Having grown up a huge fan of Greek mythology, when I found out that in the reimagined “New 52” comics Wonder Woman regularly hobnobs with gods like Hermes and Hera, I was pretty eager to read the first ten issues and review it. Also, I’d never picked up an issue of Wonder Woman in my life before reading these ten “New 52” issues, so I was looking at them with a viewpoint of unfamiliarity with the entire “Wonder Woman/Diana of the Amazons” legacy.
I had to reread the first issue to completely understand what was going on. The reader is thrown headfirst into the action and drama of this story and expected to keep up. There are enough twists in the plotline to keep almost anyone interested, and while writing about gods interacting with humans can be daunting (or even come off hokey and fake), writer, Brian Azzarello handles it well.
If you’ve ever read Edith Hamilton’s “Mythology”, you know that gods and goddesses are typically portrayed as physically perfect versions of humans (except when they’re Zeus and turning into bulls or swans or lightning to impress beautiful girls…) with superpowers. One of the best things about these comics is the imperfection of the gods. Azzarello created characters that at times don’t even remotely resemble humans-superpowered or not-and makes them just as petty, cruel, and emotional as humanity. Oddly, I noticed is that while Wonder Woman fits the usual aesthetic expectation of a goddess, some of the other gods present in the story clearly do not. The gods at times have little resemblance to humans- which is perhaps the writers’ point, to distance the gods’ actions from those of ordinary mortals. Without giving too much away, expect feet like an ostrich (a bit of irony, there), craggy, rocklike skin, empty hollows for eyes, and blood-drenched clothing to adorn the pages as you read about these gods and the worlds they play in.
The art left a little wanting for me, particularly in issues 5, 6, 9, and 10. These issues were illustrated by Tony Akins, whereas the other 6 issues were illustrated by Cliff Chiang. I felt that while Akins’ work was finer and more detailed, the bolder lines in Chiang’s illustrations along with his difference in color use fit the story better. Chiang’s portrayal of the gods was representative of each one’s individual qualities-for example, Hermes is a messenger. He runs everywhere. Chiang took this into consideration when illustrating Hermes, and drew him as a very tall, lanky sort of man. However, Akins bulks Hermes up almost ridiculously-gone is the runner’s build, courtesy of approximately 40 pounds of muscle.
Another slight problem is the fact that one of the main (human) characters Zola leaves her home, where she lives alone, with hardly a whimper. Admittledy her family is gone, but has no one come looking for this girl? As readers, we’re never informed of any job she holds, friends she may have had-is there no one to miss her for all the time she’s gone? Letter from the Editor: Shiera is right, this plot hole kind of takes you out of whatever realism the series can have while featuring gods and goddesses.
Admittedly, I’m unfamiliar with many aspects of the Wonder Woman myth. I don’t know why she initially left her home on Paradise Island and moved to London. I also don’t know how she’s so well-acquainted with the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus. One thing’s for certain-I’m looking forward to reading the upcoming issues of DC’s reimagined Wonder Woman legend, but I’ll also be checking out the classic comics. So if you’re looking for a good Wonder Woman story heavily overlaid with betrayal, vengeance, murder, immortal gods and goddesses, and enough familial angst to make your awkward Christmas holidays seem like cake, I think you’ll thoroughly enjoy the first ten issues of DC’s “Wonder Woman: The New 52”.
~ Shiera Carter ~