Some issues of an ongoing series serve as more of a transition piece than anything else; that linking segment that moves us into the next big event. It’s certainly what “Wonder Woman” #27 feels like, as Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang move characters into new positions, all poised to act. While that doesn’t results in the most riveting of stories, it’s sometimes necessary. More importantly, when you’ve got Chiang drawing it, the end result will still be beautiful.
“Wonder Woman” #27 is full of transitions, ultimately. Apollo’s imprisoning the First One; Zola’s partnership with Dionysus; Wonder Woman’s relationships with Hermes, Artemis, and Hero. All of them have a shift in this issue, and all of them bode well for future issues as a direct result. But perhaps because it’s all transition, none of them jump out that much. They’re all short and slightly truncated, so none of them gain a lot of traction here. Even the moment that’s on the cover feels rushed through, and that’s a shame because of the potential. Next issue should hopefully be a little more substantial on all of these fronts — and they’re all sounding great so it’s hard to even pick just one — but for now the energy isn’t there.
On the other hand, I adore Chiang’s art here. Look at the grief on Wonder Woman’s face as she stands on Paradise Island, for instance; her closed eyes, her bowed head, the loss in her posture. It’s sad and unsettling, exactly what the art should convey. And likewise, Hera’s sadness and fear over being left alone is handled perfectly. The way that she’s balled into the corner of the room with her mascara running makes her look more vulnerable that we’ve ever seen before. It’s a great match for the dialogue from Azzarello (and which is actually the highlight of the writing this issue), and it continues the path of making Hera into a character you care about, without erasing anything awful that she did in the first year of “Wonder Woman.”
It’s also always nice to get a new design of an old mythical character courtesy Chiang. His rendition of the Minotaur might raise some eyebrows with the leather bondage gear being repurposed, but for a character who was both prisoner and guardian at the same time in ancient myth, it works well. This Minotaur instantly comes across as dangerous and rippling with energy, and that’s something that the outfit helps showcase. Some character designs have been stranger than others, but I feel like Minotaur is one of those re-imaginings where as soon as you see it, everything snaps into place perfectly.
“Wonder Woman” #27 should get us to the next high of the series, easily. Azzarello and Chiang have had enough successes with this title that the occasional downward dip (and only to the realm of average, rather than outstanding) is more than acceptable. And at the end of the day, having Chiang draw just an average story? Well, that won’t scare readers away one bit. His art is always worth the wait.