By: Brian Azzarello (story), Cliff Chiang (art), Matthew Wilson (colors)
The Story: And here Zola and Hera live the city high life while Diana ambles the sewers.
The Review: When the DC relaunch first started, Wonder Woman took nearly everyone by surprise with the particular direction Azzarello chose to run with. You can associate a lot of different qualities with comics’ leading lady, but “horror” wasn’t really one of them. In his first arc, Azzarello made you realize that Greek myth was full of monsters and horror, not all of it centered on actual monsters.
As Wonder Woman’s feats grew bolder and more adventurous, the visceral feeling of fear, established when we first saw a bloodied arm stretching from the fleshy torso of a decapitated horse, has slowly ebbed away. This issue doesn’t quite restore that element of terror, but it does start building suspense once more; it distinctly feels that events are closing in on the plot, that traps are being laid around our heroes even as they still move freely.
Nowhere does that sense of malicious closure feel more palpable than in the bar Zola and Hera patronize on their girls’ night out, where several Olympians show up for unexplained reasons. You have Ares and Strife in the same building—Ares alone would be worrisome enough, but adding Strife to the mix begs disaster—with Dionysus lingering on the sidelines. Though their goal for the night lies elsewhere, their diverted attention on Hera and Zola is enough to make the former goddess clasp her head in weariness and the redneck mortal vomit from fear.
The Olympians’ real target continues her mission in the sewers, managing to talk Milan down and convince him to help her. This does put off the fight between Wonder Woman and Orion, an epic battle you’re just itching for (as do they—“[F]or the record, you came at me…legs.” “…You are really making it hard for me not to jump at you again.”), but I like that Diana solves problems with compassion rather than combat. It really challenges the tradition that every issue has to have at least one obligatory action sequence, even if motivated by misunderstanding, before the parties reach an understanding.
Milan’s power, impressive and crippling as it is, does little more than reveal what we have long known, though certain bits of information surprise our heroes. Orion seems rather taken aback that he might have to face an infant (“Wait a minute—the threat to the universe is a child? Well, it has happened before…”), and Diana quickly realizes her new sibling is in the arms of Demeter, and only one person in her company knows where the goddess of the harvest keeps her castle.
But really, who’s the real threat in this story? Orion brings up a good point that youth doesn’t preclude a person from being a huge danger (anyone remember the rather tragic fate of () in Young Justice: World Without Grownups?), but it’s the First Born who’s causing some massive slayage in this issue. Armed with feathered apparel that recalls the avian-themed wear of his parents, the First Born doesn’t let a few icy giants stop him, and he next sets his sights for Olympus, which as we know is missing many of its denizens, including its most battle-ready.
I can look at Chiang art all day. It’s just so pleasant and classy, even when its subjects aren’t particularly so. If you can make a girl in plaid throwing up into a sink look good, that’s a pretty amazing feat in my book. Again, you don’t expect his dead-simply linework to possess much emotional weight, yet perhaps because he understates things in his art, it pops out at you more and feels more profound than if he pushed the characters’ expressions in your face.
Conclusion: A bit repetitious on the plot side, but tonally a wonder, making you rightfully anticipate the next issue.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: - I actually love the idea that Hera can be paralyzed with indecision. This is a woman who basically stuck by the same philandering jerkwad for eons, living the same divine lifestyle, falling into the same cycle of betrayal and rage, so it makes total sense that the freedom to choose is crippling for her.
– I also love the detail of A4, Orion’s technological buddy, showing alarm “rays” when it sees Orion in danger.