So there are two things out this week that feature Wonder Woman: the latest issue of Wonder Woman, which sees the return of Cliff Chiang to art, and DC's first animated movie set in the nu52 continuity (more or less): Justice League: War. One of them's very good, one of them's okay. I'll be reviewing the second one after the jump.
Wonder Woman #27
Up on Olympus, Apollo is torturing the First Born in an effort to get him to swear loyalty to him. Can't see anything going wrong with that… oh wait.
What's Diana up to? Well, after a quick trip back to Paradise Island…
…with Hermes' help, she sets off hunting for Zola and Dionysus. But it looks like they'll need some more help… from Artemis.
They fight and Diana allows herself to lose…
Where's Zola, though? She's run off with Dionysus to his vineyard in the South of France, where he invites her on a truffle hunt.
But Cassandra has a 'god detector' that's tracking Dionysus and baby Zeke and she's getting close.
Is it any good?
It's certainly better than last month's issue, but as well as requiring Wonder Woman as usual to spend all her time negotiating with other gods, rather than actually doing anything herself, and once more seeing the gods largely as evil gits and idiots who are only nice when they're mortal (mortals being nicer, n'all), we're getting an increasing amount of science fiction daftness and Azzarello inventions, which are always the weak points of his stories.
On the plus side, it was nice to see a nod towards Artemis's mythic love of bears and Diana to use the infamous 'anti-bear' judo throw, tomoe nage (aka 'Captain Kirk throw'), against her. Although Diana does lose the fight, she clearly has a plan and intended to lose, which makes a nice change from the usual Wonder Woman plot of her getting beaten up. The pig transformation, while more a Circe/Kirke thing than Dionysus per se, is in keeping with the transformations of the god and the usual fun of his maenads, too.
We also get an indication that once again Brian Azzarello much prefers Volume 1 of Wonder Woman to the later volumes, with Artemis' referencing the Amazons' fondness for 'loving submission':
After a series of issues featuring Cliff Chiang impersonators, the real thing is back and he's very welcome, too. His use of colour, in particular, make this feel a different book, lighter than the script would suggest at times, darker at others. It's also good to see something like action in the script for a change.
But all this is against a backdrop of sci-fi 'divinity detectors' and horror excesses. The torture of the First Born ends exactly as you've been expecting it to end for the past few issues (we can only hope Apollo surprises us and beats up the First Born something chronic). Diana, despite now being an Olympian, is as impotent as ever: she can't manage to turn the Amazons back into people, can't turn Hera back into a goddess and can't find Zola without help, all ironically while preaching self-reliance rather than dependency on gods.
The divinity detector I could also do without and if anything happens to Dionysus except that he turns Cassandra and her merry men/Minotaur into mushrooms, I'll be shouting 'poor plotting' very soon. As with the First Born, the Minotaur is another Azzarello creation that seems to show a certain slavish devotion to bulky, brutish men and their power, which if it ended with them getting their arses kicked, would be in keeping in a Wonder Woman comic, but since they always seem to eventually end up on top, suggests Azzarello merely read too many Conan the Barbarian books when he was younger.
And enough with the torture already, hey?
All the same, a step forward from last issue, a suggestion of better things to come (if only it was ever more than just a suggestion) and some decent ideas, as well as some lovely artwork.