NEW 52 REVIEW: Wonder Woman #1

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Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang are bringing us yet another reimagining of the Wonder Woman character, having a strong mythological bent and incredible art.

Wonder Woman #1
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist and Cover: Cliff Chiang
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Associate Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Wonder Woman: Diana, princess of Themyscira, was created out of clay by queen Hippolyta of the Amazons, and blessed with the powers of various Greco-Roman deities by Athena. She then became the ambassador for Themyscira to the world of men, and participated in some bondage-filled hijinks courtesy of William Moulton Marston. Eventually J. Michael Straczynski took over the character and gave her a hard retcon that involved a controversial costume change, and made her wear pants. Now we see how Diana has fared in the DC relaunch, and how much of her ever-changing history will change again.

PANTS OR NO PANTS, THIS WOMAN’S WONDERFUL

This book raised my hackles on the first page with a typo, where the mysterious villain-type mentions that he’s the “sun” of a king. As someone who’s very particular about spelling and grammar (just wait, having mentioned that I’ll probably make half a dozen mistakes in this review), a typo in a comic book never fails to irk me. I did my best to get over it and enjoy the book, and was quite pleased by the level of mythology that Brian Azzarello has brought to everyone’s favorite Amazon (Donna Troy is automatically excluded, as she is currently in relaunch limbo with Wally West and Ted Kord). We see a figure wearing a cloak of peacock feathers, which immediately triggered my memories of studying mythology for Quiz Bowl in High School, and told me we were dealing with Hera. After she evinces her hatred of farm animals via evisceration, we find Hermes (cue on the helmet and the wings on his shoes) warning an unfamiliar woman named Zola that she needs to get the heck out of Dodge.

Zola is parading around her farm house in a flannel shirt and purple panties, yet unlike a couple other DC titles that came out this week, she doesn’t seem to be drawn as a sexual object; just as an everyday woman dressing casually. Cliff Chiang is doing the art on this issue, and it is absolutely gorgeous. Chiang really understands how to work within the medium of a comic book. His art reminds me a bit of what I consider to be the Boom Studios house style, with the strong inks that make everything really pop off the page. Some of the character poses also remind me of Bruce Timm’s art.

We don’t actually meet up with Wonder Woman until halfway through the issue, and when we do, she insists that Zola call her Diana, rather than Wonder Woman. Again I am drawn more to Cliff Chiang’s art than I am to Azzarello’s story (which is good, don’t get me wrong, but the art is just so perfect). Chiang manages to do what very few can, drawing a powerful, physically intimidating Wonder Woman who is attractive, but not the overly sexual character who has the second most important pair of breasts in the DCU. Even the lack of pants doesn’t really come off as extremely sexual, though I did prefer that aspect of her character redesign. Having first read Red Hood and the Outlaws and Catwoman this week, I found this particularly refreshing.

Wonder Woman doesn’t really seem to be the protagonist of this first issue, instead Zola seems to be what is going to drive the plot forward. This will probably change to a degree as the series progresses, but I think it would be interesting if Azzarello were to have a Wonder Woman story where Diana took on more of a Sandman role; being an integral part of the book, but having the stories really be about the side characters. There’s a lot of violence in the issue, but if you’ve seen the Wonder Woman animated movie you certainly won’t be all that put off.

BOTTOM LINE: I GUESS DIANA DOESN’T NEED EMERGENCY PANTS

This issue again doesn’t explain a whole lot and instead throws us in medias res, but it works out pretty well. Azzarello’s always going to be writing a really deep story, and being paired with an artist as talented as Cliff Chiang I am definitely on for the foreseeable future. Get out to your local comic shop and buy a copy of this issue; Azzarello and Chiang are doing some great stuff on Wonder Woman that you won’t want to miss. Four out of five stars!

Rating: ★★★★☆