Today, Scott and Taylor are discussing Wonder Woman 16, originally released February 20th, 2013.
Scott: Early on in Wonder Woman 17, Lennox calls Diana out for the ever-expanding “motley crew” she surrounds herself with. It’s a moment of self-awareness on the part of Brian Azzarello, who gets a lot of attention for his habit of constantly incorporating new characters into the Wonder Woman universe. It’s something that can be off-putting for readers who are not immersed in the universe, and it’s a daring move in a medium that published monthly. I’m sure some casual readers flipped through this issue and found it thoroughly confusing and, save for the giant shark attack, kind of boring. But for readers who have kept up with the series, this issue did not have a dull moment.
Wonder Woman, Lennox and Orion have lost track of Zola and Hera. Fortunately, Orion spots a strand of Hera hair, which he is able to use to locate her immediately. They arrive at the bar where Zola and Hera are hanging with Strife, Dionysus and, dun dun dun, Ares. Zola thinks Ares wants to kill Wonder Woman, but he actually just wants to talk, and he’s surprisingly willing to help Wonder Woman rescue Zola’s baby from Hermes and Demeter. Ares leads Diana to Demeter’s lair, where they are attacked by Hermes, who claims he’s doing “what needs to be done.” Meanwhile, a skin-wearing First Born is trying to find his weapons when his helicopter falls under attack by his uncle Poseidon, by way of an enormous shark.
As that run-down illustrates, there are a lot of names to keep track of in this issue, and among those names there are a lot of complicated relationships with extensive histories. Just look at Strife, almost everything she says has a second meaning or requires some prior knowledge to fully understand. But the relationship between Diana and Ares is given center stage here. Given how frequently Ares appears in Wonder Woman comics, it can be easy to forget that he and Diana have not seen each other in 10 years. The significance of their brief but intense history, and the falling out that ensued, is summed up by their first moment of eye-contact (well, maybe “eye” isn’t the right word).
After the initial surprise goes away, it’s clear that Diana and Ares have a soft spot for one another. Or maybe Diana irrationally trusts in Ares; one minute he’s holding a knife to her close friend’s neck, and the next she’s telling him all about that same friend’s kidnapped baby and asking him for help. And while Ares truly does seem to care for Diana, the fundamental difference between them is their willingness to follow their hearts. Ares sees, and has always seen, Diana’s caring nature to be her greatest weakness, and his greatest failing as her teacher. He claims it allows weaker powers, namely Apollo, to keep her at bay. And he makes a good point: will Diana really be willing to do whatever it takes to protect Zola’s baby from the gods who prize the baby’s life?
Ares is somewhat of a free agent. He hates, and is hated, by most of his own family. He tells Diana that gods are obvious in their motives, not the mysterious figures they make themselves out to be. But I can’t tell what he’s up to. I want to believe he’s honest, but why is he so willing to help Diana after so many years of silence? It could just be that she’s the only god or demi-god he respects, the only one he thinks is worthy of her powers and wouldn’t mind seeing ascend the ranks and quiet the power playing of his siblings. But considering how he disowned her because of ideological differences, and the unlikelihood that she will change her ways now, it’s hard to believe he’s suddenly willing to put that all aside.
I haven’t said much about the half of the issue that revolved around the First Born, who has recently been faced with rather herculean tasks set out for him by his uncles. Ice giants last month, and now giant sharks?! I was more scared of this guy when he was purple, but he’s still a total badass. And I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t show you exactly how giant this shark is (though I’m realizing it’s actually more of long, snake-like sea monster with a shark head and fins).
So, Taylor, I’m not sure if I should leave you with a question, or just let you hit on any number of topics I neglected in my write-up. There’s still the issue of Zola’s baby vs. the First Born, as in, which one is the real threat to destroy the universe. Also, still no sign of Zeus, although Shelby mentioned last month the possibility that he’s been reborn as Zola’s baby, which I find very intriguing. I’ll add to that the idea that perhaps Zeus has manifested himself as the First Born, because why not? I guess I’ll just ask you if you can think of any reason why anyone shouldn’t be reading this title.
Taylor: Scott, I would be hard pressed to find any reason why people shouldn’t be reading this title. The only thing which I think might throw people off is how steeped in mythology everything is. However, since comics are essentially nothing but modern day myths, I can’t see how that would deter any respectable reader of comic books. But really there are just so many awesome things going on in this title which make it such a pleasure to to read.
It’s interesting to consider exactly who or what Zola’s baby is. The possibility that he/she is Zeus is certainly enticing and the fact that it has glowing eyes would lend some credence to the theory. In many depictions of Zeus the god has glowing eyes to help note his affiliation with the sky and lightening, so I can totally get behind the idea of the child being the King of the Gods based solely on its appearance. But there are other reasons why this sweet babe may be Zeus as well, especially when we look at Zeus’ linage in classical mythology. To gain control of Olympus, Zeus had to first defeat his father, Cronus, and cast him down into Tartarus to suffer for eternity. Before that, Cronus was the ruler of Gods after he castrated his father, Uranus, which led to his eventual downfall as ruler of the Earth. Do you notice a pattern emerging here? The transfer of power on Olympus is never peaceful and it always involves the overthrow of its ruler by one of his children. Perhaps Zeus has also recognized this pattern and — wishing to avoid his inevitable death — has had himself reborn to end the cycle of patricide/regicide. By being becoming the child which overthrows him, Zeus has potentially ensured his reign for all time. Unless…
Some badass motherfucking (which I could see coming to fruition in this title) First Born ruins all of Zeus’ carefully laid plans. Like you Scott, I liked the First Born better when he was purple, but as long as he continues to dominate all forms of opposition thrown in his path he’s A-OK with me. What most interests me about the First Born is what exactly he is. He claims to be a god, and certainly has the power to match, but why isn’t he hanging out with all of his brothers and sisters is he really is a child of Zeus? Is he really a god or is he something else? Sometimes it seems like he’s not even so sure himself.
Could it be that the First Born is the destined child to overthrow Zeus and assume control of Olympus? It would certainly match the pattern as described above and it may account for his reservations in denoting himself as a god. Perhaps he was thrown out of Olympus and thereby essentially excommunicated from the god-club. If that’s the case maybe he hesitates to call himself a god because they are his sworn enemies. Also, if this is all true, does that mean Robo-Neck Lady and her cohorts are also trying to overthrow the gods? If so, why are they trying to do that? Mysteries!
And speaking of mysteries, Orion, despite all of his intrigue, is making this title a blast to read. He’s like that frat-guy friend-of-a-friend who occasionally comes over to hangout who is fun but definitely out of place with your normal rotation of friends. He seems like an old fashioned superhero who thinks its okay to treat people however he wants because he views himself as some sort of heroic cowboy. This attitude is squarely at odds with Diana’s more reserved and subtle approach to superheroing which is best summed up in this sequence:
Pair this with his “just go with it” attitude and you have a title which suddenly has a comic foil that is perfectly offset by Diana’s well intentioned earnestness. The fact that he shrugs off the amazingness of his powers is funny and it is a breath of fresh air in a title that seldom has time to poke fun at itself.
Again, it’s simply stunning to just consider how many good things Wonder Woman has going for it. While a complicated plot and a laundry list of characters may deter some from picking up this title, the truth is any drawbacks of these facets of Wonder Woman are easily offset by everything else that makes it awesome. I simply cannot wait for the next issue of this title as I’m sure it will continue to please its readers in a myriad of ways.
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?