By: Brian Azzarello (story), Goran Sudźuka (art), Tony Akins (pencils), Dan Green (inks), Matthew Wilson (colors)
The Story: A god can do with worse names than Zeke.
The Review: As we begin the title’s fourth arc, it seems only fair that longtime investors in this series get a chance to consider what we want from the story. While I do appreciate that Azzarello has a very specific direction for his heroine, I feel it’s well past time for him to up the pace a bit. He’s spent a lot of time establishing the principal characters, mythologies, and interacting forces for his plot; now’s the time to lose the reins and let them go wild on each other.
It seems Azzarello’s about to do just that by the end of this issue, though we have to sit through quite a bit of set-up first, not all of which seems entirely necessary or even useful. The intro with Apollo, Artemis, and Dionysus basically reiterates most of the info we already know, and does little to round out their personalities or goals. It doesn’t get simpler than gods wanting to retain their positions of power and wanting to shut down any threat to them, right?
I do find their assessment that “War has lost his mind” rather interesting, though. This seems to be a gross misreading of their sibling, even if he does seem to be acting against his traditional nature. After returning Zola’s baby, he apparently has taken up with Diana and her motley crew, and even goes so far as to praise for her for turning a group of would-be, should-be enemies into a kind of family; two gods of war, one old, one new; demi-gods and full-blooded gods; the divine and ex-divine; the wife and the mistress. It’s quite an achievement, come to think of it.
But this volatile combination can’t remain intact and at peace for long. While Lennox’s decision to depart seems sudden and unexpected, it was all but inevitable that Diana and Orion would clash; you’re kind of hoping for it, in fact. The fact that it happens due to Orion’s amusingly chauvinistic attitude is just a bonus. It makes a lot of sense to me that he’d find Diana, especially when she’s angry, a turn-on, given his genetics (which unnervingly reveals itself in this issue); it makes even more sense that she’d use a feminine trick just to get close enough to release her inner Amazon: “I can live without your disrespect. Can you live without these?”
“I don’t want to…” Orion replies warily.
“Then respect me, or I’ll rip them off. We clear?”
It’s a pretty fantastic moment for Wonder Woman, and one that’s utterly unique to her. I think many another DC heroine would want to do the same, but I don’t think anyone but Diana could get away with it.
Diana will be sorry to have lost the support of a New God and her half-brother, now that forces from Olympus and beyond are converging upon her and Zola’s baby once again. With both Artemis and the First Born set to arrive at Diana’s apartment at about the same time, this definitely marks the moment where Azzarello’s big story can truly begin. I’m guessing things won’t go well for the moon goddess this time around; Diana alone gave her the beatdown last time they fought, and with the First Born raging to get at her brother, it looks like Artemis may just suffer mightily for her loyalty to Apollo.
Sudźuka has enough in common with Akins in their art styles that this issue doesn’t suffer or improve by his contribution. Here, my artistic weaknesses are exposed as I find it a little difficult to tell who’s drawing what and where. My best guess is that Akins draws most of the Diana and family scenes, and if so, then he’s made a marked improvement in his art over past issues. The characters actually have some consistency now, looking less cartoony and exaggerated than they ever have under his pen. I give credit where credit’s due, and in this issue, both Akins and Sudźuka get closer to Cliff Chiang’s usual high standard for this title. Wilson, of course, succeeds by his simplicity; you don’t get a lot of complex hues and tones, but he chooses colors well and they’re more striking for their lack of subtlety.
Conclusion: Still a bit of a roundabout, low-key issue, but all the signs are in place for things to get a lot crazier from here.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: - Zola asking everyone for suggestions for her baby’s name leads to some fun character moments. Lennox goes for the most British monikers possible: “Reginald. That’s a proper name.” When Zola declines, he tacks on, “Nigel, then.” Ares contributes, “Jack. Or Daniel. I like those.” And Diana comes up with the most inappropriate name of all, suggesting, “What about Steve?”