Brian K. Vaughan is one of, if not my favorite comic book writers of all time. I believe I first discovered his work on Y: The Last Man, the seminal Vertigo series focusing on Yorick Brown as he faces being the sole survivor of the male species after a pandemic causes genocide of the male gender. I would then follow his work into his political thriller with acclaimed artist Tony Harris, Ex Machina, and then a memorable role on Ultimate X-Men and whatever else he may write. As someone more drawn to the art than the writing of comics, I’m more likely to follow an artist to their next project than a writer. But, in the case of Brian K. Vaughan, I’d read Ikea instruction manuals if they were written by him.
After a white-hot streak, Vaughan seemed to disappear from the spotlight. As it turns out, we had nothing to worry about. After a foray into Hollywood, working on shows like Lost and developing Stephen King’s Under the Dome,
Vaughan would make his return to the world of comics. While it’s hard to gauge the level of success that he enjoyed in Hollywood, it’s easy to say that it’s nice to have him back in the element he was born to shine in.
And what a return it was: a sweeping, epic, creator-owned space opera comic, Saga, from Image Comics. Along with the breathtaking art of co-creator Fioana Staples, it was an instant hit. Another creator-owned title, Paper Girls, alongside artist and co-creator Cliff Chiang, would soon follow. A commercial and critical success, Vaughan has made the rare feat of going from mainstream hit maker to indie guy and critical darling with a healthy amount of commercial success for good measure.
His writing is instantly likable; he gives you larger-than-life, sweeping storylines, as well as relatable and likable characters with natural, witty dialogue and the best, most maddening cliffhangers a rabid comic geek could possible ask for.
Gee. It sure would be neat if he wrote a Wonder Woman story. Unfortunately, Vaughan had left mainstream comics behind to focus solely on his creator-owned stuff. Congratulations to him for that. However, all is not lost. I was going through some Wonder Woman back issues and discovered something too good to be true! Brian K. Vaughan DID write a Wonder Woman story. It was in 2006, before Vaughan would become as prestigious as he is today. It was clearly a fill-in issue, as it followed the end of a lengthy run by writer Eric Luke and was only a two-issue story arc. It must have been one of BKV’s first works for DC Comics.
Though a little rough around the edges and with some of the typical mistakes new writers make, it was a fun, solid effort and a fairly unique one at that. I’m never a fan of heroes trading off villains from their Rogue’s Gallery, especially in the case of Wonder Woman. It says the writer isn’t creative enough utilize one a bad guy from her pre-existing roster or at least come up with something entirely different. This is not the case, however, as Batman’s bad guy, Clayface, is pitted against Diana in a cool and unique way.
In Wonder Woman #160-161, Clayface is made of clay and wants to up his game by accruing some of the magical clay from the shores of Paradise Island, where Queen Hippolyta sculpted her daughter and the gods granted her life, even if he has to extract it from Wonder Woman herself. In a story that could easily be cut and dry and told from the surface level, Vaughan manages to add a certain amount of depth and complexity to a fairly straightforward premise. Donna Troy has a part in the story and explores the unique relationship between Diana and her sister. (Mind you, this is all well before the events of The New 52 and Rebirth pulled the rug out from under Wonder Woman’s continuity, changing her origin and whatnot.)
With art by Scot Kolins and Dan Panosian and colors by Pamela Rambo, it’s fun to see Vaughan cut his teeth on everyone’s favorite Amazon. It’s also fun to see rookie Scot Kolins’ promising art before settling in to the signature style he developed during his run on The Flash. Not to mention that the beautiful covers by my favorite Wonder Woman artist, Adam Hughes, are worth the low cost of this hidden back-issue bin gem. Did I mention Cheetah makes an appearance.? (Sort of.)
As much as I would like to see Brian do an arc on the current Wonder Woman, I’m happy to see him continue with his creator-owned properties. Obviously, they transcend the beauty and quality of a true labor of love.
Go check out Wonder Woman #160 and #161. You won’t regret it.
Be here next week for another fun-filled episode of Wonder Woman Wednesday, and be sure to check out our sister Facebook page, “I Am Wonder Fan,” and follow me on Instagram (@MichaelFitzTroy).