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:
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:
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.