The queen’s jerk of a son is on the throne. There are siblings with incestuous leanings. A displeased relative has raised an army to try to overthrow the false king. Wonder Woman is totally Game of Thrones at this point, and I am all for it. Things are definitely escalating as we enter the final act of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s run, and I’m really enjoying how everything is coming together. Let’s chat about it, but first:
I’m going to tell you ALL OF THE THINGS that happened in this issue!
No more Game of Thrones talk though, so don’t worry about spoilers there!
But there are Wonder Woman spoilers galore!
We got some confirmation on things we suspected at the end of last issue, namely that Apollo is dead (or as dead as a Greek god can be; I assume another creative team will bring him back down the road at some point) and that the First Born is the king of Olympus now. We also got answers to questions raised by the preview we saw last Friday: Wonder Woman is the one who saved Cassandra’s ship, and Hera got her powers back in full.
So Olympus is decimated, and sort of gross looking. Olympus continues to conform to the personality of its ruler, and with the First Born we get an organic, mangled mess of flesh and bone growing on top of the collapsed skyscraper. As expected, the First Born is a cruel ruler. He’s not even nice to Cassandra, who has been such a huge help to him since he escaped his imprisonment. Artemis and Wonder Woman were nearly killed before Hera showed up to teleport them out of dodge.
Hera’s triumphant return to Olympus as a fully powered deity was a great redemptive moment for the character, and something that the series has been building to for some time. Hera was the villain of the book when Wonder Woman #1 premiered, and remained the primary antagonist for most of the first arc. Now she’s a full-fledged ally of Wonder Woman, and pals with the woman whose baby she tried so hard to kill.
We saw growth in Hera in two ways. The first is obvious, her turning from a bad guy to a good guy because of the kindness shown to her by Wonder Woman when she was depowered. This issue cleverly turned around a trope that I’ve felt was overused in past issues of this run, whereby Wonder Woman gets herself in over her head and someone else has to swoop in and save her. Here, the First Born was sucking the life out of Wonder Woman and Hera did swoop in to save her, but it felt earned. Hera is a hero now because of Wonder Woman’s positive influence; Hera saved Wonder Woman, but it was Wonder Woman who originally saved Hera.
The second area of growth is simpler, but meaningful. After Hera lost her powers, she became a joke. She and Zola were the book’s comic relief, hapless women protected by Wonder Woman who had little to do but order room service and go to bars. There were issues where they totally stole the book with great, amusing moments, but they were also female characters who were cast in the age old damsel in distress role. Zola’s broken out of that mold in recent issues; her going after Dionysus was an enormously brave and moving moment. Now Hera has transcended her comedic role as well and has emerged as a hero. She’s still hilarious, to be sure; this moment was great:
But Hera’s not ONLY comic relief anymore, and that’s great to see. Villain to joke to hero is a rare transition, and one that’s been pulled off very well by Azzarello and Chiang.
Hera’s rebirth as a heroic goddess resulted in the book’s biggest revelation, which fans have spent the past couple of years waiting for: The Amazons are back! Now, those of us who are at all familiar with comic books knew that they’d be back at some point. We’ve been through several Amazon genocides now, and lo and behold they always return. No one ever stays dead in a comic book. Nonetheless, it’s lovely to have them back.
Also, Wonder Woman taking charge of the Amazons was a nice moment as well, given that there seemed to be some animosity towards her from some of her sisters when the series began. I was a little surprised that we didn’t see anything with Hippolyta, but I’m betting that her reunion with Diana will be the opening scene of the next issue.
As much as I’m glad that the Amazons are back, though, I don’t think that their return excuses their absence. They’ve been out of commission for most of the series, just to give Hera a nice moment and to supply Wonder Woman with an army (assuming that this all was Azzarello and Chiang’s plan from the get-go; who knows, they may have brought them back on a lark). That doesn’t strike me as a good enough reason to cast aside such a key part of Wonder Woman’s mythos, especially when their removal was paired with a constant undermining of their legacy and feminist power. The whole raping and murdering sailors situation has left quite a black mark on the Amazons, plus now Wonder Woman’s abilities are the result of her divine father and her male mentor instead of her Amazon heritage. It’s wonderful that the Amazons are back, but the book has done a great deal of damage to them in their absence.
That being said, Azzarello and Chiang have done an excellent job rehabilitating Hera over the course of their run, so I’m curious to see if they can rehabilitate the Amazons before their tenure is over. They’ve already got a lot of balls in the air, storywise, and there’s a lot of damage to be undone, so I’m not particularly optimistic. It’ll take more than a big victory against the First Born to repair their tarnished image; that would hardly make up for centuries of rape and murder. I’m hoping Azzarello and Chiang have a plan for walking that back, but again, I’m not optimistic.
Qualms about the Amazons aside, this was a very solid issue and everything is developing at an exciting pace. I’m very pleased to see that Wonder Woman’s team has remained intact and that she hasn’t had the rug pulled out from under her in several issues. I may not be optimistic about the Amazons, but it feels like this run is going to end well for Wonder Woman herself as she comes into her own and takes control of her destiny. The action is definitely going to escalate in the issues to come, and I’m curious and excited to see how it all turns out.