While a lot of elements of DC canon have been expanded upon over the years, the recent treatment of the Wonder Woman family has been something unique. The Princess of Themyscira's mythos, and the long-overdue status quos of her supporting cast, have been fleshed out and explored in beautiful detail, particularly in the recent "Trial of the Amazons" crossover event. This week's Olympus: Rebirth #1 serves as a coda to the events of that title, diving into how Hippolyta's death affects the pantheon of gods — a story that doesn't necessarily prove to be essential, but is entertaining nonetheless.
Olympus: Rebirth #1 picks up in the aftermath of Hippolyta's death, as a very specific set of circumstances lead to her being inducted into the pantheon. As Hippolyta comes to terms with who is an ally or an adversary, she gets thrown into her own emotional trial that makes her reevaluate her past and her future.
In the landscape of the "Trial of the Amazons" event, Olympus: Rebirth proves to have an interesting role to play, as it simultaneously feels too self-contained and too tied to other storylines. The one-shot's dialogue-heavy ties to previous events, and even to writers Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad's own work on the main Wonder Woman series, are subtle at best and distracting at worst, to the point where newer fans might be left feeling lost. While that level of accessibility is understandable given Olympus: Rebirth's premise, there are times where it feels like the narrative takes easy shortcuts – especially when you compare it to other similar, but more clever and effective studies of DC's theology, like Wonder Woman: Historia or the recent storytelling resurgence of The Sandman.
Luckily, Olympus: Rebirth's narrative is given just enough of a chance to shine through its cast of characters, ranging from Hippolyta herself, to the Pantheon, to a few surprise cameos from other Amazons. Even with her increased presence in DC canon, there's still something surreal and delightful about seeing Hippolyta's own characterization expanded upon this way, as Cloonan and Conrad's script gives her the opportunity to be a cunning, thoughtful, and unique character out of the shadow of her iconic daughter. (That being said, the issue's minimal use of Diana is breathtaking and beautiful to witness.) While some of the Greek gods and goddesses are left playing second-fiddle to the events of the issue, just enough of them get to shine, especially in their interactions with Hippolyta. This is definitely the case for Zeus, Aphrodite, and Hecate, all of whom are fleshed out so satisfyingly that it would be easy to imagine an ongoing series just about the pantheon. With the issue being vocal about its role in teeing up future Wonder Woman stories, the idea of seeing more of this version of Olympus is definitely promising.
By far, the brightest spot of Olympus: Rebirth #1 is the art, with Caitlin Yarsky's DC debut occurring under the most perfect of circumstances. Yarsky's approach to every visual component of this issue—from setting to panel construction to some genuinely inspired character designs—gives it an elegance and exuberance that it needs, while also acknowledging the gravity of the situation at hand. Jordie Bellaire's color work is (unsurprisingly, given her and Yarsky's previous work together on Black Widow) a perfect accent, with uses of blues, beiges, and greens that make Olympus and its characters feel ethereal, but accessible. Pat Brosseau's lettering is largely a timeless, entertaining encapsulation of the plot at hand, although some of the more extravagant font choices are almost comically unreadable.
Although it occasionally falls victim to an inconsistent, dialogue-ridden narrative, Olympus: Rebirth #1 is a largely-entertaining and well-executed modernization of DC's pantheon, as well as the heroine at its center. When the issue's strong sense of characterization and gorgeous visuals from Caitlin Yarsky are at the forefront, the story truly gets to shine, and the mythos of the Amazons is better off as a result. It will remain to be seen just how much Olympus: Rebirth #1 becomes "essential reading" for the future of the Wonder Woman mythos – but at very least, it's an enjoyable excursion.
Published by DC Comics
On August 23, 2022
Written by Michael W. Conrad and Becky Cloonan
Art by Caitlin Yarsky
Colors by Jordie Bellaire
Letters by Pat Brosseau
Cover by Julian Totino Tedesco