Wonder Woman has been a character that I have always enjoyed in the Justice League and in the cartoons. Yet, I have never been able to get into her solo comic books. I have tried on various occasions, including JMS recent run, but none of them have convinced me of Wonder Woman being able to hold her own solo comic book. With the new 52 relaunch, I have decided to give Wonder Woman one last try to win me over. Hopefully, Brian Azzarello will convince me of picking up a Wonder Woman ongoing basis. Will he be able to? And more importantly will Wonder Woman keep her one piece costume? Let’s find out with Wonder Woman #1.
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Cliff Chang
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In Singapore, a purple man has three ladies up in his hotel looking over the city. He seduces the girls and lifts the three above the balcony.
The scene shifts to a barnyard in Virginia were a woman dressed in peacock feathers cuts up a horse (God of War-style). Out of the dead horse’s neck grows some mysterious creature.
Inside the house, a mysterious man (Hermes) appears in a half-naked blond woman’s house. The mysterious man tells the woman that they must leave their current location together. As the woman, named Zola, takes out a shotgun to shot the unknown man a bunch of centaurs enter and begin attacking the two.
Zola is able to escape thanks to a key that the mysterious man gives her and is transported into someone’s apartment. That someone is none other than Diana, aka Wonder Woman.
Zola pleads for Wonder Woman to help her as she explains what happened. Hearing Zola’s story Wonder Woman agrees and suits up. Before she can explain what they will do, Zola uses the key to transport both of them back to the barn.
As soon as they arrive, they are attacked by the two centaurs. Though she is outnumbered, Wonder Woman is able to defeat the two centaurs with relative ease.
The mysterious man exits the house and Wonder Woman identifies him as Hermes. Wonder Woman tries to help Hermes stay conscious but Hermes tells her to protect Zola and her child.
Zola says that she does not have a kid. Hermes states that she does and that it is Zeus’s child.
Back in Singapore the three woman are being possessed and tell the guy calling himself the Sun God that one of Zeus children that has yet to be born will kill him. The guy thanks the girls by burning them alive. End of issue.
The Good: Unlike most of the comic books that I have read so far from the new DC 52 #1 issues, Wonder Woman #1 is less about the character on the cover and more about the mystery. This focus away from the title character is both a good and bad thing for Wonder Woman #1. On one hand, there is an interesting mystery but, on the other hand, it feels like that mystery was barely built up and had very little character development for the characters in the issue.
Having read some of Brian Azzarello’s previous work, I came into this book expecting more of a dark twist on the Greek Gods and that is what we got. Azzarello takes more of a classic approach with the Greek Gods that appeared and were mentioned in this book instead of the more fantasy/light version of the characters.
Though not appearing, Zeus is presented as a God who sleeps with every woman just because he can which stays true to the character presented in Greek stories. And I liked that Azzarello had Zeus be more of a spiritual presence in this book instead of physically appearing. It gives the character in the DC Universe more of a strong stature and gives him an end boss-type feel.
I also liked that Azzarello had Zola have more of a real reaction to what was going on instead of just accepting Hermes’ help and accepting what was going on around her as normal. Her character was employed as the eyes and ears for the reader in this first issue and Azzarello mostly succeded with this aspect of her character. The character’s reactions were all relatable as more of a real person.
As for Wonder Woman herself, I enjoyed the character’s take no crap attitude. Azzarello’s version of Wonder Woman is all about action and is treated as a badass warrior, which is how she should be. Since she is an Amazon, Wonder Woman should be a warrior who is not only afraid to shed blood, but actually relishes in it. Like the classic Amazons, Wonder Woman should not have the same type of morals that Batman or Superman do. Wonder Woman should be willing to go as far as needed as warranted by the situation. Hopefully, this is more of what we get as it felt she was not around very much in the book, which I will get to in a bit.
On the art side of things, Cliff Chang provides a very good looking comic book. I am not sure that Chang’s art style fits a book like Wonder Woman. His action sequences definitely looked good as he gave the book some God of War-style action sequence which looked cool.
The Bad: Though Wonder Woman #1 introduced some good character moments the fact remains that this issue was a very thin read. The mystery of Zeus’ kids fighting one another was barely touched upon in this issue. On top of that, the title character barely appears in her own title.
As a character that is seen as one part of the DC Comics’ Holy Trinity, Wonder Woman has always struggled to get over with fans. Her books have never been strong sellers and this issue does not do much to convince her as being one of DC’s top characters. If anything, while reading this issue it feels as though the only way to make Wonder Woman interesting is to make her more of a supporting character in her own book.
Sure, I get that Azzarello wanted to use Zola, the only human character, as our eyes and ears to the story. But, Zola is not the reason a person is picking up the book. What I am looking for when I pick up a Wonder Woman book is to see Wonder Woman take center stage. She is the character that I want to connect with as I get lost in her world during the 10 minutes that I am reading the comic. But that is not what we get with Wonder Woman #1.
At the same time, Azzarello does not do much in building up the whole battle between the sons of Zeus. Azzarello barely touches on the story as he only presents the idea and nothing else. The Sun God, who I am guessing is Helios, is not given any development at all outside of him being as much of a player as his dad. The same can be said for Hermes who gets shot and is close to death but we are not given a reason to care for his death outside of Azzarello assuming the reader knows who he is, even though this is the DCU version of the character.
This lack of character development really kills the point of a first issue. As DC is looking to get new readers into their books, Azzarello should have presented a full story rather than something that could have easily been done in just 10 pages of a comic. He needed to treat this as a one-shot with a small sub-plot for future issues, but he does not. The story reads very much like another typical decompressed comic.
And a continuing thread for DC Comics as of late is that they continue to mislabel their comics. Wonder Woman #1 is rated ‘T’ for Teen when this should actually be rated as ‘T+’ for its content. Just because Wonder Woman is one of your franchise character should not stop a publisher from properly rating their comics. I am all for blood but the level presented in this issue, specifically the horse decimation scene, was way too over the top and DC is extremely lucky that they have not had parents complaining about this or doing something even worse.
As much as I like Chang’s artwork, he is on the wrong book. His art style would be much more at home with a Supergirl or Teen Titans book but not an action fantasy like Wonder Woman. There were definitely points in this issue that felt like Chang was uncomfortable with what he was drawing.
Overall: Wonder Woman #1 is an example of presenting just barely enough to carry the reader over to the next issue. The title character of Wonder Woman only appeared for half the issue. The story felt very thin since the story’s mystery was not well developed. This is not to say Brian Azzarello did not show a good handle of Wonder Woman. I actually enjoyed the strong Amazon warrior that Wonder Woman was presented as being. I also enjoyed how Azzarello gave the Greek Gods more of a classic tone, specifically Zeus.
The fact is that there just is not enough to be found in Wonder Woman #1 for this issue to be recommended to anyone unless you are a Wonder Woman fan, and even then it is iffy. I will give Wonder Woman three issues to convince me to read this book on an ongoing basis. As of now I do have a “drop it” outlook on this book.