There’s a distinct theme that’s been forming over the issues of the new “Wonder Woman” by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang and it’s once more front and center this month. It’s the idea that Wonder Woman’s had the truth hidden from her over and over again, a direct contrast to the woman whose iconic magic lasso compels people to speak the truth. Past issues had revelations that included the god Zeus being her father and the reality of how the other Amazons were conceived and what happened to the unwanted children of such unions.
This month, Diana discovers the true nature of Hades’ underworld and while it’s not as shocking to readers as it is to her, it’s still another piece of her world that’s come tumbling down. She may a woman of two worlds — the mortal and the divine — but it’s becoming increasingly clear that it’s the mortal world where her feet are firmly rooted, even as she continues to consort with the Greek gods. Her confusion ends up making her come across not as naÃ¯ve, but rather as someone firmly on the side of the audience.
As a result, when “Wonder Woman” #8 plays out, Azzarello brings it all through a natural progression. All of the pieces of this issue are laid out one at a time, and when she makes her final decision on how to try and free Zola from the underworld, her plan both succeeds and fails, depending on how you look at it. It’s very much like Wonder Woman to end up in hot water herself as a result of helping someone else; she has always been one of the most selfless heroes at DC. It’s also another exciting cliffhanger and that’s something this series of “Wonder Woman” in general is great at; that continual “what happens next?” question mark hanging over each chapter.
Chiang’s art is a large part of the appeal of “Wonder Woman” right now, too. I love the sharp, deliberate lines that form the title character with her perfectly shaped eyes and ringlet curls or how her outfit comes across much more as armor than merely for show. The reinterpretations of the gods has also been a lot of fun here, and seeing Hermes and Hades here is another reminder of how each one is clearly based on classic mythology but then providing a more modern, clever take on those ideas. The candles on Hades’ head might have looked strange from another artist, for example, but here the molten wax paired with the black armor feels right. When a parting shot is aimed at our hero, the body language on Diana moving to deflect the projectile is so smooth that you might actually think you saw her move her bracelet up to keep it away.
“Wonder Woman” is designed to push buttons (last month’s issue in particular pushed a lot), there’s no doubt. With each new chapter, though, I feel like we’re getting a strong through-line of these ideas, that it’s all there to specifically align for a greater purpose. It’s still one of the most interesting books in DC’s New 52 and while some ideas might be a little off-putting, I feel that it’s trying to startle its readers even as it’s providing more than just shock tactics. I’m curious to see where the title will go next. More importantly, it also answers the question of what sets Wonder Woman apart from the rest of the Amazons; she’s better than them, someone for whom you should look up to.