Scott: What works out for one person often effects someone else negatively. Recently, I was getting ready to go on a long trip, so I lined up a subletter to stay in my apartment. It was going to be perfect. Until, that is, she got an offer to house-sit somewhere else and backed out of our deal. It worked out well for her, but it left me scrambling. What I’m trying to say is, never celebrate a plan until it’s complete, because it can always be derailed by someone else’s plan. I’m not trying to advocate Murphy’s Law or anything, but as Wonder Woman 28 teaches us, most plans are foiled, and even when your goal is within grasp it can still blow up in your face.
With Artemis’ help, Diana, Hermes and Hera follow Dio’s trail into the woods of Provence. Unfortunately, Cassandra’s Minotaur beats them there by a hair and drags Dio back to Cassandra’s ship, apparently unconcerned with Zola and Zeke. A fight ensues between Cassandra’s army and Diana, Artemis and Hermes. Amidst the commotion, Cassandra takes off with Dio, essentially sacrificing her army. Diana follows the ship to Olympus, where Apollo and the First Born are engaged in a battle of their own. When it looks like First Born has won, Apollo blows the whole mountain, with Cassandra’s ship — and Diana — well within the blast radius.
Regardless of whatever destruction is done by Apollos’ little “If I can’t have it, nobody can” trick, Diana’s decision to follow Cassandra has potentially tragic implications. In a borderline-hypocritical move, she leaves behind Hermes and Artemis to chase Cassandra, who she calls a “coward” for fleeing the fight. I assume Diana believes Zola and Zeke are on the ship, which certainly justifies her decision to follow. But it’s unclear whether Zola and Zeke are actually onboard. They follow Dio to the ship with the intent to save him, and they’re shown hiding near the entrance to the ship, but we never explicitly see them go in.
There’s no happy scenario here. Either Zola got on the ship and Diana followed her into the Olympus explosion, or Zola didn’t get on and Diana left her in Provence surrounded by bloodthirsty hyena-men. From what I know about Zola’s character, I have to think she got on the ship in effort to help Dio. She’s the one I’m really worried about. The gods are going to be fine, but as a human, Zola is susceptible to the kinds of maladies we normally associate with victims of giant explosions and plane crashes. Hopefully Wonder Woman or her baby, who may or may not be Zeus reincarnated, is able to protect her.
I often lavish Brian Azzarello with praise for his character development, and deservedly so, but Cliff Chiang is worthy of just as much credit. There’s no other book with such a large cast of immediately recognizable characters, and in some cases that familiarity allows him to transform characters appearances without the clarity of the story suffering. Throughout this issue, Apollo and the First Born are virtually unrecognizable from their normal states, and yet their actions serve as a perfect microcosm of their characters. Apollo, believing his title gives him power over all, just keeps firing away at the First Born, never stopping to consider he might need another plan. First Born, meanwhile, has always been something of an unstoppable force, overcoming every obstacle no matter how big and painful, and always moving closer to his goal of ruling Olympus. The end (or just before the end), with First Born a completely charred mess and Apollo’s glow fading to a soft orange, works because everything these characters have done has been building to this moment.
As Patrick pointed out last month, Diana has a history with minotaurs; she chose to spare one’s life while training with War as a child. So, it can’t be merely a coincidence that this story involves a minotaur. It’s clear, that as Diana appears to lock eyes with the minotaur, it evokes something in her.
This exchange is a little goofy. This minotaur looks nothing like the one War made her face many years ago. This minotaur looks ridiculous. But it’s meaningful that the words “and forget” appear next to Diana’s face. She hasn’t forgotten about that other minotaur, or about the discovery she made about herself in the cave that day. This is a reminder of who she is and who she needs to be — a different kind of God of War.
Shelby, what do you make of this issue? Pretty dramatic ending, huh? I know there would be repercussions, but wouldn’t it make Diana’s life a lot easier if Olympus just ceased to exist for a while?
While I like speculating about the minotaur (a part of me thinks he might just be a shaved version of the one Diana encountered), it’s Cassandra’s words that resonate the most. “Followers are easy to find and forget.” It’s in such opposition to Diana’s philosophy.
For Cassandra (and First Born, I’m guessing), people are tools to be used. You gather up your followers, and leave them behind if that better serves your purposes. It’s an incredibly selfish existence, which obviously is not the path Diana follows. She has total faith in people, even people she maybe shouldn’t. I mean, let’s look at these panels here. Hermes betrayed Diana after appearing to be her ally since issue one. Hera was the one they were fighting against for a long time, and yet here they are following Diana’s lead, despite disagreeing with her choice in allies. Also, can we introduce a new category for Best Of 2014, because Chiang wins Best Side-Eye for that first panel of Hera.
Anyway, it’s bound to come down to another show-down between First Born and Diana; I don’t buy that “destruction of Olympus” thing for a second. We’re talking about gods, here; if First Born can survive literally being charred to a crisp, a little explosion isn’t going to do him any harm. Again, kudos to Chiang for making First Born’s transformation into a campfire marshmallow both awesome and completely horrifying. Once the dust settles and we find out who sits on the throne, it becomes a question of which is stronger: faith, or force? First Born and Cassandra have a limitless supply of hyena drones to throw at the problem, while Diana has a small, ragtag group held together by a sort of devotion, to her and to each other. Even Dionysus seems to feel it; he seemed genuinely sorry he freaked Zola out by turning his party into a pig orgy, and he actually tried to protect her from the minotaur. There’s a real chance Dio was acting above the manipulations of the rest of the pantheon and really caring about Zola and her baby. Her baby who might be the reincarnation of Zeus. Hey guys, remember how we still don’t know where Zeus is? 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?