Published on March 31st, 2015 | by Brad0
Wonder Woman Recap – Part One
2011 wasn’t a great time for Wonder Woman. Coming off the back of the twin disasters of Amazons Attack and J. Michael Straczynski’s run on the character, Diana was at a low ebb. The summer of 2011 saw DC’s New 52 reboot launched, however, and a chance to renew the ailing Princess of the Amazons. This task fell to legendary writer Brian Azzarello, creator of the seminal 100 Bullets, and star artist Cliff Chiang. What followed was magic. Over 37 issues (0-35, 23.2) Azzarello and Chiang (with art assists from Goran Sudzuka and Tony Akins) redefined Diana’s position in the DC universe and in her own title. Her origin was changed up, and her association with the Greek Pantheon was made more prominent. In The First Born, Azzarello and Chiang crafted one of the most compelling new villains in superhero comics of the last few years. Bones, the sixth and final volume of Azzarello and Chiang’s Wonder Woman hits comic stores in hardback tomorrow, and in tribute, I’m going to take you through a selection of my favourite moments from this superb run. Today I’ll go through the first three volumes, Blood, Guts and Iron, and then I’ll be back on Thursday to take you through War, Flesh and the newly released Bones. So, without further ado (spoilers obviously follow);
Volume 1: Blood
In which the defence of an innocent woman leads to the truth about Wonder Woman’s birth.
#1 – Wonder Woman defends Zola from the Centaurs
In the opening issue, Diana is introduced to Zola, a young woman pregnant with Zeus’ latest bastard (how many times have Greek tragedies started because Zeus couldn’t keep it in his pants?) This panel comes as centaurs sent by a mysterious hooded figure are sent to kill Zola, and it’s pretty much the perfect superhero comic panel – dynamic, exciting, colourful and thoroughly exciting. A brilliant first impression.
#2 – Wonder Woman spars with Aleka
After the confrontation in #1, Wonder Woman takes Zola and a wounded Hermes to Themyscira, island home of the Amazons. Whilst there she’s challenged to a sparring match by childhood rival Aleka, rendered brilliantly in this double-page spread. Dialogue-free, it’s a well-staged action sequence which really showcases what Chiang brought to the comic.
#4 – War’s first appearance
One of the great strengths of this run on Wonder Woman is its take on the Greek pantheon, and of all its gods and demigods, War is my favourite. A listless, cranky old drunk who happens to look a lot like Brian Azzarello, he shambles through the games is brothers, sisters and uncles are playing with a mixture of amusement and contempt. His first appearance sums him up, sat at a bar littered with casualties in the middle of a war zone, having a drink. He’s laconic, hilarious and absolutely iconic.
#5 – Poseidon’s first appearance
Look at him. Need I say more?
Volume 2: Guts
In which a rescue mission turns into a wedding.
#7 – Hephaestus and the Amazon boys
In issue seven, Wonder Woman requires Hephaestus to grant her passage to the Underworld, to confront Hades and rescue Zola. As events progress, she discovers that the Smith god has many young men in his service. It’s revealed that these are the male children of the Amazons, traded to Smith for weapons and kept to man his forge. Thinking he keeps them as slaves, Diana moves to free them, but it’s revealed that he saved them from being thrown in the sea, and they love working in his forge. It’s a great lesson in humility for Diana.
#9 – Hades’ throne
A couple of great things about this. Number one – how awesome is that design for Hades? Number two – he made a throne out of his father, Cronos the titan. The hole in his torso is where is stomach has been removed, hence why he’s so hungry. It’s just a delightfully gruesome image.
#12 – Diana unleashed
Fighting to save Zola and her unborn child, Diana comes into conflict with Artemis. In order to defeat the Moon goddess, she removes the gauntlets which restrict her power and allows herself to go all out. It’s a knock-down, drag-out fight which shows just how powerful our hero could be, and her strength of restraint.
Volume 3: Iron
In which a quest to save a baby leads to meetings with New Gods and something altogether more ancient – and deadly!
#0 – The entire issue
This was actually my first issue of the comic. As I said earlier, Wonder Woman wasn’t in a great place when the series started, and there’s only so much money in the world. A year later, when DC ran their Zero Month to celebrate the first anniversary of The New 52 by putting out issue 0s across the line, I picked this one up after good word of mouth. I fell instantly in love, and picked up the first two hardbacks as a matter of course. This tells a story from Diana’s youth, where she trains with Ares, leading to a confrontation with the Minotaur.
#13 – The First Born eats Dr Duerson’s brain
To learn our language. Obviously…
#15 – Enter Orion
An unexpected delight of the third movement of this story is the arrival of Orion of the New Gods. Given a bit of a modern update in his look, Orion is a cosmic badass of epic proportions, and his entrance here is absolutely superb.
#18 – Family portrait
A brief respite from chasing after someone who’s been captured or kidnapped, this final panel sees the dysfunctional “family” of Wonder Woman, Zola, Lennox (another of Zeus’ bastards), Hera, Strife, War and Orion take a moment with the new arrival, baby Zeke. After a year and a half of relentless setbacks, it’s great to see our heroes given time to celebrate a win, particularly with the horrors that were to come.
So that’s the first three volumes. I hope this inspires you to pick it up if you haven’t already, it’s a great comic. I’ll see you on Thursday with part two. Until then, are there any great moments from the first three volumes you particularly like which I missed? Let me know in the comments!