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Future State: Wonder Woman

Future State is the event DC had this past summer that offered mini series on characters and events occurring either in the multiverse or far in the future after the events of Death Metal (which I’m ashamed to admit I still need to read…). This trade paperback collects all the Wonder Woman stories:

First, L.L. McKinney’s Nubia as Wonder Woman attempts to stop a villain named Grail from stealing artifacts from various goddesses. Sensing they may be connected, she seeks answers from her Aunt Nancy. Apparently these artifacts come together as a master key to open doors throughout the universe. The last piece Grail needs to steal is Nubia’s tiara… but there’s nothing THAT special about it, is there? This magic-based story, brought to life by Alitha Martinez, Mark Morales, and Emilio Lopez, is rendered in deep, vivid colors, and emphasis is given to character design and expressions. It creates a lush background for McKinney’s story.

Next is the first appearance of Yara Flor, who is my new favorite DC character! In Hell to Pay, she is the Wonder Woman of a distant future. She slays a hydra, meaning to take one of its heads to the Underworld to exchange for the soul of her sister warrior. A spirit called Caipora guides her into the bureaucratic Underworld. Through a series of mishaps, Yara finds herself in front of Hades himself, who offers her a challenge to find Potira’s soul and lead her out – or take her place. Joëlle Jones is both writer and artist for this mini series, with Jordie Bellaire coloring. While the story is essentially a retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, the main draw here is Jones’ art and Yara herself. Yara is fiery, impatient, quick to anger: so different from cool-headed Diana, and for all that, she’s lovable and has a good heart. Jones’ pencils strike just the right balance between realistic and cartoony, while Bellaire’s colors emphasize reds and mute greens, making Yara stand out on every page – just as she’d want.

If you couldn’t get enough of Yara with the last story, you’re in luck! The next story is Superman/Wonder Woman, which teams Yara’s Wonder Woman up with Jon Kent’s Superman. One morning, two suns rise over the Earth. The new sun is a tyrannical machine bent on destroying Superman. The current sun is a Brazilian god named Kuat, and he is none too happy about the intrusion. Both suns challenge Yara and Jon to a race or battle to determine which sun gets to stay – how can they possibly outwit them? I found this to be the weakest of the collection. While Dan Watters’ story was a fun look at a new Worlds-Finest-esque team-up, the art by Leila Del Duca and Nick Filardi left something to be desired. It seemed unfinished in parts: there is a panel in Issue #2 where Yara is in the background and we should be able to clearly see her face, but it’s nothing but two dots for her eyes and a red slash for her mouth. Overall the characters seemed to float above the ground, there wasn’t enough shadow to give depth or weight. The art took me out of the story and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have.

Last, but certainly not least, Immortal Wonder Woman takes a look at Diana, a long time into the future, after humanity and all her fellow heroes have died. She is trying to persuade the Amazons to take Swamp Thing and locate to another planet to save The Green. Her sister Amazons would rather stand and protect the planet they have left… but Diana knows they won’t be able to stand against the Undoing. It is a force that simply… eats worlds, undoes them as if they never existed in the first place. When the Undoing swallows the Earth, what will become of Diana? Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad pen a great story about hope in the face of losing everyone and everything. Jen Bartel’s art really drives it home. Her colors are soft, almost pastel-like, and there is a soft light diffused throughout, like a sunset, even in the cold depths of space.

Overall, this was an enjoyable look at multiverse Wonder Women. I hope that this collection drives DC into a new direction with the character. There is much potential to play with gods from other cultures in Nubia and Yara, instead of the same, tired old Greek mythology. If you need some switching up with your Wonder Woman mythos, this is the one for you.

– Kathleen

Various. Future State: Wonder Woman. 2021.

Nubia: Real One

Nubia is lamenting what’s shaping up to be a boring summer with her best friends, LaQuisha and Jason. LaQuisha is going on a family road trip, Jason is heading off to soccer camp, and Nubia’s moms want her to work. Plans change when Nubia stops a robbery at the local EZ Shoppe… by throwing an ATM at the would-be culprits. Though she’s supposed to keep her powers a secret, one person definitely saw her: Oscar, the boy Nubia has a crush on. Though Nubia is detained by a police officer, he gives her description as someone who helped. Though Nubia is let go, Mamas Amera and Danielle ground Nubia and forbid her from going to the last party of the school year. Well, Nubia sneaks out anyway. She has to talk to Oscar and find out why he’s keeping quiet about her display of super-strength. No one would bother Wonder Woman or Supergirl if they had to save the day. How can Nubia use her powers for good if people automatically assume the worst about her, simply due to the color of her skin?

The most important part about this book is the diversity! Through Nubia, her moms, and her friends, we get a look at what it’s like to be Black in the United States. Through exposition and dialogue, we see Nubia’s fear at being stopped by a cop, her moms talking to her about what to do next time, how different characters react to microaggressions and being called racial slurs, and how a peaceful protest turned violent. It’s an uncomfortable read at times, but an important one. It may be easier for readers to digest as it’s shown through the lens of a fictional yet familiar character.

Expressive and colorful art makes this graphic novel a little easier to digest. The figures are long and lanky. I found it fun that Nubia towered over her peers, and the long, loose lines suggested she hadn’t quite figured out what to do with her limbs (or, more likely, powers!) yet. Many other iterations of a teenaged Wonder Woman use the same trope. Royal purples and deep pinks dominate the color palette; though many other colors are used, most are deep, saturated, and evoke a sunrise or sunset.

Nubia is a different kind of Wonder Woman, one that young women of all walks of life will be inspired by. I was moved to tears at more than one point in the story, and you will be, too. I’m excited to seek out more Nubia comics.

❤ Kathleen

MnKinney, L. L., and Robyn Smith. Nubia: Real One. 2021.

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