Today, Scott and Patrick are discussing Wonder Woman 27, originally released January 22nd, 2014.
Scott: What’s a reasonable attention span? Could anyone actually sit through all three hours of The Wolf of Wall Street without their mind wandering at least once? I doubt it. The average time between commercial breaks is seven minutes, and I have trouble staying engaged that long. I’ve been working a lot with preschoolers over the past few months and I can tell you that getting a three year old to stay focused on a task for even one minute is a challenge. It’s just so easy to get distracted by the thought of a snack or going to play outside. Well, much like a three year old’s brain, the hectic world of Wonder Woman is full of distractions, ready to yank you away from that thing that was so interesting just one minute ago. Brian Azzarello keeps things moving at such a pace that you might just forget about the thing you were just…Sorry. I lost my train of thought.
While Apollo is busy torturing the First Born, Diana is trying to track down Zola and Zeke. She asks Artemis to lead the hunt, and she agrees, apparently because the idea amuses her. Meanwhile, Zola and Zeke are with Dionysus, who has promised them a hunt of their own — a truffle hunt, that is. Dio’s friends just want to get drunk and have sex in the woods but, never one to break a promise, Dio turns them all into truffle hogs.
Not enough storylines for you yet? You’re in luck, because Cassandra is also tracking Zeke, needing a god to get her into Olympus so she can free the First Born. She has a lead hunter of her own, in the form of a super creepy minotaur. Oh, and she shouldn’t worry about the First Born too much — he’s broken free of his shackles and suddenly has the upper hand on Apollo.
Azzarello is a master at spinning several plates at once, as illustrated by this issue’s many moving parts. But it’s what he leaves out that comes as the biggest surprise. Wonder Woman 26 ended with a cliffhanger, and a rather time-sensitive one at that. Orion took off for New Genesis with Milan, who was hooked up to a bomb set to go off in one minute. One minute! Somehow, while that minute has long past, Milan’s fate never comes up in this issue. Only Azzarello could introduce a literal ticking time bomb into his story, and then run out of time for it.
Alas, all the characters are too one-track-minded right now to worry much about Milan. It’s possible Wonder Woman has complete faith in Orion to save Milan, or that she’s so concerned with finding and protecting Zola and Zeke that she doesn’t have time to think about anything else. But really, it seems like she’s so blindsided by Zola’s sudden departure that she can’t think about anything else. At the beginning of the issue she’s distraught, looking for guidance where she’s not likely to find it — Paradise Island.
Diana’s mother can’t offer much advice and Hera isn’t much better, but she does lead Diana to realize she needs some help. In the last leg of the issue, Diana really finds her way. Her meeting with Artemis goes as well as any confrontation that involves nearly being killed by a giant bear could likely go. By the end, Diana looks pleased with herself, and not just because Artemis agrees to help her. Diana actually appears to have a plan, and the first step worked. She was lost at the beginning of the issue, but she’s gaining confidence by the end.
Cliff Chiang is back for this issue, and rendering some pretty unsettling images. If seeing those teenagers transform into pigs didn’t creep you out, then the face (and/or body hair and/or bondage gear) of the minotaur probably did the trick. And Apollo’s torture of the First Born, while not as gory as the time he ate the First Born’s organs in front of him, is still pretty gruesome. The panels showing the First Born’s perspective are the hardest to stomach, as he sees Apollo’s reflection in a pool of his own blood.
Despite these horrors, it’s always nice to have Chiang at the helm. He and colorist Matthew Wilson pay so much attention to detail, particularly when it comes to lighting. Whether it’s the way Hera’s hair is subtly backlit from the light coming in through the window or how the glow of the Divinity Diviner illuminates Cassandra’s face, they add the little things that make the art more realistic. I especially like the scenes where the primary source of light is one of the characters, be it Apollo or Artemis. The coolest panels are those where Apollo or Artemes are not visible, but the light from there bodies is seen on someone else, offering a sense of a spacial relationship we wouldn’t otherwise get.
So Patrick, where do you stand? Did the lack of an update on Milan’s status give you anxiety, or could you not care less, like all of the other characters seem to. And why is that minotaur dressed like that? Is he there to find baby Zeke or to crash Dio’s orgy?
Patrick: The “minotaur” is fucking weird. I know we’ve been reading about Cassandra for about a year at this point, but she is still one of the more mysterious characters to me. If just about any one of the other gods had a fake minotaur in-tow, I think I’d have a pretty good handle on how and why that minotaur was different, but with Cassandra… Well, let’s break it down — what do we know about her? She’s ambitious and resourceful — and she never lets her semi-divine status keep her from utilizing technology to get what she wants. She already has the hilariously named Divinity Diviner whirring around in her
S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, so she must have decided that a “minotaur” was necessary for her hunt, and just subjected some poor dude to whatever kind of body modifications that would make that possible.
Scott, I think it’s totally possible that Cassandra is is tapping into the imagery of Dio’s orgy, and there’s enough of a bondage bent to the whole Minotaur concept that that’s why we get this Pulp Fiction-esque gimp-with-horns. But let’s not forget that a real minotaur played a formative role in Diana’s life — it was the creature Diana spared when she was training with War. When the creature slinks away at the end of the zero issue, it’s a sign of the philosophical divide between the characters. Many years and many issues have passed since then, and now Wonder Woman is War. When she comes face to face with a “minotaur” this time, how will her intervening life experience have altered the depth of her mercy? Is it possible that Cassandra knows Wonder Woman’s own history and is already conspiring to use that mercy against her? I may not know why yet, exactly, but trust me — that “minotaur” is an important choice.
Scott sorta mentioned this in his summary, but it’s worth reiterating that all of these stories revolve around a hunt of some kind. For truffles, for gods, for Zola, for guidance — more often than not, the characters even use the word hunt. Which makes Diana’s appeal to Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt, that much more exciting. I mean, never mind that Azzarello only pulls Artemis out of the tool box when shit’s about to get awesome. If the issue is all about setting these various hunts in motion, then the Moon is something of a trump card. I recognize that the evils have all kinds of impressive gods and demi-gods in their corner, but like, how do you stop the God of War teamed up with the God of the Hunt?
There’s also a theme of submission running throughout this issue: Diana submits to Artemis; The First Born submits to Apollo (right up to the point where he turns the tables on his captor; and the BDSM of Dio’s followers and the Minotaur hit those same notes as well. I’m not totally sure what to make of that — especially when the competing theme — hunting — is like the polar opposite. OR IS IT. One of the things that Azzarello’s Wonder Woman always has over her opponents is that she seems to feel more honestly, and understand those feelings better than anyone else. This means that a lot of the wonky Greek Pantheon magic stuff ends up not working on her — remember when Eros’ love guns had no effect on her because she already loves everyone? I suspect that there’s some of that at play in Diana’s deal with Artemis. All that The Moon asks is that Diana concedes to her at some point in down the road and that “the future will reveal [her] wish to [her].” I can’t possibly imagine what that means, but check out Diana’s face — she knows exactly how she’s going to negotiate that.
Strength in submission is a positively awesome idea to explore, and it’s fascinating that we’d see both Wonder Woman (the series’ undisputed hero) and First Born (not a hero by any stretch) exhibiting it.
Scott pointed out Matthew Wilson’s amazing colors on this issue. Not only do the characters of Apollo and Artemis light the panels they’re in, they manage to affect entire pages. Transitioning from a scene with one to a scene with another is striking – a simple shit from blue to red. Check out how elemental the shift becomes – and just to be consistent, let’s show those various moments of submission (or in the First Born’s case, finally rejecting 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?