In this final WONDER WOMAN volume by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang Olympus must fall, and its rightful ruler must be restored. Wonder Woman is locked in desperate battle with the First Born with the destiny of immortals at stake in these stories from WONDER WOMAN #30-35 and a story from SECRET ORIGINS #6.
Brian Azzarello: Writer
Cliff Chiang: Artist/Inker
Goran Sudzuka: Artist/Inker
Colorist: Matt Wilsom
Letterer: Jared K Fletcher
So I finally reached the end, even though I admittedly cheated by visiting the DC Comics Wikia Page. Then again, this story is a few years old, so I guess it doesn’t really make a difference.
This volume’s plot was interesting to say the lease; Wonder Woman assembles all of her allies that she amassed throughout this story arc, and prepares them to wage war against the First Born. The First Born – the main villain – goes as far as to kill Hades, destroy the realm of Demeter, and send his own army to Themyscria to eliminate the supporting cast. This is all to ensure his absolute supremacy on Mount Olympus, and the only way to defeat is for Zola’s baby – the supposed “last heir” to (literally) be seated on the Olympian throne, which serves as the main objective for WW and co.
Perhaps to give her character more depth, Azzarello depicts a WW who chooses being a competent leader over a likable one, such as choosing to bring the sons of Themyscira (male offspring of the Amazons entrusted to Hephaestus) to live with the Amazons on their island, leading one of them to nearly commit suicide over the decision.
Talk about ungrateful. The story seems fairly well paced; I never felt as though the final battle in question was too rushed, to crammed (ie, Dawn of Justice) or too dragged out to the point where one loses interest (ie, Matrix Revolutions). That was good on Azzarello’s part, given that with the large cast of characters making their appearances in this volume, such battle scenes could easily get boring when written poorly. The one fly in the ointment is that many characters don’t seem to have much closure by the time #35 comes to a close. What happens now that the fighting’s over? What becomes of the First Born’s army? Does Diana’s mother (who was brought back to life, albeit still in statue form) regain her human form?
No real epilogue, but I suppose readers can have good faith that WW did her job, even if final goodbyes of cleaning up the mess isn’t depicted.
I wasn’t expecting the plot twist at the third act; Zola’s baby – who might as well have been named John Connor, given every villain in this story wanting to kill him – is apparently Zeus himself, and Zola was under the control of Athena to give birth to Zeus, in order for the latter to outsmart the prophecy that his offspring would dethrone him. It was a clever way to tie lose ends, and I somewhat regret “cheating” to see the ending before reading it on the pages. In fact, in my review of Volume 5, I griped that it seemed that Zeke (Zeus’s alias in the story) was forgotten about, which only reveals my own impatience.
It was also cool to read Secret Origins #6, which retells Wonder Woman’s origin – who she came to meet Steve Trevor – while tying it in with the main story that had been wrapped up on the previous pages. It was Athena who heard WW’s desire to leave Themyscria, and granted her wish with Steve’s arrival. It’s always cool when origin stories are given a twist or a slight refinement, so long as they aren’t completely butchered or retold a thousand times in an endless series of reboots…
I liked this 6 Volume adventure. This is my first time (that I’m aware of) reading a story written by Brian Azzarello. He has a very interesting prose style that carries on throughout the book. It makes many of the characters feel witty – ranging from astute comebacks to finishing each other’s sentencing in a dramatic way, even playing on the different panels and artwork to add dramatic effect.
This is also the first time I’ve read a story drawn by Cliff Chiang. When I first read Volume One, the inking of characters seemed heavy to say the least, and the colors themselves seemed a bit … dull? But by the very end of the Volume, the images seemed much more vibrant, and I found myself quickly getting comfortable with his drawing style. Some fans might see his artwork as subpar for an A-List character/series such as Wonder Woman, but I actually thought that it fit he story tone (The series is rated T for 12+ after all)… Not to mention the creativity at some of his character designs. Some were outright strange, such as the Cat fish, tentacle-bearing Poseidon, or Hades having candles on his head and melted wax covering his eyes, while other designs jumped out at me (ie, Artemis or Athena being an actual humanoid Owl).
Now, even though my general view of this series is positive, there were some things that didn’t quite grow on me.
For one, the character the First Born did seem a bit one dimensional. Sure, he had motivation and resentment, not to mention a well-detailed backstory, but on the other hand, he seemed so overly-powerful, that not even WW could beat him or find any discernible weakness, even with a power boost via removing her gauntlets. The First Born is burned to a crisp by Apollo, who even blows himself up to defeat him, but to no avail. Meanwhile, the only way to beat him is to place Zeke/Zeus back on the throne, only to trap him in the abyss like before. His inability to be reasoned with, even to his own supposed peril, his overly confident and arrogant demeanor, and his “evil for the sake of being evil” did come across as a tad bit uninteresting.
Also, the idea of a God isn’t to well defined in the DC Universe, at least not in this story. For one, these Gods can be stripped of their powers, even if they can’t be beaten in a one-on-one fight with the main characters. Sure, their self-serving, egocentric behavior is clearly spelled out, but how do you even begin to define what a God is in terms of their concept? I mean, Wonder Woman – who is technically a demi-god, being a daughter of Zeus – kills Ares, only to become the next God of War. So by killing a God, you become one yourself to replace him/her?
Or maybe I’m just taking this more seriously than I should.
I never read WW comics as a kid, with the sole exception being that it was Justice League story. If it was reading a story featuring the JLA, it seemed almost bizarre – even criminal – for Wonder Woman to not being around. Despite my love of Greek Mythology, which is a mainstay in WW stories, the reason I was uninterested in all her stand alone series was two-fold: Firstly, I felt that most DC heroes couldn’t really carry their own weight unless they were paired with each other. Second, I always assumed as a kid that Wonder Woman was specifically written for a female audience, and would thus be catered to their tastes.
Not to mention the fact that the feminist “girl-power” elements were glaring in her character from day 1 (which is why I was concerned when WW grabbed Orion by the balls in Volume 4 of this adventure). Sure, my sporadic reading of comics has resulted in a somewhat rusty sense of suspension of disbelief, but I hate when ideology creeps its way into comic books, which is the reason why I spent most of my high school years reading Manga (just Google SJW Marvel, or look up Diversity and Comics on YouTube). Who wants to read about a character who’s partial reason for being is to promote a “girls rule, boys drool” message?
All-in-all, since I did enjoy this story, which did challenge my previous perception of the WW character. It was a decent re-entry into reading comics after a near-decade hiatus, one that was completely unexpected given my semi-avoidance of her franchise. However, because of the captial F feminist aura that plagues this character, I will trend lightly around her comics in the near future.