With only three issues of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s run on Wonder Woman left, the story seems to be kicking into high gear now after a few months of place setting and smaller skirmishes. We’ve been anticipating an Amazon assault on Olympus to defeat the First Born and end his reign of terror, but the tables turned in this issue. Let’s get into the details, but first:
I am about to reveal EVERYTHING that happened in this issue!
And some cool stuff happened, so go read it first!
Chiang KILLED it, so you’ll definitely want to check out this one!
All right, so let’s pick up where we left off last issue. Wonder Woman stayed behind so all of her friends could escape, and as a result she’s been captured by the First Born and is being held on Mount Olympus, tied up in nasty sinewy bonds. The First Born wants Diana to be his wife and rule the world with him, but she’s not at all interested. Her outright refusal to have anything to do with the First Born is one of the issue’s several high points.
Compared to that weird, almost marriage thing with Hades from the first year of the run, Wonder Woman’s forceful defiance and withering disdain for the First Born is much more enjoyable. Azzarello’s dialogue has Diana unequivocally refusing the First Born at every turn, and Chiang’s communicates her complete disgust with the First Born and also a confident nonchalance despite the dangerous circumstances. This exchange is one of my favourite moments from the series thus far:
That side eye! It’s so perfect.
And as a random sidenote, I love when Chiang draws Diana with her hair up. It’s a cool look that suits her well, and is a fun change given how often her hair is down. Plus her lasso is what keeps it tied up, which is a very nice touch.
As Wonder Woman continually refused the First Born, he launched an attack on Paradise Island, sending his weird jackal troops and then Cassandra and the minotaur. Despite the sizeable force, Wonder Woman was unperturbed and had complete faith in the Amazons to defeat their enemies. The First Born clearly thought that threatening the Amazons would force her to agree to be his queen, but it only steeled her resolve further.
Despite Wonder Woman’s immense faith, things didn’t go so great on Paradise Island. It started off well, with a strong moment for Aleka as she brushed aside her interpersonal conflicts and displeasure with the Manazons and declared that they would all fight together. I still completely hate the idea of the Manazons and the entire way it’s played out, but I liked the redemptive moment for Aleka, especially since she took a spear through the chest while protecting Zola. I’m glad that she and the rest of the Amazons banded together and showed their true honour when push came to shove; it’s nice to have Amazons who act like Amazons after their crap depiction thus far.
Aleka wasn’t the only casualty. Orion was gored by the minotaur, and the Amazons were overrun by the issue’s end. The First Born arrived on Paradise Island, having just stabbed Wonder Woman and leaving her to die, and things looked pretty bleak. But Zeke came to the rescue yet again. He brought the statue of Hippolyta back to life, or some sort of animated statue life, and her declaration of “No surrender… we are Amazons” made me grin ear to ear. Amazons being Amazons is just the best thing. Hippolyta’s resurrection was another high point of the series for me; this issue was big on awesome moments.
Also, Zeke has to be Zeus, right? Not even Hera could resurrect Hippolyta, but Zeke did it with his glowy eyes thing in an instant. As the chief god, it makes sense that he’d have the most power. Also the blue/white of his eye glow is reminiscent of the effect we’ve seen in flashbacks to Zeus using his powers, and when Wonder Woman goes all godlike. The baby has demonstrated powers beyond the rest of the gods, and I think that he’s a reincarnated Zeus of some sort is the only real explanation. Or he’s a genderswapped Athena, because for some mysterious reason Athena hasn’t showed up in the book yet.
So things are bad, but things are also good. Wonder Woman, Orion, and Aleka are either dead or dying, but Hippolyta is back. It looks like the tide is set to turn and the battle is about to get absolutely bonkers. I am very much onboard for this. Amazons fighting bad guys is a million time more fun than Amazon in-fighting.
I should also point out that this is the first issue where colourist Matthew Wilson gets a cover credit. Colourists rarely ever got their name on the cover of DC books before, but the publisher’s new payment plan has changed that policy. Matthew Wilson has been a rock star for Wonder Woman, and his cover credit is very much deserved. With so many fill-in artists over the past three years, Wilson’s colouring has been the key to keeping the look of the book consistent, and he’s done a great job of it.
This issue in particular showed off Wilson’s epic skills. The First Born’s Mount Olympus is a gross, fleshy monstrosity, and the colouring could have easily become a muddled pink and red mess. Instead, Wilson layered the colours beautifully to capture the fleshy look with a surprising amount of variety. The walls are pink, but shadowed with various hues of purple. There are reds throughout Olympus, but the lake of blood in the middle of the chamber was coloured black to add even more contrast. What could have been a monochromatic disaster instead became a creepily gorgeous setting.
We’ve only got TWO issues of Azzarello and Chiang’s Wonder Woman left (August and October; September is a special “Futures End” event issue), and it looks like they’re going to be pretty insane. Three years of stories are building to a head, and given Azzarello’s penchant for doing his own thing and writing Wonder Woman like it exists in its own universe, I wouldn’t be surprised if we get some shocking twists and turns and maybe some big casualties. I’m looking forward to seeing how everything unfolds.