Most of the past three years of “Wonder Woman” have been, to sound a little corny, a real wonder. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang (along with regular second artists like Tony Akins and Goran Sudzuka) repositioned DC Comics’ most important Amazon into a spot of power, strength and a beautiful reinterpretation of the mythos surrounding her. It’s a shame, then, that “Wonder Woman” #35 (wrapping up their time on the series) feels slightly rushed in terms of story, as if it was slightly truncated.
Let there be no mistake, Azzarello wraps up everything he’d set in motion. The mystery over Zeus’ disappearance is explained, Zola and Zeke’s part in the Greek pantheon is finalized, Olympus has a new ruler, and Wonder Woman and the First Born have their final battle. But in terms of exposition and even soaking in the events of this issue, it feels very terse, very to-the-point because there’s no room to present anything else. Azzarello’s story at least feels like it needed a handful of additional pages to smooth the storytelling out, if not one more full issue. Instead, readers are given all of these revelations in short order and no time to dwell on them.
Even pieces of the story that come back around from earlier (like Diana’s fate at the hands of the minotaur) feel a little rushed; it needs to happen, you can see why, but at the same time there’s such a “hurry hurry hurry” element to this comic that it never quite gets the space that it deserves. That’s a real shame; compare this issue to one like “Wonder Woman” #12 as the first year of the title wrapped and there’s a real difference in pacing and storytelling. The ideas here are still great, but there are a lot of rough edges that never got smoothed out.
On the bright side, the art at least doesn’t suffer in “Wonder Woman” #35. I don’t know where Chiang’s headed to next, but his time on “Wonder Woman” over the past three years has been a huge breath of fresh air, as well as a joy to see him regularly contributing to a title for such a long time period. Every character is drawn with care, with clean, crisp lines that cut across the page with great precision. Chiang rises up to the challenges of the script and brings the fantastic and the mundane into close proximity here. Zola’s physical changes in “Wonder Woman” #35 look dangerous and creepy, even as she’s still recognizably the character readers met back in “Wonder Woman” #1. The First One and Wonder Woman’s battle is strong without being over the top; once the lasso comes out it’s that much more impressive as we’re reminded that Wonder Woman is one of the most powerful beings in the universe, and it would do well for those around her to recognize that. The phrase, “I’ll show you” from Wonder Woman wouldn’t have half of the weight if it wasn’t for Chiang selling the visual on just how Diana is showing the First Born what she’s talking about.
I’ll greatly miss Azzarello, Chiang and company on this title. It’s been a fun ride, and this is a run on the title that years later will still be talked about as a definitive “Wonder Woman” era. But with all of that in mind — I wish that their final issue had been as great as their overall overage, rather than just good. They ultimately won the marathon, but that final mile wasn’t as graceful as one would have wanted.