REVIEW: Wonder Woman #9

by

Or – “A Strange Family On A Strange Journey…”

Ever since the revelation of her true parentage, Wonder Woman has found herself interacting more and more with her extended family, a group that makes the Kardashians look like the Berenstain Bears by comparison.  What new horrors await her during her extended family reunion?

WONDER WOMAN #9
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Penciler: Tony Akins
Inker: Dan Green
Cover Artist: Cliff Chiang
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Wonder Woman: After believing herself a creature mystically imbued with life from clay, the revelation that she had been fathered by Zeus shook up Wonder Woman’s world-view.  Interacting with Hermes, with Hephaestus, and with Hades has made a mess of Diana’s life, and probably endangered Zola, the woman whom she has sworn to protect.  What else can go wrong?

YOU NEVER WANT TO ASK THAT QUESTION…

This book is probably the most successful use of the reset button in the New 52 for me.  Stripped of most of the superheroic and wartime nonsense, Wonder Woman has been recast as a demigoddess with a mission, her powers and motif remaining similar, but everything else (including the tone of the book) changing for the better.  After years, Brian Azzarello has found something new to say about the amazing amazon, embarking on a mission to protect a young pregnant woman while dealing with her treacherous in-laws.  The opening sequence is startling, as the embodiments of Strife and War have a bitter conversation about their roles in the coming drama, reminding me in a very good way of the kind of interactions that Dream and his family routinely had in classic issues of ‘Sandman.’  Diana, for her part is quite literally in hell, preparing for a wedding to Hades himself, with some scary imagery (body horror at it’s best) for both Diana and her lady-in-waiting.  As an aside, this book is NOT for the faint of heart, especially if you have issues with blood…

SERIOUSLY.  IT DOESN’T EVER HAVE A GOOD ANSWER…

There’s one thing in the issue that really falls flat for me, in the appearance of Aphrodite, depicted as  a beautiful, nude woman.  The artists very cleverly use “camera” angles and panel placement to hide both her face (which is wise, as the depiction of the most beautiful women in the universe will always be tough) and her nudity, which is much less successful.  The effect of the pages is very disturbing, with odd corners and strange blocking making me feel like I’m trapped in the Twilight Zone episode “Third From The Sun,” where off-kilter cameras are used to make the viewer subtly uncomfortable.  Of course, that may be intentional on the creators’ part, as we’re quickly shown a wedding chapel made of human souls, Diana in a wedding gown decorated with severed limbs, and the most terrifying realization of all:  Hades has doubts and ulterior motives that may be the death of our heroine…

THE VERDICT: FEELS LIKE CLASSIC VERTIGO.

There have been some startlingly dark and vicious moments in this incarnation of Wonder Woman, befitting a story based on the darkest corners of myth, and this issue’s ending is well in keeping with that expectation.  While I’m not entirely sure that hardcore WW fans will enjoy this story (if you love Linda Carter in spandex, for instance, you may have reservations) but the Vertigo fan in me is very entertained by this book.  Regular artist Cliff Chiang is off this month, but the replacement team ably keeps the look of his work, and Azzarello keeps up his delightful use of wordplay and unreliable characters to keep things intriguing and nerve-wracking all at once.  Wonder Woman #9 is a good’n, keeping up a run of good (albeit dark and mean-spirited) issues, and earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  In many ways, the biggest difficulty is trying to reconcile this Wonder Woman with the one appearing in Justice League every month…

Rating: ★★★★☆