By: Brian Azzarello (writer), Tony Akins (artist), Matthew Wilson (colorist)
The Story: Let this be a lesson to you—never eat anything you fish up from a city river.
The Review: I don’t consider myself a particularly impatient person. Why, back in the days of dial-up, I used to bring a book to the computer with me every time I needed to do a Google search (remember when that was such a new thing, people considered it “clever”?), and I didn’t complain. When it comes to comics, I don’t mind a slow burn plot, where things percolate for a while before boiling up. But at a certain point, I do expect events to get a little livelier.
That sentiment goes double when the story involves a character of action like Wonder Woman. She’s one of the biggest brawlers in the DCU and it’s been a long while (since her scuffle with Aleka in #2) since we’ve actually seen her fight anybody. When she gets into her heroic getup in this issue and leaps off a bridge to confront a herd of oversized seahorses in the Thames, you start getting your hopes up, thinking she’s finally going to pummel some heads, but alas—not a single punch is thrown, and it turns out to be a rather subdued scene.
In fact, the whole issue is rather talky, whether it’s Diana and Zola having a girl talk in the rain, or Hermes getting acquainted with yet another new member of his divine family. It’s not as if all this conversation is for nothing; we do get a better idea of how Diana as a woman (rather than as Amazon) sounds (“…going to war…with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Good against evil…winner take all. …It’s kinda [sic] cool.”), which is always valuable. But we’ve already had so many issues in a row with characters just chatting, so by now it feels a bit much.
Still, Azzarello keeps up the intrigue as the power struggles for Olympus begin in earnest, what with the two biggest boys of the pantheon coming to play. On one side, you have Poseidon, whose enormous presence, both figuratively and literally, sets him apart from the younger, more compact gods and goddesses we’ve seen so far, even the oversized Strife. Hades (or someone whom I presume is Hades) has less mass to his figure, but nonetheless projects an immediate sense of foreboding. Should it come to direct conflict, things will get nasty indeed.
At first glance, Diana’s audience with Poseidon almost seems like she’s about to enter this petty conflict among deities herself. Of course, Wonder Woman doesn’t have a dumb bone in her body. She seizes the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, declaring herself disinterested in the whole affair while cleverly manipulating events to her advantage so she can get Hera off her and Zola’s backs. Once Hera has her brothers coming after her for control of the heavens, she’ll be less focused on trying to hunt down her husband’s “mongrels.”
Cliff Chiang’s lightweight art might have helped give the issue some lift from its weight of words, but we’re out of luck here. Not that Akins is in any way deficient; on the contrary, he has a rough yet clean style that’s equal parts Jock and Eduardo Risso, capable of giving life to Azzarello’s character interpretations, of which Poseidon as a massive, crowned whale-fish is the most radical yet. But I find Akins’ version of Diana consistently off; he makes her look more doe-eyed, pink-cheeked, and altogether more girlish than the classy lady Chiang gave us, and I’m not sure the effect is flattering. The cutesiness affects his drawings of explosions, too.
Conclusion: While you feel secure that the story’s moving along in a good direction, its speed is getting a little too conservative, and you long for our heroine to finally get a chance to hit something.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – Tomatoes and bangers for breakfast? Not to fall back into eighties lingo, but that is an occasion to gag me with a spoon if I ever saw one.