By: Brian Azzarello (story), Cliff Chiang (art), Matthew Wilson (colors)
The Story: Wonder Woman in the Appalachian emergency room.
The Review: I think we tend to forget, in our experience of smooth political transitions and well-oiled government systems, how critical and damaging the vacuum of leadership can be. Once it disappears, the chaos that follows rushes toward critical mass—a comment, I suppose, on our human nature as followers—with some striving to keep the status quo in place and others seeing it as an opportunity to change things up.
For the Greek pantheon, their view of Zeus’ absence depends largely on their essential natures, which Azzarello portrays with faithful attention to mythic tradition. Clearly, the family boasts a number of go-getters, who spend the bulk of their time forging alliances and inviting favor for the inevitable battle for the throne. It’s been fascinating, watching these Medici-style schemes play out, a series of power plays whose appeal is more cerebral than anything else.
In the end, however, all this negotiation gets trumped by the gods’ own pettiness. Hera’s thirst for revenge motivates her to give away something that isn’t hers to give, something which you suspect can’t even be earned, whether by guile, force, or otherwise. Demeter remarks that Zeus’ empty throne “needs” to be filled, that “[t]he heavens without a ruler can only bring chaos.” It doesn’t seem likely that having any old body in that position, even a divine one, will work.
So Apollo may not be acting entirely in accord with reason (his personal area of godhood) here. He claims that he has a “destiny—and a prophecy—to forestall,” one with the possibility of ending the reign of the Pantheon. But he seems blind to the fact that in Greek tradition, prophecies can’t be avoided, only self-fulfilling, especially if the goal is to keep things the way they are. Because of that, there’s a certain futility to his and Artemis’ actions in this issue.
We all know that Wonder Woman is a lady of destiny. As a daughter between the king of gods and the queen of earthly women, she has a lot of symbolic power wrapped up in her and this, more than her physical strengths, assures that she will prevail in the end. Because make no mistake, she is completely outclassed in the power department here. We’ve seen Hades, one of the original Olympians, pull out world-bending tricks, but in this issue the Letoide twins prove that even secondary divinities with pure blood can’t be touched by demigods.
This makes Diana’s determination to keep on keeping on all the more admirable. This lady no sooner has her behind handed to her before she’s back in her opponents’ faces again, the mud and traces of her defeat still on her. This run of this title so far has thus been a kind of statement on how far Wonder Woman is willing to go in the name of justice, to protect even just one innocent victim of harassment. This kind of devotion might have narrowed the scope of her ambitions but for the epic stakes attached to her guardianship.
I’m always happy to see Chiang back in the artistic control room. This guy just drips with understated class, no extraneous or fussy lines to be seen here. He’s perfectly capable of dramatic detail as needed—the horrifying nooks and crannies in Lennox’s chest, left behind by Artemis’ punch, shows as much—but his tendency is to use the least lines possible to deliver the greatest feeling possible. How else can he get each texture of Demeter’s body (her grassy tresses, barkish skin, and leafy attire) so right?
Conclusion: Azzarello sticks to his guns and his slow burn of a story, though you can definitely sense that the big blow-out is near.
- Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: - I can’t sing enough praises about Chiang’s evocative, yet not overdone, designs for the gods. Artemis’ simple nudity has all the grace and comeliness of form as a doe in the woods, and her antlers and moonlit glow just top it all off. Beautiful stuff.
Filed under: DC Comics, Reviews Tagged: | Apollo, Artemis, Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, DC, DC Comics, Hera, Hermes, Matthew Wilson, Princess Diana, Strife, Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman #11, Wonder Woman #11 review, Zola