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In hindsight: Wonder Woman (2011)

Some people might regard Wonder Woman as female counterpart to Superman, some people might regard her as fetish fuel, others might regard her as a character from a seventies TV show that I’m not sure if it was actually any good or not. Some people confuse her with Xena and that’s pretty understandable. But when at her finest, Wonder Woman is a mighty and noble warrior who in every way is a match for Thor Odinson, with a gift for compassion that means she never needs validation from a hammer.

ww2I come to regard Brian Azzarello as one of those writers who rarely steps into mainstream comics, like Warren Ellis. He seems like he has no interest in crossovers or events, and is more at home writing titles for Vertigo. And I feel in the modern era, Wonder Woman should logically be written by a Woman, although DC Comics has an embarrassingly small staple of women writers. So Azzarello on Wonder Woman was a bit of a surprise on the listings of the New 52 launch titles. I sampled the first issue and liked it enough to keep on reading for the next three years.

Reportedly Brian Azzarello didn’t hold particular interest in Wonder Woman before writing the book, and so when give the task he played up the elements that would bring an outsider like him to enjoy the book, and brought an outsider like me to enjoy the book.

Handling art duties at the time was Cliff Chiang, who also collaborated with Azzarello on the fan-favorite “Architecture And Morality” series. His art is fully illuminated, a tinge cutesy, but he still levels enough detail that all the monsters look monstrous. Goran Zuduka was a fine regular fill-in artist, and Tony Akins was an okay occasional fill-in artist. Colourist Matthew Wilson always gave the book a constant classical/regal richness. Wonder Woman wore pants during scenes when it made sense for her to wear pants and she wore her usual attire when she had to kick all the ass.

Much has been discussed regarding Wonder Woman now dating Superman in Justice League, and in her own book, that detail is completely un-mentioned, in fact the rest of the DC Universe is pretty much left alone. This is not a book of DC’s common language of superheroics, but it was a story about the affairs of Gods who have been redesigned to no longer wear togas but instead prefer fancy suits and dresses that match the drinks they constantly imbibe.

ww4Zeus is missing, and with his absence, there’s a whole lot of fuss and betrayal over who gets to sit upon the throne of Olympus (which is a big deal). Some Gods want the power, others just want excitement, Wonder Woman just wants to protect innocent life. Wonder Woman is stuck protecting the latest of Zeus’s many children and the child’s adorable mother, Zola, while at the same time she has to broker peace and also figure out how to restore her Amazon sisters after Hera turned them into snakes.

This is not a book to read if you want cheesecake and tittilation, there’s a lot of other comics that will pander to readers who need skin. IDW has a new Danger Girl series coming. Wonder Woman panders to people who want to see mythology and unstoppable personal convictions.

But contributed to the larger DC mythos, Wonder Woman’s origin was refined a bit and the mystery of procreation on Paradise island was explained. Also the series had the chance to play with a few of the Jack Kirby’s New God characters from New Genesis; they didn’t make much of an impact on the plot but it’s a relief they were reintroduced in a title that didn’t give them stupid spikey redesigns.

ww1That said, not everybody is completely pleased with the run, some cranky readers found the darker side of Paradise Island to be disappointing. Others were annoyed that the book seemed to enjoy focusing on the reinvented Greek Pantheon than on the title character – but that never bothered me since Lennox and Dio and Hades are all entertaining.

This run doesn’t have much in the way of humor, but it has a ton of charm. And after a while Hera just comes off as Lucille Bluth.

Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman ran for 37 issues. That’s 25 normal issues, a #0, and a #23.2. When given the mandates, “Write flashback issue” and “Write a villain focus issue”, Azzarello lived up to the challenge. And there was no Forever Evil tie-in. Nicely, in an era of writers leaving their titles early, Wonder Woman actually feels like it has the ending it was always meant to have.

ww3It would have been nice if the story lasted a bit longer before the book was passed to David and Meredith Finch. Although it looks better than David Finch’s work on Ultimatum and I appreciate the redesigned Wonder Woman armor. If I ever craved more Wonder Woman, I would switch to Peter Tomasi’s “Superman/Wonder Woman” title.

While Marvel’s attempts to put females forwards have been evident with projects like Angela, A-Force, and Ms. Marvel – DC was streets behind; especially with the ordeals regarding Batwoman. But the New52 Wonder Woman was a comic done right. Decades from now it will be fondly remembered as one of the better New52 Launch titles and as one of the better, more Walt Simonson-esq runs on Wonder Woman. It would be great to adapt into an animated direct to video or even a feature film, but Diana’s chance to be cinematic will likely just involve Giganta and Cheetah.

On the other hand, I hear I didn’t miss anything by skipping Azzarello’s “Future’s End” series.

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Here’s some trivia, this article was written for a completely different website! However plans changed and thus you get to read it here and I don’t get $15. Oh well.

About Michael S Ryan

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