Oof! I’m sitting in on a panel about Wonder Woman today going along with PBS’ documentary on the character. I plan on talking about the character from a fan perspective, so I wanted to be fairly caught up on her comic. I read issue 1 when the new 52 launched; I was dismayed at the level of blood and gore in the book, and saddened by the fact that it didn’t “feel” like Wonder Woman.
After reading the first trade, those first impressions were right on, but I’m not as upset about it. This is NOT a comic I can let my kids see. They are young comic fans, 8 and 5 years old. There is no way I can let them read a hard-R comic featuring decapitations and immolations. Wonder Woman is the #1 female character in comics, a role model and inspirational figure. But man, this book is not for the casual fan.
Instead, Brian Azzarello is presenting his take on the Greek pantheon. The gods are all here in new and interesting designs. Thanks to artist Cliff Chiang, the new costumes and looks are stunning. I think Hera is my favorite, walking around nude except for a peacock headdress.
But War, Apollo, and Mercury all show up and look great. The Amazons have retained their classic look, with Hippolyta rocking a bit more warrior-like look than I remember. I love her armor, too. I’ve barely scratched the surface of players in this comic, so one thing should be clear; this is an ensemble book. Wonder Woman is the lead, but she is not the star.
Azzarello is also changing the “clay child” origin too, tying in Wonder Woman’s past much more directly to Greek myths. It’s a bit of a bummer, seeing another piece of classic comic lore go by the wayside. It’s almost like that origin is too silly and “unrealistic” for the grimmer new 52. I’m pleased that Diana doesn’t let this change her outlook too much; she’s still the same powerful woman as always, her world is just a lot darker.
In the end, I recognize this as a pretty compelling story. Azzarello has a nice, complicated plot with lots of players, intrigue, and betrayals. The problem is, that’s not what I look for in my Wonder Woman comic. Over the years, there have been very few iterations of the character I enjoyed. This simply adds to the pile of misses. For me, the character seems to work best in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon.
Fair (bumped up by the art)