With Azzarello's run finishing soon, it seems about time to take a look back at a run that became one of, if not the single most critically acclaimed runs of the New 52 but was also highly divisive affair among fans. In many ways it was truly a love it or hate it affair.
Let's see what the fans thought. What did you like about the run? What didn't you like about the run?
And just out of curiosity, what previous experience, if any, did you have with Wonder Woman before this run? Are you a new fan brought into the fold by this run? Are you an old veteran who liked what he saw despite the changes? Or are you a long time fan who was turned off by the reboot?
I'll start us off:
I was first introduced to Wonder Woman through Gail Simone's The Circle some years ago and quickly fell in love, soon devouring the entire run. Hungry for more, I soon stumbled upon Greg Rucka's Wonder Woman which became one of my favorite comic runs of all time, even if the ending stumbled due to editorial interference. It's a shame since I firmly believe that if Rucka had been allowed to finish his story the way he wanted, it would have been one of the greatest comic runs of any company ever. Since then, I read through George Perez' run and over time, consumed essentially the entire Wonder Woman catalogue post-Crisis, only missing an issue here and there.
Now, onto Azzarello's run. Overall, I have enjoyed it immensely thus far despite the changes to the origin. I tolerate the changes as it remains similar enough to the original (daughter of the Amazons with powers given to her by the gods) and it got Wonder Woman's personality right, which is what is most important to me. However, the run is not perfect by any means.
What I liked:
1. Wonder Woman's personality:
Hers is a very difficult personality to nail down and a select few have succeeded. Writers like John Byrne, William Messner-Loebs and Geoff Johns have stumbled in this regard, but Azzarello joins the select few such as George Perez, Greg Rucka and Gail Simone, who gets it right.
His Wonder Woman has all of the character traits that I love in the character and the combination of which makes her unique in my eyes:
Her compassion as shown when she helps friend and foe alike
The irony that she is a warrior for peace, as shown by her constant attempts at taking the path of non violence. This is taken to a further level by making her a God of War who only wants peace.
Her struggles with the idea of truth and the notion that there can be multiple truths
Her tendency to adopt patchwork families like the embassy staff in Rucka's run and the Gorilla Knights in Simone's run
Her pragmatism as shown by her killing of Ares and her willingness to submit to Moon
Her deep seated issues with anger and keeping her emotions in check, a story that was touched upon by Gail Simone in Ends of the Earth and Rise of the Olympian. It was brought into the fold once more with the removing of her bracelets.
2. The art:
Good god, the art. Cliff Chiang is perfect for Wonder Woman. He manages to make her beautiful and statuesque without sexualising her in the slightest. His art reminds me of Greek paintings and all of the characters and monsters look great and unique.
3. The characters:
It's a sin of so many WW writers that they throw out the previous supporting characters, maybe keeping one or two of them and setting up their own cast. Byrne, Messner-Loebs and even Rucka all did this. But much like Rucka's embassy staff, it helps that Azzarello's cast are all very interesting. Zola, Hera, Hermes and Apollo are all multifaceted and intriguing characters who I hope stick around after all is said and done.
4. The story:
The structure and development of the story is very unique and surprisingly sophisticated. It's one, long unbroken tale that would most likely read better in trades, but the way it's set out is very interesting. Rather than being plot driven, it's the various themes that drive the story forward and inform the decisions of the characters. It also takes an interesting approach to character development as the development of Wonder Woman seemed to happen externally as her makeshift family formed and developed around her. It was a similar approach to that taken by Greg Rucka with Punisher where the titular character served as something of a nexus point for the rest as they developed through her and she developed through them.
What I disliked:
1. The new origin:
I flip flop on this one. Sometimes I like the new origin since it ties in with the idea of Diana struggling against her conceptions of truth and gives her a more tangible link to the gods. But most of the time, I just think the old origin was far cooler and more unique. It really set her apart from other heroes, not just in comics but in literature in general.
2. The Amazon man-hunting backstory:
This is probably the worst thing about the new run and really left a bad taste in my mouth. It just came off as somewhat tasteless and made the Amazons seem like little more than savages. It's something that I hope gets retconned at a later point. Maybe Hephaestus was lying? Wouldn't be the first time an Olympian has lied through his/her teeth. I tolerate this particular change because not only is it a part of the mythology, it's also a part of Marston's run where his Amazons were depicted as hunting men for sex several times throughout his run. However, just because something is from Marston's run doesn't mean that it meshes with the character today and I hope that this particular piece of history gets cast to the side.
3. The lack of old villains:
I quite like the new villains Azzarello has created and favoring new villains is something that so many Wonder Woman writers are guilty of. But I really would have loved to see how some of her old rogues gallery would fit into this epic. I think Cheetah could have been a great addition as the champion of another pantheon and Circe fit perfectly considering her goals and origins.
4. The toned down action sequences:
Don't get me wrong, there are some fantastic battles such as Wonder Woman's first two fights with moon and First Born vs Apollo. I don't believe that the fights in this make Wonder Woman appear weak since all of her opponents are clearly on her level of strength. I do miss however the sheer craziness of battles from Rucka and Simone's run. In particular, I miss Rucka's fight choreography and the way he would mix superpowers with martial arts.
So yeah those are my thoughts on this run so far. As long as they don't royally mess it up, it should slot firmly into fourth place in my top 5 Wonder Woman runs.
What are your thoughts?