Friday, October 26, 2012

NEW 52 Review: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman Volume 1: Blood, hardcover. Issues 1-6, by Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Tony Akins. 

I love Brian Azzarello's groundbreaking noir crime series 100Bullets. It was the first thing I read on my return to comics a few years back, and it was a terrific way to come back to the hobby. When I heard that he was tasked to write Wonder Woman in the New 52, I was intrigued. Azzarello has a history of writing great street-level stories, but Wonder Woman has always been written as more of cosmic character. Azzarello can handle crime and conspiracy, this I knew: but could he handle gods and titans?

The human woman Zola is impregnated by Zeus, and then crosses paths with Diana, whom Zola recognizes as Wonder Woman, but who wants to simply be called Diana. Zeus disappears from existence, and his throne is up for grabs. Poseidon, Hera, and Hippolyta all want the throne. Diana finds herself caught in the middle of this complex family drama, as her status as the secret daughter of Hippolyta & Zeus has just come to light. And Zola, a human woman carrying an heir of Zeus, may be the key to settling this dispute. 

Azzarello shows that he is skilled in handling the melodramatic nature of a story involving personifications of war and strife, of Hermes and centaurs. Nearly all of the action in these six issues takes place in our earth, and this helps ground the stories. The actions of the mythical characters do reflect human behaviors of greed, envy, and jealousy, and Azzarello knows how to write these "human" characteristics into the most non-human of characters.

Cliff Chiang's character designs are impressive -- Wonder Woman's costume is modern and strong, although I preferred the original long-pants version. Hera, Strife, and Hermes are particularly well thought-out designs. His panel layouts are not predictable, and enabling him to match the size of the panel with the importance of the action contained therein.

This book represents what DC's New 52 initiative was supposed to do -- it resets a character's history, storyline, and supporting characters. This first batch of issues lays the groundwork for some potentially fascinating stories. For as long as Wonder Woman has been around, there have been very few sustained iconic runs in her publishing history. But as long as this creative team stays together, this book has a chance to do just that.

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