Wonder Woman: Dead Earth started with an interesting premise: what happens when you drop humanity's greatest protector into a post-apocalyptic world in which humanity barely clings to existence in the wake of a horrific nuclear apocalypse? Over the course of three issues that premise turned into something a bit darker and more sobering as it was revealed that humanity's greatest protector wasn't just dropped into that nightmare world, she caused it—destroying people, friends, and even some of DC's greatest heroes in the process. By the time the fourth and final issue arrived, the question had become not what happens, but how does Diana move forward and with Wonder Woman: Dead Earth #4, writer and artist Daniel Warren Johnson yet again delivers a masterpiece that both reinvents and captures the core of Wonder Woman.
The issue brings the reader to what is essentially humanity's last stand. The horribly mutated Amazons are coming to wipe out what remains of humankind who are already on the verge of being wiped out simply by the dead earth itself. As the issue begins, more details of how Diana got to this decisive moment are unraveled. Even with everything she did and the lives she took—specifically that of Superman—Batman didn't stop believing that Wonder Woman could still do the right thing, in a sense, someday. But doing the right thing, being able to stand up and fight for humanity may be something she can actively choose, but humanity has its own choice to make. They have to trust her in order to empower her to stand for them in this final fight.
What results from that intricate and gut-wrenching tangle of things is truly impressive action and a true sense that everything is at stake. Diana also has to make a hard choice still to make, as well. What works here so beautifully is that Johnson doesn't let Diana discover an easy out. Make no mistake, there is no redemption to be found. Diana does what she must and fights to save the world one more time, but she isn't given a clean slate or offered a pat on the back. Her choice is a devastating one, but perhaps more important is that her choice still hasn't made those she's wronged forgive her. Diana's redemption and the healing of the world is not about her. It's about humanity, a truly unique but perfectly authentic message for a book about one of the most powerful superbeings in all of comics: sometimes justice falls with the people, not the capes.
That isn't to say the final issue is perfect. While the story comes together beautifully and is an entirely satisfying read, the somewhat open-ended conclusion doesn't completely ground things. Perhaps that's purposeful—I for one would love to read further stories set in this world—but as a series conclusion having something a bit more definitive and more focused in those final panels would have been appreciated. Even with that, Wonder Woman: Dead Earth #4 is a strong finish to what is easily one of the best comic book series of the contemporary era.
Published by DC Comics
On August 18, 2020
Written by Daniel Warren Johnson
Art by Daniel Warren Johnson
Colors by Mike Spicer
Letters by Rus Wooton
Cover by Daniel Warren Johnson