Posts Tagged ‘Zola’

Wonder Woman #51 Review: It’s Almost Over, Gang

April 20, 2016


“Rebirth” is so close now. Today’s Wonder Woman #51 is the penultimate issue of the series. The Finches will wrap up their run next month, and then Greg Rucka’s coming in with Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott to relaunch the book and hopefully make it not terrible anymore. Yes, another relaunch is sort of ridiculous, but I’m very much looking forward to it because a) Rucka knows how to write comics, b) Sharp and Scott are great artists, and c) there’s no way that they could make a worse Wonder Woman than what we’ve been getting over the past year and a half.

Case in point, this month’s issue. It serves as both a tour through the unpleasant missteps DC’s made with Wonder Woman throughout the New 52 era and as just a bad comic that’s part of a dumb arc. Wonder Woman’s in Tartarus because Hecate sent her there through a variety of painfully obvious lies and manipulations that sailed right over Diana’s head, and so she’s stuck dealing with some troubling manifestations of her subconscious mind or whatever. It’s not great stuff. We’ll discuss it all for as long as I can handle it (you’ll notice I didn’t even review last month’s issue; I was out of town visiting family and just couldn’t muster the energy to engage with the fiftieth issue “special”), but first:


I am about to tell you ALL OF THE THINGS that happen in this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Or don’t! Whatever! I don’t care anymore!

So Wonder Woman is in Tartarus because she’s an idiot, basically. Or rather, because she’s being written as such. Everything about Hecate screams “SHE’S A VILLAIN!”, from the spiky horns coming out of her head to her telling Diana that she needed to steal from her friends and not tell anyone what she was doing or who she was working with. I mean, come on now. Those are some red flags. This is the issue where Wonder Woman figures out that she’s been duped, but it’s several issues too late. She should have put the pieces together on this one as soon as she met Hecate, just like every reader did.

The attempted emotional reveal of Wonder Woman realizing the mistakes she’s made falls completely flat. Having Wonder Woman look stupid never makes for a fun read. Furthermore, this astoundingly poor characterization of Wonder Woman takes you right out of the story. Instead of engaging with what’s going on, the reader is left wondering why Diana is even in this situation in the first place, and why a writer would do this to the character, and how an editor could possibly let this story be published.

While in Tartarus, Wonder Woman has some visions related to her past. First, we get her Amazon foe Aleka making fun of a young Diana, a reminder of how the Amazons have been the worst in the New 52. It was really interesting to hear Greg Rucka talk about the Amazons on the Word Balloon podcast after his return to Wonder Woman was announced, because he made the point that the Amazons are all about love, support, and trust. Jealousy and bitterness just aren’t how the Amazons should roll, yet that’s been the core of the Amazons since the New 52 relaunch. Rucka didn’t call out any of the New 52 books specifically because he’s a classy dude, but you got the sense that he saw the current depiction of the Amazons as a big misstep by DC.

Wonder Woman also has a vision of Superman, another of the New 52’s poorest choices. Their relationship never made much sense, nor did they have a lick of chemistry. Several writers took a stab at it too, across a variety of books, but it never landed in any real way. In fact, most of the time it was poorly handled and offputting. So this conversation, in which Diana talks about how she thought about settling down and starting a family with Clark, is an unpleasant reminder of their ill-fated relationship as well as not particularly believable. Their entire relationship was DC telling us they love each other without ever showing it or selling it, and this was more of the same.

Then Hera shows up and she and Wonder Woman fight, and Wonder Woman realizes that she was dumb to trust Hecate. After making up, they escape Tartarus and head back to Olympus to check on Zola’s baby Zeke, whose illness was the genesis of all of this foolish subterfuge. We don’t learn what’s up with Zeke but, shocking twist, it looks like Zola is dead.

This had better be a fake out, because Zola has been a great character and one of the consistent bright spots in what’s been a very up and down five years for Wonder Woman. I like Zola a lot, even though the Finches never seemed to get her right at all; she was so much fun during Azzarello and Chiang’s tenure, and I like what she adds to the Wonder Woman mythos. She’s sort of a charming, redneck Etta Candy, and serves the important role of keeping Diana grounded with a human friend. So if she’s actually dead, I’m going to be pretty upset.

I suppose we’ll find out next month with the series finale. Given the entirety of what’s preceded it during the Finches’ run, I have no hope that it will be good, but it will be the end. And then “Rebirth”! One issue to go, gang. We can do it.


Wonder Woman #49 Review OR What the Hecate is Wrong with Zeke?

February 17, 2016


Here’s the good news: “Rebirth” is coming. If the rumours prove true, DC is going to relaunch a bunch of their books in June or July, and apparently the top contender for taking over Wonder Woman is Marguerite Bennett. I am all for it. Bennett is a fantastic writer who’s been doing great work on a variety of different series lately, including writing Wonder Woman in DC Comics Bombshells, and I think she’d be a great fit. No artists have been announced yet, and nothing’s been officially confirmed in any way other than that “Rebirth” is some sort of thing that is going to happen this summer, but it seems like Wonder Woman will be heading in a new direction with new creators at the helm.

Until then, Meredith and David Finch are still on the book, running out the clock with a new storyline about Zeke, i.e. Zeus in the form of a child, suffering from a mysterious ailment caused by the chaos surrounding the Olympian gods. If this first issue is any indication, it’s not going to be a great arc. It may, however, be a fitting end to the Finch’s tenure, a nonsensical tale with offputting art and the lamest of twists and turns. We’ll discuss the issue momentarily, but first:


I am about to tell you everything that happened in this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Or if you hate reading about poorly crafted stories!

So here’s the scoop on what’s happening. Zeke is sick, and Hera sends Wonder Woman to find Gaia to try to get her to cure him. But Gaia won’t respond, and instead Hecate shows up; she’s a goddess of magic and witchcraft who’s all creepy looking with weird spikes coming out of her head. Despite Hecate being the sketchiest looking character ever, Wonder Woman decides to secretly work with her to help Zeke, and agrees to steal some orbs from the bottom of Hera’s pool, after which she gets knocked out by a cyclops and the issue ends with the one-eyed monster carrying her away.

There’s some other stuff in the mix, too: Hera seems to be doping Zola magically and may be up to something mysterious and/or nefarious, Ares and Eirene are maybe back together, and Apollo is on the prowl for a new lady. None of it is particularly interesting.

Wonder Woman working with Hecate AND not telling her friends about it is just straight up dumb. Stories like these drive me crazy; I hate it when characters who are supposed to be smart, sensible people do stupid things to add drama to the narrative. Such stories always reflect a lack of understanding of the character. Wonder Woman would never team up with such an obvious villain, much less keep her closest friends in the dark about it, no matter the circumstances. I get that she’s trying to save Zeke, but she’s not an idiot. It’s obvious that this team up isn’t going to end well for her, yet she launches herself into it and steals from Hera, who’s become one of her closer allies over the years. And now she’s captured by a cyclops and no one even knows because she was skulking through Olympus on the sly. This is why you always go with the buddy system, gang.

Also, Wonder Woman could take a cyclops, even if it snuck up on her. Cyclops are hardly good sneakers, anyway. They’re huge! She’d hear him coming and take him out accordingly. I mean, she’s Wonder Woman.

So the plot is silly and makes Wonder Woman look bad, which is uncool. Even worse, the design of Hecate is just pure David Finch. He’s actually done a solid job through this run of reining in his art some; his Diana started out looking like a weirdly sexualized teen, and he evolved her look so that she’s now more mature. Kudos to him for that. But before Wonder Woman, Finch was known for some bad, super sexualized artwork. His Catwoman in Justice League of America had her zipper undone to her navel. He created a character in Batman: The Dark Knight who was basically a playboy bunny. Historically, his work with female characters hasn’t been great.

Such is the case with Hecate. First off, the gal is barely covered, which is irksome. Any new female character design that is basically just some version of a bikini is hot garbage. It’s 2016; give her an actual costume. Also, this hot girl with evil tweaks aesthetic is played out. Finch draws Hecate’s face in his usual style; his range with female faces isn’t great, so her features are generically attractive. On top of this, he adds weird horns and tattoos and snake eyes to make her more gruesome, but it just doesn’t come together. It’s not a complete design. It’s a standard Finch face with evil accoutrement. Finch is actually really good at drawing monsters and creepy creatures, and I’d be mildly curious to see what direction he’d take a more monstrous version of Hecate that embrace the evil bits a little more. But a pretty gal with spiky horns is just boring.

Frankly, “boring” is a good word for this issue as a whole. The Finches are setting up lots of things, putting a bunch of balls in the air as the arc begins, but it’s all so dull. Nor does any of it feel true to the character, nor is any of it particularly well drawn. It’s yet another issue of this run where I find myself asking who thought that this story was a good idea, on any level but particularly with editorial. It’s just such a poor product all around.

Wonder Woman #41 Review OR A Bland, Backwards Looking Start To A New Arc

June 17, 2015


When Meredith and David Finch took over the series with Wonder Woman #36 last fall, their first issue was an absolute mess. The writing was awkard, the art made Wonder Woman look like a sexy adolescent, and the whole book was just an extraordinarily unpleasant reading experience. I’ve read EVERY issue of Wonder Woman going back 75 years, and Wonder Woman #36 was easily one of the worst. So I’m happy to say that Wonder Woman #41 is better than that. Unfortunately, it’s still not very good. We’ll dig into why, but first:


I am about to reveal every shocking revelation in this issue!

Just kidding, there really aren’t any!

But still, if you don’t want to be spoiled, look away!

Wonder Woman #41 is a chance for Meredith and David Finch to reintroduce their book to potential new readers. With the #DCYou mini-relaunch garnering a lot of attention, sales are sure to go up for returning books across the line, which means a lot of new eyes on Wonder Woman. The issue seems to be trying to address that, but they go way too far in doing so. The first three quarters of the book are basically a recap of the forty issues that came before, with nothing particularly new added to the mix. Plus it’s written in a weirdly stilted, expository fashion, with long internal monologue introductions for each new scene. It’s a bland, clunky read.

We start on Mount Olympus, where Wonder Woman visits Donna Troy to recap her crimes and offer her clichéd platitudes about how she can change and take control of her life. Wonder Woman is stern but caring, Donna is angry and pouty. It really adds nothing new if you’ve read the six issues beforehand, and I can’t imagine that it’s terribly intriguing if you haven’t.

Then Wonder Woman stops into visit Zola and Zeke, who appear to be living on Mount Olympus with Hera. This harkens back to the Azzarello and Chiang era, and is one of the few references the Finches have made to this run thus far. The Azzarello and Chiang run had its ups and downs, but one of the highlights was definitely the brash, spunky Zola and the evolution of her relationship with Hera. None of that is showcased here. Zola’s dialogue lacks her former folksy snark, while there are just hints of Hera’s amusingly snooty condescension. Neither character feels right.

Nor do they look right. Zola looks like a generic blonde woman, or rather like a generic blonde model. She’s sitting most of the time, but her limbs are long and slim, and her hair is fashionably cut. Cliff Chiang’s Zola was short with shaggy hair, and a very specific style. Finch has her in non-descript clothing even though Chiang always had her in redneck couture, with a lot of plaids and decorative t-shirts. She had a look with a lot of personality, and none of that is present here. I suppose it’s not particularly fair to compare Finch to Chiang, since they have completely different strengths. Chiang’s character design as epic, while Finch’s is… well, you’ve seen the new Wonder Woman costume. But even when Finch is channeling Chiang’s design, the result isn’t great. Chiang always drew Hera’s peacock cloak as voluminous and imposing, with detail in the feathers so you knew exactly what it was. Finch turns into a regular old cloak that sort of has a peacock feather design on it. She cuts a far less striking figure.

After that visit, Wonder Woman stops by to see Hephaestus, first to remind us that the Amazons who sided with Donna and killed the Manazons are now working at his forge, and second to get her new outfit. The costume supposedly shows her evolution form girl to woman and is “a reflection of everything I am now”, but neither the writing nor art explains exactly how or why. Wonder Woman calls it a “symbol” but the book offers no meaning behind her weird shoulder pads, thigh high boots, pointy skirt, and black unitard. Probably because it’s a #DCYou twist, and something resembling the old costume will be back sooner or later anyway. Big changes to the Wonder Woman costume never last.

The book ends with something new, a teen with a bomb. The teen is threatening to blow himself up if he doesn’t get to meet Wonder Woman, so she stops by to try to talk some sense into him. But the teen is no ordinary teen, and wants to fight even though Wonder Woman is not keen to do so. Ultimately, he jumps off a bridge and retreats to a secret lair. It’s an odd reveal because while there is a magic pool and a plot to have the teen replace Wonder Woman as the god of war is made very clear, we have no idea who either participant is.   Pegasus shows up at the end, which makes me think that the teen might be Perseus, but he could also just be any random dude with a dislike of Wonder Woman who craves power. Whoever’s in the pool is obviously mythologically based, but the details are few. I’m sure more will be revealed moving forward, but a little more information could have made this big reveal a lot more impactful. “Oh snap, it’s some random dude!” is far less compelling than “Oh snap, it’s Perseus!” or “Oh snap, it’s Icarus!” or whoever.

All together, it’s not a particularly well crafted issue, nor does it create a lot of excitement for the next issue. However, at least it’s just bland and not straight up awful. That’s a big step up from the Finches’ first issue back in November. It’s not an enjoyable issue. I wouldn’t say it’s in the ballpark of good yet. But it didn’t make me angry or sad, and I’m glad about that. I’ll take bored over furious any day of the week. While I hold little hope that Wonder Woman will ever be good again with the Finches at the helm, it’s always nice when an issue isn’t completely terrible. Well done, all involved, for clearing the lowest of bars.

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:







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.

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

October 1, 2014


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.

Wonder Woman #28 Review OR Olympus Has Fallen

February 20, 2014


This wasn’t a terribly eventful issue of Wonder Woman until the very last page, with the book consisting of just two fight scenes, but it was a fun read that built on the good things we saw last month.  While it’s only February, it feels like Azzarello is building towards the annual August finale already, though I’m sure there will be plenty of twists and turns before then.  Let’s talk about the issue, but first:


I am about to discuss ALL of the goings-on in this comic book!

Go read the issue first!

So we’ve got two fights that ultimately move the pieces around a bit.  The result of the first fight was Cassandra capturing Dionysus, and using him to gain entry into Mount Olympus while, unbeknownst to her, Wonder Woman grabbed onto the ship and tagged along for the ride.  They arrived at Mount Olympus just as the second fight reached its explosive conclusion.  It looked like the First Born had gained the upper hand over Apollo, withstanding his solar blasts and crushing him in a brutal bear hug, but Apollo had an ace up his sleeve and destroyed his skyscraper Mount Olympus, with himself and the First Born atop the roof, in a massive, fiery explosion.

There was a lot to like in both fight scenes, but let’s start with Cassandra and her minotaur in France.  First, I liked the twist that Cassandra was actually after Dionysus and that Zola and Zeke happened to be there was just coincidence.  We’ve had two and a half years of everyone chasing after Zeke, so we’re used to him as a target, but Cassandra didn’t even seem aware he was there.  That was a nice misdirect, and a speedy resolution to Zola’s runaway sideplot as she’s already back in the vicinity of her team.

Speaking of the team, they’re still together!  No one betrayed Wonder Woman!  That’s very nice to see.  I’m glad that the team is effective and working well together, and I really like the lineup.  Artemis is useful addition, with her fighting skills and tracking prowess, but she’s also a lot of fun.  She’s always spoiling for a fight, has cool weapons like her moonerangs, and Matthew Wilson colours her so beautifully.  I love the blues he uses, and how her moonlike glow lights up every panel she’s in.  Even in bright light, Wilson captures a slight lumosity with Artemis.  His work with the character is quite stunning all around.

If you’ve read my reviews before, you know that Hermes is my favourite character, and this panel of him catching a spear in his talon while Wonder Woman deflects a spray of bullets is an absolute blast:


Wonder Woman, Hermes, and Artemis have a great dynamic in the fight scenes, and when they’re not fighting they also have Hera to add some comic relief and make for some enjoyable exchanges.

There was also a heroic moment for Zola after the minotaur captured Dionysus.  She was safe and could have left, but she decided to go after Dio:


Later in the issue, we see her near the ramp to Cassandra’s ship and, since she doesn’t show up after that, I assume that she and Zeke sneaked onto the ship to try to help Dionysus.  Zola’s been running since the series began, as she should, considering she’s got a baby to protect.  But she’s also been hanging out with heroes, and it’s starting to rub off on her.  She doesn’t want to just be a damsel in distress anymore, nor does she need to be; Zeke is just a baby, but he’s also quite a weapon when push comes to shove.

Over on Mount Olympus, the First Born sure took a beating but the First Born is nothing if not used to perpetual pain and misery.  There was a classic Azzarello piece of dialogue when Apollo couldn’t understand why his fiery blasts weren’t stopping the First Born, and the First Born replied, “My hate burns hotter than a thousand sons.”  The First Born’s rampage is all about his daddy issues, and the son/sun exchange underscored that nicely without having to rehash the entire story.

It was a well crafted fight, and Chiang and Wilson did an excellent job depicting the increasingly charred First Born.  Wilson also did a fantastic job colouring Apollo, who transitioned from a white hot glow to increasingly dark shades of orange as he blasts at the First Born and depletes his solar energy.  The changes are subtle and gradual, and are characteristic of the care that Wilson puts into his colouring in every issue of Wonder Woman.

Jared K. Fletcher had a strong issue lettering as well.  Fight scenes mean a lot of sound effects, and Fletcher did a great job communicating the action with sound effects that capture each punch, shot, and block without being obtrusive or impeding the flow of the story.  Letterers have a thankless job; when they’re at their best, they blend in so perfectly that you don’t notice them, and Fletcher did just that in a sound-heavy issue.

All together, this was a solid, albeit quick, issue of Wonder Woman.  The destruction of Olympus might have some big repercussions, depending on who survives the blast and how soon it is restored.  If Apollo is dead and the First Born survives and captures the throne, that would create a whole new dynamic where the rest of the gods, including Wonder Woman, would have to team up to depose him; that could be fun.  While the issue itself was just a couple of well put together fights, the ramifications of these fights could have some huge implications for the book moving forward.  I’m excited to see what happens next.

Wonder Woman #27 Review OR Wonder Woman vs. A Godless Killing Machine

January 23, 2014


After nearly two and a half years of being subject to the fiendish machinations of the gods, I think Wonder Woman is starting to turn the tables.  With Zola and Zeke gone, Wonder Woman isn’t flying off half-cocked like we’ve seen in the past.  It looks like she’s got a plan, and she’s acting instead of reacting.  I’ve got more to say on the matter, but first:


I am about to reveal EVERY major plot point from this issue!

Do not read on if you haven’t read the issue yet!

Cliff Chiang is back!  Go enjoy his lovely art and then come back!

Before we get to Wonder Woman’s plan, let’s talk about the art for a minute.  Cliff Chiang is back, and boy oh boy does he kill it.  The man is just a premiere artist.  His page layouts capture the story perfectly, he communicates the serenity or brutality of a scene with equal skill, and I think he’s the best in the business when it comes to facial expressions.  The book is an absolute thing of beauty.

The facial expressions are particularly striking in this issue, and Chiang and colourist Matthew Wilson are doing some very cool work.  For most comic art, the inked line art stays black, but here a lot of the details have been coloured.  It’s a technique Chiang and Wilson have used before, but I don’t think they’ve done it to the degree we see it in this issue.  Look at this panel featuring Wonder Woman:


Her nose, eyelids, jaw line, and inner ear are all coloured with a darker flesh tone instead of the usual flat black.  It makes the book more visually interesting, taking great line art and making it even better with some clever colouring.

Wilson had a fantastic issue across the board, and he really makes the art sing with his colour work.  From the pale blue glow of Artemis to sunny warmth of Provence, each scene has a colour palette that communicates the feel of each setting.  Plus the colouring is ridiculously smooth; nothing is just one solid colour, but rather an array of highlights and shadows blending seamlessly.  It’s stellar work.

But back to the story itself.  I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to say that Wonder Woman is a weird book.  In this issue alone, we had four pages of torture, an orgy in the woods, and a minotaur in bondage gear.  This most definitely is not a book for a younger audience, or even for squeamish adults.  Seeing someone already beaten and bloody get their back broken repeatedly is not for the faint of heart.

As a sidenote, however, the First Born scenes are certainly effective.  I now sympathize with the First Born, despite the fact that he was nothing but a remorseless killer before he was captured.  I was glad he escaped, and I hope Apollo gets what he has coming.  So yeah, making the First Born someone I’d cheer for, even if it is just against another sadistic fiend, is quite a feat.  The systematic torture of the First Born has been gross, but now I’m on his side a little bit.

Nonetheless, this dark, horror tone and the, shall we say, mature content of the series is not my favourite.  I’m not averse to darker stories in any way; I just don’t think it’s the best way to present Wonder Woman (though Superman/Wonder Woman has ably demonstrated that there are, in fact, worse ways to present Wonder Woman).  It’s not a particularly accessible series in terms of its range of appeal, and moreover it’s a book where Wonder Woman is often the least interesting character each month.  The world that surrounds her has been far more vibrant and compelling than Wonder Woman herself, and being constantly overshadowed and ineffective against the horrors of this world has resulted in a weak depiction of the character.

Luckily for me, this might be about to change.  Wonder Woman is finally doing something.

Up to this point, Wonder Woman’s been reacting, responding to the actions of other characters rather than taking control of the situation.  But now, with Zola and Zeke gone yet again, she’s actually got a plan.  The fight with Artemis in bear form was fun (and beautifully coloured), but this final panel captured everything I’ve been missing about Wonder Woman:


The sly smile.  The knowing side eye.  For the first time in a long time, Wonder Woman is up to something.  She’s going to outsmart her enemies instead of punching them, and she’s going to dictate the action moving forward.  This is the Wonder Woman that I haven’t seen in two years.

When the book first launched, Wonder Woman was firmly in control.  She swooped in to save Zola, showed up Aleka in a sparring session, and busted up Strife at a rock show.  You didn’t mess with Wonder Woman.  Things took a quick turn when she learned that Zeus was her dad and all of the Amazons were wiped out, and Wonder Woman’s been reeling since.  She’s been angry and careless, punching before she thinks, manipulated by the gods at every turn.  As someone who wants a great Wonder Woman in their Wonder Woman, it hasn’t been the best time.

This issue, and that panel above, is the first time in ages that Wonder Woman has actually felt like Wonder Woman to me.  She’s had her moments here and there, mostly with cool fighting moves, but now she’s thinking.  She’s as strong as she’s ever been, what with her Zeus powers AND her god of war powers, but she’s not punching things anymore.  She’s got a plan.

If we can return to an in control, firing on all cylinders Wonder Woman, then all of my other issues with the book will quickly fade away.  A weak, flailing Wonder Woman in the midst of this grotesque horror story hasn’t been a fun book to read, but a strong, capable Wonder Woman putting an end to these horrors is a story I’m excited about.

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