Review by Ian Keogh
For reasons best known to DC’s editorial department of the time, despite a clear demarcation in story titles, the first chapter of ‘Lifelines’ was included in the previous collection, Second Genesis. That’s why this far longer collection begins with chapter two.
As seen from the featured illustration, Wonder Woman allies herself with the Demon and the Phantom Stranger as the previous book’s mysterious threat is revealed as the evil sorceress Morgaine LeFay, currently not as immortal as she once was. She needs to drain life from others in order to perpetuate her own, and the gist of her plan is that leeching Wonder Woman’s presumed Amazon immortality will sustain her for far longer than the life force of ordinary mortals. To be sure however, she sets a number of tests, which accounts for the giant statue in Second Genesis and others here. For a woman apparently in fear of imminent demise, she might consider getting a move on.
In the end John Byrne supplies a protracted set-up and relatively rapid finish hinging on a technicality. It’s as if he reached so far and became bored with the plot. The inclusion of assorted mystical characters ups the melodrama, although in terms of plot some appear included only so that no-one could level accusations regarding their absence, as their part is minute.
The second story is more intriguing as Wonder Woman finds herself pitted against versions of the Flash, Sinestro and Doomsday who’re not what they seem. Byrne creates a complex and tragic logic for their manifestations, and makes good use of what each can do. His Wonder Woman is no longer as emaciated, which is an improvement, and if the panels are plastered with unnecessary captions, Byrne’s strong sense of graphic design remains impressive. When on form there are few artists who have a clearer idea of how to lay out a dynamic page of superhero action.
It’s also worth noting that Cassie Sandmark, who’d progress to be a DC regular, takes her first steps to becoming a superhero in the course of this material. Lifelines is long out of print, and the content is now more easily found within Wonder Woman by John Byrne Book 1.