Firstly, let’s start with the art shall we? I mean, we all fell back in love with Liam Sharp’s artwork when DC’s Rebirth gave us Greg Rucka and Sharpie’s Wonder Woman hailed by critics (well, by me at least) as a modern day masterpiece. A story that will stand the test of time to be seen, in years from now, as one of the classic Wonder Woman runs. Well, it may be too early to pass judgement on this 6 issue run, but it’s an impressive start as each page seems like a masterpiece in and of itself, as we have seen from previously shared artwork. You only need to look at Sharp’s Celtic and other mythological influences – something of a lifelong passion, as we learnt recently – to see that here is a man who has waited his whole life to tackle something on this scale, and for one of the Big Two!
Each panel, each splash page (of which there are many in this dynamic debut issue) has been hewn from Sharp’s very soul, his lifeblood it would seem, with the sheer complexities and level of detail he brings; whether depicting the neverworld of Tír na nÓg, the Antarctic love nest of Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, or grimey Gotham City and the Irish Quarter in which strange happenings have captures the attention of Batman, giving him a foothold into this fantastical adventure. It’s all breathtaking and the use of splash pages, as well as a breathtaking double page spread depicting a very riotous Tír na nÓg, not only gives us an indication of the epic scale that such stories involving gods and monsters invariable travail, but it allows the exquisite art space to breath and to shine too. It’ll be a book you pick up time and again to marvel at for the art alone. This is what comics should be all about! Great art, and great storytelling.
As for the story then; well it’s the first issue, innit? But, having said that, the players and pieces are in place on the board and with the aforementioned weirdness in Gotham City, that has stumped the very grounded and scientifically-minded greatest detective in the world. It is like the thin thread left by Ariadne for Theseus to follow. What I mean – if you will allow me the fancifulness of this mythological metaphor – is that while the thread saw Theseus freed from the labyrinthian maze of Crete, this metaphorical thread allows Batman a way into a story, and a genre, we do not always associate with him. Not outside of the JLA, that’s for sure.
It’s a story steeped in Irish mythology, with mentions of characters and creatures you may not be too familiar with. Yet. And if it does have you reaching for Wikipedia to bone up on your Celtic mythology, that can’t be a bad thing as it could well lead you through a gateway and into some of the Western World’s most ancient yet endearing stories from the pagan past, when Ireland was seen as the edge of the world by the Romans, who never conquered these barbaric people. It’s worth it, trust me, as I am sure it will better inform you of the hero’s journey ahead.
Meanwhile, Sharp finds time for some carefully injected humour when Cernunnos, the Celtic god of hunting and fertility (and, some would say, the Celtic god stolen by the then-Christian Roman’s upon which the stereotypical image of the horned Devil comes from. Talk abut cultural misappropriation!) walks in on a blissed up Diana and Steve finding time in both their busy schedules for each other. Even if it is in off the grid in Antarctica. This certainly does feel like Sharp is picking up directly where he left off on his shared Wonder Woman run, as he promised.
Why does such an ancient, and Celtic, god come seeking Diana, a child born from Greek mythology, you may be asking? Why might she be able to deal with the chaos that has grown with the heart of the Tír na nÓg after all these centuries? A world, like Themyscria, that has lived in solitude and peace and away from the prying eyes of humankind? She may be a warrior, but she’s also an ambassador for peace, don’t forget. Seems like Wonder Woman holds the best résumé for the job, and she’s more than up for the challenge and a trip into another dimension through Ireland’s mythical, but very real, Giant’s Causeway.
This is a comic forged, not from Promethean fire, but from passion, love and a lifetime reading of ancient, larger-than-life characters and creatures that still amaze us to this day. It’s a story soaked in the past and the welcome, to DC Comics, of a pantheon of gods and faerie-folk that can only add to the rich tapestry now, and in the future too. And, it’s a welcome return of Liam Sharp to a monthly title, too.
And not a Leprechaun in sight, so it is!