Wonder Woman #31 Review OR Continuing To Make The Amazons Look Bad


I’ll say this up front: I did not care for this issue, and for a variety of reasons, so sorry in advance for all of the negativity. I have such mixed feelings about this run. When it’s good, it’s SO good, but when it’s bad it’s the sort of bad that just bums me out to my core as a fan of Wonder Woman and the Amazons. Wonder Woman #31 was one of the bumming me out issues. I’ll talk about why momentarily, but first:


I am going to reveal EVERY story development from this issue, few though they may be!

If you haven’t read the issue yet, run away!

But come back later when you have read it!

Carrying on, let’s start with this issue’s story, or rather the lack thereof. Nothing really happened at all, apart from the last two pages. We got some confirmation about what happened in Hades last issue, but that’s just affirming old news. And then Zeke got kidnapped again. I laughed out loud when I got to that part; Zeke is kidnapped in every other issue. I’m beginning to question if Zola is a fit mother. But Wonder Woman got him back, and the issue ended with the Amazon’s male brothers showing up on Paradise Island, and the news that Hermes is in trouble. It was twenty pages of not a lot happening, other than the continued campaign of making the Amazons look stupid.

I can’t decide whether Brian Azzarello just fundamentally misunderstands the Amazons or if he actively dislikes them and is trying to make them look terrible. I realize that I talked about the Amazons last month, but bear with me; I’ve got new critiques, not a rehash.

First, I don’t understand why all of the old Amazons don’t exist in this universe. In this issue, Wonder Woman talks with a black Amazon who was a chief advisor for Hippolyta. That should be Philippus, right? Everybody loves Philippus. She’s super cool. But no, it’s a new Amazon named Dessa. She looks like Philippus and functions in a similar role, but she’s a new character. Along the same lines, Aleka seems to be an Artemis analogue, a redheaded warrior who’s not at all impressed with Diana. It seems silly to create a new cast of Amazons when there are already known, loved characters. The New 52 has wiped away that history, replacing these characters with subpar facsimiles. I suppose they had to do so, because lord knows that Philippus wouldn’t stand for the foolishness that’s been going on with the Amazons these past few years.

Second, Dessa is the only Amazon who stands up for the all female, warrior society that the Amazons have always been, and she is presented as both murderous and suicidal. Diana is bringing back the Amazons’ lost brothers (more on that later) and Dessa argues forcefully against this. But instead of being a rational character with a valid point to make, she kidnaps Zeke and tries to throw him off a cliff as a sacrifice, and then throws herself off the cliff when Wonder Woman saves Zeke. It’s awful that the only voice standing up for what the Amazons have always been, ie. female strength and power, is presented as crazy and unbalanced.

Third, men are coming to Paradise Island. I don’t even know what to call them. Bromazons? Manazons? I like Manazons. The Manazons, who the Amazons traded to Hephaestus for weapons, are coming back to Paradise Island. The book doesn’t say whether they’re back for good or just for the war against the First Born, but either way, there will be men on the island. This is just stupid. The entire point of the Amazons is that they’re women who were fed up with patriarchal society so they created their own. They are a rebellious group who want nothing to do with the world of men. Bringing in boatloads of men goes against this entirely.

Furthermore, the return of the Manazons is presented as some type of atonement for the sins of the Amazons, what with their raping and murdering and abandoning of babies and such. So here’s what happened: Azzarello fundamentally changed the history of the Amazons, turning them into monsters, and decided that the remedy for that was to further fundamentally change the nature of the Amazons by undoing the very principles of their foundation. Essentially, he ruined the Amazons so he could further ruin the Amazons by making them co-ed. This is also stupid. We’ve got thirty issues of the Amazons being unpleasant people who do terrible things, just so we can bring some boys to the island? It’s ridiculous. Besmirching the Amazons to undo the defining tenet of the Amazons displays such a massive lack of understanding or appreciation for what the Amazons have meant to the DC Comics universe for 75 years.

And here’s the thing: The Amazons don’t have to be perfect. They were often presented as such over the decades, but there were lots of problems to explore. There’s a notion of superiority through purity at their core that’s not so cool when you dig into it, along with isolationism and disregard for the rest of the world. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with fleshing out the Amazons, adding some contrary opinions and attitudes and making them a less harmonious bunch. There’s lots to explore in lots of ways, but this complete 180 degree turn we’ve gotten from the New 52 that undoes EVERYTHING fundamental about the Amazons strikes me as the absolute wrong way to go about it. They could’ve easily made the Amazons more human, but instead they made them monsters, and all in the service of adding more men to the mix. It completely boggles my mind.

So yeah, this issue really bothered me. Plus, nothing happened; the story just inched along glacially. The last issue ended with the Amazons revving up to face the First Born, and so did this one. If the Amazons don’t actually fight the First Born at some point next month, I’m going to be annoyed. Or rather, more annoyed than I usually am when Azzarello writes the Amazons.

Published by Tim Hanley

Tim Hanley is a comic book historian and the author of Wonder Woman Unbound, Investigating Lois Lane, The Many Lives of Catwoman, and Betty and Veronica: The Leading Ladies of Riverdale.

12 thoughts on “Wonder Woman #31 Review OR Continuing To Make The Amazons Look Bad

  1. To say nothing happened is quite ridiculous because you complaining about the change and evolution of the amazons is…well something 😛 You might not like it but it’s something.

    Still have no idea why you’re complaining though? I thought that maybe in your next reviews you would do more research on the Greek Myths and realize that Azzarello’s portrayal of the Amazons coincides precisely with the old Greek God stories. Amazons WERE savages who killed men and they DID once a year go out to mother children with other men tribes. They then killed the boys and kept the girls.

    Did you actually talk about these Greek myths in your old reviews? (I don’t remember?) You don’t have to like what Azzarello did, but you can understand it. Read up on the Greek pantheon and Amazons, you’ll start seeing the “hows and whys” of Azzarello’s run.

    1. Umm..In Greek Mythology, the Amazons were a number of different things depending on the Myth and time period. Amazons started out as a warrior race that worked with a tribe of men and the two regularly met and had children together. One version they gave the male children to the male tribe.Over time they slowly became more sinister.
      Also, in Greek Mythology, the Amazons chopped off their left breast to fire their bows and arrows better.. so, if we’re going with Greek mythology (We’re not btw). Oh also, if we’re talking Greek Mythology, Hippolyte (correct spelling) is the daughter of Ares (aka War), so she had incest with Zeus, her grandfather. Her child should be Hippolytus, who is her male child, with Herakles (again proper spelling of Hercules).
      If you REALLY want to use the Greek Mythology angle too, then maybe.. Azzarello should read some Greek mythology and realize that there was never a God named the First Born. Hermes isn’t a bird man, Hades isn’t a melting candle and Hades is married to Persephone, Artemis doesn’t look like a deer, War’s name is Ares, Oh and Dionysus isn’t a kitsune, that’s Japanese, not Greek.
      So.. are you claiming Greek Mythology here and if you are, then why is Azzarello allowed to pick and choose his Greek mythology?

      But while Amazons in Greek Mythology, written by a patriarchal society that feared women having power in any way and written as a precaution to women having power and were also the enemies of the Amazons, portrayed Amazons as savage killers, the comics never have. And we’re talking comics here, not dubious Greek Mythology.

      1. “So.. are you claiming Greek Mythology here and if you are, then why is Azzarello allowed to pick and choose his Greek mythology?”

        Because he’s doing a comic book, not a documentary.

    2. I’ve already done research on the myths about the Amazons, inspired by the big rapists/murderers reveal in Wonder Woman #7. Azzarello’s stuff isn’t really based in any of the myths, and completely ignores the vast majority of the early Greek myths, when they weren’t particularly savage at all. The myths got worse over time, especially in the Roman era, amusingly culminating in Azzarello’s shitty take on the Amazons today. You can check out my research here:



      Also, regardless of the myths, we have 75 years of stories about the Paradise Island Amazons, who exist entirely outside of myth and were a peaceful, honourable nation. That history deserves some respect, I think.

      1. Thanks, was wondering if you covered it 🙂 That’s why I put in brackets that I didn’t remember or see if you covered the topic….well then kudos, I’ll go read your coverage now 😉 lol

  2. I am in agreement with your general dislike of Azzarello’s portrayal of the Amazons and their ‘new’ history and overall monstrous collective personality.
    Having said this, I would be more forgiving of it if I actually saw some sign in Diana that she had serious objections to it, or at least campaigned actively against it. In fairness, Diana has given (some) lip service conveying her discomfort and disagreement with the more hardline Amazonian traditions, but has heretofore remained relatively non-plussed about her people that she will one day (presumably) rule.
    I find the whole concept of blind obedience to god or gods quite fascinating if for no other reason that it can make seemingly intelligent people do ridiculously stupid things. The Amazons are a prime example of this (and their behavioural counterparts are all over our own world in terms of committing atrocious acts under the alleged justification of a “god”ly directive.

    WW is not a fool. At one time she had the wisdom of Athena (I am not sure if she still does under this new 52 incarnation), and there were moments in her Pre-New 52 incarnation where she challenged the gods she was expected to blindly worship. I would very much like to see that aggressive ‘peaceful-warrior’ independence manifest more in Azarello’s run.

    What Azarello has done to add even more fuel to the fire of this debate is make WW a God herself. So it is no longer simply an issue of WW going from deciding how to defy her gods when necessary to protect person kind….. BUT what does one do when you BECOME a GOD overnight as WW did? Does the fact that WW is now a god give her a greater right to defy her ‘fellow’ gods….. when heretofore she was but a mere demigod?

    And on a related note…. if the Amazons are so committed to the worship of their gods….. then I would think that their treatment of Diana who is now LITERALLY a GOD in her own right is deserving of some sanction. WW must lead her people by example….. but I fear that she is only portraying herself as a doormat by her fellow Amazons. WW needs to step up to the plate. I mean really, if a God of War cannot get the respect of a warrior amazon race then some significant piece of the puzzle is missing.

    I am not sure what impression my diatribe is conveying; however I want to emphasize that I AM ENJOYING Azzarello’s run in that it is forcing me to ask myself these questions and care for WW more than I have prior to the reboot.


    1. The amazons don’t seem to be as devote as previous incarnations, so I don’t think they care that Diana is the God of War (which goes against every fiber of her being at least before this run). Amazons are more just barbarians running around in furkinis knocking men over the head and dragging them back to the cave than devout group of people that worship the Greek God and all that come with them.
      As for Diana’s relationship with Athena, she seems to have none in the new 52. War is her mentor, War is whom she was close to, War is whom she ultimately chose. Athena hasn’t talked to Diana nor has Aphrodite, her previous patrons. Instead, she’s following and become the god she has fought and battled the most in the past and she’s become the symbol and living manifestation of the thing she’s designed to prevent.

      1. I don’t think we’ve even seen Athena in this run yet, which is a bizarre omission, especially since we’ve seen pretty much everyone else. I’ve been speculating that Athena might be part of some deus ex machina at the end of the run.

      2. Athena is a benevolent God of War & Knowledge and as far as I can remember Wonder Woman’s always been a WARrior. It’s not impossible that the reason we haven’t seen Athena is because she is Athena. Personally I think Azzarello played on the idea of Wonder Woman becoming the living impersonation of Superheroism = War against Evil. War is not necessarily evil, it’s also a means of self-preservation as one can’t protect something good from evil without evil. Also the Amazons are not portrayed as savages as much as just a stagnant tribe of women who still live in Ancient Greece. I believe Azz is making the point that societies need men and women and that we cannot function separately which not so far removed from reality. The former amazons prospered, they were smart, strong and fast but they weren’t Women, they were female humanoids. If Athena imparted wisdom to monkeys they would’ve become a nation every bit as great as Themyscira. The notion that Women, whom in a previous life were murdered my Men, need a divine empowerment to protect themselves from Men doesn’t sit right with me at all.

    2. That’s an interesting point about the Amazons being committed to the worship of their gods, but fighting tooth and nail against having to follow WW, the god of war. Traditionally, the Amazons were strong worshippers of the female gods, but who knows what they’re up to in this universe. You’d think in an all-female warrior culture, a female god of war would have some sway.

  3. Well…the original Amazons were created as ideals of love and peace. They were strong, powerful warriors and messengers of the Greek Goddesses. But I´m still confused, because the original Amazons of the WW mythos had a purpose in their origin: to spread love, peace and equality until their enslavement in the hands of Hercules. In the New 52, the origin of this Amazons is never explained. So just rapists and misandric killers who sell their male children to Hephaestus and live in a hidden island? That´s ridiculous.
    I hope that at least they give some reasons why the Amazons do all of this, because I never would like it without some reasons. And logical ones, please, DC.

    1. That’s one of the most frustrating things about the New 52 Wonder Woman, that we know absolutely nothing about the Amazons’ origins. Based on how the Amazons are now, the Amazon origin must be different than the old story, but they haven’t told it to us yet for some reason.

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