Today, Patrick and Peter are discussing Wonder Woman 12, originally released August 15th, 2012.
Patrick: One of the biggest strengths of Brain Azzarello’s Wonder Woman is the richness of its details. The gods are reinvented for comics and the resultant designs are full of specifics that delight by their own virtue. It’s not uncommon in this series to meet a new character or a new creature just because it’s going to be really really really cool. I took Demeter’s introduction last month to be one of those knock-me-down detail-fests that I love so much, but that was shortsighted of me. In any other narrative, introducing a character at this stage in the game would automatically foreshadow that character’s involvement in the conclusion of the story. It turns out that was the case here, but I was too suckered by the writing to see the authorial gears grinding away behind it. That’s awesome.
The majority of this issue plays out atop Mt. Olympus, where Wonder Woman and Hermes have taken their battle against Apollo and Artemis to the throne of the gods itself. The fight seems to be going okay for our heroes, but then Hera does something insane like throwing Zola off the mountain side. Diana abandons Artemis and blindly charges after her friend. Awesomely (and in a power-defining moment), Hermes whizzes a feather into Diana’s leg, granting her the ability to fly. Wonder Woman saves her friend and is generally amazing. Seriously, I’ve never been so happy to see a superhero fly before.
But this distraction gives Apollo just enough time to reshape Olympus to his desires (which means making it look like city skyscrapers – ANOTHER JAW-DROPPING DETAIL) and banish Hera from the realm of the gods. Now that shit’s totally gotten real, Hermes spirits the in-labor Zola away to safety while Wonder Woman goes in for one last full-frontal assault. Wonder Woman overpowers her opponents and gets Apollo to promise to stay away from Zola and her baby. Happy ending, right?
Wrong. We’ve got some codas to attend to. First, Hera is stranded on Earth. Also, she’s totally mortal now. Second, Hermes steals Zola’s baby (!) and delivers it to be raised by Demeter. Demeter and Hermes talk about the difficult life the child will face: “Betrayal, death… perhaps the fall of Olympus. Or depending on how you look at it, a beginning. New Gods.” Under this narration, a hand rises out of the snow, grabs a helmet and disappears is a violent BOOM.
Let’s unpack that page first:
That helmet belongs to Orion, one of the New Gods. And that flash of light and a Boom? That’s a boom-tube, last seen employed (in the New 52) by Darkseid. We’re not given any context for these images, so it’s unclear if this is happening now or at some time in the past or future. My inclination is to think that the baby grows up to be Orion… but I also don’t have enough information about the New Gods to know if that’s even possible. This is another example of my inexperience with the DC Universe leaves me at a disadvantage. I know something huge is happening here, but I don’t totally understand it. Here’s what I do understand: Wonder Woman may have been dancing around the edges of the DC Universe, but now that mythology comes crashing into this world. Good lord in heaven – this means they know how to fold Wonder Woman back into the DCU proper.
And actually, that’s not the only hint of non-Greek-god forces at play in this issue. Apollo opens the issue by teasing something that sounds a little more comic booky than mythology-y: “My oracles have told me of a storm brewing off the shores of reality… one that threatens to destroy this family.” This could be anything, I realize. But with the DC Universe’s reality in a bit of an uncomfortable flux from the recent merging of realities, I get the sense that the oracles could be talking about Pandora, or the Phantom Stranger, or Earth-2, or the Black Room, or Rot World, or the Trinity War, or the Third Army. OR WHATEVER. The point is that it sounds like the Wonder Woman narrative is ready to engage the rest of the party.
The character of Wonder Woman is also getting some last-minute tune-ups. First she snagged the ability to fly – no way to tell if that one’s going to stick around or not. But there’s also this interesting moment where Diana discards her gauntlets. Artemis asks why should would abandon her own defenses, but Wonder Woman responds:
She calls them cuffs. And freed from their bondage, she turns into a glowy blue-eyed ass-kicking machine. She only snaps out of her rage after she’s bested her opponent and snapped the cuffs back on. I could speculate on what that’s about, but that does sound like a job for the comment section.
Everything works so well in this issue, but I think like the Demeter tease last month, I’m so blissfully unaware of how Azzarello is achieving such excellence. As the first full year of the New 52 is wrapping up, I’ve complained an awful lot about boss-fight-syndrome, where a comic book spends WAY too much time on a single battle. We praised the boss fight in Batman 11, but Drew and I were very capable of discussing what made it an exceptionally exciting and moving boss fight. But this issue? No idea. It’s just a fabulous showcase of the incredible warrior, woman and friend Wonder Woman has become.
Peter: Here’s how I feel about Hermes; disbelief. I read all of the Wonder Woman issues up to this point in one sitting today, so I am pretty enthralled right now. Azzarello wrote the Hermes character so well up to this point. He was this seemingly loving and care character who, I thought, actually had eyes for Zola at points. Also, during the previous issues, Azzarello takes time and whole panels devoted to pointing out to us, the readers, that Hermes is the Messenger. This issue is the first time that he is even mentioned as the God of Thieves. I had pretty much completely forgotten that from school until it was in front of my face.
It was a huge reveal. Also, if Apollo, Hera, etc. were working their plan here, and Hermes, and Demeter were running their con, who is to say that someone else isn’t also running a con on the side? Hermes opened up a huge can of worms for and number of betrayals and ninjas in this storyline.
Lets talk about New Gods. First of all, Patrick, I don’t think that Zola’s baby is Orion. Unless DC wants to change some pretty sensitive material, that can’t happen. Orion is actually Darkseid’s son. Darkseid and his planet Apokolips are in a constant war with Izaya the Highfather and the New Gods of New Genesis. As a show of peace, Darkseid and Highfather traded baby sons. I know, fucking weird. Orion was the baby that went to Highfather, to be raised as a New God, while Highfather’s son, Scott Free, aka Mr. Miracle went to live with Darkseid/Granny Goodness. The New Gods are steeped in mythology, and I can’t see Azzarello messing with that.
I also can’t really come up with much of a connection between the Olympians and the New Gods. The only thing I can think of, is that waaay back in the day, Darkseid was plotting to overthrow the Olympians and steal their power. Maybe he’s manipulated Apollo, or Hermes or somebody in order to make it easy? But I just can’t get behind that theory, and here’s why. Wonder Woman has done an incredible job of being a truly independent book. There are none, if any mentions of the greater DC Universe (up until Orion), and it still works. At this point I really can’t imagine what is going to happen if and when Azzarello stops writing this book; it exists so well on it’s own that I don’t think that it needs the rest of the DC Universe to exist. I had a fantastic time reading all of these books today, and I can’t wait to see what happens with Zola’s baby, and the fate of Olympus.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?