By: Brian Azzarello (story), Tony Akins (pencils), Amilcar Pinna (art), Dan Green (inks), Matthew Wilson & Nick Filard (colors)
The Story: Clearly, Diana’s mother never warned her about leaving clubs with sketchy old men.
The Review: Whatever the naysayers might say (most likely but not guaranteed to be “nay”), Azzarello has accomplished quite a lot for this title. For one, he made Wonder Woman Top Fifty, which hasn’t happened in ages, to my understanding. For another, he introduced this incredibly rich new mythology to the character, allowing Wonder Woman to cross over between the grounded, the divine, and the cosmic all at once.
But if I had to pick out the most important thing Azzarello has given to DC’s first lady, it’s her irresistibly intriguing extended family, quite possibly the most compelling supporting cast she’s ever had. For a while, you fell into the habit of placing the Pantheon gods into one of two camps: those on Wonder Woman’s side and those who aren’t. That all changed once Hermes went rogue; now, you can’t trust anyone who calls Olympus home.
What makes these barefooted gods so fascinating to watch is each clearly has his or her own agenda, which coincide only by coincidence, and rarely. Even the ones you’d think would be natural allies turn out to have some kind of animosity between them, no matter how much they rhetorically dance around their conflict. Consider the exchange between Strife and Ares:
“I’m on to your game,” she murmurs, giving him an air-kiss.
“You heard me.”
“Hear this, Strife. It’s not my game.”
Whatever the two of them are tiffing about (and Azzarello keeps us out of the loop on that point), it’s enough for Strife to actually volunteer to tag along with Diana on her trip to confront Hermes. Ares not only shoots his sister down, he prevents anyone else from joining him and Diana as well, which is a red flag to everyone except Orion.* Again, however, Ares’ motives remain frustratingly unclear. Azzarello has been indulging in vagaries and wordplay for a long time, and though once they gave this title a gloss of sophistication, now they just seem a little forced: “See, ‘The gods work in mysterious ways’ was a phrase we coined…to ignore our obviousness.” Thought-provoking, to say the least.
In contrast, the quest of the First Born to find his past effects is almost stupidly straightforward: his armor and weapons were each entrusted to one of his uncles, and he has to collect them before he can take Olympus for himself. Things get complicated once Poseidon arrives to confront his nephew himself; the First Born seems to be on a roll here, and even if he is “the worst thing imaginable,” does the ocean god have what it takes to stop him?
The issue also suffers without Cliff Chiang’s art. He has such a tasteful, subtle approach to body language and expression that even the clunkiest Azzarello lines sound profound. Akins’ art has almost none of Chiang’s class, and tends to look a bit haphazard and comical. The ladies in particular have a shrewish, bedraggled appearance, which can be rather off-putting when they’re supposed to be divine beauties. More than anything else, though, Akins work irritates me because of its inconsistency; characters tend to look different page to page, and even panel to panel. It’s enough to make you disappointed that Pinna hadn’t just drawn the whole issue himself, instead of just a few striking pages.
Conclusion: Though Azzarello remains true to the tone and spirit he started this title with, the time seems ripe for a major shake-up. It also seems like the right time to start considering someone other than Akins as a proper stand-in for Chiang.
- Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: * Speaking of which, it’s rather disappointing that the meeting between old gods and New God results in no greater excitement than Strife’s lecherous leers.
Filed under: DC Comics, Reviews Tagged: | Amilcar Pinna, Ares, Brian Azzarello, Dan Green, DC, DC Comics, First Born, Hermes, Matthew Wilson, Nick Filard, Orion, Poseidon, Princess Diana, Strife, Tony Akins, Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman #17, Wonder Woman #17 review