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:
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:
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.