Review by Heather Valentine
Rise Of The Olympian continues Gail Simone’s run on Wonder Woman from The Ends of the Earth. While the previous trade paperbacks have collected a four chapter story followed by a shorter tale, this is eight chapters of a single story that draws on the previous two volumes and continues across the next volume and a half. As with the rest of the run, the art is consistently good – the creative team of Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan continue from Ends of the Earth, with recurring guest artist Bernard Chang contributing pencils to one chapter. There are great compositions across both moments of peace and moments of conflict throughout, such as some dark scenes in the middle involving Diana’s lasso.
There’s a lot going on – the return of the Greek Gods to the picture and their creation of a new male warrior race to replace the Amazons; the rampage of a mysterious and implacable antagonist known as Genocide; the continuing machinations of Alkyone and the Circle and the ongoing shenanigans at the Department of Metahuman Affairs. With so much crammed into a single story arc twice the length of the others, it’s no surprise that the volume manages to feel both rushed and saggy, and that’s even before it ends on a cliffhanger suggesting that the ordeal is not yet over.
A lot of it is good. Achilles and the Olympians are fascinating characters, good-natured but misguided, and the return of the Gods feels like a raising of the stakes with a heavy dose of mythic melodrama at its best. Genocide brings a strong element of horror, and the way she works within this mythic backdrop as a play on the ancient Greek personification of evils is intriguing. Diana’s dealing with mortals like Etta Candy shows a vulnerable, dutiful side to her that’s harder to bring out if the people she’s trying to defend are also nigh-immortal.
Unfortunately, the pacing issues and long detours mean that it’s the weakest of Simone’s five volumes overall, despite featuring some moments that might have made it one of the best if they’d occurred in a tighter and more enjoyable context. As many of these frequent sidetracks are for things of Simone’s invention rather than editorial leftovers from the previous runs, she unfortunately shoulders a little more of the blame for the odd pacing than she does in the first and last volumes.
Despite this, it’s definitely worth a continuing read for those interested in Simone’s take on the character – though there are issues, there’s still enough good that it won’t put an already-invested fan off continuing with Warkiller.