By: Brian Azzarello (story), Kano & Tony Akins (art), Dan Green (inks), Matthew Wilson (colorist)
The Story: Woman hath no fury like hell scorned. No, wait…
The Review: One of the great evolutions of Wonder Woman’s character over the years is how she has become the paragon of warriors in the DCU, regardless of gender. Yet this focus on her fighting spirit and ability leaves little room to appreciate her sensitivity and compassion, a common conflict for many women in positions of power. Yes, she can kick nearly anyone’s butt six ways to Sunday, but she’s also capable of incredible depths of tenderness.
At first glance, this series has shown many different sides to its star—her cleverness, her never-say-die persistence, and that all-consuming desire for truth—but love doesn’t quite shine through. In retrospect, it’s because the kind of love Diana indulges in is very, very tough. She can be warm and affectionate, but never expect her to be sweet or lavish. She’s actually quite maternal, but she’s not the mom who bakes you cookies after you come home from school; she’s more like the mom who gives you a hand after you fall off your bike, then shushes you as she puts iodine on your skinned knee. She wants the best for you, but she won’t brook any nonsense.
How fitting it is, then, that Azzarello portrays Hades as an overly precocious child, with the bearing and manner of one who’s lived eons, yet still so immature in the most fundamental ways. His response to Diana’s kind overtures are selfishly sulky, dissatisfied that he can’t have it all to himself. He’s incapable of understanding love that goes beyond mere attention; when she tells him, “I love. Everyone,” the notion seems completely beyond even his divine comprehension.
Yet Hades is hardly alone in this. A lot of talk has been made comparing the Pantheon to the mafia, but remember: under all that violence are the inescapable bonds of family. No matter how much the gods hurt each other, they can’t destroy their blood-ties. So when Hephaestus says sorrowfully, “We fight, and it’s not because we love each other. But it should be,” what he’s really expressing is the tragedy of having all of immortality to cherish one another, but choosing to do the opposite.
Maybe that’s why you start in surprise when Eros calls Hephaestus “Father,” reminding you they’re directly related and yet not gunning for each other. It’s both strange and wonderful to see this completely mismatched daddy and son sticking by each other in danger, despite their differences, and to hear the older god say without reservation, “No one loves himself more than Eros…and I love you even more than that, my son.”
With this new understanding of Diana and her kin, you realize that her final act in this issue is not one of vengeance, nor even mischief, but of mercy. After all the pain Hades has inflicted upon countless beings, even threatening Diana with eternal consumption, she still wants to give him what he so desperately craves yet can’t—or won’t—obtain for himself. More importantly, she doesn’t hesitate to make him go through the necessary pain for that to happen.
Kano’s artwork bears a remarkable resemblance to Akins’, but in some ways, I’d argue his renderings of Diana are more consistent, more believable, and more natural than Akins. He can, for one, communicate subtle changes of emotion, something Akins has less of a knack for; in the opening, when Hades demands if Diana loves him, you can tell just by her face the sincerity of her response, but also the regretful determination of what she must do next.
Conclusion: Like much of Azzarello’s work, the underlying themes of his stories aren’t clear on the surface, but spontaneously reveal themselves when you pay closer attention.
- Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: - I appreciate that Hephaestus and Eros, being gods, find Lennox’s invulnerability not even remarkable enough to illicit a change in facial expression.
Filed under: DC Comics, Reviews Tagged: | Brian Azzarello, Dan Green, DC, DC Comics, Eros, Hades, Hephaestus, Kano, Lennox, Matthew Wilson, Princess Diana, Strife, Tony Akins, Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman #10, Wonder Woman #10 review