Patrick: A lot has been made of Hollywood’s apparent inability to adapt Wonder Woman for the screen. Is that driven by the sexism inherent in action film-making? Probably, in part. But Diana, Princess of the Amazons, suffers from a pretty severe case of “what the hell is she about?” We have easily understandable slug lines for just about any other bankable superhero: Batman is the mortal knight of vengeance; Superman is invincible alien boy scout, etc. There’s a how and a why expressed in both of those descriptions. Those attitudes have aged well, but for some reason, the essential nature of Wonder Woman is harder for creators to assert in perpetuity throughout the decades. What Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang have done in their 37 (and a half) issues of Wonder Woman is reassert just who this character is, and why her fundamental qualities are every bit as iconic as truth, justice and the American way. Continue reading
Bart Simpson, Itchy & Scratchy Land
Patrick: It’s a good thing all of our action heroes have a team of writers working quietly behind them, because audiences hold this irrational expectation that heroic actions be punctuated by hilarious, insightful, precise quips. This is a trend that I’ve come to hate, largely because those pure little micro-tweets are so seldom earned. How do you put a character through the paces so thoroughly that acerbic wit feels natural tumbling out of their victorious mouths? They’re not poets or comedians or scholars — they’re warriors, but somehow they know to belch out a characteristically perfect “Yippy-kai-yay, motherfucker” or a “Welcome to Earth” or even a “get away from her, you bitch!” Thing is: those three examples all work because we’re there with Bruce Willis, Will Smith and Sigourney Weaver. It’s not just about having the dry cool wit, but waiting until the audience and the character need the release of such a quip, instead of handing them out willy-nilly. As Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang narrow in on their epic Wonder Woman conclusion, they’re cashing in on all those cheesy action movie beats. And they’ve earned every damn second — the result is unadulterated climax, satisfying on just about every level. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Wonder Woman 26, originally released December 18th, 2013.
Patrick: On Brian Azzarello’s Mount Olympus, the gods and demigods all serve very specific purposes. When he shows up out of nowhere at the end of the issue, Dio identifies himself as the god of “the truffle harvest, tragedies, luxuries, parks and galleries.” That’s a weird concept, but one we always embrace when discussing mythological creatures: sure, I get why we need a god of the hunt (or wine or sword making or whatever). But, like, it’s a nonsense conceit, made all the more explicit by Zola asking “what’s a truffle?” Beyond being avatars of various nouns, the gods are also a family, and the roles they play within that family are just as indicative of the parts they play in this on-going drama. They are victims and bullies, martyrs and defenders, cousins, long-lost-sisters and little brothers. The mix of the divine and the human is sublime, making every turn of this series as surprising as it is inevitable. Continue reading
Today, Scott and Mikyzptlk are discussing Wonder Woman 24, originally released October 16th, 2013.
Scott: I love reading Wonder Woman. Brian Azzarello is now 24 issues into his run on this title, yet I feel like I’ve read 50. I mean that in a good way. The world he’s created is so vivid, the characters so constantly evolving that I feel like I’ve spent more time with them than I really have. Wonder Woman 24 is dependent on every member of the title’s diverse cast, and just about everyone has something new to offer. It isn’t the most thrilling comic book ever written, but it’s pleasing in a way that really no other title can replicate. Simply, Wonder Woman feels like a place where everybody knows my name, and they’re always glad I came. I never want to leave. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing Wonder Woman 23.2: First Born, originally released September 25th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.
What comes before anything? What have we always said is the most important thing?
Michael Bluth, Arrested Development
Drew: Family. What would we be without them? No, seriously: they’re there from the start, and they have a profound effect on the people we eventually become. For better or for worse, who they are and how they interact with us largely shape who we are and how we act. The same can be said of who they aren’t — perhaps in spite of what we want them to be — which can have just as significant effect on the people we become. As a character, the First Born is far more defined by the absence of his family, but how that manifests is just as subtle and specific as any other family dynamic. Continue reading
Taylor: Brian Azzarello certainly has a way of making us do a double take while reading Wonder Woman. The man has a talent for bending his plots in unlikely directions while also making us second guess everyone’s motivations with almost every new issue. It’s likely that when Wonder Woman was rebooted, some were similarly thrown for a loop when Azzarello depicted the gods as being petty, mean, and downright hostile to just about everyone but themselves. While anyone who has ever read a Greek myth recognizes the dickish mentality of the Greek pantheon, it seems likely that others might have been surprised. The popular conception of heaven and god(s) in today’s culture takes a much more touchy-feely approach with our deities. Instead of being something to be feared, we like to think of deities as being righteous, compassionate, and selfless. Azzarello seems to understand how these two forces are at odds and in issue 22 of Wonder Woman he asks us to compare the Greek gods with their New God alternates. The question is, are they the same or are they different?
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
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. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing Wonder Woman 19, originally released April 17th, 2013.
Drew: Wonder Woman 18 ended on an atypically happy note — Zola was reunited with her baby, Diana and Ares seemed to have patched things up, Hera had found a bottle of wine — but the end of those good times is lurking around every corner. Unfortunately, Diana and friends may be caught unawares, mistaking their recent battles for the coming war. Indeed, when wagering on the outcome of that war, Poseidon discounts Diana, suggesting that he “always bet[s] against a player who doesn’t know they’re in the game.” Poseidon has made the mistake of underestimating Diana before, but he may have a point: while her adversaries are arming themselves, Diana seems to be distracted by more basic team maintenance. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing Wonder Woman 18, originally released March 20th, 2013.
Drew: Wonder Woman is a hard title to pin down, which makes sense, given that its hero is equally slippery. Detractors might cite Diana’s unknowability as weak characterization, but as we saw in issue 9, that distance may be the sharpest weapon in writer Brian Azzarello’s arsenal. Azzarello seems to relish ambiguity, focusing on heroes that are anything but predictable. Issue 18 multiplies this effect, capitalizing on his large cast of equally oblique characters to produce a staggering parade of surprises.