Wonder Woman #14 Review OR Some Answers About The First Born, But Little Else

It was another fairly uneventful issue of Wonder Woman, with a lot of pieces being moved around and things set up for the future while not much actually happened.  The biggest problem for the book was that the many minor revelations weren’t surprising at all and either they weren’t necessary or didn’t need the space that was devoted to them.  We’ll chat about them all, but first:

SPOILERS!!

If you haven’t read the book, GO AWAY!!

I’m going to SPOIL all of these admittedly non-shocking, fairly unimportant revelations, SO BEWARE!!

Okay, all the non-readers should be gone now.

This was an issue of minor revelations, so let’s go through the four things we learned:

1) The First Born is the firstborn of Zeus and Hera, but discarded because of a prophecy.

2) Siracca’s family and village was killed by a vengeful Hera.

3) Ares hates all of the other gods but Aphrodite and Hephaestus, and Apollo thinks he’s lost his mind.

4) Orion is coming to Earth.

The First Born stuff is probably the biggest revelation, particularly that he’s the First Born of Zeus and Hera, but the dude got SEVEN pages of a 20 page book and we learned very little else.  The ill prophecy from an unnamed witch is all very vague and sort of rote, mythologically speaking.  So too was his being raised by wolves.  And that’s the only thing we learned in those seven pages.  The First Born referenced Zeus and his brothers burying him at the core of the Earth, but we get no explanation as to why, and the First Born clearly wants revenge but again the specifics of the how and why are lacking.  We were only given a very small part of the story, with more to come in future issues, I assume, and it took up a lot of space.

We also got Siracca’s entire backstory, with an angry Hera destroying her entire village because her mom hooked up with Zeus.  We already knew that Siracca was Zeus’ daughter, so we could have made the assumption that Hera had wreaked some sort of vengeance upon her.  The story of losing her mother helped Wonder Woman, who also lost her mother, make a connection with her and gain her help, but for what?  Siracca couldn’t hear Hermes anywhere, and had no idea where Zola’s baby was.  It took up two issues and a lot of crazy fighting for NO progress whatsoever in the overarching Wonder Woman plotline.  Maybe Siracca will prove useful down the road, but that’s still a lot of comics for very little plot moving.

Ares hating the other gods is another non-surprise.  The pool party of the gods carries on, with everyone all cryptic and antagonistic, engaging in some wordplay before Ares pulls a Cartman and leaves:

NOTE: This panel may have been doctored somewhat.

Apollo thinks Ares has lost his mind and they all seem to be plotting against Ares now and blah blah blah the gods don’t trust each other.  Big news.

Finally, the Orion bit isn’t particular useful either, since all it does is set up (again, very vaguely) that Orion is coming to Earth.  There’s some sort of mysterious threat to the Source, so Orion is on his way to Earth.  We knew he was coming at the end of Wonder Woman #12, so this very vague reason why adds nothing to that.  Yet again, more pages spent on things that really didn’t need to be expanded upon.

All of the time spent on these minor stories ties into a bigger problem I have with the series that I’ve mentioned before: Wonder Woman gets relegated to the background in a book that is called Wonder Woman.  Sometimes it’s because the other characters around her are so dynamic and fun that Wonder Woman gets lost in the shuffle.  Sometimes, like in Wonder Woman #14, it’s because there are so many other stories that Wonder Woman isn’t actually IN the book that much.

I did a quick count of the issue, and Wonder Woman only appears in 8 of the book’s 20 pages.  This is less than half.  I did another count, and it turns out that Wonder Woman only appears in 29 of the book’s 97 panels.  This is less than a third.  Again, that is not a lot of Wonder Woman in a book that is called Wonder Woman.  In comparison, Superman appeared on 18 of the 20 pages of last month’s Superman #13, and Batman appears on every single page of the main story in Batman #14.  Now, there are a lot of characters in Wonder Woman right now and having her on every page would be a bit much, but less than half seems like far too little Wonder Woman to me.

This issue’s lack of story progress also ties into my theory that Azzarello saves the big bits for when Cliff Chiang is drawing the book, as evidenced by the meandering Hell storyline and now this two-issue lull for the overarching plotline.  This is a bit of a shame, since I think that this is Tony Akins’ best issue to date.

It’s really hard to have to follow Cliff Chiang all the time, but Akins has done a decent job and he’s getting better all of the time.  His work on the First Born pages is fantastic, capturing both the Antarctic landscape and the raw brutality of the First Born himself.  The Orion and Highfather pages were great too, as was the pool party of the gods, his Ares in particular.  I loved how he drew Hera in Siracca’s flashback:

With the big assist of wonderful colouring from Matthew Wilson, who continues to kill it every issue.  This really was Akins’ best issue yet.

Amusingly, the one thing about Akins’ art I don’t love is Wonder Woman herself.  As has been the case with this series for a while, everything but Wonder Woman is quite enjoyable.  He just doesn’t quite capture her for me, but there were a few pages in this issue with a different inker, Rick Burchett, that I really dug, like this panel:

Chiang draws the best Wonder Woman I’ve ever seen, so Akins is up against a high bar, but he’s getting better and better, and that’s great to see.

So hooray for Akins getting into a good groove, but overall this was a rather uneventful, drawn out issue and, even worse, the second such issue in a row.  Orion shows up in the next one, so that should be very fun, but these last couple have been sort of lackluster for me.  Meandering, if you will.  Lackadaisical.  But there’s nothing more invigorating than the New Gods!!  Despite my not loving the last few issues, I’m VERY excited for Orion.

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17 Responses to “Wonder Woman #14 Review OR Some Answers About The First Born, But Little Else”

  1. IronBerserk Says:

    I personally liked this issue a lot. It’s a good set up, and I love seeing Wonder Woman being all kind and caring towards others. It’s nice to see Wonder Woman is still Wonder Woman even after the reboot :P The page with WW hugging Siracca was very heart warming and probably the best page in the entire issue. Not every issue has to be action packed, pacing is required. The plot points brought up here I’m guessing will be used for later, and I can’t wait to see where it goes. Oh yeah, and I can’t wait for Orion as well :D

    • Tim Hanley Says:

      Yeah, that moment was nice, but I find that these moments always feel a little odd to me in the current run. With everything else so dark and cynical, those moments can seem a little cheesy and naive in comparison. But that’s just me… it’s fun you dug it!

  2. Martin Gray Says:

    Cheers for the review, it’s good to know what I’m not missing ;)

  3. Titong Says:

    I personally liked the issue as well, and the reveal on Hera was interesting, even if it’s standard soap opera stuff. If your husband condemned your firstborn, and still just a baby, to death, you’d feel spiteful/vengeful of the products of your husband’s infidelities, and since the gods seem to embody amplified human virtues/emotions, so would be her spite/vengeance be intense. I think I can understand Hera now a bit, and maybe pitying her too.

    Love your reviews!

    • Tim Hanley Says:

      That’s a very good point about Hera. We can sort of see her in a more sympathetic light now. I’ll be curious to see whether they pick up on that and flesh out Hera more as the First Born story continues on and he and Wonder Woman inevitably clash. So far, Hera’s been a fairly one-note villain, and enjoyably so, but it would be cool if they added some more depth to her character.

  4. Your Senior Drill Instructor Says:

    The only quibble I had about this issue is that the rest of the cast took up a little too much panel time. Overall, I really enjoyed it.

    Now, if only we could get Diana away from that f*cking hack, Geoff Johns.

    • Tim Hanley Says:

      Yeah, the rest of the cast dominated this issue. It feels like Geoff Johns might be writing the Justice League for a while… he seems to have some Green Lantern-esque long term plans.

      • Your Senior Drill Instructor Says:

        What I meant is that Johns is the one who’s spearheading this romance with Superman, and Diana is the one who’s getting the short end of the stick in all of this.

      • Tim Hanley Says:

        Yeah… at least it’s staying out of the main Wonder Woman book so far. When you read Wonder Woman every month you can pretend that the romance isn’t even happening. I know I do :)

  5. Your Senior Drill Instructor Says:

    I heard that Azzarello recently said that he won’t be using the relationship in any capacity, so that’s a slight relief.

    I just don’t understand the logic behind this. Looking at the latest sales figures, JL is still losing readership and still being outsold by Batman; so its not like this romance has generated more interest in the title. Come to think of it, how could the higher ups at Warner Brothers allow this to happen when they just spent a sh!tload of money on the Man of Steel movie with Lois as Superman’s love interest?

    Part of me wants to believe that maybe this is all part of an elaborate ruse to build Steve Trevor up until he’s “worthy” of her, but I know better than that.

    • Tim Hanley Says:

      They seem to have bigger, however lame, plans for the Superman/WW thing. It’s definitely been in the works for a while, and it looks like it’s going to play a big part in the Trinity War, which they want to make a big thing. I agree that it seems like an odd choice with Man of Steel out soon. Most every DC marriage has been ended with the DCnU though, so it’s not just Superman and Lois. They just want a universe of freewheeling hookups, I guess.

      • You Senior Drill Instructor Says:

        Its nothing more than sensationalism. They’re going to keep these two together as long as they think they can use it to get a temporary sales increase here or there like they did with JL #12. The thing is, they’re not taking in to account how this will affect the characters down the line. I think you mentioned it in one of your previous articles that once you do something like this, its there forever.

        BTW, I’m going to recommend your site to some friends of mine who also happen to be huge Wonder Woman fans. :)

      • Tim Hanley Says:

        Yeah, it could make things awkward for a while, even after they inevitably end it. Down the road it’ll eventually be brushed aside, I’m sure, but with today’s continuity-enthused comics landscape it’ll take quite some time.
        Thanks for the recommending!

    • beccalikestoast Says:

      I can’t help but look at the ongoing legal disputes surrounding the Superman property and wonder if there’s a motive there. I mean, I’m very far from an expert, so I’m open to corrections, but as I understand it, one of the reasons they’re pushing out Man of Steel in this specific timeframe is to avoid potential lawsuit-related deadlines. I also know that the main things that they’ll lose if they do lose the rights to Action #1 are the Clark/Superman/Lois love triangle and the Daily Planet. And suddenly Lois has a reduced role, Superman has another love interest that probably seems like it could become iconic, and Clark just quit the Daily Planet to for blogging.

      I mean, I don’t think it’s that simple. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are also other motives for this Superman/WW thing, editorial or authorial, and the blogger thing – if it has anything to do with this and wasn’t just an idea pitched by Lobdell – may well be more about establishing a future escape route – for readers to get used to the idea because he did it once before, as much as an actual plan they *expect* to have to execute. Heck, they’d lose the rights to the Clark Kent identity too, and that’s a much harder thing to write around.

      But if they start having to pay extra royalties to the heirs for using this stuff? Or if they *do* have to stop using it?

      I dunno, as I said, I’m happy to be corrected by someone who understands the legal situation better than me, and I may just be paranoid, but it seems…convenient. And would explain the divergent agendas of Man of Steel – because even if they lost the rights, they could continue to make sequels to *that* specific movie, they just couldn’t reboot again – in presenting a more “classic” Superman mythology, with the comics’ attempts to minimise the elements that they might lose.

      Doesn’t really change how little I’m looking forward to seeing this romance play out, mind. Glad to hear it won’t be featuring in this book.

      • Tim Hanley Says:

        Yeah, I’m not sure on the details of the Superman lawsuit, like exactly what they could lose from the Superman mythos if they lose the lawsuit. If they could potentially lose Lois, it makes sense for them to start up this whole WW relationship. It would also explain why Lois has barely done anything in the New 52.
        Though it’s DC Comics… they don’t need a reason to come up with terrible story ideas that diminish female characters :) They just do that naturally on their own. But you may be onto something with this lawsuit angle… I don’t know enough about it to say for sure.

  6. Your Senior Drill Instructor Says:

    Actually, WB won that lawsuit about a month ago, so there’s nothing preventing them from establishing Lois+Clark.

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