Wonder Woman #25 Review OR Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh


This probably won’t be the most in depth review I’ve ever written, because one panel ruined the entire book for me.  I’m not particularly interested in dissecting the rest of the issue on account of I’m busy being rather perturbed with Brian Azzarello yet again fundamentally misunderstanding Wonder Woman.  It’s getting so old.  This is a series with a lot of good things going for it, but none of those good things are Wonder Woman herself.  Anyway, let’s get to it, but first:


I’m going to tell you everything that happened in this issue!

Briefly, but still!

Go read it first!

So let’s do a quick rundown first.  Strife got some sort of pin from Hephaestus for killing Wonder Woman.  Cassandra’s taking her kidnapped brother, Milan, to a secret base in Chernobyl.  Apollo and Dionysus have a creepy meal.  Orion and Hermes fight, then Strife shows up with gifts for everyone, then Siracca pops in and everyone runs out to save Milan.

After all of the setup in last month’s issue, I expected a lot more to happen here, but it was little more than a lot of posturing and several scenes that didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose.  Cassandra, Milan, and her weird airplane get four pages of the book, in which we learn absolutely nothing new.  The only thing we do learn about her plot, that she’s got a base in Chernobyl, comes from Siracca with the main gang in London.

There are two pages set in the very modern kitchen of Olympus, where Dionysus is serving up chunks of the still alive First Born to his brother, Apollo, for dinner that are similarly pointless.  We know that the gods are brutal, and the only thing achieved by these two pages is a hint that Apollo is going to bring Dionysus into the fold a bit more.  I will say that it’s an impressively twisted scene, but that’s a lot of space for such a small takeaway.  I like the idea of the scene, but it would have been far better served with some dialogue and circumstances that actually mattered.

Back in London, the gang is sitting around gabbing for most of the book, and herein lies the panel that ruined the issue for me.  Strife has brought gifts for everyone, returning Hera’s peacock clock and bringing a blanket for Zeke, but for Wonder Woman she has Ares’ helmet.  Strife makes a snide comment while giving it to her, and Wonder Woman calls her a bitch:


Seriously?  How far off the mark is Brian Azzarello’s idea of Wonder Woman that he thinks she would ever call anyone a bitch?  Not to mention that it’s 2013 and the only person who calls anyone a bitch anymore is Jesse Pinkman.  He may have come up with some cool takes on the gods and a fun supporting cast, but I think that fundamentally Brian Azzarello doesn’t have a good handle on Wonder Woman at all.

It’s bad enough that she’s the least interesting character in the book, and that she’s lucky to grace half of the pages in her own series.  But now she’s calling another woman a bitch, and this is a real problem for me.

Bitch is a gendered insult, one that’s been used for ages to demean women.  By its original definition, there’s nothing wrong with the word.  It’s a female dog.  But in turning that word into an insult, what we have is a situation whereby womanhood IS the insult.  Our modern use of the word bitch perpetuates the idea that there is something inherently less good about womanhood.  The gender is the insult.  It’s a word with some seriously sexist baggage, and to have it come out of Wonder Woman’s mouth is just ridiculous.

The word has been reappropriated in some feminist circles, turned into a badge of honour instead of an insult.  Bitch Media, for example, proudly embraces the term as a symbol of their outspoken nature.  There was a great “Weekend Update” sketch a few years back where Tina Fey and Amy Poehler talked about how Hillary Clinton is a bitch, and so are they, and that that’s a good thing because “bitches gift stuff done.”  Wonder Woman calling Strife a bitch was not such a reappropriation.

Wonder Woman lashed out at Strife with a gendered insult, one that a strong, Amazon princess should be loathe to use.  It was lazy, hacky writing, perhaps meant to make Wonder Woman look tough or bad ass, but here’s the thing: Wonder Woman doesn’t need to insult someone to look like a bad ass.  Insults, especially gendered ones, are for people so weak and insecure about their own selves that they have to tear down other people to try to regain control of a confrontation.  Wonder Woman is better than that.  There is no reason for that word to ever come out of her mouth; she’s WONDER WOMAN.  Yes, Strife was being a jerk, but Wonder Woman didn’t need to react in kind.  A slightly arched eyebrow and a stern glare from an Amazon warrior would have communicated “Who the hell do you think you are and what the hell do you think you’re doing” better than spitting out “You bitch” ever could.

Anyway, I am rather unimpressed with Azzarello’s treatment of Wonder Woman.  It’s just one word, but it perfectly encapsulates how Azzarello just doesn’t understand her.  Combined with the terrible Guillem March variant cover for Superman/Wonder Woman #3 that came out today (and that I’m not even going to show or link to because it’s awful), it’s not been a great day for our favourite Amazon princess.  I’m disappointed, DC.

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22 Responses to “Wonder Woman #25 Review OR Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh”

  1. c Says:

    She was angry and she slipped. And even if she said that, she still entrusted Strife to look after Hera and Zola.

    And while you focus on what makes her wrong/is wrong about WW, why not look at what makes her right.

    How she influenced everyone in her team for the better. Hera, Orion and so forth. Something I’m sure she’ll also do with Strife, especially considering her hard heart influenced her brother Ares.

    • Tim Hanley Says:

      I feel like she’s slipping a lot in this series, always reacting to circumstances (and often poorly) rather than getting ahead of her foes. The growth of her team has been good, to be sure, but I still have big issues with Azzarello’s treatment of Diana as a whole.

  2. Joe S. Walker Says:

    You won’t mind being called a sanctimonious windbag, I take it.

  3. IronBerserk Says:

    Great review and analysis of the bitch scene. It really is the one word that Diana would never use. But once again I must reserve judgment till the end. Ever since I found out recently that Azzarello has a grand major plan for the book and everything is already planned in advance, I must keep my mouth shut until the conclusion to see if this all pays off. Notice in the beginning with Strife saying that WW only thinks about herself…why would she say that?

    Also, I have one complaint I must present to your reviews that I noticed is starting to become a trend of yours. Your lack of patience and want for action to always happen. Moments of dialogue and breathers as found in this issue is especially rare in comic books. Azzarello’s run is meant to be well paced and once read from beginning to end, I’m sure you will notice how smooth everything goes. Having constant action in every issue is simply unreal and a bore, which is the problem with almost EVERY super hero comic out today.

    Also, I liked the ending a lot, which is something you didn’t touch upon. Her trusting Strife is both heartwarming, yet interesting, and conspicuous. Why trust her, did she have to trust her? You call her bitch but then immediately leave the gang in her care? Is it just me or something is going on here we don’t know about yet? Maybe I’m once again looking to deeply into it?😛 lol

    • Tim Hanley Says:

      I know Azzarello is always playing a long game, and maybe there’s something bigger going on with her (perhaps an evil influence from becoming the god of war), but I don’t know. I suppose we’ll see eventually.

      As for my wanting action, I do take your point. My complaint isn’t so much about a lack of action as a lack of plot development. What did we gain in this issue? What did we learn that we didn’t know at the end of the last issue? I’m all for taking a breather and letting the characters bounce off each other and such, but there still should be something driving these scenes and moving the story forward, or if not that then they should be entertaining enough to just stand on their own. I feel like there’s often a lack of that in this series.

      The ending is interesting. My fingers are crossed that Wonder Woman knows what she’s doing and this doesn’t turn around on her. Maybe Wonder Woman’s trust will quell Strife’s anger and they’ll be pals, or maybe Wonder Woman has unwittingly put herself into a bad trap. Strife’s glee in the final panel reads like the latter to me, but we’ll have to wait and see how things develop.

      • IronBerserk Says:

        Moving the story forward…isn’t that what this whole issue was doing? WW saving Milan from his sister who is torturing him, WW asking herself if she should eventually forgive Hermes and asking him to help her which could eventually lead to that forgiveness, Strife’s plan coming to fruition through the help of Hephaestus, and Apollo striking a deal with Dionysus which we know will pay off in the future. Not to mention, the first Born will definitely be pissed now once he is released…can’t blame him really and it is good to see these torture methods instead of being told about them. Showing us the horror of the torture while giving us new info. That’s simply good story telling right there. I don’t know, things seem to be moving forward quite fine with new things being revealed to us.

        It has also great character development moments with Hera who tells us why she might have changed now that she is human. “We do what we like when we like for whatever reason we like–or don’t. When you live forever, the most important moment is now. It’s blinding.” Hmmmm, I wonder if we could apply this to WW which would explain her recent string of behaviours. Is the power blinding her? Moments like these make the series great.

        Sorry if I come off as seeming whiny or persistent. I’m simply pushing forward my own opinion.

      • Tim Hanley Says:

        You don’t seem whiny or persistent at all, IronBerserk. This is a fun conversation.

        I see what you’re saying, but those are such small steps. I didn’t feel that the issue really revealed anything new, apart from inching a series of plans very slightly forward. It was 20 pages that barely got us anywhere we weren’t at the end of the last issue. I wouldn’t mind it so much if a) the book didn’t do this so often, and b) such scenes were more enjoyable. I don’t mind meandering or a heavy focus on character development if it’s fun to read. But in this issue, even a GREAT set-up like that First Born scene, which was so creepy and cool, was little more than an interesting setting. We know that Apollo is evil, we know that the First Born is already pissed at everyone, and I’d been assuming that Dionysus was teamed up with Apollo anyway because I’ve been seeing them together for the last year. That scene with some crackling dialogue that dug into the characters more could have been amazing. As it was, it was stuff I already know. And that was the coolest scene in the book! The Cassandra stuff was useless apart from one cool visual, and even Strife, who I LOVE, felt a little flat here. When I finished the issue, I didn’t feel like the story had moved very much, in terms of plot or character, and I hadn’t been very entertained by the book. It’s a matter of opinion, of course, but I think this series can be, and has been, so much better. The early issues after the relaunch were fantastic, but after the first six months it’s been okay to somewhat dull for me a lot of the time, with flashes of greatness here and there. This issue read like wheel spinning to me.

      • IronBerserk Says:

        Fair enough. I guess I just thought those character moments in the book were enough for me especially with how many characters there are in only 20 pages. In my opinion I found they did good enough.

        Actually funny how you mention the first 6 months being the best because I remember myself in those first 6 months being extremely pissed about it going wayyyy to fast in pacing. Now it’s in my opinion just right and everything just feels so natural. Characters don’t jump around at random, they flow from one scene and panel to the next, etc…

        Difference in taste I guess. At least we can both agree that we’re hoping the pay off is more than satisfactory🙂 lol!

      • Tim Hanley Says:

        Well there’s the problem: You just don’t like good comics😉 I thought the first six months were a fantastic mix of plot and characters and action. Just different taste I guess. But yeah, hopefully the pay off is good and it’s going somewhere that we’ll all like!

      • IronBerserk Says:

        “Well there’s the problem: You just don’t like good comics”
        OHHHHH, well played my good sir, well played indeed.

        Now if you’ll excuse me, I will need to plan my revenge for our next heated discussion…whenever that will be?😉 LOL!

      • Tim Hanley Says:

        Looking forward to it!

  4. c Says:

    It’s not a perfect book, but i’s a mighty fine one I’d say. But I understand if some of Azzarello’s twists and turns with character perhaps always aren’t the favs of some WW fans.

    And with this issue we “learnt” about how Apollo is treating First born (and those who say cannibalism was a sin in the old greek mythology, this is the nu-mythology and Sea told the so/un about his lack of respect for traditions). Also that Cassandra how Cassandra is using Milan. Not to mention how Hera perceives things. This and more.

    And YES. Azzarello is playing a long game with his writing. I’m 100 percent sure he’ll flip the amazons around just as he done with other characters in this book (and others of his).

    Also. Cool to see such long reviews. Hope you enjoy the book.

  5. Karl Says:

    Its just wrong wrong wrong for our lovely lady to use a word like this; its just plain wrong.
    Ive nothing against the word myself – here in England we use the term ‘bitch’ in a positive way [mainly, tho not always] as it means to say ‘strong, powerful woman who takes no s**t’. Its meant here in this country to be [half] complimentary and depends on how you take it.
    In THIS comic, however, it most certainly doesn’t. I could well understand it if those word balloons between Strife and Diana were REVERSED – then I could see Strife calling Diana a bitch. THAT would be keeping with Strife’s character.
    But Diana – even this condensed version who takes a back seat to everything and lets others rule her actions – would not, repeat not, ever ever ever say this.. Not the pre-Crisis complete hero version [which Im happily reading now, at the moment] or the post-Crisis ambassador of peace/trained warrior. Neither one would ever have lowered themselves to say such an offensive [because even if I and others don’t find it offensive, plenty of others certainly WOULD] so this term shouldn’t apply here [note, in Jimenez’s run, Diana did call Circe ‘trash’ so I must call him out on that, also, not good]. This word used here in this context [and we all understand the context] is plain wrong. I would go so far as to use the term ‘inappropriate’ but as that word inappropriate is used far far too much and easily these days to stifle any debate about the use of words, I shant.
    The word bitch here seems like its fallen from the mouths of one of those characters Azzarello wrote for in his ‘100 Bullets’. It might be well suited there but it shouldn’t be HERE.

  6. Sean Says:

    “How can you be so rude?” would have been so much better.

  7. Rocky Says:

    WW states “you bitch” to a psychotic sister who routinely delights in tormenting others and in specific response to a deliberate taunting reference to her recent killing of the God of War. Frankly, I found the comment wholly appropriate and perfectly consistent with the Diana that we have been introduced to in the New 52.

    WW is the daughter of Zeus, who is by all accounts an indifferent philandering A-hole. She was raised by amazons who are literally deceptive man killing warrior women to which the term “bitches” could be considered by any diplomatic connotation a polite description.

    I cannot for the life of me imagine that Diana had not heard far worse language uttered by her fellow sisters during the course of her upbringing.

    Diana is about truth. And it is appropriate that she utter certain truths from time to time. Who would deny that Strife is a “bitch”? Had Diana uttered the “C” word it would be no less true but it was undoubtedly Diana’s straightforward truthful nature combined with her warrior sense of diplomacy that resulted in such a perfect phraseology given the target of her reply. In short, “You bitch” was a direct, concise, blunt and truthful reply from a Peaceful Warrior (recently burdened with being a God of War) who intuitively understands that an often overlooked aspect of “War” is contained in the very language that precedes it. In a mere two words, Diana could not have been more clear with Strife, and conveyed her conviction, strength, truth and power to a woman whose motivations Diana has (likely) never trusted. Furthermore, one cannot forget the sneer that accompanied the retort.

    Th ending of the issue where Diana appears to “trust” Strife is, on the surface at odds with her prior sneering retort….. or (more likely) very much consistent with it (insofar as a Peaceful Warrior/God Of War heroine can surely verbally attack a potential enemy and at the same time, strive to trust them. A Peaceful Warrior need not always make peace no more than a Goddess of War must always make war. Which, among other reasons I do not have the time to go into, make Diana’s comments and actions in this issue al the more interesting.

    • Tim Hanley Says:

      I agree that some sort of blunt retort was called for in this situation. Strife was definitely being terrible. I just think there were a ton of other words she could have used that didn’t have the sexist, gendered connotation of “bitch”.

  8. Sean Says:

    Eris has a way of bringing out the worst behavior in people. The great thing about Diana is that she actually turns that behavior on Eris herself, as opposed to others, in an attempt to deflect or neuter the goddess of Strife; afterwards, Diana does something positive. So we saw Diana puncture Eris’ hand with a glass in #4 as a way to send her away and remove her negative influence on the group– and then Diana realizes she’s been made to behave badly, and goes home to reconcile with her mother.

    This time, whereas Hera and Zola are puzzled or lulled into a sense of safety by the presents Eris gives, Diana sees exactly what she’s doing, and calls her on it, in an uncharacteristically harsh way. But then she puts Eris in charge, as a way to again, attempt to dampen her influence. (Of course, it all depends on the outcome, but at least it’s a tactic, extolling someone to act on their best behavior, which is what Diana is supposed to be about.)

    It’s brilliant. Eris causes people to turn on each other, Diana sees through it and turns it back on Eris.

    • Tim Hanley Says:

      Like I said to Rocky, I agree that a harsh response to Strife’s behaviour was absolutely called for. But she could have been harsh without using a sexist term. There are other ways to be harsh.

  9. Nataraja Says:

    I just don’t understand. If you don’t like Azzarello’s WW and keep speaking ill of it, why the hell are you watching the comics? Just forget it and go your way!

    • Tim Hanley Says:

      I have some problem with Azzarello’s treatment of Wonder Woman herself, but I think the book is interesting and sporadically quite good. Thus do I keep reading it.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Really? One angry word slip up and you condemn this review to the pits of Tartarus? There were problems with this issue but the ‘bitch’ comment has to be one of the lowliest and most insufficient reasons to criticise a comment ever. I fail to see how Strife’s unnecessary jab at Wonder Woman wouldn’t cause her to slip up and foul mouth at her sister. Worse things have been said and the context of the swear word WASN’T used in a gendered way. And thus the very basis of your weak criticism is undone.

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