You might think that when the high point of an issue is the protagonist wearing a classy outfit, then the rest of the issue is not so great. But that’s not the case with Wonder Woman #11. Yes, Diana looks all sorts of cool in her high boots, white jacket, and tiara headband, and you come away from the issue thinking “Hot damn, Cliff Chiang can draw!!” However, the rest of the issue is really fun too, and this is my favourite issue of the series in a while. It’s a rollicking good time, in fact. First, though…
I’m going to ruin the ENTIRE issue, so look away if you haven’t read it yet.
Well, I’m going to talk about the outfit for a minute first, so I guess you could read that bit. It was in the preview, after all.
But THEN, look away!!!
Okay, so first the outfit:
It seems silly to go on and on about a coat, but let me explain. It’s a cool coat, obviously… if you’re into fashion at all, you’re going to dig it. But it’s about a lot more than that, and I think Chiang’s art here represents a lot of what’s working with this interpretation of Wonder Woman.
First, it’s very modern. For the longest time, Wonder Woman’s been wearing robes and togas, even in her down time. Before that, she wore clothes to blend in, and they were often run of the mill and frumpy, really. This is a new Diana, and her fashion sense isn’t about fitting in to protect an identity, or trying to be hip like in the mod era… it’s a classy elegance that fits her role both as a princess and as a globetrotting bad ass superhero.
Speaking of the mod era, I feel like Chiang is both referencing and updating that look here. A long white coat with high boots is VERY late 1960s Wonder Woman, and this is a modern take on that look. Again, I know it’s just a coat, but I think you can sort of see this updated look as a sign of respect for what came before AND of the recognition that characters need to evolve as well.
Which leads us to the tiara as a headband. It’s extremely clever, really. The tiara sticks out like a sore thumb in civilian clothing, and just by sliding it up into a headband it totally blends in and Chiang’s solved the problem. And the whole outfit is there!! Rip off the coat, pull down the headband, and BAM you’ve got Wonder Woman. It’s a) sensible, and b) incorporates something iconic and beloved about the character in an innovative way.
So yeah, maybe it’s just a cool coat. But I think the coat says a lot about the effort being put into the book, particularly on the artistic side of things but also generally. There’s been a lot of changes, a few of which I don’t exactly love and one of which I pretty much hate, but Azzarello and Chiang really seem to be trying to present a fresh, modern take on the character while still respecting her iconic nature and everything that came before.
Case in point, did you catch the name of the town on the door of the medical centre in the picture above? Probably not, since you were looking at that coat I’ve been rambling on about. Here it is from earlier on in the page… I totally missed this in the preview:
Zola lives in Oliveburn, Virginia!! That’s super fun. It is, of course, a reference to Olive Byrne, William Moulton Marston’s lady friend from his polyamorous marriage and a big inspiration for his creation of Wonder Woman.
So, onto the story!! After the dreariness of Hell and the schmaltzy, after school special resolution of Hades needing to learn to love himself, this issue was a nice change of pace. Hera’s back with a plot to stick it to Zola and her baby, which leads to this fantastic panel where Strife learns that her mother has placed a bounty on Zola:
Man, I love Cliff Chiang. AND Strife. She needs to start showing up elsewhere in the DC universe. Anyway, part of Hera’s bounty is promising Zeus’ throne to whoever brings in Zola, so Apollo teams up with Artemis, and they pretty much beat the living crap out of Wonder Woman, Hermes, and Lennox. Artemis busts up Lennox so bad that the poor guy is literally crumbling apart by the end of the issue.
It’s a really great fight scene, well choreographed with lots of cool angles and epic hits. This is extremely nitpicky, but I found it a little bit odd that our trio of heroes couldn’t even put a scratch on Apollo and Artemis. I realize that they’re gods and all, but so is Hermes PLUS Wonder Woman and Lennox are demi-gods. Do the math… that’s two gods against two gods spread out over three people when you add it all up. Plus Apollo got hit by a truck AND shot point blank by a shotgun.
But oh well. It was still crazy awesome. And Wonder Woman and Hermes are totally going to stick it to them next issue, since this issue ends with Hermes teleporting the two of them to Mount Olympus to defend the throne and get back Zola. I’m very much looking forward to that.
There’s also something going on with Demeter, who we see for the first time in this issue along with Artemis. I really like the designs on both characters, but Demeter in particular is very striking with her leafy hair and some really fantastic colouring from Matthew Wilson, who kills it as always in this issue:
So yeah, before the big fight, Artemis has a chat with Demeter about needing to fill Zeus’ throne and a prophecy that the Olympian gods are going to be defeated. Demeter, rather attuned to the set rhythms of the world, views this more as an inevitably than something they can do anything about, but I sincerely doubt she’s just there to look cool and fill up a few pages. It looks like Apollo and Artemis might be trying to form some sort of coalition… remember that Apollo visited Ares a few issues back, too. There are a couple of gods that have been on the sidelines so far, and I think they’re going to have a role to play before all of this is said and done.
Overall, I really liked this issue. Loved it even. There was lots going on, storywise, some fun new gods, spectacular art, and a very classy coat that you could read WAY too much into if you have a lot of spare time. The last four issues didn’t really do it for me, what with the rather unpleasant revelation about the Amazons being rapists and murderers and the drawn out, clumsily resolved Hell storyline that followed, but this really feels like a return to form. It was fun, it was bad ass, and it was pretty. That’s everything you need in a Wonder Woman comic, and for the first time in a few months I’m SUPER excited to find out what happens next.