Comic Review: WONDER WOMAN #1

Wonder Woman excels at drawing readers into the mythic and hooking audiences into the sinister plots of the Gods.

Written by Brian AzzarelloArt and Cover by Cliff ChiangPublished by DC ComicsPrice: $2.9932 pagesIn stores now!

rating: 4

Famous for his acclaimed, intricate noir-drenched opus 100 Bullets, writer Brian Azzarello seemed an unobvious choice for Wonder Woman. But, only one issue in, this new take on the Amazing Amazon has re-launched in all of the right directions for this new reader. With so many new takes and back-story revisions over the years, I had always enjoyed any Wonder Woman comics I€™d read, but certainly didn€™t feel there was a clear concept of who our heroine was. For now, Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang have created a vivid tone and simple to understand hook that defines the character in a way that Batman embodies nocturnal vengeance and Superman encapsulates otherworldly benevolence. Here, Wonder Woman is all about not letting others dictate your fate. In this specific case, The Greek Gods are the ones trying to have their wicked way with your destiny and, walking in between the two worlds, Wonder Woman is not going to let that happen. After an ominous prologue, readers are dropped straight into the life of very-mortal Zola being home invaded by the messenger of the Gods. The fantasy aspects of Wonder Woman may not be as popular or accessible as Batman€™s vigilantism or Superman€™s science fiction, but this new creative team at least make no apologies for the Gods and Monsters of their story world. Azzarello has often described his new spin on Wonder Woman as €˜a horror book€™ and €“ while perhaps not a fair comparison €“ the tone is reminiscent of DC Vertigo€™s Sandman comics in how mere mortals act as our viewpoint as they get embroiled in the machinations of deities and other higher powers. The difference here is that this still seems very much like a superhero comic €“ albeit a very different superhero comic. Here Cliff Chiang€™s artwork excels at selling the fantastic and monstrous, ably allowing readers to suspend their disbelief but making sure we share the wide-eyed horror of Zola as blood-thirsty centaurs and winged messengers shatter her €˜normal€™life. As Zola is observed and pursued by the Greek gods with Wonder Woman (who€™d rather you called her €˜Diana€™) her only salvation, the comic€™s other comparison point becomes more obvious €“ The first two Terminator movies. The only main difference is that, rather than saying €˜Come with me if you want to live€™, Diana tells Zola to stay put...but Zola tags along anyway. With Zola as our Sarah Connor, this does result in not getting a great deal of insight into Wonder Woman herself. However, while the mystery of what the other Gods are concocting the driving force of the plot, we learn enough about Diana to engage us on her team. Someone needs help? She€™s there. Those pesky gods are at it again? She€™ll take them all down if she has to. This technique really works for stripping Diana down from all of the past incarnations of the character and building her up from scratch. As this is working as a horror/supernatural book, it is worth noting that there are some grislier moments that fit with the gods and monsters aesthetic but might not be to everyone€™s tastes. Weaponry largely consists of pointy things and the damage that they do is not shied away from and neither are the nastier ways centaurs are made or how oracles are disposed of. But the fact I can talk about centaurs without seeming silly is the books real strength. As well as Azzarello€™s plot and Chiang€™s fluid layouts and character work, special mention should also go to colourist Matthew Wilson who lends the comic a grounding yet eye-catching tone throughout which makes this title stand-apart visually from the rest of the New 52. The one nitpick with the title is Azzarello€™s use of narration in certain scenes. While the choice of narrators comes as a nice reveal, the actual voice panel phrasing sometimes seems inconsistent and distracts from rather than compliments the on-panel action. However, as Azzarello has now written for all of DC€™s Trinity, only one issue in Wonder Woman already feels far more like a natural fit for his storytelling and a fresh start for the character herself. Overall, Wonder Woman excels at drawing readers into the mythic and hooking audiences into the sinister plots of the Gods.
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