Azzarello Looks to New Gods, Old Material in "Wonder Woman" & "Before Watchmen"

Writer Brian Azzarello, the man behind DC Comics' "Wonder Woman" ongoing series with artist Cliff Chiang and "Before Watchmen: Comedian" miniseries with artist J.G. Jones, has spent the past year of the New 52 building a cast around the Amazing Amazon and exploring the Comedian AKA Edward Blake's past involvement with the Kennedys. Azzarello spoke with CBR News at NYCC about his current books and where he's heading in the coming year, beginning with the upcoming appearance of Orion, teased at the end of "Wonder Woman" #12.

"It's crazy, huh? We know what we're doing ahead of time!" Azzarello joked, explaining that Orion's appearance had been part of the plan for the book since last year's relaunch. The writer added Darkseid and Apokolips' appearance in "Earth 2" and early issues of "Justice League" had not changed or derailed his plans for "Wonder Woman" at all.

"It's all been coordinated, everything's planned, we planted the seeds -- it's like dominoes, falling into place," Azzarello added.

Speaking more in-depth about why he wanted to incorporate the Jack Kirby Fourth World character into his Greek mythology-heavy "Wonder Woman" cast, Azzarello told CBR that Orion was the first of many surprises in store for readers on the horizon.

"I mean, look in the first year we established her supporting cast, which happens to be her family, which happens to be the gods. Bringing in Orion, you think you know what's going on and then we're lobbing this grenade into the middle of it to mix it up a little bit. And he's not the only grenade that's going to happen," Azzarello said. "There will be three grenades. Watch out for 'em!"

The writer also admitted he took this "grenade" approach to issue #12 where the god Mercury turned coat and stole Zola's baby.

"That was one of the grenades in issue #12. I think there were three grenades in that one," Azzarello said. "There was that, the reveal with the bracelets and then Orion."

Another grenade readers discovered in early issues of Azzarello's run is that Ares, Diana's traditional enemy and now estranged mentor in the New 52, looks like none other than Azzarello himself, something the writer said was done intentionally.

"That's Cliff [Chiang]. Cliff came up with that on his own," Azzarello said, adding with a big grin, "I might be biased but I think he's the most handsome character in the comic!"

Switching to "Before Watchmen," the writer stated that on his end he had seen no difference in fan reaction to the controversial miniseries now that he and fellow scribes such as Amanda Conner and J. Michael Stranczynski are three to four issues in versus when the controversial news was first announced.

"It's no different reaction. Talking to fans -- let me tell you something, when fans talk to you, the ones that say shit online, they don't come up to you at a convention, they just won't do that stuff. People who come up to you at a convention are people who want to share an experience with you and tell you what they think," Azzarello said.

With an ironic grin, the writer admitted he had once come up against a fan willing to be negative in person. "Only once [while] doing 'Wonder Woman' did this guy come up and just tell me how much he hated it -- but he really liked issue #0. He didn't buy it, he read it at the comics store. But he's an anomaly!" Azzarello said. "Most of the time when you get an interaction with fans it's positive. That's the experience you're looking for. The people who don't like what I'm doing, they don't want to come and tell me they don't like what I'm doing; they want to tell somebody else. Going to a convention and having a good time, that's the way they want to spend their time -- I hope!"

Fans aside, Azzarello believed working on his Comedian story, which ties Edward Blake closely with the real-life Kennedy clan and politics of the 1960s, has very much changed the way he sees the original Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons "Watchmen."

"I read it a number of times, I had to. So do I look at it differently now? Yeah, because I had to dissect it. Now it's just a body!" Azzarello said, laughing. "That's the thing, that happens when you do some of these characters and stuff. That's why it's a good thing not to be a fan when you're working on this stuff because you ruin your fan experience. I wasn't a fan of Wonder Woman so I was able to look at that thing with the whole mythos that she was in with a more critical eye, and there wasn't something in Wonder Woman that I was feeling precious about, you know? Same thing with Batman, Superman, any of these characters."

However, Azzarello admitted that he's had his own share of fan-moments that tripped him up on other projects. "The one time I worked on a character that I was actually a real fan of was Sergeant Rock, and I was working with Joe Kubert who I was an enormous fan of! And I was really happy with that, but when I re-read that it's like, I missed it, I missed something, there's something missing because I was being too precious," Azzarello confessed.

Though Azzarello's Vertigo Comics apocalyptic science fiction miniseries "Spaceman" has just wrapped and the Deluxe Edition hardcover was announced for next year at the Vertigo NYCC panel, the writer was contemplative when asked what genre he'd like to tackle next as a creator-owned project.

"I don't know, maybe I'd do a romance one -- they keep saying, do a romance story. I have done that in '100 Bullets.' There were a lot of romance stories. I don't know. There are some ideas that Eduardo [Risso] and I have talked about doing," Azzarello said.

"I think the next thing will be much more grounded, rather than 'Spaceman,' the writer added, stating that rather than world-building as he did on the miniseries, "It'll be something we can really shorthand a lot of, just get right into the story immediately."

"Wonder Woman" #14 hits stores November 21; "Before Watchmen: Comedian" #5 releases December 12.

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