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Blogathon Best of 2012: #7 – Wonder Woman

We continue the countdown with the only regular DCU entry… WONDER WOMAN BY BRIAN AZZARELLO, CLIFF CHIANG, TONY AKINS, AND OTHERS!

Earlier this week, I wrote that Wonder Woman often reads like the least Azzarello-esque thing I’ve read by Brian Azzarello. I stand by that. There’s little in Wonder Woman or Orion that scream “Typical Azzarello!” but there’s plenty that does. Like the way the gods play one another and vie for power. Or the way Azzarello writes dialogue with so much precision and playfulness. The most recent issue, for example, had the Wonder Woman/Orion stuff that didn’t seem at all like Azzarello, but it also had the stuff in the bar that felt like the Azzarello we all know and are a little afraid to love.

While Batman seems like a more ‘natural’ fit for a guy like Azzarello, he’s very suited to writing Wonder Woman. A pure character who has a dark, dangerous side. She comes from a violent, cruel world – the Amazons are warriors, their gods are spiteful… she can work within the dark side of things. She can think of dangerous, cruel things to do, because she has a noble cause. She clearly doesn’t like doing certain things, but she will. She will doublecross gods and sacrifice herself to save a baby. She’s a hero unafraid to do what it takes to protect life. Yet, it never feels like she’s bloodthursty or as brutal as someone like Batman. There’s a hope and optimism to the character that most don’t have — and it never feels corny like it sometimes does with the likes of Superman. She’s a good person who will do bad things if necessary and that’s pretty simple.

Wonder Woman had the best zero issue that I read from DC. Azzarello was so playful in the opening narration and used the conceipt in a way that clearly plays a big role in the story he’s telling. Almost like a backstory he was aware of but wouldn’t share unless necessary. A lot could be learned there.

The art on Wonder Woman is top-notch. Cliff Chiang brings the right sort of light, cartoony feel that helps soften Azzarello a little and make this work feel more like a complete whole than a mismatched writer/artist (it helps that they’re not mismatched). And Tony Akins is a great fill-in artist, working in a similar style to Chiang. There’s a very unified look to this comic and it’s a strong, bold one. It’s sort of what you want a superhero comic to look like.

The character designs really impress me as well. The looks of the gods are inventive while remaining true to their natures. Apollo looks nothing like you’ve seen him portrayed before… yet it doesn’t seem wrong in any way. Hades is particularly inspired. And the Orion redesign is the best redesign of that character. Very true to Kirby’s original while looking more contemporary in a way that isn’t immediately dated. How did Chiang do it?

Tim, you should catch up on this comic. It’s really, really good.

12 Comments

We must not be reading the same book. Sixteen issues in, Wonder Woman is still only a guest starring, supporting character in her own book. Azzerello has yet to show us who she IS, outside of someone with no control of her life, reacting to surroundings rather than being proactive. Who is she? Have we actually seen any evidence of a personality? What does she do to make money? This is supposed to be a superhero action series, and only a few issues have shown anything like that. Where is the Wonder Woman who is almost as strong as Superman? Where is her power? Her Speed? Her flight? How long has it been since we’ve seen her using what could be the deadliest arsenal in DC Comics: a Lasso which forces people to tell or confront truth? Instead, we literally have seen her be nothing more than a baby sitter. How anyone can consider this drivel good is beyond me? Artistically, Cliff Chang and Tony Akins deliver perhaps the absolute worst art in a stable of superhero artists. It looks like childish, coloring book chicken scratch. Look at the art in BATWOMAN, or GREEN LANTERN, or JUSTICE LEAGUE! THAT is the kind of art WONDER WOMAN deserves, not an artist who makes a woman who is supposed to possess beauty of the gods, look like a sometimes fat, unattractive drag queen done slightly anime style. Seriously, take a harder look!

have to say brian so far has finaly since george perez and gail simmone has proven he gets what makes wonder woman really tick and does her long over due justice including making her have the origin she really should have had being the off spring of Hypolita queen of the amazons and a warrior father also. plus he has shown so far wonder woman will not hold back on having to do certain things to solve the problem like supes or even batman. including if the bad guy has to be stopped by killing to save a life

Over in JUSTICE LEAGUE, Wonder Woman is powerful, beautiful, and fun! In her own book she alternates between being cardboard and a cry baby throwing a tantrum on occasion. Can’t stand the current team on this book.

With all the creative team shifting going on at DC, I’m surprised DC hasn’t pulled Azzerello and Chang off this book already. I guess they can’t find another team that wants to touch her. This story has seen little action and has gone on way too long already. Wake me up when new creators take over.

I can’t profess to share the same loathsome, depressing outlooks as Marc, Ben & Jay.

This title has been an intelligent, engaging & entertaining read, month-by-month, from #1.

My main question for the “3 amigos” is, bearing in mind we’re a year and a half into this title, premise and creative team; what in blue blazes were you expecting?

Are you actually reading this book? From your words above, I can’t understand why.

Unless of course, this is all just grist to the mill, adding to your determinedly miserable lives.

I don’t think Azzarello has the best handle on WW that I’ve ever seen, but I’ll take his Diana any day over that emotionally unstable, dim-witted barbarian over in JL.

If there’s one thing Azzarello isn’t going to do, it’s provide fan service.

The character’s serve the story, not the other way around, just as the powers do not define the character. Brian Azzarello is writing a story about how one is treated and treats one’s family, the wages of hubris, and the power of acting on what’s right regardless of the consequences. It’s a portrait of gods who act very human, the plot driven by politics and deception against a protagonist who deals in neither. Diana is defined by her compassion, strength of character and moral compass, which is expressed through action and deed instead of exposition.

It’s unfortunate that it seems like a lot of people just want to see the character do what she’s always done before. We’ve seen her be super strong and fly and all of that junk. We’ve heard her and her supporting characters drone on and on about how perfect she is while she wails on evil doers. It’s unfortunate that people don’t want to see that same character (because, yes, this take is very consistant with the heart of who Diana is) in a different light, with a different take on the familiar backstory and family of characters. Because as a *story*, and not as a series of scenes for the character to do all that rote stuff some want to see over and over, this is very well structured, with a consistant internal logic, excellent pacing, real stakes for the characters and a unique dramatic arc for the protagonist.

If this isn’t what you want, that’s cool. Nobody’s ever going to be forced to read some comic book they don’t want to. But don’t pretend that this is ‘crap’ because it doesn’t conform to your expectations. Those of us that do enjoy it will continue until the run ends, and be happy we had such a wonderful arc for a character that has been lacking in great stories for quite a long time.

Oh, and, I have to very strongly disagree with the first posters assessment of the artwork. I’ll take the minimalistic work Cheng is providing in this book any day over the over-rendered or over-processed work being done in Justice League and Green Lantern. Cheng is giving Wonder Woman a vaguely classic Greek aesthetic that I find unique, apealing and apropriate given the subject matter. Just my opinion, though.

I agree with Ben on everything except for the part about Chiang’s art looking like “coloring book chicken scratch.”

I love Chiang but Akins doesn’t work for me at all.

Funny thing…it’s the way that Diana is being portrayed in Justice League that drives me into a frenzy. She’s whiny, argumentative, and a bit on the dim side. While in her own book, by Azzarello and Chiang, she is pretty darned fabulous. I have to say that she has also been portrayed quite nicely over in Batwoman as well.

man, I can’t stand this book. He’s ruined the Amazons, given Diana Cassie’s backstory… why did Diana need a father? Are people rushing to give Franenstein a mother?

CW Atkins: I prefer the story serve the character. You’re right it’s a fine idea. But it requires all of Diana’s history be destroyed. So it’s a bad idea for her and could be given to another character, including Cassie Sandsmark

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