One thing that has remained consistent throughout the 'new 52' books at DC is the level of change. We have seen costume changes and character changes. In fact, when Sterling Gates came in for our podcast last week, we spent a lot of time discussing the changes being made to many popular DC characters and the reasons why.
Many of these characters are getting a completely new interpretation -- they are being re-invented in order to attract a growing and diverse audience; however many other characters are staying the same. Yesterday one of DC's most anticipated books of the relaunch, 'Wonder Woman #1' finally hit store shelves, and many fans who anticipated the release of the issue immediately begged the question, what is it about Wonder Woman that is different? We've read the issue, and we've reviewed it (almost gave it a perfect score-- it was that good) so what's different?== TEASER ==
Wonder Woman's home base is something that changed pretty frequently. Unlike Batman and Superman who had the Fortress of Solitude and the Batcave (respectively) to go home to, Wonder Woman never really had a home base. Yes, she would often visit and defend Themyscira, but she didn't necessarily live there all the time. Where Bruce Wayne had his mansion and Clark Kent had his apartment, Diana never really had a home. Based on the first issue of Wonder Woman it seems like writer Brian Azzarello is establishing where she lives right off the bat. The first scene where we see Wonder Woman she appears to be in a London apartment or penthouse in bed asleep (or at least pretending to be). The bed has a simple wooden frame, and across from the bed is an armoire where she stores her costume and weapons. Pretty simple little place for the Amazon Princess, right? The decision to give Diana a London location could be left over from Flashpoint; after all; the destruction of Themyscira is what led the Amazon's to take over Great Britain.
Is she still a Princess?
In Diana's first interaction with Hermes, the messenger to the Greek Gods and the guide to the underworld, he calls her "Amazon" and makes no mention of her being a Princess. The fact that Diana's home base appears to be in London might also be another hint; does Themyscira even exist anymore? And if it does exist, what is her relationship to her homeland? She appeared to be laying in bed in an empty apartment, so what is her relationship with the Amazons? Are they no longer a nation of female warriors and have they been dispersed? This also begs the question, what is her relationship to the Gods? In this issue we see three Gods, Apollo (in the first few pages), Hera (who births assassins to attack Zola), and Hermes who appears to try to save Zola's life. However, this does not explain what her relationship is with "the Gods." Is she at odds with them? Whose side is Diana on?
There's been a whole heck of a lot of talk about making characters "darker" and "edgier" in order to make them appeal to a wider audience. That has often included a higher level of...well...gratuitous violence in several of the new 52 books. The amount of violence in the first issue of Wonder Woman, however, is appropriate. The comic rated T for teen, and Diana is after all a warrior; so while she doesn't necessarily kill the assassin's that Hera created she does manage to incapacitate them to the point that they are forced to flee.
Her character also seems to talk a lot less, showing a certain level of compassion (in the scene with Hermes) but knowing that she must get the job done at whatever cost. She seems stronger here than in her previous series; more confident and self assured. These characteristics make her interesting. Azzarello has also cited in a recent interview that Diana will be very different, and that the tone of the book will be "less superhero" and more likening to a "horror comic." I would argue that giving her character this kind of edge is empowering and exciting.
No 'Odyssey' here...so far
If Straczynski 'Odyssey' story arc (the final story arc in the last Wonder Woman series) is going to stick, it doesn't feel like that's the case in this issue. The entire Odyssey story revolved around the idea that Wonder Woman had no idea who she was or where she had come from, and she read as very unsure of herself. Here Diana means business. She doesn't ask for something; she demands it. In the scene with Zola she doesn't ask for the key, she gives her a choice: she can hand it over willingly, or Wonder Woman can take it from her by force. Even though Diana only appears a third of the way into this issue, Azzarello still manages to relay the strength and confidence of her character in the few words that she does speak.
This series is one of the more interesting starts to any of the new 52 series. Diana appears to be a stronger, more interesting character; so perhaps the changes we've seen here are positive ones. What do you think of the new 52 Wonder Woman? What other changes (if any) did you notice in this series? Are you looking forward to issue #2?