Why You Need To Read Wonder Woman By Brian Azzarello And Cliff Chiang
by Tito W. James
The Wonder Woman movie releases on Blu-ray this week (and Comicon.com has reviewed it right here) and with it comes a new generation of Wonder Woman fans.
If you want more adventures with Diana, look no further than the epic run on Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello (Moonshine) and Cliff Chiang (Paper Girls).
The six-volume series chronicles Diana’s rise from superhero to an Olympian Goddess. Diana discovers that she is Zeus’s daughter but Zeus is nowhere to be found and the remaining Olympians are warring over his empty throne. Diana must gather a gang of Zeus’s bastard children and slay gods and monsters alike to bring stability to Mount Olympus.
In this world, centaurs are born by the Hera slaughtering horses.
This iteration of Wonder Woman may not be appropriate for small children. However, if you are down with a vision of Diana and the Amazons that is unflinchingly mythological, then this series is for you.
DIANA IS BADASS
Ok, real talk. Wonder Woman’s superpowers and villains traditionally have been pretty campy. In early comics, Wonder Woman was fighting living clocks, giant eggs, men made of paper, and even the Statue of Liberty.
Fortunately, in this version, Wonder Woman uses more than a magic lasso. Diana has a variety of magical weapons, new superpowers, and the invisible jet is nowhere to be seen.
Film-goers unfamiliar with Wonder Woman may have been shocked to learn that she has powers based in Greek mythology. Wonder Woman movie fans may be surprised to learn that she has had a history a sci-fi pulpy adventures. In this story, Wonder Woman has a “will they /won’t they” flirtation with the roguish space god, Orion. The scifi elements are a welcome addition that add variety and complexity to Wonder Woman’s world.
DIANA IS NOT PERFECT
The most controversial aspects of the story make it the most interesting. This is a version where Wonder Woman can get hurt, make mistakes, and isn’t always in the right.
The Amazons aren’t pinnacles of virtue either. There is a reason why there are no men on Themyscira and it’s not pretty.
The Greek gods of this world aren’t angels and demons easily divided into Good and Evil. They are authoritarians squabbling with each other for power like medieval kings. Wonder Woman’s alliances and enemies shift during the course of the story and no god should be trusted entirely.
Each of the mythological characters is modernized and keen-eyed fans will notice that they slightly resemble members of Wonder Woman’s rogues gallery. Each interpretation of the god or monster is unexpected but not illogical.
Not many casual fans know that Wonder Woman was conceived in a three-way affair between Prof. William Moulton Marston, his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston, and their student Olive Byrne. Early Wonder Woman comics had a subtext of bondage and S&M. Why do you think she has the lasso?
The creative team bravely doesn’t shy away from spicier subject matter. This is a Wonder Woman who can flirt and faces enemies inspired by leather fetishes. Azzarello also alludes to Wonder Woman’s sexual orientation. We know she had a fling with Steve Trevor, but before that she was on an island surrounded by single and attractive warrior women.
There’s plenty of banter between the colorful cast of gods and mortals. And whenever there is a flashback to Diana’s past, the style of writing shifts to evoke a more retro comic. It’s charming and very funny.
When this series was first coming out on store shelves, I eagerly awaited each new volume because I knew I was going to get something strange and fantastic that I wasn’t going to find in any other comics–superhero or otherwise.
Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang created a Wonder Woman story for the ages. It stays away from jarring cross-overs and gimmicky costume tweaks and delivers one singular vision from start to finish. By staying out of mainstream continuity, this Wonder Woman saga holds a timeless quality that can be enjoyed for decades to come.
So give it a read,
Wonder Woman is waiting for you!