By: Brian Azzarello (writer), Cliff Chiang (artist), Matthew Wilson (colorist)

The Story: Someone pop on some AC/DC and turn it up—Wonder Woman’s mourning.

The Review: As a young buff of Greek mythology, I always found the gods and goddesses baffling in their arbitrariness.  Even the most reasoned and benevolent ones would have their petty streaks from time to time, and few of them had any moral compunction about using their power with impunity and without regard for the consequences to mortals.  For that reason, I’ve never felt inclined to feel sympathetic to any of them.  They are gods, after all.

For the most part, Azzarello stays true to the conniving, scheming world of the Greek pantheon.  Ever since Apollo’s oracles revealed Zeus “doesn’t exist,” a truly astonishing pronouncement if you ever heard one, you’d think there’d be some kind of uproar among the divinities, or at least some kind of inquiry as to how this could possibly happen.  But we’re talking about the ultimate mafia family here, so when the head of the household disappears, power plays abound.

To that end, Apollo goes to Ares to secure an alliance of sorts, or at least support for when he makes his bid for leadership.  To your surprise, Ares agrees to stay out of the bidding with little resistance.  In fact, he seems quite lethargic, even melancholy in this portrayal.  While Apollo states that Ares is “vital—now, more than ever,” Ares responds with only a weary smile, as if millennia of spinning the world’s conflict has finally gotten to him.

Hera doesn’t even seem aware, much less affected, by her husband’s disappearance; she only wants to get her revenge on the dalliances he left behind.  Now, her oft-extreme retaliations against those she feels has wronged her may sway you into thinking her mean-spirited or horribly spiteful, but here, she reminds us she has every reason to be: “I am the queen of the gods…the goddess of women…ultimately yet, a woman.”  And any woman would be enraged by such constant infidelity from her husband.

It’s significant she expresses all this to Hippolyta, face-to-face.  Even as the Amazon queen pays Hera every respect proper to her goddess, Hera’s behavior and dialogue has the special rage and disbelief of a woman who’s been betrayed by her best friend: “Why, Hippolyta?  Why would you do this to me?  …What did he say to make you love him?  What can I do to make him…”  In that unfinished question, Hera reveals the depth of pain and love that fuels her fury, and you actually feel sympathy, even pity, towards her.

As for our star, she deals with her own pain the only way she knows how: with rock music and a little bit of bloodshed.  Ultimately, Diana realizes how foolish her resentment against her mother is, once she hears the seed of wisdom in Zola’s own family troubles: “And my mother?  She made mistakes too.  And Lord knows I never let her off the hook…  Then she died.”  But it’s too late for Diana to make amends, and you can’t help feeling sorry when she goes to her mother for forgiveness, when it’s no longer possible to receive it.

Chiang has been killing it with his character designs for the gods, and his interpretation of Ares as a bearded, bald man with inky eyes and a bloodstained suit is no exception.  And again, I have to remark on how Chiang can communicate such specific emotion with so few lines.  When Hera asks Hippolyta how Zeus made her love him, there is a pleading, almost despairing crumple to her expression that says volumes.  Kudos to Wilson’s attention to detail; when he colors Aleka, he makes sure she sports a large purple bruise where Diana socked her last issue.

Conclusion: It’s still too early to make conclusive judgments about this series, but so far, it’s a powerful, brilliant rendering of DC’s first lady and her world.

Grade: A-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – I just realized that Zola, for hooking up with Zeus, is kind of like Wonder Woman’s aunt/stepmother.  Ah, the weirdness of godly relationships.