The cynical, overly progressive hipsters of the world would have us believe that it doesn't take much to get people to fight in a war. Those who frequent message boards and 4chan certainly give the impression that it doesn't take much to rally an army. One overblown incident or one petty insult could be all it takes to trigger a flame war. So it would follow logically that if it's that easy to start a flame war, then it should be that easy to start a war that involves actual flames. Since message boards and cynics aren't known for their use of logic, it shouldn't be that surprising to anyone that war is a lot more complicated than Call of Duty and Game of Thrones would have us believe.
The most complicated part of any war, despite what the John McCains of the world claim, is that it's really hard to get people to fight one. It takes someone with the charisma of William Wallace, the tactical brilliance of Sun Tzu, and the bravado of Charlie Sheen to inspire a strong army. By that standard, Wonder Woman is the valedictorian of war harbingers because she has all the necessary traits to lead an army, minus the personal problems of Charlie Sheen.
Even though she clearly has the skills, she has rarely used them to instigate a war. She has always been one to fight for peace and look obscenely beautiful while doing it. But in Wonder Woman: Futures End #1, she is thrust into this role in a way that brings out all the qualities that make her someone any army would willingly follow to the gates of Hell. The world described in the various incarnations of Futures End has had many dark corners, but Wonder Woman finds a way to make this future feel a bit less apocalyptic. And at a time when apocalyptic futures are a dime a dozen, it makes for a refreshing story.
There's nothing too complicated about the war Wonder Woman's fighting. It's not some vague border conflict in the Middle East or some petty infighting among nobles in Game of Thrones. It's a very simple good vs. evil kind of war between the forces of Nemesis and the forces Wonder Woman has assembled. The circumstances come right from the pages of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Nemesis' forces are vast and overwhelming. Wonder Woman's forces are limited and poorly equipped. Yet it still feels like a fair fight because Wonder Woman is the one leading the charge.
It's a conflict that forces Wonder Woman to embrace her role as the God of War. It's a role she's been putting off since the death of Ares and against the overwhelming armies of Nemesis, she shows she can carry out that role very well and look way sexier than Ares ever could in the process. But style points aside, Wonder Woman doesn't shy away from the brutality of her role. There are a number of battles she fights that would warrant more than a PG-13 rating if this were a movie, but it's never done in a way that gives the impression it's just trying to upset One Million Moms.
By embracing this role, it takes a toll on Wonder Woman. She sustains the kinds of injuries and wounds that everyone sustains in a prolonged war. She's less a warrior princess and more a hardened soldier, having fought for so long that it's difficult to imagine doing anything else. It's a perspective that Wonder Woman has rarely shown over her history. She's always walked a fine line between being a champion of justice and being a proud warrior. There's no line in this conflict. It's war at its most basic and brutal.
She struggles with this conflict ways that make for some pretty brutal struggles, but at the same time she makes clear that she's not fighting for the sake of fighting, as any God of War is prone to do. She still tries to fight for hope and that's what really resonates with the people fighting for her. When she tries to take on Nemesis forces single-handedly, they refuse to let her do it alone. That's the mark of a great leader, inspiring others to fight against overwhelming odds. Some use it to become overpaid motivation speakers. Wonder Woman uses it to fight a war that they can't afford to lose. Whether she's the God of War or a hardened soldier, she never loses sight of what makes her Wonder Woman.
Even though the story has some fairly bleak themes, Wonder Woman: Futures End #1 provides an inspiring, uplifting narrative that captures many of the traits that make Wonder Woman a compelling character and a great leader. She's willing to endure and struggle in a way that would inspire any army against any foe. Even as the future around her has become more depressing than one of Sarah McLachlan's ads for the ASPCA, she keeps fighting for hope when that's usually the first thing that's lost in war.
Over the course of Futures End, numerous characters have been strained or distorted by the circumstances of this future. It's not entirely dystopian, but it's no hippie dreamscape either. Some have lost their way completely. Some have disappeared altogether for reasons not fully explained. That's why Wonder Woman's story in Wonder Woman: Futures End #1 is so refreshing. It shows a Wonder Woman that has been affected by this future, but not in a way that deviates from the core of her character. She's still a beacon of hope and love. And for a God of War, that's saying something.
Final Score: 9 out of 10