Thursday Comics Hangover: From marvels to wonders

Yesterday, two comics from Seattle writer G. Willow Wilson landed in comics shops — one issue from near the end of a celebrated run on a superhero title, and one issue from the beginning of a promising new run.

It's kind of unbelievable that Wilson is just one issue away from being done with Ms. Marvel, the successful superhero she created for Marvel Comics five years ago. The character feels inseparable from Wilson at an atomic level — other writers have handled her well, but she always sounds slightly off, like a guitar with a too-loose string.

Issue 37 of Ms. Marvel, Wilson's penultimate issue, is a self-contained story that celebrates everything great about the character: she's a member of a community, and a sister, and a daughter, and she's best when she stays a friendly neighborhood hero. It's a fun issue with some physical comedy and action and some drama and superheroics — the formula that has made Ms. Marvel such a standout for the whole of Wilson's run. (If you need a primer, I've written at length about this series before.)

Wilson has been writing Wonder Woman at DC Comics for several months now, and while her first story on the title was an entertaining Wonder Woman story, it didn't exactly feel like a G. Willow Wilson Wonder Woman story. The plot involved Ares the God of War — probably not coincidentally, the villain in the first Wonder Woman movie — and it involved all the usual Wonder Woman characters and situation.

Wonder Woman 63, though, feels like the unofficial true first issue of Wilson's tenure. It's about a minotaur, a pegasus, and a satyr who are trying to fit in to ordinary human life in Washington DC. Wonder Woman appears briefly in the issue, but she's not the focus. It's a story about some profoundly weird people — I use the term loosely — doing their best to hold it together in extreme circumstances, and it's entirely delightful.

"There are elections coming up," a customs agent tells the magical creatures in the beginning of the issue as they try to enter the United States. "People are nervous." For the rest of the comic, they try to find a place in the world, to varying levels of success. Wonder Woman pops in to establish order and to encourage the trio. Like this week's issue of Ms. Marvel, there's no villain — but you won't miss the lack of antagonist in either book.

Hopefully, Wilson continues down this avenue for the rest of her time on Wonder Woman. By placing the fantastic charms of mythology directly up against the mundanity of ordering food in a restaurant, she can examine the themes that make all of Wilson's work so interesting: faith, and friendship, and what it means to be a good person in the world. These are questions that come up again and again in comics, and it's such a relief to know that Wilson is not done searching for the answers.