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October 31, 2011

Review: Wonder Woman #2

Posted by on Oct 31, 2011
Wonder Woman #2

Widely heralded as one of the best of DC’s New 52, Chiang’s and Azzarello’s Wonder Woman combines costumed superheroics with mythological horror.  Azzarello’s initial description of the book as “horror” gave many pause, but that unlikely combination of genres has proven to be a decidedly successful one.  And, while some of DC’s New 52 slipped in quality this month, Wonder Woman is holding the line at excellent.  Spoilers to follow.

Following her rescue of Hermes and Zola in the previous issue, Wonder Woman decides that the safest place to take her new wards is her homeland, Paradise Island.  There, we get a chance to see Wonder Woman demonstrate her prowess as greatest of the Amazonian warriors in one of their crazy Amazonian war games.  We’re also given some details on Diana’s past.

Wonder Woman changes origin stories like Wonder Woman changes costumes.  Which is a lot.  And, here, we’re given a new one…maybe.  Hermes tells Zola the “known” story in this iteration of Wonder Woman.  In it, Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, builds a baby out of clay and prays to the gods for a child.  When she wakes up in the morning, baby Diana is there, the perfect Amazon, made without the contribution of a man.

Meanwhile on Mount Olympus, we’re shown Hera’s displeasure at Zola’s escape, and we’re also introduced to a new (possible) villain, Strife.  The sister of Ares and the daughter of Hera, students of mythology will remember her for throwing the Apple of Discord and starting the Trojan War.  Hera sends Strife to Paradise Island and massive bloodshed ensues as the Amazons attack Strife and end up attacking themselves.  Wonder Woman assumes that Strife is there for Zola.  Instead, Strife seeks an audience with Wonder Woman and calls her a “sister”, which throws the story of her asexual birth into doubt.

Chiang’s art continues to amaze.  For example, there’s an excellent splash page layout of Wonder Woman competing in one of the Amazonian games.  The character design of Strife is also great.  She looks like a mix of Desire from The Sandman and the cover art of Duran Duran’s Rio.

I’m glad we’re getting to see more of the gods.  Mythology provides a much better milieu for a character of Wonder Woman’s capabilities than the standard supervillain fare.  I’m also glad that the title has been, so far, without any sort of crossover into the greater DCU.  Though I’m sure these things are inevitable, I don’t think that the interactions of any other superheroes would help the tone of this book.  So far, they’re doing it right, and I’m excited to see where Chiang and Azzarello take the story from here.