Friday, September 23, 2011

Wonder Woman #1

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Cliff Chiang
Company: DC Comics

Always considered to be one of the major three players of the DC Universe, Wonder Woman more often plays the role of red headed step-child, you know, without the red hair. People love her. Her visage and iconic symbol sell countless amounts of merchandise to young kids. She's iconic. And yet, her comic has really had a hard time finding its niche. People such as Gail Simone, Allan Heinberg, and novelist Jodi Picoult have all had a stab at it and come up empty. The last time that I can remember having a solid, imaginative outing was when George Perez relaunched her back in the 80's. Enter Brian Azzarello. Azzarello is not the first person that you would think of to relaunch this title. His stories, things like 100 Bullets and Flashpoint: Batman Knight
of Vengeance, have an inherent darkness to them, an edge that doesn't quite work in mainstay superhero tales. He's also known to be a writer who's quirks sometimes get in the way of the success of the story being told, like what occurred in Superman: For Tomorrow. That said, against all, his Wonder Woman pulls a distinctly gory rabbit out of its hat and does what I didn't think was possible.

It worked.

The story, a genre smattering of Superhero, Horror, and Mythology, is a clever combination of entertainment and ingenuity. It has the classic dark edge, that sense of malice and gritty undertones that the writer is known for, but it's done so differently and incorporates Wonder Woman in such a classic/new hybrid way that you can't help but be sucked in by the newness that has been created.

The gist of the story concerns a young woman, named Zola, who has found herself being the target for assassination. Why? Well, that would be telling, just know that to help her, she is sent to Diana and from there things only get harrier. There's a lot in this first issue to like. The re-imagining of the Greek Pantheon of Gods, ideas that have been a constant in this title's ongoing tale and have felt stale for quite some time, is probably the best. They're creepy and fell more God like with their slightly off kilter looks, provided by the super talented Cliff Chiang. Still, Azzarello's portrayal of Diana works as well. She isn't much different than she has been portrayed in the past, which helps the reader ease into the other, more stranger aspects of the story. Seeing her tower over Zola and ripple with Amazonian strength and speed and power as she fights off creatures straight out of myth brings about some downright cool moments that keep you engrossed in the story.

Which brings us to the art. Like I said before, Cliff (Human Target/Dr. Thirteen) Chiang does some amazing redesigns on the characters in this book. His Hermes is very avian inspired, with his demeanor and overall features, and it adds so much more to the character and makes him so different. The style that he's using is a little more rough around the edges than his typical slick, very clean lined style, but there are a lot of complexities to it. The action is dynamic and the rougher pencils add a real sense of movement to the stampeding Centaurs and arrows flashing across the sky.

I'm a bit stunned by how good this issue was and how much I'm looking forward to seeing what Azzarello and Chiang can bring about in the upcoming issues. I'm sure it will be dark and feel so unlike what we are used to seeing with Wonder Woman, but maybe that's exactly what this book needs.

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