Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Wonder Woman #8 review

Wearing armour newly forged by Hephaestus, and carrying 'love guns' borrowed from Eros, Diana journeys to the realm of Lord Hades, guided by Hermes. They're out to rescue Zola, the young woman carrying the child of Zeus.

Hades isn't what Diana expects. Rather than a fiery place of screaming souls, it's a silent, twilight version of the London she calls home. But, Hermes explains, the dead are all around them, forming the very landscape, the buildings, reflecting the whims of Lord Hades.

And they're not unwilling - these souls are happy to serve Hades, happy to attack Diana and Hermes. With Diana fully equipped and Hermes no longer lame, though, they're no easy pickings. Diana is a spitfire, taking down the monstrous warriors with her sword, while Hermes shows just what the clawed feet of a bird can do.

Hermes persuades Diana to leave his side and find Zola. What she finds is Hades himself, hidden among a tableau of statues, horrific figures he leads against Diana. Impressive acrobatics and unerring aim with her blade see Diana more than hold her own until she's rejoined by Hermes. After seeing off Hades and friends, they follow a light and come across the wishworld version of Zola's backwoods home, and the woman herself.

While it's been days by Diana's estimation, Zola has spent the equivalent of several Earth months down here, and she's finally showing. She's desperate to get back home, but as Diana and Hermes lead her away, Hermes rises from the farm's fireplace, this time in his own, waxy-headed form. And he's not going to let Diana go without forging a bargain ...

And that's the bulk of the best issue to date of DC's relaunched Wonder Woman series. For the first time it feels as if Diana's the star of the show, front and centre in this latest encounter with a hostile Olympian. I'm not a fan of a sword-wielding Diana by any means, but given where she is, and what she's up against, it makes sense. I'm even less keen on the idea of Diana shooting folk, but must admit to disappointment that we don't get to see the loony cover scene played out inside the comic.

We do get to see beautifully drawn, very creepy scenes of conflict courtesy of artist Cliff Chiang, but my favourite moments are Diana and Hermes carefully making their way through the Underworld; there's real drama in their body language, their expressions. At the same time, Chiang cuts away to the 'statues' shedding their outer shell to reveal the sinewy beings beneath.

On a sartorial note, Chiang's version of Diana armour, as coloured by Matthew Wilson, is one of the best I've seen, giving us a Wonder Woman kitted out for war, yet blazing with optimism. It even looks good when he's drawing Diana tumbling into battle.

Writer Brian Azzarello doesn't come up with any moments to match last issue's controversy, seeming happy to give us a straightforward, satisfying, chunk of Diana's odyssey. His dialogue recalls the Wonder Woman I want to see, emphasising her intelligence, compassion and detemination. So far as the other characters go, he still has me trusting Hermes, despite the minor jibes Hephaestus sends his way. Zola comes alive at last, seeming like a woman who might attract the attention of a passing god. And Hades is a wonderfully twisted brat. What's more, Azzarello's ideas as to the nature of the Underworld are novel, and fit his vision of Wonder Woman's world.

While not the Wonder Woman series I want, this is a well done, entertaining instalment of the New 52 revamp. A gripping tale, told with no little flair, it's deserving of your attention.



28 comments:

  1. You lucky son of gun! How did you get this issue so early? Most comic book stores I got don't open until 11 and doesn't DC's digital store have the latest issue until later in the day on Wedsenday? Lucky...

    Sounds like the issue is good, I'll have to wait until later to read it. From the preview pages, it looked like it was going to be awesome. Love that armor WW wears in the preview.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm in the UK, we live in the Future.

      Delete
  2. You live in Hades, hah!
    awesome review, can't wait to read this issue
    I was trying not to read any spoilers, but I couldn't help
    and know I'm even more eager to read this issue

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, Edinburgh! Thanks for the kind words, Jack, I'm sure you and InfoGeek will like this one.

      Delete
  3. After the disgraceful previous issue, this is a much-relieved [for me] return to form of sorts. Im still not entirely convinced this isnt anything but a minor blip though, as the events of last issue are still fresh in our distressed minds.
    So...Hades's realm certainly was unique and I liked how it would look different to different people's mindsets. Hermes and Hades themselves were tolerable here, possessing some real character inthought, and Zola has got her voice back. Even the lovely Diana managed to take centre stage here in what used to be her own book [Merciful Minerva, only eight issues in] and give us a woman warrior strong, capable and [as far as it gets in this current incarnation] faintly independent. A few profound lines and fine application of abilities from her. Couldve done without the 'Zena-lite' sword-swinging; Diana in any form really shouldnt need a sword at all - at all!!!!! - just her own innate powers.
    But I mustnt complain; the trip to Hell [or inner London!] with Diana was a fascinating curiosity aside, in an increasingly downgraded likeability factor for this once-fine book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah Karl, that 'Merciful Minerva' brought back decades of happy memories.

      Hell as inner London - I rather like that!

      Delete
  4. I'm overwhelmed. Diana fights the Burghers of Calais.

    DIANA FIGHTS THE BURGERS OF CALAIS.

    Loved the rest of the issue, too, but that's gold all by itself, right there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course she'd fight Burghers, she's a taco gal.

      Delete
  5. This, alongside issue #4, is the best issue so far!!!
    JUST EPIC!

    so... [SPOILER]are WW and Zola in love or what? seems a little bit more than just "friend love"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think Zola's just hoping Diana will give her something to wear other than a Spirit of the Wolf shirt.

      Delete
    2. heh...
      sorry, I had misunderstood...
      Hades was refering to himself when he said "she's in love"
      he shoot at Diana... then Diana must be in love with him now...
      his "queen"... I think that explain the #11 cover somehow

      Delete
  6. Reckon you're right, Jack. Now, bedtime for this bonzo ... night!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Some people are saying that Diana was fool to give the pistols to Hades
    but I think it was planned
    I mean, why would Hephestus give her the pistols of Eros if he could give any other gun? And remember, Diana herself prefers to be "archaic"
    Besides, why she would shoot someone in Hell with guns that make the victim fall in love? And even, why Hermes didn't teleport the group back as soon as they got Zola?
    I think they knew that they would have to fulfill the bargain somehow
    But it was not a plan so planned, it was like an instant one
    Hephestus give the guns to her and says that she will give them back, in this moment there's something implicit.
    Then in the end she prepares to deflect the bullet to fool Hades
    C'mon, if all this I wrote doesn't mean anything, and there was really no plan at all... It's a mistake so big that is impossible to Azzarello had not realized the holes on the script

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah b/c Azzarello has shown to be a HUGE plotter thus far.. Ya know, he drops a MASSIVE bomb in the last issue, then ignores it like nothing happened. Diana has no reaction to that at all. Nope, she just goes about the story because that's how it's suppose to go. So why now are we suppose to believe he's building something up with Diana? She's just A PART of the story, she's not the story itself and Azzarello ONLY cares about the story. She's not driving it, she's just another player in it. In fact, the story appears to be the main character of this series, which is why I find it so bland (not to mention that there is nothing remotely Wonder Woman about any of this). Diana has been shown consistently to be naive at best, absolutely stupid at worse. Why should this be any different?

      BTW, since we've been told Azzarello is all about the "classic" myth and the old Wonder Woman doesn't matter in the least, why is Wonder Woman wearing the Eagle, the symbol of Rome on her chest? Yes, it's classic Wonder Woman, but that doesn't matter at all. There's NOTHING else remotely classic about this Wonder Woman, so why are we playing it up now? Of course, the eagle does accentuate her boobs, so maybe it's there for fan service? As for the armor itself, it's ugly and impractical at the same time. I can deal with it being ugly if it was actual armor protecting her or if it was pretty, yet impractical, but both? No thank you.

      Delete
    2. Jack, I'm plumping for 'none of the above'. I don't think a plan has been contrived (I'd be annoyed to see a repeat of such a thing, after the Lennox business) and I don't think there's necessarily a hole in Azzarello's script. I simply think he writes scripts that make sense to him, but not necessarily me (and in this case, you), such as Superman: For Tomorrow.

      I still love his Flashpoint Batman!

      Delete
  8. Jan, I'll take the fan service, if you wish to interpret the eagle that way ... but has a link to Rome ever been part of Diana's reason for an eagle bodice? I've seen other reasons, such as Gail Simone's explanation, but Rome? It seems super-picky (and yes, I'm hardly one to talk) to rip into the armour on that basis after decades of the eagle association.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, but THIS Diana is has absolutely nothing to do with ANY Previous Diana. Her costume shows no resemblance to any other version, she rarely uses her lasso opting for a sword instead. This WW has NEVER had ANY association with Eagles at all. This WW has had NONE of the previous associations that we know of.. Even the goddesses, she USED to be associated with (Wise as Athena, Beautiful as Aphrodite!) have been removed and haven't even appeared yet. She's not even an Amazon anymore except in name maybe and why she would claim to be an Amazon when she is clearly hated by the majority of them and knows so very little about the culture is beyond me. She's not made of clay, she's just a female version of Herakles.
      I've been told by countless people how Azzarello has done so much research into Greek mythology to get this RIGHT (and that's why the Amazons are 100% accurate despite the fact that a 5 second wikipedia search shows a completely different story). So why is it too much to ask that the person who has supposedly done all this research into Ancient Greece would know that the Eagle is the symbol of the Romans when I know it without any real research? Of course, maybe if Azzarello spent more time researching Wonder Woman and less time researching Greek Mythology, we might actually HAVE a Wonder Woman title and not a Greek Mythology title with a demi-goddess Warrior woman.

      Delete
  9. Superman: For Tomorrow had so much potential that is sad the way it ended.
    It felt that he would need more time to explain some stuff.
    But it's the exception. I read Joker, Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, Dr. 13 and his run on Hellblazer, and they all were great stories.
    I sincerely hope that Wonder Woman will not be another exception. Azzarello said in an interview that now answers will start to rise and Wonder Woman will deal with all the things she had discovered. He emphasizes that the story is big and each issue is just a chapter. "People need to be patient."
    And he says that he already have an ending. And says again that Wonder Woman is the same, the world around her that is changing.
    Take a look if you want: http://www.newsarama.com/comics/brian-azzarello-wonder-woman.html

    But again, I still believe that taking the pistols of love with her with no purpose besides shooting at souls makes no sense at all, especially when Hephaestus arsenal is at her disposal

    Maybe they realized that Hades would want the pistols to gain a queen (Hera, perhaps), but they were not counting that it would be Wonder Woman

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah yes, I liked Dr 13 too. Thought his Hellblazer was awful though, as I recall, it was John Constantine wandering around the US and barely in a magical milieu. It seemed pointless to call it Hellblazer.

      I've seen that interview, interesting stuff. I like that Azzarello can take negative criticism, hopefully I've not been personally 'orrible here.

      Delete
  10. Nice review, as always! Finally read the comic, and wow, it’s already issue 8, and still can’t get enough. I have to agree, Diana does feel like the star in this issue, and I like her outfit as well.

    I also don’t think there’s any plan (other than to get Zola out), or that there’s necessarily any hole in the story. It’s the realm of the dead, where the usual rules don’t apply (and where Hermes can possibly leave anytime, but which free pass may not apply to others if the resident god refuses). Since Diana prefers archaic weaponry to the more obvious better arsenal, the smith, probably knowing she needs all the help she can get, gives her the gun, a god’s weapon---easy to carry enough, she can’t refuse….Even Dumbledore thinks love is the greatest weapon. 

    I also think Diana suspected something, but she had no choice but to give the gun to the god, otherwise, Hades won’t release the girl. In all likelihood, she expected to be shot. She braced herself to deflect the bullets, and the result…I was just as surprised as her. Cool!

    There’s more to meet the eye about the messenger---his reaction to Hades is quite telling, and I’m willing to bet Zeus is involved. He’s very likable though, so I still trust he’s no villain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I was thinking now that you could be right
      Is just that it would make much more sense the other way (Hermes' teleport is most certainly to be right, though)

      Delete
    2. Cheers for the kind words, Arnold, and your thoughts on what's going on. Hopefully we'll get a full explanation of what's going on before too long. But you could well be right!

      Delete
  11. This one was less controversial, sure, and fun, but it had the feel of one of those Geoff Johns Green Lantern issues you can read in five minutes...Too much of that and I can't justify laying down three dollars and change for it...

    And, why is Hades a kid?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why is Poseidon a sea monster? The creative team are conjuring up fresh takes and presumably want to mix things up a tad. I dunno, if only they were reading this ...

      Delete
    2. I swear Poseidon looks like something out of the Oasis "All Around the World" music video...

      Delete
  12. By the way, have you noticed that on the cover the gunfire from Eros's guns look heart-shaped. I thought that was a nice touch.

    Also, I don't really see too much of a problem with the sword thing. For one thing she's not actually killing anybody with it. Also, given that the angle for this series is Greek Tragedy (an angle I rather like) I think some swordplay fits in pretty well (at least it always seems to whenever someone sets an action scene against Greek/Roman Mythology.) Now if Diana was decked out like Cable from X-Men THEN I would worry. But a sword seems just right for the context Diana is in now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah Jon, the heart effect is - whisper it - fun!

      My big problem with the sword is it's so generic - Diana has cool, trademark weapons that should take precedence, such as the lasso, boomerang tiara (silly yet effective) and bracelets. She doesn't need a sword - and I don't buy that if you carry a sword you're not willing to slash or stab an opponent.

      Delete