Posts Tagged ‘Athena’

Wonder Woman #35 Preview OR A Peek At Brian Azzarello And Cliff Chiang’s Epic Finale

October 28, 2014

After more than three years, Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s time on Wonder Woman is coming to a close tomorrow with Wonder Woman #35. It’s been quite a run, and despite my qualms with some aspects of the story, their tenure’s high points have been remarkable and certain issues will go down as some of the best in the history of Wonder Woman, I’m sure. I’ll talk more about their legacy in my review tomorrow, but first let’s take a look at what’s coming.

When we last left our intrepid heroine, she’d gone to Olympus with Hermes, Zola, and Zeke, and Poseidon had arrived to stop their plans. The preview picks up right where Wonder Woman #34 left off:

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Well, now I’m very worried about Hermes. He’s been one of my favourites characters from the very first issue; if you’ve kept up with my reviews, you’ll remember how I sad I was when he was on the outs with Wonder Woman during the second year and was barely in the book. Hopefully Olympus is a place of immortality, as he says, because I don’t want to lose such a great character.

Zola is looking ever more owly, which I think is significant given the owl/Athena connection. We’ll find out tomorrow if my theory is correct. If it is, we’ll see Zola revealed as a disguised Athena, and possible Zeke revealed as a disguised Zeus. I think I might be onto something here.

Finally, Wonder Woman’s “Um… no?” in reply to Poseidon’s demands is perfect and hilarious. I’m expecting a spectacular showcase for Wonder Woman in this final issue, with the vanquishing of foes and the triumph of good over evil and all of those things. This preview looks to be a good start on that road. I’m going to miss Cliff Chiang drawing Diana so much. For me, he draws the definitive Wonder Woman. He captures her exactly.

Wonder Woman #35 will be available in stores and online tomorrow. It should be pretty epic, so go check it out! I’ll be back with a full review sometime on Wednesday afternoon. I’m anticipating having a lot of feelings about the end of this run, and am looking forward to hearing all of your thoughts on the finale as well.

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Secret Origins #6 Review OR Wonder Woman’s New 52 Origin Finally Revealed

October 22, 2014

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This week’s issue of Secret Origins tells the tale of how Diana, Princess of Paradise Island, became Wonder Woman. Sort of. It’s a truncated story that leaves out a lot of the parts traditionally associated with Wonder Woman’s origin story. Nonetheless, it provides some fascinating backstory for a character who hasn’t had a lot of it thus far. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal Wonder Woman’s secret origin!

You should read it yourself first!

The book is worth buying for that amazing Lee Bermejo cover alone!

Okay, so back to the origin. The story is written by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, and a lot of it is stuff we know already from their run on Wonder Woman. Diana is actually the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta, but she and the rest of the Amazons think that she was made of clay. The story is a snippet from the life of Diana, starting with her desire to someday leave Paradise Island and ending with Steve Trevor crash landing there being her ticket out. It doesn’t go back in time to tell us about the history of the Amazons, nor does it show us how Wonder Woman left Paradise Island. It’s sort of a mini-origin, which is somewhat unsatisfying.

However, what we did get was both enjoyable and illuminating. The biggest reveal was Diana and Aleka’s relationship. They’ve been antagonistic for most of the current Wonder Woman run, but here in the past they were good friends, and perhaps more. There was a definite flirtation between them, and the way the fight scenes were constructed seemed to regularly place them in somewhat sexual poses. Whether or not they were more than friends isn’t clearly stated, but I got the feeling that there was an attraction between them, perhaps that had yet to be explored.

Whatever the nature of their relationship, their closeness in the past explains their distance in the present. Diana wanted to leave and Aleka wanted her to stay, and after Diana left to become Wonder Woman it’s obvious that Aleka didn’t take it well and turned against her. Her deep anger in the present again hints at a spurned lover or an unrequited love situation more than a broken friendship to me, but that’s again not explicitly stated.

This backstory adds a lot to both characters. Aleka’s been rather one note, but now we can understand her better. As for Diana, seeing her curiosity and desire to explore the wider world explains a lot of who she is today.

The story’s style is very similar to Wonder Woman #0, the flashback issue where a young Diana is mentored by Ares. It’s got a Silver Age vibe, both in terms of the writing and the gorgeous art by Goran Sudzuka, which is some of the best work I’ve ever seen from him. The tone is very upbeat and light, almost in an artificial way, which suggests that the story might not be a perfect recreation of what “actually happened,” and that there was more darkness and emotional depth beneath the cheerful surface.

Another surprising reveal was the first official appearance of Athena, in the form of an owl-like creature. I’ve been harping on the lack of Athena in Wonder Woman for years now, and in my review of the latest issue of Wonder Woman I revealed my theory that Zola is actually Athena in disguise. Part of my theory hinged on what happened to Zola’s eyes, how they took on an owly appearance when she visited Olympus. Owls are traditionally associated with Athena, and now we see Athena as a full on owl-like person, so I think my theory has definitely increased in likelihood.

While the story was limited in scope, that may well be a good thing. I was hoping for but also dreading reading more history of the Amazons; Azzarello’s done some bad stuff to the Amazons, turning them into rapists and murderers. While something that addressed and fixed these changes would have been nice, not having anything worse added to their altered history can only be considered a positive. It also leaves parts of their story, particularly the Amazon’s very beginnings, unexplored, which will allow other writers to fill that in and hopefully present a better take on the Amazons in the future.

Similarly, we don’t know if there was any sort of competition for who returned Steve Trevor or anything like that, which is usually a big part of Wonder Woman’s origin stories. Again, someone else can pick up on that in the future, which is cool.

All told, the Wonder Woman story in Secret Origins #6 is both enjoyable and adds a lot of interesting, albeit limited, elements to her backstory, and to Aleka as well. It should also have ramifications for Azzarello and Chiang’s upcoming Wonder Woman finale, if my Zola/Athena theory proves to be true. Plus it was all pretty gay, really, however unspecifically, and that’s fun to see. There is obviously a massive lesbian component to the Amazons, and I’m glad to see them start to be explored.

Secret Origins #6 is available online and in stores today, and also features the origins of Deadman and Sinestro. I didn’t read the latter two, but hey, more stories! The issue is worth buying for the Wonder Woman story alone, and the fantastic cover.

Wonder Woman #34 Review OR Robot Elephants vs. Vengeful Gods

October 1, 2014

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I liked a lot of things in this penultimate issue of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s Wonder Woman run, but I also wasn’t keen on parts of it. Luckily, the things I didn’t like were more at the beginning and everything got crazy and twisty and fun toward the end. Plus, I think the mystery surrounding a conspicuous absence that I’ve been harping about for a couple years now might be on the verge of being addressed. Before we dig into all of that, though, first I should declare:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal every cool moment in this comic book!

Go read it first! It’s Cliff Chiang’s second last issue! It’s so pretty!

Okay, so let’s start with what I didn’t like. First, I wasn’t keen on the dialogue. Azzarello is known for his stylized dialogue. He’s done a lot of clever things with the way he writes people talking, both in the construction of the language and how he transitions from scene to scene. At its best, like in 100 Bullets, it’s almost poetic, and a lot of fun to read. During his Wonder Woman run, he’s reined that in a bit, until this issue where it is on full display and not in a good way.

Several scenes read almost like a parody of Azzarello. I mean, Strife literally says that she brought Wonder Woman home to where she was raised so she could watch it get razed. That’s not good stuff. Nor was Hera’s reply to Zola when she said Hera turned the jackal people into glass: “It’s crystal. Clear?” Come on. I’m all for fun wordplay, but this is rough. Azzarello is usually much better at this sort of thing.

Also, Wonder Woman almost calls Strife a bitch again. Luckily, her mother cut her off before she could finish her sentence. The last time Wonder Woman called her a bitch I railed about it for about a thousand words, so I’ll spare you a lengthy rant here. Suffice it to say, “bitch” is not a word that Wonder Woman should ever say. It’s a gendered insult that denigrates women and she would have no part of that. Plus, Wonder Woman is clever. She can come up with a better insult.

I still hate the Manazons, but I have to admit that the robot elephants were pretty cool. But Hephaestus could have just dropped by with some sweet robot elephants and we could’ve skipped the whole Manazon thing, because it is dumb dumb dumb.

What I do like about the Manazons, and this issue in general, is that all of the people Wonder Woman has interacted with over the course of this run, showing them mercy and offering them help, have come together to fight alongside her and defeat the First Born. Orion’s been in the mix since last issue, and Milan’s now swooped in to help. Hera looked to be heading back to capricious god status, but changed her mind and helped out Zola. Even Strife helped out, if only to rob Wonder Woman of the peace that death would bring her. Wonder Woman’s amassed a weird, dysfunctional family over the past three years, and now they’re all rallying behind her.

All this talk about Wonder Woman’s family brings us to Zola, who journeyed to Olympus with Wonder Woman at the issue’s end to put Zeke on the throne and rob the First Born of a lot of his power. When she arrived, Zola collapsed in pain and her eyes went all weird:

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So here’s my theory about what’s up. For years now, I’ve been repeatedly bringing up the conspicuous lack of Athena in Wonder Woman. Pretty much every other Olympian god has been in the book, and with a substantial role, but we haven’t seen Athena at all (apart from maybe an owl that popped up a few times in Wonder Woman #0). My main theory about Zeke has long been that Zeke is actually Zeus; there’s the Z-name connection, plus his MASSIVE powers that manifest sporadically. Mythologically, Zeus birthed Athena; technically, she sprang fully formed from the head of Zeus, but you get what I’m saying. So what if Athena is returning the favour? If Zeus is Zeke, maybe Athena is Zola, disguised and perhaps memory wiped in order to hide her father and protect him from the dangers he knew were coming. Look at the eyes in the panel above. They look like owl eyes, and owls are the animal most commonly associated with Athena. She’s usually depicted with one on her shoulder. So maybe Athena’s been in the book the whole time and we, and probably she, didn’t know it. That would be pretty cool. I suppose I’d be bummed to lose Zola as a character, though. She’s a lot of fun.

Finally, the big reveal at the end of the issue was Poseidon emerging from the pool of blood in Olympus, though his intentions were vague. His pronouncements seemed ominous, but final page reveals are usually tricksy. We’ve got a number of options here. Poseidon might be working with the First Born, and thus is set to fight Wonder Woman and her pals. Poseidon might be angling for the throne of Olympus for himself, and thus working against the First Born but also against Wonder Woman and her pals. Or maybe Poseidon is just being bombastic and came to actually help Wonder Woman and her pals, though that one seems a bit unlikely. Either way, he’s poised to be an important player when we get the conclusion of this run in a few weeks times.

So the end is almost here, and I’m very curious to see how it all comes together in the last issue. Wonder Woman #34 had some bits and style choices that bugged me, but ultimately I enjoyed how everyone came together and I’m intrigued by the implications of the last couple pages. And I feel like I’m onto something with this Zola/Athena thing. We’ll find out soon enough, I suppose.

The Wonder Woman #34 Selfie Variant Cover Is The Best Thing

July 30, 2014

DC’s doing a line of selfie variant covers in August, and a lot of them look pretty fun. The Superman/Wonder Woman one, which I posted a few weeks back, is very cute, and Joe Quinones’ Batman ’66 selfie cover is hilarious. But my favourite so far, and I’m admittedly biased, is Terry and Rachel Dodson’s variant for Wonder Woman #34. If this doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will:

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It’s great to have the Dodson back drawing Wonder Woman again. They did a fantastic job during Allen Heinberg and Gail Simone’s runs on the book, and this cover is gorgeous and so much fun. If I’m not mistaken, Wonder Woman is taking a selfie with the statue of Athena that stands atop a pillar in front of the Athens Academy in Athens, Greece. The Dodsons draw a beautiful, regal Wonder Woman, but with this cover they’ve proved they can kill it with a silly Wonder Woman as well.

It’s so nice to see Wonder Woman having fun. Wonder Woman’s been a rather dark series, and Superman/Wonder Woman’s been angsty and now Diana’s all worried about Doomsday Superman. It’s a pleasure to see her goof around for a change. Sure, she’s a fierce warrior, but she can have a good time as well.

The New 52’s been so heavy and serious; DC seems to have forgotten that superheroes can be fun, too. I hope that these selfie variants are a first step in bringing some joy back to the DC universe. They’re just straight up silly, but that’s sort of why they work and why I’m enjoying them so much. The new Batgirl team and books like Gotham Academy, both out this October, seem to have a lighter tone, so maybe the tide is starting to turn somewhat and things won’t be so serious all the time.

This Wonder Woman #34 selfie variant will be available August 20. Talk to your local comic shop about getting a copy, because it will ship in smaller quantities than the regular (and also lovely) Cliff Chiang cover.

Wonder Woman #13 Review OR Wonder Woman Gets Played AGAIN (This Is Becoming A Theme)

October 18, 2012

I didn’t hate Wonder Woman #13 by any means, but it was a LOT of setup that continued the “Wonder Woman getting fooled” motif I’m really getting bored with.  While I knew the Orion stuff was a few issues off, and that Azzarello tends to save the good stuff for when Chiang is drawing the book, this issue was still pretty uneventful.  Let’s dig into it, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

If you did not read this issue yet, I am about to RUIN it for you.

I mean, not much happened, so really it’s not THAT big of a deal this time.

But still.

SPOILERS!!

Okay, before we get into how bored I was, let’s talk about something else.  We’ll save that enthralling discussion for later.  First, let’s talk about the very beginning, and the emergence of the creature that the solicits have labeled the “First Born”.  This mean looking guy:

We don’t really find out much about who he is in this issue, other than that he likes to eat heads and that some scientist dudes have been expecting him to show up.  Now, we do get this, the first words he speaks:

But I have no idea what that is.  I searched around a bit, and it doesn’t look like any language I could find.  I did learn that the symbol ʎ is called a palatal lateral approximant, but that wasn’t at all helpful.  I thought the words might be some form of Greek, seeing as we’re dealing with the Greek gods and all, but it’s not.  My best guess is that it’s a fictional language and I wasted my time searching, really.

Anyway, he’s a tough guy who can sit around naked with no ill effects in Antarctica, so clearly he’s going to be tough to beat, and it sounds like he’ll be the Big Bad for year two of Azzarello and Chiang’s Wonder Woman.  We don’t know much about him yet, other than that he’s someone’s first born.  He could be a Titan, he could be another secret Zeus kid, he could be some sort of Apokoliptian creature seeing as we’ve got Orion coming up soon.  We’ll soon find out more I’m sure.

Also, remember that possible spoiler I posted a few days ago?  That didn’t come up at all in this issue.  Ares was in it, but he didn’t interact with Wonder Woman at all.  Perhaps the event I discussed (I won’t spoil it here in case it does happen later) is coming up down the road, or perhaps they’ve changed the plan… we’ll have to keep reading to find out.

Anyway, onto the story itself.  After the gruesome introduction of the First Born, we get to the pool party of the gods and learn two things.  First, Athena’s not there.  She’s been mysteriously absent for a while.  Second, they’re all scared of Wonder Woman and think she might be the fulfillment of the prophecy from all the way back in Wonder Woman #1.

Then we get some comic relief with Hera and Zola, and Wonder Woman sets off in search of Siracca, her half-sister and another of Zeus’ many illegitimate children.  She’s got cool wind powers that let her hear everything that gets said, so she could be helpful in tracking down Hermes.  She is, however, a little skittish.

Wonder Woman takes off to Libya to meet her and runs into some soldiers that she dispatches easily, and then she meets a little girl.  Here’s where things went off the rails for me.  The first half of the book was fairly uneventful, apart from that guy getting his head bit in half, but now Wonder Woman gets to both fail and be duped, so win-win.

She meets a little girl that had been hiding among the soldiers, and promises to keep her safe.  The soldiers always hurt the little girl and her fellow visitors, but Wonder Woman says:

They set off to the secret place where the villagers hide, which turns out to be Siracca’s palace.  Siracca bombards Wonder Woman and the little girl with swords and knives, all of which Wonder Woman deflects, except for one that kills the little girl.

So Wonder Woman isn’t super great at being Wonder Woman.  For six pages she was all “don’t worry, I’ll protect you” and then BAM the first thing they come across kills the kid with a sword right through the heart.  I’m not super pleased about that.  Wonder Woman doesn’t have to be perfect all the time, of course, but a lot of this run has involved Wonder Woman screwing up.  She got all angry and stormed off and her mom got turned into a statue, Zola got nabbed a few times even though Wonder Woman had sworn to protect her… that sort of thing.

But don’t worry, because it was all an elaborate ruse!!  That child was actually Siracca, who has lured Wonder Woman into her lair!!  OH NO!!  Cliffhanger.

It seems that Wonder Woman has been bamboozled yet again.  This version of Wonder Woman just isn’t very bright.  From “WHAT?  Zeus is my father?” to “WHAT? My Amazon sisters raped and killed sailors?” to “WHAT? This fight was a distraction so you could take Zola?” TWICE to “WHAT?  Hermes was playing us?”, people pull the wool over Wonder Woman’s eyes ALL the damn time in this series.  It’s getting really old.  Even when Wonder Woman has a rare moment of triumph, there’s usually a trick involved to pull the rug out from under her and spoil the victory.

When I reviewed the last issue, I talked about how the Amazons have been diminished and how the sources of Wonder Woman’s various strengths are all men now.  At the same time, Wonder Woman’s been shown to be kind of a dope.  She’s trusting and naïve to a degree that you just have to be concerned about the woman.  This is not a particularly strong Wonder Woman.  It’s not blatantly bad or anything like that, nor do I think it’s intentional, but the stories so far are adding up to a Wonder Woman who owes far more of her abilities to men than to women and who, on her own, isn’t all that bright.  And that’s just not Wonder Woman to me.

Now, I still like this book.  Not this issue particularly, because nothing of any real consequence happened, but the series as a whole.  When it’s good, it’s REALLY good, and it’s capable of fantastic moments and great characters.  But more and more I’m finding that I have to divorce this take on Wonder Woman from MY Wonder Woman, if that makes any sense.  My smart, skilled Wonder Woman would have had this all wrapped up in a few issues, someone suitable would have been on the throne of Olympus, her mom would be alive, and Zola would have her baby.  This Wonder Woman is a little more impulsive, a little more reckless, and far less clever.  And that’s the only Wonder Woman we’ve got right now, apart from the one hooking up with Superman in Justice League and lord knows that’s not better.  It’s a different take on the character, and I love the world that’s been built around her… it’s just sort of a bummer that Wonder Woman herself is one of my least favourite parts of that world.

Anyway, it was a dull issue and my Wonder Woman-related problems continue.  But hopefully Wonder Woman #14 will have some more exciting things going on, and at the very least we’ll be one step closer to Orion!!  I’m very curious to see what Orion’s up to.  The supporting cast of this book is always spectacular.

Yeah, that was sort of a backhanded compliment.

Random Recommendation: The Olympians By George O’Connor

June 19, 2012

Usually I talk about Wonder Woman, but you really can’t be a fan of Wonder Woman without being a fan of Greek mythology.  So lucky for all of us I’ve just stumbled upon a fantastic series of graphic novels about the Greek gods.  If you know about them already, then a) awesome, and b) why didn’t you tell me??  But if you don’t, you need to check them out.

Being a big fan of superheroes, most of my comic awareness is centered around Diamond and the direct market.  As such, I’m not terribly aware of all the cool graphic novels being produced by non-Diamond publishers.  So when I found this series at my local library, I was pleasantly surprised.

It’s called The Olympians, and is written and illustrated by George O’Connor.  Each book in the series is about a different Greek god, their origin, and the stories surrounding them.  So for example, the first book is about Zeus and how he overthrew Kronos, while the third book, and my favourite of the ones I’ve read so far, is about Hera, how she became queen of the gods, and her relationship with Heracles (or “Hercules”, if you’re not cool).

On a technical level, these books are impressive.  First off, they’re gorgeous, especially the hardcovers.  The design is solid and the art is fantastic.  Here’s a page from Hera’s book:

O’Connor’s art sort of reminds me of Chris Samnee a bit, which is fun because Samnee is awesome.  O’Connor’s got his own thing going, though, and it’s great.  The use of colour is striking as well, and it always sets the mood of the scene just right.  And, of course, the writing is solid, and manages the rare feat of rolling separate myths into one cohesive story.

The best part of The Olympians is that in combining these myths, O’Connor isn’t afraid to present a slightly different portrait of the gods than we expect.  The Hera book is particularly surprising this way.  Hera isn’t a very well-liked character generally, what with her always killing Zeus’ lovers and kids and generally screwing with people.  She’s pretty much the chief villain in Wonder Woman now, actually.  But O’Connor not only tells her side of the story, he also retells the Heracles myths in a way that Hera is almost the good guy helping him reach his true potential instead of a vindictive woman trying to destroy him.

O’Connor does this by being selective about which myths he includes.  Not to keep harping on about the Hera book (but it’s SO good, you guys!!!), he chooses to leave out  the bit where Heracles kills his family, which then changes the Twelve Labours from a way for him to atone for his crimes to a series of challenges so he can prove his greatness.  It works beautifully within the story (seriously, I LOVED this one), but it’s also an example of what I like best about mythology.

We comic nerds can be ridiculously hardcore about continuity.  Every little piece has to fit together properly and match what came before or we pitch a fit.  Mythology is pretty much the opposite of this.  There’s NO way for all of the stories to fit together.  There’s so many and they usually end up contradicting each other, so you have to pick and choose what you include when you retell them.  Authors have been doing this since the days of Ancient Greece, and I love that O’Connor is bold enough to carry on this tradition and craft his own story and angle on the gods instead of trying to just copy what’s come before.  His tales of the gods are reminiscent of the ancient stories, and at the same time are new and unexpected as well.  It’s the best of both worlds.

Plus, they’re aimed at young adults and are meant to be classroom friendly so there’s cool questions and resources for further reading at the back of each book.  And O’Connor gives you a rundown of the choices he made for each god, and which myths he chose to include and which to ignore.  It’s sort of like Eric Shanower’s Age of Bronze, which is also fantastic, but without all the nudity and inclusion of every single detail.

So I heartily recommend them and you should check them out!!  There are four so far:

  • Zeus: King of the Gods
  • Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess
  • Hera: The Goddess and her Glory
  • Hades: Lord of the Dead

And Poseidon is coming in 2013 I think.  The softcovers are only about ten bucks a pop, and they’re well worth it, so go pick up a cool take on the Greek gods that’s simultaneously faithful to the ancient myths and new and modern as well.  Plus, they’re so very pretty!!


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