Wonder Woman 20

wonder woman 20

Today, Drew and Scott are discussing Wonder Woman 20, originally released May 15th, 2013.

I said, war, huh
Good God, y’all
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Say it again

— Edwin Starr

Drew: War is ugly. There’s death, there’s destruction, there’s misery, but I think the ugliest thing about war is that we’ll never be free of it — it’s in our nature. Things quickly escalate from the desire to protect the people and things we care about, to a “the best defense is a good offense” mentality, to tit-for-tat reciprocity. It’s all too easy to see how vast groups of people — motivated only to do what is right for their loved ones — could be compelled to all-out war. In his Wonder Woman run, Brian Azzarello has traced this trajectory with grim fascination, simmering the tension along as the situation slowly escalates. This month finds that tension boiling over with three factions engaged in war — with the added complication that War itself is also a character. 

Apollo is anxiously awaiting the return of Artemis, who was sent to kill Zola’s baby (who is now definitely named “Zeke”). Poseidon is offended that Apollo has forsaken some of the traditions of the House of Olympus, but finds the irony in Apollo’s “enlightened” reign beginning with the murder of a baby. Speaking of murdering that baby, it turns out that’s easier said than done — especially when that baby has one god, two demigods, and one former god looking out for him. Diana ably routes Artemis while Lennox, Zola, and Hera sneak of with Zeke. Of course, Artemis may not be the only deity gunning for Zeke, so Diana flies off to act as bodyguard yet again, while Ares takes Artemis back to Olympus. Once there, Poseidon reveals that the First Born is on Zeke’s trail. Sure enough, it’s the First Born that finds Zola et al. first, which means it’s Lennox’s time to step into the protector role.

For all of the attempted infanticide, I’m impressed by how compelling Azzarello has made each faction’s case. Diana’s group is the easiest to grasp — they just don’t want any babies to be killed — but the attacks from Artemis and the First Born come from similar desires to protect what they care about. I think there’s room to argue how much “what they care about” is just themselves or their right to power, but in light of the prophecy, they clearly see killing this baby as an act of self-defense.

But let’s talk about that prophecy. Back in issue 1, the oracles told Apollo that one of Zeus’ children “will murder another and take their place.” All of the Olympians have assumed that that “place” would be Zeus’ throne, but what if that’s not the case? Since the zero issue, we’ve conjectured that Ares may have designs on Diana taking over his responsibilities as god of war. This issue seems to suggest that that might be the part of the prophecy that has everyone so anxious.

Ares practices his Jedi Mind Trick

If Diana needs to kill a god, then the prophecy must be referring to her, but I highly doubt she’s going to be killing Apollo — especially since she has no interest in taking his place (either as god of the sun or as ruler of Olympus). In fact, the only role I can see her taking is Ares’, something that fits with what we’ve long suspected was his plan all along. Sure, this means that the god Diana needs to kill is Ares himself, but he’s certainly world-weary enough to talk about his own demise with that level of impatience.

I should take a time out here to praise the continued excellence of this title’s art team. Cliff Chiang is — as usual — excellent, providing art for the Olympus scenes and breakdowns for the rest. Goran Sudzuka manages finishes on the rest of the issue, and blends beautifully with Chiang’s style — perhaps even more than regular fill-in artist Tony Akins. If anything, Sudzuka out-Chiang’s Chiang, veering at times into Darwyn Cooke-level efficiency of line. My only gripe is that Sudzuka tends to shrink the noses of his female characters, giving them an infantilized look that doesn’t quite fit the tone of the book.

For all of my conjectures about this series’ long game, I have no clue what will happen next issue. Lennox didn’t faire so well against Apollo and Artemis in his last dust-up, so I don’t have much hope for him against the firstborn. I’m also curious about his apparent history with Cassandra — as well as the fact that, far from going unheard, this Cassandra is capable of the power of suggestion. All that is to say, I’m as excited for the next issue as ever. What do you think, Scotty — is Diana on the path to becoming war? If so, what will she be good for?

Scott: I have little doubt that she would make a Good God (y’all). You’re right, it looks like Ares has his sights set on Diana becoming his successor, but it won’t happen without some convincing. I don’t think Diana has much interest in becoming the God of War, especially if it requires her becoming a murderer in the process. I could see her doing it, though, if it means putting an end to all this inter-sibling fighting. If Diana can fulfill the prophecy by killing a willing Ares, and thus ensuring the safety of baby Zeke, I think she does it. For what it’s worth, Diana demonstrated against Artemis that she is more than capable as a warrior, and would be a logical choice to replace Ares.

If that is Ares’ plan, he sure is willing to let Zeke live in constant peril. He’s done his part to rescue and protect the child, but he could do more, considering he apparently knows something the others don’t.

The kid's worthless

If Ares knows that Zeke isn’t involved in the prophecy, maybe he ought to spill the beans about his plan so his siblings will stop trying to kill the poor kid. He loves making fools of his brothers and sisters, so what would be better than telling Apollo, “Hey, you know that the baby you’ve been trying so hard to kill? Well, he’s irrelevant to the prophecy you’re obsessed with, which, by the way, has nothing to do with you in the first place, you arrogant prick!”

The brief glimpse into Lennox’s history with Cassandra was one of my favorite moments of the issue. Azzarello does a great job juggling such a large and varied cast of characters, picking his moments to delve further into each character’s life. An issue ago, Lennox was prepared to walk away from Diana & Co., so I was glad to see him not only still around, but getting some great character moments. Azzarello is also great at incorporating characters into his ever-thickening plots, so I’m excited to see what he has in store for Cassandra. Drew, I don’t like Lennox’s chances against the First Born much either. Hopefully the big guy has a soft spot for his mommy.

Wonder Woman is such a vast universe that Azzarello is able to really tease out developments without it ever seeming like he’s meandering. It hard to believe any characters are hearing about the First Born for the first time in this issue, considering how long he’s been a part of the series, but it’s actually perfectly in-line with the pacing of the series. Anticipation is a huge part of Wonder Woman‘s intrigue, as you never know if something will play out over one issue or a dozen. Fortunately, the wait- unlike baby Zeke- is worth it.

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?

20 comments on “Wonder Woman 20

  1. I love love love this Series. Only Batman MAY have me more excited on a month-to-month basis. My biggest fear is Azzarello leaving the title.
    Which character do you think will make up Villian month for this Title?
    Ares #1
    God of War #1 (BUT with Wonder Woman as the God of War !?!?!?!?!)
    Strife #1 – Strife and War are my two favorite Olympians from this book.
    Where is Athena? She is the most notable absence from this Mythology, I think Apollo referenced her once after he took the throne.
    So many questions, so much love for this book!

  2. Oh boy, if the endgame here is Diana becoming the God of War, many a Wonder Woman fan will be PISSED. She fights, yes, but she fights for peace, love, and compassion. I’d love for the endgame to be Diana shoving the offer of Ares role in his face, making some grand, heroic speech, and putting an end to all of these hostilities with nothing but words.

    All of this time Azz has been forcing Diana to become something that hardcore WW fans says she’s not, I think it’d be great for Diana to subvert all of our expectations and simultaneously reassert who she really is as a character. Fingers crossed!

    • Maybe the God of War can play an active roll in keeping peace. Maybe that’s the big deal: Diana can direct war towards its actual usefully purposes. We’ve see Ares just sort of wandering around pointless battlefronts, Wonder Woman can make war meaningful (which maybe means, having less of it).

      • Interesting. I’m increasingly getting the impression that the god of war is this horrible burden, where you can’t go ANYWHERE without bringing pain and suffering. I think that would explain Ares’ world-weariness, as well as the shitstorm that has come to DIana and co. since his arrival. Mik is right — I don’t think I want to see Diana in that role — but the prophecy is even more complicated than I’m letting on. Something about a crown of thorns, a cape of blood, and someone standing over a naked woman. None of those really fit with a “Diana kills Ares” scenario, at least not without a few more wrinkles.

  3. So, I couldn’t find a way to fit this into the write-up, but I wonder how actively Ares is making this war happen. Yes, the escalation here is understandable, but it’s also avoidable enough that I can’t help but think that Ares is clouding folks’ judgment. That could also explain the hypocrisy of Apollo hoping to make peace and order with the death of a baby. Scott makes a good point about how Ares is allowing a lot of chaos surround what might be his actual endgame, but that’s kind of just what he does. Does the fact that the actions here can be described as “war” mean that he’s pulling everyone’s strings?

    • I’ve been interpretting this version of Ares, God of War, as a fatalilist. He COULD interfere, try to stop whats happening but no one would ever listen to him and in the War is inevitable and everlasting. For him war is the only final outcome, so instead of wasting time trying to stop it he’s just going to find a place to sit and drink.
      In fact he said as much in his first appearance, issue #4 – last page:

      “Our fate, it’s not up to us. It’s always been in mortal hands. Open your eyes, and see what they hold…the world will be ruled by war. It’s inevitable”

  4. Could be also the First Born is the one Diana has to kill. I can see him killing anyone to take their place, or possibly killing EVERYONE to take their places.

    Also, did you catch what Posiedon said about Zeus? He’s GONE.

    • Both that and Ares’ snide comment about Zeke not being worth it kind of dispel my long-held belief that Zola’s baby IS Zeus. OR MAYBE IT’S A PSYCHE-OUT. We’ll find out (and find out all things) in Wonder Woman 25.

      • What’s going to happen with Carrie Kelly in Batman and Robin? It’s in Wonder Woman 25. Will Animal Man pull it together and become a hero again? See Wonder Woman 25. What am I going to have for dinner tonight? WONDER WOMAN 25, WAIT AND SEE.

      • Ah, see, I saw Ares’ assertion that Zeke isn’t worth it as a sure sign that Zeke is Zeus. Why would you say that about a baby you don’t even know? I think it makes more sense that he would say that about his shitty dad.

        • I’ve always felt that Zola’s baby was Zeus. Zeke magically grows up, kills First Born and retakes the throne as Zeus. That would nicely tie up Azzarello’s run and allow the next writer to take Diana in whatever direction they wanted.

        • No worries. Brian has said they’ll continue the book for at least a year or two.

          And Azzarello always ends his stories on a high note, with a point. He’s amazing at that. So when he leaves, you’ll have a finished story 🙂 !

        • No – at a C2E2 panel, every time the panel was presented with a question they couldn’t or wouldn’t answer, Azz insisted that we wait for Wonder Woman 25. All of our most pressing questions would be answered in WW25. But it’s just a joke.

  5. Fuck, Drew, I think you’ve accurately predicted Diana will become the new War. It makes so much sense that it’s got to be right. It hadn’t ever occurred to me; I guess I’ve missed a few WW AC’s at some point.

    The thing that geeks me out about this issue is the debut of Chiang doing breakdowns for his fill-in artists. Wonder Woman has this great history of that from the post-Crisis George Perez run that started with Vol. 2 #1 in ’87; Perez was on that book for a huge run, and a lot of how he was able to keep this huge, unbroken streak of issues on art duties it was often by having Patterson or fill-ins do the heavy lifting with Perez on breakdowns and covers. Both that run and this one have this artistic continuity where no matter’s who is doing the finished artwork the goal is to make it consistent with Perez’s work to the point of intentional and direct immitation. I think there is a heavy Chiang presence in Azz’ run even when Chiang’s only doing the cover, but some of him doing breakdowns like this on his off-issues would really be something nice.

    • I would say the same of Atkins – while their styles are very different, they both seem like crucial parts of the series’ identity (the Hades wedding is a great example of what Atkins brings to this series). They both seem to value a soft strength, Atkins a little softer and Chiang a little stronger. Luckily, there’s tons of opportunity for both in Azz’ story.

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