Well, it’s a pretty wondrous month all round at DC. We have Wonder Woman #13, in which we get some new gods, some new demi-gods, and a very old god, the mysterious disappearance of Athena is finally addressed and, most importantly of all, I’m proved right – HA!
We have Justice League #13, in which a certain super romance is allowed to play out reasonably well, and Wonder Woman is front and centre as the entire Justice League faces off against (and gets their arses kicked by) her most famous villain from outside of Greek myth: The Cheetah.
And then we have the continuation of the multi-issue crossover with Batwoman #13, which sings the praises of our Wondy, while covering her in creepy crawlies, and demonstrates that DC really doesn’t have any editors paying attention or at least talking to each other much.
Oh yes, and Wonder Woman gets made head of the Justice League over in AmeComi Girls. Which is nice.
Wonder Woman #13
Down in Antarctica, a team of scientists come across a giant, who’s a little bit unpleasant.
Meanwhile, back on the new Olympus, a meeting of Zeus’s children takes place at Apollo’s instigation. While Athena doesn’t show up because she doesn’t recognise the new King, Dionysus and various others do arrive. And they’re worried about the prophecy, particularly as it might relate to Wonder Woman.
Meanwhile, Wonder Woman, Hera, Lennox and Zola are all hanging out together and not getting on especially well.
In the interests of finding out where Hermes might have taken Zola’s baby, Diana goes looking for another daughter of Zeus, Siracca the wind, who is hiding out in Libya. Wondy meets a few angry Libyans, who soon discover that Wonder Woman’s flying skills from #12 are still intact.
She rescues a girl, who takes her to where Siracca is hiding. Except it turns out that the girl is actually Siracca. Whoops.
Is it any good?
Well, what an excellent way to start the second year of Wonder Woman. Okay, so it’s got Tony Akins on art rather than Cliff Chiang, and Azz is taking even more liberties with myth than usual, but this feels like a proper Wonder Woman comic, the gods aren’t so mono-dimensional, there are surprises with more or less every page and Wondy is starting to feel more human.
Let’s start with the beginning: the arrival of a new god. Presumably, despite the weird language being spoken, this isn’t Orion, since he’s helmetless. Instead, with a little help from Goya’s ‘Saturn devouring his son’…
…and the clue that the ‘titanic’ giant is the ‘first born’…
…perhaps we can hypothesise this is Kronos, the (usually last-born in myth) child of Gaia, the goddess of the Earth, and father of Zeus and co. Of course, this isn’t the first time that Kronos has shown up in Wonder Woman, since he first appeared in Perez’s run, under Paradise Island, and then reappeared in Eric Luke’s marvellous run, first creating the ‘anti Wonder Woman’, Devastation, with the help of some other Titans, and then assaulting Heaven itself.
Why he’s in Antarctica (a reference to the ‘White Island’ which is where Kronos eventually ruled in myth, after a stay in Tartarus?), who the scientists are, why he’s come back and whether he ties into Orion’s or Wonder Woman’s storyline, we’ll just have to wait to find out.
The events on Olympus are a little more in keeping with myth, even if Athena is now ‘Justice’ (presumably taking over Dike, who’s off in the mountains somewhere) rather than Wisdom, Cunning, War or any of her other attributes (cf mono-dimensional characterisation of Azzarello). We have the gods talking to each other and having something approaching fun. Apollo’s seizing of the throne is more explicitly shown to be at least partly well motivated, even if Ares casts doubt on it, and he shows tenderness towards Artemis. Why Wonder Woman’s goddess-pounding powers of issue 12 are such a revelation to the assembled is, again, something we’ll have to wait to see explored.
Although it’s Tony Akins rather than Cliff Chiang again, Akins seems to be getting better and more Chiang-like, and his Dionysus is remarkably close to Chiang’s version, right down to the Thracian mysteries’ fox characteristics, even though, obviously, he doesn’t mirror the more effeminate, transvestite representations of Greek art.
Curious that Heracles, if we’re going with Dionysus being a member of the 12 and one of the most powerful, is absent, but maybe that will be explained at another date.
Down on Earth, Hera – just as Diana did in Justice League #3 – discovers the joys of ice cream and Lennox reveals that there are five surviving 20th century demi-god children of Zeus, including Siracca the wind. Presumably a wind (the goddess of the Sirocco), rather than all winds as Lennox suggests, since there were more than enough wind gods in Greek myth, including Notos, the god of the south wind (including… oh, the Sirocco), or it’s just a nickname. We also get the first hint that Wonder Woman is hoping that by being nice to Hera, who’s now mortal, she might be able to get her mother and the Amazons back – nice that they haven’t been totally forgotten.
Wonder Woman’s investigations in Libya are deftly handled, and it’s great to see that, as I predicted in issue #12, Wonder Woman’s ability to fly has remained and is now going to be used in her own title. It’ll be interesting to see if they do feed in any additional powers over time.
The Siracca story just about works, even though it’s entirely obvious the Disney-esque munchkin is going to turn out to be both evil and Siracca before the end of the issue. Nevertheless, it’s clear that Azz’s thesis is clear: Wonder Woman’s greatest strength and her greatest weakness is her compassion, which is fair enough. At the very least, even if does make her something of a dull mother figure when looking after the antics back at her flat, it does give some warmth to what would be an otherwise bleak comic.
All in all, an excellent issue, albeit one that could still have been improved if Cliff Chiang had been in charge of the art.
Justice League #13
After last issue’s kiss between Wonder Woman and Superman…
…Wondy is up against the Cheetah. However, despite twatting Cheetah with a tree, she’s pulling her punches and so gets knocked out for the first time…
Turns out that Cheetah was the first friend Wonder Woman made in the outside world, but she’s been possessed by an Amazonian god, which makes her as fast as the Flash, able to resist Wonder Woman’s lasso and able to hurt Superman.
Meanwhile, Superman and Wonder Woman decide that that kiss was actually quite nice.
And Steve Trevor is drowning his sorrows in a bottle with Oliver Queen, after having been dumped for a second time by Wonder Woman.
Is it any good?
Surprisingly, yes. Although it has the occasional comic book-ism, this is rather a good issue all round. Wonder Woman and her issues are the centre of it all, and it’s good to see Cheetah being used well and given a reasonable new origin. For those who don’t know, Cheetah first arrived in the sixth issue of Volume 1 of the original Wonder Woman comic, where she was a socialite with multiple personality disorder.
Then, post-Crisis back in the 80s, she became a British archeologist who took up some rather dodgy, rather racist and rather silly antics with an African plant god, Urtzkartaga.
Now, in keeping with the nu52, the Cheetah has a slimmed down origin story that also gets rid of the silliness of the Perez origin, while staying in keeping with the nu52’s current mantra: gods can kick the crap out of superheroes. So great to see this new and improved Cheetah.
The story also deals with the Superman-Wonder Woman romance a little, managing to steer away from the crasser possibilities. Here, there’s a little more romance, with Superman and Wonder Woman deciding a kiss is just a kiss, but that they actually do like each other. Here, things are getting a little more stereotypical, with Wondy wanting to be an independent girl, the boys in the Justice League wanting to help her and she refusing, with Supes showing that he wants to look after her. Although there is no I in team, and seeing as Superman ends up possessed and everyone else has their arse kicked by Cheetah, it’s likely that the demi-goddess known as Wonder Woman will be the one who ends up saving the boys from her.
Which would be lovely.
Incidentally, Aquaman has crap-all to do in this, which shows you just how great a leader he is.
The artwork in this issue is also an improvement, with Jim Lee having been replaced by Tony Daniel. Daniel manages to do a decently sexy Wonder Woman without the somewhat pornographic overtones of Lee, and although there are some slight manga elements to his style, I’d say he’s doing the best non-Chiang job out there.
After a lot of cover eyeing up of Wondy while she’s got her in her submarine…
…Batwoman takes Wonder Woman down to a place where the Amazons used to lock up creatures of mythology.
There, they discover the guards dead, Medusa gone and Nyx, the goddess of night, is running things now.
With a little help from Batwoman’s gadgets, the two escape the night and head off to find Medusa’s other son, Pegasus.
Is it any good?
In a lot of ways, it’s very good, with the art, as usual, a feast that’s second to none and requires a long time to properly digest, even if this Wondy looks very little like any other version of Wonder Woman we’ve seen so far. Wondy comes out of it a bit inept, nearly squished to death by creepy crawlies while she tries to talk Nyx into being nice, only to be saved by Batwoman, but she’s a guest in another comic so that’s not totally surprising. And there is a very lovely description of Wonder Woman by Batwoman at the beginning of the story that does make her seem very wonderous indeed.
Largely, the issue revolves around the fish-out-of-water dilemmas of Batwoman, and Wonder Woman’s own existential angst. Batwoman is a guest in Wonder Woman’s world, having to struggle with immortals and gods, not knowing who’s an enemy and who’s a good guy, not knowing the mythology, not understanding the rules that guide this world.
Wonder Woman, in turn, is struggling to deal with her own issues – whether she’s a demigoddess or a goddess, the memories of her mother, and her dead Amazon family. But she also struggles with the rules of her own world, too, unsure of her own mortality, unsure whether her new family of gods is a family or just more enemies.
Where it slightly falls apart is in lack of communication with the Wonder Woman team. Wondy thinks of Poseidon and his world fondly; and she believes Eros to be the son of Nyx, neither of which are true in Wonder Woman – the latter is only true in myth according to the Orphic Mysteries, with Eros the brother of Nyx in Hesiod, the son of Aphrodite in common belief. The Amazons are also more like the pre-nu52 Amazons, with their vault of mythological prisoners, something we’ve not seen before in any other title.
And since when is Pegasus a person? Oh well, more on that next issue, I suspect, but at the moment, Batwoman is making Brian Azzarello look like a master of research.
Lovely artwork, but it needs a better Wonder Woman in every sense, and the plot that doesn’t involve Wondy is so obscure, I have no idea what’s going on and little interest in finding out.
The strip continues with female Brainiac getting the crap kicked out of her by Power Girl.
Bellicose Wonder Woman gets elected to head up the new Justice League, while Robin and Batgirl get grounded by their parents. No really. And Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor argue over the legality of there even being a Justice League at all, with Wonder Woman eventually getting the upper hand.
Fun for what it is, but nothing too taxing in the scheme of things.