Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Wonder Woman #2 review

The deranged fashion model type is Strife, an Olympian dedicated to discord. She shows up on Paradise Island and strikes at the Amazons, who are harbouring the mortal Zola, latest in a long line of human women to be impregnated by Zeus, King of the Gods. Zola has been brought there by Diana, Princess of the Amazons and known to the outside world as Wonder Woman. Hoping for a breather while she decides how to further protect Zola after the godly attacks of last issue, Diana relaxes among her people with a spot of martial combat. But once Strife arrives, the danger is all too real.

The first thing that excited me about this issue was the introduction of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons and as blonde and beautiful as the version I grew up with. She's a powerful presence: wise, and wary at the trouble she knows is coming as the result of Diana's actions. But like her daughter, she's compassionate, and isn't going to turn away a woman in trouble.

We see a little more of Zola's character, as the wounded god Hermes, ally of the Amazons, asks her what form Zeus came to her in. And Hermes reveals the circumstances of Diana's birth, something he refers to as a legend. Sculpted from clay, brought to magical life - you know the story.

'Story' being the operative word, apparently - Strife tells Diana at the end of this issue that they're sisters, both daughters of Zeus. She could be lying, but given that DC Comics has already spoiled this revelation in the Press, I'd say not. Soon we'll learn whether or not Zeus is Diana's father in the sense that he, rather than the females of Olympus, gifted her with life or whether Hippolyta and Zeus were intimate.

The foreknowledge means the power of Strife's news is lost to me, but that's not the fault of this comic's creators. Writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang are in perfect communion here, producing a story that reads and looks, well, wonderful. Diana is strong and likeable, while Hippolyta is the mother she deserves. Diana gives due respect to Hippolyta as mother and monarch, but it's clear they're friends first and foremost. Chiang grants his characters the emotions requested by Azzarello's script: as well as Diana's joy in sparring and guts in battle, there's Strife's manipulation of her mother Hera; the cuckolded Hera's anger at Zeus; Hippolyta's trepidation; Hermes' weariness at godly games ... it's page after page of glorious comics, made all the more beautiful by the colour art of Matthew Wilson. Every page is a gem but the birth of Diana and combat with the Amazon Alekka cry out for special mention. Along with this panel.
Alekka is the image of Artemis, from the last continuity, while Hippolyta's chum Dessa is reminiscent of Philippus - I wonder if this is another case of the new creative team using the same character types, while renaming them so as to seem All-New (see John Byrne's run). A case could easily be made that Strife is the new version of Eris, but it's all just fun speculation. The main thing is that this is a superb new presentation of Wonder Woman. Details are different, but the character and her world are recognisable. The few qualms I had last time - Wonder Woman's closet of spikey weapons! - are eased as we see Diana, taking up Alekka's challenge of a bout, favour a staff over a sword. This is no bloodthirsty warrior, it's a hero who'll take up the sword only if the battle demands it. And that's my Wonder Woman.

20 comments:

  1. Never a huge Wonder Woman fan, I've heard so many good things about this new series that I'll be picking up the trade in a few months.

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  2. I reckon you'll enjoy it Gary, it's a marvellous romp (if you ignore the poor horsies).

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  3. this issue is really good
    maybe better than the first one, which I liked a lot
    too bad that Azzarello had spoiled the end...

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  4. and Strife was not lying, the lasso was around her
    but she could have omit some details

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  5. Excellent spot as regards the lasso, Jack!

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  6. I enjoyed the issue immensely. So much in fact that I'm sure to read it again before I go to bed tonight. Wonder Woman fans had a rough year, this is a break from the misery that it brought.

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  7. My local bookstore is two weeks behind its releases so I'll actually be seeing this on shelves on the first week of November. However, I am really excited to read this since I really enjoyed the first issue.

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  8. And yet I saw this as attempt after attempt to give us shock 'n' awe (minus the awe). Shock! Amazons are man-haters to the bone! (So to speak.) Shock! We still have Artie and maybe Phillie, but they HAVE NEW NAMES! Shock! It's Hippy as a blonde! Shock! Zola is a slut who's not ashamed of her demeaning attitude toward men! (How modern we are!) Shock! Diana is the daughter of Zeus... But Azz himself let that cat out of the bag, the basis for this issue's cliffhanger. Whatever gave him the need to do that?

    I did like the arena battle spread's composition very much.

    Perhaps the team can settle down to telling a solid story at some future point, but for now for me this is a very uncomfortable ride with generic impostors in the roles of WW and the Amazons. So far I see little connection with the core of the mythos, though there is enough of a hint that I can be hopeful.

    But I can only be hopeful for so long. DC has gutted Diana these past few years, doing all they could to de-girly her and her mission. It does not seem possible for a Blood Age Wonder Woman to find the roots that made her unique and memorable.

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  9. I enjoyed this book tremendously.

    Chiang is really shining here.

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  10. Very enjoyable...I am pleasantly relieved that after the positive reaction to the first ish we get a second ish that more than lives up to it.
    Love Diana's and Hippy's relationship; very friendly and respectful of each other. Only gripe; I prefer her as brunette.
    Love Strife, cool looking villain and an interesting didacticfied attitude; shes one to watch.
    Love Hera's contemptuos pouty look. Finally the oft-forgotten Olympian god of WW comics is well worth her due in looks and intent. Who needs Circe when we can have Hera?
    Love the battle sequence with Diana sparring. The 'stone-age' Amazons and their interesting location [feels so authentic, already]. The whispering...oh, how I adore the whispering! How Zola in just two issues is already shaping up to be a credible, well-written character [whose attitude towards men and sex is pragmatic and current]. Love the art...Chiang has the hint of the great Don Heck. Superb panel positioning, just enough dialogue...some books have too much art
    and not enough talk and vice versa; this isnt one of them.
    Everything about this book just feels so RIGHT!

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  11. Nice one, un_taco, make that comic book feel loved!

    Information Geek, the more I hear about your comic store, the sadder I get ... you're not receiving the service you should be getting. I suppose it's not always easy for small independents to match the big guys, though - good on you for the loyalty.

    'Amazons are man-haters to the bone!' Am I missing something, Carol? Apart from some trash talk about Hermes' godly willy, I don't see any derogatory references to fellas.

    Glad you liked it too, Anj.

    I was going to say the preference for whether Hippolyta is brunette or blonde likely links to when you started reading Wonder Woman, Karl, but we're of similar vintage, so bang goes that idea. I grew up with blonde H, but I also like her vanilla because it makes her more visually distinctive from her daughter.

    And thank you! It's great to see some appreciation for Don Heck.

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  12. Thanks Mart, Ive been reading WW since 1971 [my age is a closely guarded secret, much like the location of Themyscira!] and I grew up with the blonde Hippy, tho my preference is for the Marston tales with her being brunette.
    Being a massive Don Heck fan since his early Batgirl back in early 70s Detective Comics, and his Black Widow from Amazing Adventures, not to forget his classic Avengers work. His work on WW spanned an impressive 15 years or so. This new look for WW brings back some happy memories for me.

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  13. Ah! Don Heck! Yes, I was wondering why I, who usually prefers the hyper detail of George Perez and the softer lines of the Dodsons, was feeling so... nostalgic... reading these 2 issues. Though not as rough, and the line has more weight to it, there ARE traces of Don Heck in there. Nice call, Karl!
    craig

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  14. I know this was in the Justice League #2, last pages. Amanda Waller interview with Captain Steve Trevor was interesting read. About his encounter with Woman and the Amazons.

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  15. ch, it's a shame Don Heck gets so little credit. Heck, he was one of the founding fathers of Marvel.

    That was an interesting read in HL, Anon, though I hate the reference to her slitting a guy's throat. That wouldn't be necessary for a woman of her calibre.

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  16. There is something rather mesmerising about this WW comic. I often find myself speeding through new comics when I get them, but WW is one of the few that makes me slow down to appreciate the art - one of my favourite moments was Hermes' face when Zola confesses she has a thing for truck drivers and pool hustlers. I even notice the colouring, which doesn't often draw my attention in comics at all. Yes, even the soft hints of torchlight on skin merit a second glance.

    I like the contrast of the ancient interior of Mount Olympus and the Amazons' home versus Strife's up-to-the-minute appearance too. An effective contrast.

    All in all, issue 2 was a great read in my view and confirms it as amongst my top 5 comics of the New 52.

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  17. Today - October 25th - marks Diana's first appearance in All-Star Comics and her 70th birthday!

    Please join me in wishing our favourite heroine many happy returns!

    Happy Birthday, Wonder Woman!

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  18. Great observations there, Rob!

    And thanks Karl, Happy (belated) Birthday, Diana!

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  19. They're all stroppy lesbians though. Why's that? What point is he making?

    If this was Xena: Warrior Princess of the Amazons number 1 it would be great.

    Unfortunately it hammers another nail in the coffin of Wonder Woman ever being a straightforward 'super hero' again.

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  20. I've said previously, I'd love an altenate DC line, with classic takes on the character. Meanwhile I'm enjoying this run - they don't really seem to be 'stroppy lesbians'.

    Bring back THEM!

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