It's old home week as former Wonder Woman artist Drew Johnson takes a turn on Sensation Comics. He's illustrating a tale by Michael Jelenic which begins with Diana's bid to secure the egg of a phoenix. A long hunt in Arabia is about to end in success when the Cheetah shows up, enticed by the egg's legendary immortality-giving powers.
The encounter is far bloodier than I'd expect in what I thought was an all-ages series. Perhaps I was wrong about that; either way, it's gorier than the story demands - we know the Cheetah hates Wonder Woman, we don't need to see Diana showered with blood as she's skewered like an Amazonian kebab.
Speaking of which, over on Themyscira, Phillipus has organised the food, drink and entertainment to celebrate Hippolyta's several-thousandth birthday. The Queen's reaction to the cheesy play her general has written, showing the origins of the Amazons, is a hoot, wonderfully drawn by Johnson and inked by Ray Snyder, a superb craftsman who doesn't get enough praise. Their Diana really is beautiful as Aphrodite, and the costume looks great - the wallet securing the magic lasso is a nice touch, and I like their take on Hippolyta. The Cheetah's costume is ludicrous, but that's pretty much a tradition.
The artists also do a fine job with Jelenic's excellent scene showing a younger queen teaching tweenie Diana the importance of holding out a hand of peace to your enemy. It's cute, it's heartening and it makes Diana's closing comments in this first of two parts all the more shocking. It's just a shame Johnson's choice of a cliched butt shot rather takes away from the moment.
Blood and cheesecake aside, the artwork here is stunning, with colourist Lizzy John announcing herself as a major talent. Even without having seen the conclusion, I'd like to see more from this creative team - the combination of drama and humour could teach Phillipus a thing or two. Though she'd probably like all that blood.