Dear Wonder Woman #2,
You win, Diana! You have captured this young man’s heart once again. I was skeptical, at first. I thought your first issue was one of the best of the “New 52” #1 lineup. But I still feared getting too close. I just needed to make sure that this was something real. We have had our ups (the recent Gail Simone run, that time in Superman/Batman where you kidnapped Supergirl and trained her as an Amazon on Themyscira) and our downs (when you started wearing pants and a leather jacket and let J. Michael Straczynski put his sullied hands all over you), but I cannot help but give you another chance. You are a quite the character! There have been many a time when a creator is unable to see you for what you really are, but I think your recent time spent with Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang has brought you back from that awful place where you last were. And this very well may be a new high for you.
When we last spoke (Wonder Woman #1), you saved a young woman — Zola — who was out in the middle of nowhere from some less-than-friendly centaurs. And, golly, did you ever take care of them. You head-butted one, then threw a freaking sword at the other, cutting her arm off before she grabbed the fleeing Zola. My lady, we haven’t seen such glorious action from you in quite some time. Here, you took Zola and an injured Hermes back to your home of Paradise Island before a war of deceit breaks out amongst your people. But, of course, you stand strong.
Brian Azzarello had made some strange comments about you before this series had made its premiere. They had fans of yours both fearful and left in anticipation. A Wonder Woman series being a horror book? Blasphemous! But it is and it works so remarkably well! The book has quite a few dark moments within. Most notably, near the end where the villainess of the tale causes the Amazons to begin attacking and killing one another out of fear. It is not the usual superhero fare and that may be what makes this new series stand out from your previous incarnations.
Azzarello also shines as a writer here by letting your story tell itself. That may seem like an odd thing to say, but many of DC’s New 52 titles were completely bogged down by first-person narration. But not your title. We never hear you explain to us how you’re feeling, we never hear you explain what is happening, you never explain to us who you are and what you can do. You just come out and do your thing. Yet, we still find out your origin story from a conversation between Hermes and Zola and we get a sense of where you are in your life and what kind of hero you are in conversations you have with other Amazons. The reader learns so much without feeling like they are being fed the information. Frankly, many a title in the DcnU could learn a thing or two from this series.
But what Azzarello truly brings to the table are his characters. Right in the beginning, we learn who your villains were in the first issue and who they will be in this arc. Hera and her daughter Strife — goddess of strife (obviously) and discord — open the issue with Strife’s playful ribbing of her mother’s jealousy and recent actions. Hera did, after all, cut the heads off from horses and create centaurs in issue #1. And when Strife comes down to Themyscira and causes the Amazons to go to war with themselves, it a scene that is perfectly fit to her character. Let us not forget that this is the goddess — known by most as Eris — who started the Trojan War with an apple. Suffice it to say, this is not her first rodeo when it comes to the cause of mayhem. And his depiction of you, my love, is one that I can wholly commend. One of my favorite pieces of dialogue in this book is between you and Hippolyta, where she asks why you take the side of Zeus over that of Hera, the woman scorned. And you answer that you are not taking the side of either, but of Zola, the girl in the middle of nowhere that this situation has fallen on despite not being at fault. That, in a few lines of dialogue explained you character far better than first-person narration ever could.
Azzarello is attempting to make the Greek gods a relevant threat to the DC Universe. As they did in the mythology we all read in class, the gods are coming down to Earth and wreaking havoc on the lives of regular people. The issue that your stories had previously (and don’t take this the wrong way) is that the gods only seemed to exist to you. If Hera is leaving Mount Olympus to unleash one of her fits of jealousy onto humanity, it becomes a relevant threat. If Loki was the start of the Avengers in the Marvel Universe, you could easily make the Greek gods a dire threat to humanity in DC Universe. And if Azzarello keeps this up, we could very well have that.
I can also easily say that you have not looked as gorgeous in recent years than you have with Cliff Chiang’s art behind you. The man implements a notable art style that appears classic, while also being surprisingly modern. You can tell so much about Hera and Strife from their brief interaction at the beginning of the issue. Strife’s looks of mischief and whimsy truly express the kind of villainess she will be for you in these coming issues. As for your mother, I do not think I have ever seen Hippolyta look as badass as she did in her first appearance in these pages. And you? Chiang makes you both look as both a warrior and a woman of compassion. The two-page spread where you and Aleka fight for sport is probably my favorite spread that I can recall out of the new DC titles. He has this way if making all of the panels fluid and dynamic without either breaking it up too much or not at all and just having one big spread where you merely topple her.
Long story short, this is a beautiful book! And from what we have been hearing regarding time constraints over at DC on getting these books out, Cliff Chiang has definitely made it seem as if the gods gave him all the time in the world.
I honestly have found no faults in your new title. With many of the #2’s coming out and some being less spectacular than their first issues, this sophomore effort supersedes its inaugural outing. This is what DC had promised out of the New 52. The characters we love becoming fresh and relevant again. You may very well be the one I didn’t know I was waiting for, Princess, and I cannot wait any longer for this to continue.
Love, with all my heart,
Nick Boisson grew up on television, Woody Allen, video games, Hardy Boys mysteries and DC comic books, with the occasional Spider-Man issue thrown in for good measure. He currently roams the rainy streets of Miami, Florida, looking for a nice tie, a woman that gets him, and the windbreaker he lost when he was eight. He sometimes w
rites things down on Twitter as @nitroslick.