrace that you do not know and allow someone else to help you understand. Aphrodite helps Ares understand. Veronica’s love for Isadore pushes her to move past her fears of what the gods can do to her so that she can understand what a benevolent demi-god might do for her.
And indeed, in the end, Wonder Woman supplicates herself at the feet of Phobos and Deimos in order to quell their terror and fear. When she kneels before them, she is not surrendering to their whims, but rather seeking to understand their pain. Terror and Fear come from a place of unknowing. They feed upon the negative consequences that can result from stepping into the blind. But if you seek to understand and give in to what you cannot know, terror and fear can hold no sway over you.
So that is the lesson Diana learns. Her true strength doesn’t come from the gods. It doesn’t come from her home. Her greatest strength is her ability to do what few of us can– to never give into fear. To never use violence as a cure for confusion. To constantly seek to understand. To always open herself to love.
Final Verdict: Buy