Wonder Woman 29

wonder woman 29Today, Patrick and Scott are discussing Wonder Woman 29, originally released March 19th, 2014.

Patrick: Twitch Plays Pokemon allowed thousands of people all over the world to play one game of Pokemon Red together. This means the poor game was getting thousands of simultaneous inputs from players across the globe all with different agendas. Cultures sprang up on Reddit around specific Pokemon (which were all nicknamed hilarious things because actually typing a name in the game resulted in total nonsense) and weird little quirks of playing the game cooperatively (most famously, the Cult of Helix Fossil worked tirelessly to get the character to use a context-specific item in all contexts). Shit got weird, but it was a weirdness of consensus, a horrible democracy that gave shape to what “Twitch Plays Pokemon” means. This is largely true for long-lasting comic book characters as well — they pass through so many hands that the meta story of how they came to be can often eclipse the in-world origins. That’s why all your favorite heroes are irreconcilable messes of conflicting stories and ideas, and mixed together into one semi-coherent identity. Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman looks to change that for the titular heroine, giving her purpose, direction, vision and identity without having to wait for thousands of players to agree on the same input.

The unthinkable has just gone down, and the peak of Olympus is decimated. Cassandra’s ship (with Zola on-board) is about to crash into the ruins of Olympus, but a cooler-even-than-usual Wonder Woman is able to guide the ship to safety.

cooler than usual

Elsewhere, Artemis senses a broken connection with her twin brother, and insists that Hermes ‘port them to Olympus. Thus, everyone is there to witness the First Born, freshly soaked in Apollo gore, take the throne of Olympus and start sucking the life out of everyone with these creepy veins. Wonder Woman stands up for friends, but even she is overpowered… until Hera, who was granted her godliness as Apollo’s final act, appears on the scene. The First Born being her first born, she decides that she needs to do whatever she can do clean up his mess, which in this case means safely spiriting everyone away to Themyscira and reverting the Amazons to human form.

That’s right: the Amazons are back. You could argue that it was only going to be a matter of time before the Amazons were returned to their former glory. After all, having a Paradise Island full of Diana’s subjects is kind of crucial to her identity as a character — just as not having a Krypton to go back to is part of Superman’s character. Not to place too much of an importance on long-term planning or the foresight of the creative team, but the Amazons were turned to snakes in issue 3. (That was so long ago, if you follow the link, you’ll get an article that Drew and I wrote before Retcon Punch even existed.) That was November of 2011, and we’re just now getting some kind of resolution on it. The most beautiful part about their return, however, isn’t the long game that Azzarello had set up from the get-go, but how well the moment resonates with who Woman Woman has become. She is the God of War, and try and she might to be a different kind of war god, some problems are only going to solved through large campaigns of violence. The First Born is one such problem. In fully accepting her mantle by commanding an army of her sisters, Diana is allowed to be something wholly new and wholly familiar at the same time.

There have been numerous fill-in artists on this title throughout its run (and they’ve all been excellent), but there’s nothing that drives this feeling of return harder than having Cliff Chiang on pencils for the issue. I remember, way back in the day, I had complained about the switch over to Tony Atkins for issue 5 — particularly because he drew a less confident, less capable Hera. I can’t imagine a more empowering drawing of the character than that which Chiang delivers to trumpet her return to divinity.

Hera is back

This glowing pale green effect, courtesy of Mathew Willson, embodies her powerful rage so effectively. It also plays off the more organic greens of her peacock feather cape, another sign that she’s returned to her former glory. This panel is especially powerful in light of the first scene in the issue, as Hera tries — unsuccessfully — to even have a good time ordering a drink.

But Wonder Woman’s call to arms is the focal point of the issue. She’s able to be the cool hero we all expect her to be — saving Cassandra’s ship, stepping to Artemis’ defense — but even that’s not enough. This is how Brian Azzarello has been able to take a slow, patient look at one of the DC Universe’s characters most in need of definition, and define her. In thirty issues, there has been no mention of Superman or Batman or the League or Owls or Krypton — it’s a journey with it’s own particular mythological tics. Shelby would kill me if I didn’t mention here that we still don’t know where Zeus is. This is all part of what makes the rally moments in this series so effective: they are exciting in their own context and not as part of a greater continuity. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang are defining Wonder Woman with a singularity of vision that few characters have the fortune of enjoying.

Scott, are you ready for Diana to bring the battle back to the First Born? Or do you think we need to deal with Milan and Orion first? (Until I asked that question, I’d sorta forgotten what happened to them.) And can you think of a more horrifying weapon than a set of prehensile veins that suck the life out of you?

Scott: Bring on the battle! Seriously, as impressive as the First Born’s slow and steady march to the throne has been, I’m more than ready to see him get clobbered once and for all. The guy’s gone full crazy.

Whatever you say, Weirdo

If I made it to heaven and found out that was God, I’d be more than a little confused. His life has been so sad and unfair that I’ve found myself rooting for him a little bit, but he’s turned out to be such a vengeful prick that now I really just want to see him lose. If that defeat comes at the hands of the Amazons, oh how sweet it will be.

That does raise one question though: would the Amazons really just go along with this idea? They’ve been snakes all this time. I’d imagine they’d want to ask a few questions before blindly following Diana and Hera into war. We don’t actually see the Amazons respond to Diana’s request — I think it’s implied they will join her — but realistically, wouldn’t their thought process be something like,”Huh? First Born? What are you talking about? Were we just snakes?”

Anyway, Patrick, you’re right, this absolutely feels like a defining moment for Wonder Woman. She’s finally embraced her place amongst the Gods, an evolution of her character we’ve been waiting for since Ares’ death (or really since the Zero Issue). I love that Wonder Woman exists in it’s own world, separate from the rest of the DC Universe. Diana taking on greater responsibilities within that world further legitimizes what once may have seemed like a punk rock choice by Azzarello to tell this isolated story about Gods and Goddesses.

Inspired by Patrick’s post, I started looking through some old issues and something caught my attention. Way back in Wonder Woman 4, just after the Amazons are turned to snakes, the final words of the issue are spoken by War (meaning Ares — I suppose I need to make that distinction nowadays). He says to Apollo, “The world will be ruled by war. It’s inevitable.” Now, suddenly, Diana is the God of War, and she’s leading the charge against the sitting ruler of Olympus. Ares could have meant any number of things when he said that — does he mean “war” as in warfare or “War” as in the God of War? — but it’s hard not to read into it. That’s the effect of the foresight this creative team exhibits time and time again — I’m looking back 25 issues to try to get a clue about where this series is headed next.

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?

8 comments on “Wonder Woman 29

  1. BUT GUYS, WHERE IS ZEUS?!??!111?

    But seriously, I read this on the train this morning and I got goosebumps on that last page when Diana declared herself the God of War. I’ve always been pretty satisfied there’s no sign of Athena in this pantheon because I’ve always felt Diana basically embodies the goddess of wisdom, courage, law and justice, etc. Since Athena is also the goddess of just war, I think the comparison is more applicable now than ever before.

  2. First off, the last words uttered in this issue:

    “Warriors, I ask you to join me in a fight to reclaim heaven. Follow me… Not as your princess… But as the GOD OF WAR!”

    Can things get more metal than that? So damned awesome. Love it how the whole story feels like it’s evolving/grows for every issue that comes out.

    Can’t wait to see what’ll happen the last 5-6 issues. What Strife’s end game is and where Zeus has gone off!

    And I believe first born’s character gone into meta territory now. Becoming a “God of nothing”. A constantly negative being who’s tentacles sucks the juice out of people (kind of what real world negative people does). Also a really cool “concept” to pit against someone as Diana, who’s optimism is both her strength and weakness.

    And Ares saying that: “The world will be ruled by war. It’s inevitable.” hit me right away when I read #23. Been thinking since that Azzarello and Chiang could let things head into the direction of matriarchy (which would ensue if Diana took Olympus), as a nod to the late Marston’s ideal world. That or making the amazons a sort of “Minutemen” (guards who sees to that the ruling class families stays out of each others’ pockets in 100Bullets) of the gods. Would also make a great fit and also give the amazons a great position in the DC universe.

    • Yeah, I love the idea of making the Amazons more active in the DCU. Azz took them off the plate for everyone for so long, it’s sort of amazing that any other WW stories were even able to be told in any other books (and in fact, most of them had to note “This takes place before the current WW series”). Everyone seems to have honored their absence, so I hope everyone honors their new role in reclaiming Olypmus, and Diana’s new role as the God of War.

      ACTUALLY – do we have any reason to believe that she’ll give up the title before the series comes to a close?

      • While I think almost too long, I believe Azz and Chiang will make the most out of it. Given how good the comeback the minotaur was, I’m sure they’ll excel at it.

        I think the sex/sea raids and slave exchange business, Zeus disappearing and Diana’s reason why she left the island will play nicely into how it ends (and in the same time how much of it began). And that way of telling the story will leave things fresh for the next writer, whom Azzarello has said he hopes will get to toy around with his and Chiang’s groundwork and enjoy a similar freedom as they did.

        And with that, I hope she stays God of war. Especially if the amazon bit comes true. If Olympus becomes their realm, then the Azzarello saying “Batman is sad, Superman an alien and Wonder Woman a god” would get some some serious juice. While Batman got Gotham, Superman Krypton then Wonder Woman would have Olympus. Giving her something that really sticks rather than escaping Paradise Island to some real life jet set city.

        • Perhaps Are’s “THE WORLD WILL BE RULED BY WAR. IT’S INEVITABLE.” could lead to something in line with William Moulton Marston’s idea that: “Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world.” ?

  3. As much as I’m going to hate not having this series to read anymore, I can’t wait to see how Azzarello and Chiang wrap this thing up. They’re already in the process of tying up their loose ends, and that looming one of Zeus’ whereabouts is only becoming more pressing. Gods, this series is good. Like, life-changingly good.

  4. For me it’s the best series of the New 52 when taken in whole, and only Snyder/Capullo Batman is in a tight race with it. The length and consistency of these two runs would be hard to match, but Lemire/Sorrentino GA would be a good argument except for lack of a Trinity icon.

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