The New 52 version of Wonder Woman is unlike anything we’ve read before of this Themysciran princess. Brian Azzarello took a character often over-simplified or miswritten and brought back the spark and intrigue Diana deserves. Cliff Chiang and Tony Akins illustrate her world and the characters within it in a refreshingly unique way, with both modern touches and classical Greek influences weaved throughout. It’s a stunning book, visually and narratively, and an absolute must buy.
There are not many iconic Wonder Woman stories touted by fans like the iconic Batman (e.g. Year One, The Killing Joke or The Dark Knight Returns) or Superman (e.g. All-Star Superman, Superman: For Tomorrow vol. 1 or Superman: Red Son) graphic novels. That changes with this run of Wonder Woman. Azzarello is writing an ongoing classic, an exciting experience for comic fans today. There’s a defeatist sentiment prevalent in the comic world that all the good stories have already been told with core DC characters like Wonder Woman, and what comes out now will never compare to what came before. Of course there are books that can never be matched but I think this Wonder Woman arc will stand the test of time. It also feels really great to be able to recommend a title starring Diana beyond Kingdom Come.
Azzarello shakes up Wonder Woman’s entire mythos, starting with her origin. Her previous origin story is revealed to be nothing more than a beautifully created lie, with the truth of her birth and of the Amazons’ lineage being far more malicious but realistic. Diana learns who her real father is and also gets to meet some of her blood (and blood-thirsty) relatives in the process. It’s a well-plotted tale with a lot of moving parts that stands alone well in this TPB though the story continues today in current issues. New characters are regularly introduced, but many will be familiar if you remember your basic Greek mythology. You’ve never seen them the way that Chiang and Akins have drawn them though. Every character has undergone a very creative re-imagining: keeping key traits of these legendary gods and goddesses through subtle physical attributes, while their overall physical appearance is unlike any historical portrayal seen before. I found myself going back and dissecting the way these gods looked and being impressed by the correlation with their personalities. That shows thought beyond just making them look interesting. Chiang’s style is very well suited to the book and his cover work is outstanding.
Overall this Wonder Woman trade paperback is an excellent first chapter in a great ongoing series. Even if (or maybe especially if) you’ve never picked up a Wonder Woman book before, give this series a shot. You won’t be disappointed.