We continue the countdown with the only regular DCU entry... WONDER WOMAN BY BRIAN AZZARELLO, CLIFF CHIANG, TONY AKINS, AND OTHERS!
Earlier this week, I wrote that Wonder Woman often reads like the least Azzarello-esque thing I've read by Brian Azzarello. I stand by that. There's little in Wonder Woman or Orion that scream "Typical Azzarello!" but there's plenty that does. Like the way the gods play one another and vie for power. Or the way Azzarello writes dialogue with so much precision and playfulness. The most recent issue, for example, had the Wonder Woman/Orion stuff that didn't seem at all like Azzarello, but it also had the stuff in the bar that felt like the Azzarello we all know and are a little afraid to love.
While Batman seems like a more 'natural' fit for a guy like Azzarello, he's very suited to writing Wonder Woman. A pure character who has a dark, dangerous side. She comes from a violent, cruel world - the Amazons are warriors, their gods are spiteful... she can work within the dark side of things. She can think of dangerous, cruel things to do, because she has a noble cause. She clearly doesn't like doing certain things, but she will. She will doublecross gods and sacrifice herself to save a baby. She's a hero unafraid to do what it takes to protect life. Yet, it never feels like she's bloodthursty or as brutal as someone like Batman. There's a hope and optimism to the character that most don't have -- and it never feels corny like it sometimes does with the likes of Superman. She's a good person who will do bad things if necessary and that's pretty simple.
Wonder Woman had the best zero issue that I read from DC. Azzarello was so playful in the opening narration and used the conceipt in a way that clearly plays a big role in the story he's telling. Almost like a backstory he was aware of but wouldn't share unless necessary. A lot could be learned there.
The art on Wonder Woman is top-notch. Cliff Chiang brings the right sort of light, cartoony feel that helps soften Azzarello a little and make this work feel more like a complete whole than a mismatched writer/artist (it helps that they're not mismatched). And Tony Akins is a great fill-in artist, working in a similar style to Chiang. There's a very unified look to this comic and it's a strong, bold one. It's sort of what you want a superhero comic to look like.
The character designs really impress me as well. The looks of the gods are inventive while remaining true to their natures. Apollo looks nothing like you've seen him portrayed before... yet it doesn't seem wrong in any way. Hades is particularly inspired. And the Orion redesign is the best redesign of that character. Very true to Kirby's original while looking more contemporary in a way that isn't immediately dated. How did Chiang do it?
Tim, you should catch up on this comic. It's really, really good.