Wonder Woman has been something of an anomaly in the New 52 with only one minor crossover to the title’s name, it’s remained somewhat isolated and apart from the other titles, which has allowed it to cut its own path, focusing more on the mythology behind the character than trying to integrate her into a world of superheroes and villains. Brian Azzarello has, seemingly, kept a tight leash on this particular title and it’s been all the stronger for it. There’s been a great consistency to the narrative structure, and while I don’t know if anything has been cancelled or shoe-horned in, the fact that I can say that says a lot about the strength of the writing. I feel like this is a great blueprint for the Wonder Woman movie that is supposedly so impossible to write, just write Wonder Woman as a fish out of water, but that doesn’t mean writing her as a bumbling, wacky fool. Azzarello picks up on what makes the Amazon great: once she gets determined to do something, nothing on Earth or in Heaven can dissuade her. It goes far beyond “determined,” a word I’ve seen used to describe superheroes that don’t have many descriptive words ascribed to them, and almost crosses into bull-headed, but that’s good. Interesting characters are never flawless.
Goran Sudžuka returns to artist duties and keeps the ball rolling, matching series regular Cliff Chiang’s tone and tenor perfectly. It’s always good when the baton can be passed to another artist without disrupting the flow of the book, and Sudžuka’s art is absolutely great on its own. This is definitely an issue that’s all about characters standing and talking, which for my money is a far more difficult order than one where there’s a lot of dynamic action, so the fact that the visuals remain interesting is a great tribute to his talent. Series regular colorist Matthew Wilson also deserves credit for keeping the tone so consistent, his colors retaining the look of a great many classical depictions of these gods and goddesses, making the whole book feel like it fell out of a book of Greek myths.
That mentioning of the “mythical” look of the art cuts both ways as a lot of the facial expressions from characters are muted and samey across several panels. It’s clear that anger means anger and contempt means contempt, but there’s very little subtlety or subtext to the faces, requiring the characters to be very upfront with their feelings. This is definitely a book of larger-than-life feelings and emotions. The whole issue also feels somewhat ponderous, being intentionally vague and even reintroducing a returning character I can’t quite recall the backstory of, so I find it difficult to take the reveal with the gravity that the issue believes it deserves.
This remains one of the strongest titles of the New 52 and one of the easier books to recommend wholeheartedly. Both the writing and the art, while not without flaws, are consistently great and a lot of fun, and that’s an interesting take for Wonder Woman: being a FUN book. There's a part with Hera, the wee baby Zeke and his mother that really exemplifies this tone and that I won't spoil here. Previous runs have felt too obsessed with making Diana so regal that she defies relatablility, and that’s, I think, a big part of why people complain that she's hard to write for. Azzarello has done an amazing job of reversing a lot of that without sacrificing the dignity that is at the heart of the character.