I am just as new as you are to these reviews, so let me give you an idea of why we are here before delving into this wonderful series (get it).
The Johnny’s Massive Review will be the title of a blog anytime I have finished a large run of comics or viewed an entire television series. I have found that when anyone has experienced a complete story, they have the best sense of whether to recommend or not, and I want to provide a service to our readers. I hope to enlighten and point out the worthy aspects of these collections. So without further ado, and with no more gilding the lily, let’s get into our topic for this week… Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman in a new Era
In 2011, DC comics boldly went where they go every few years. They re-started their comic book universe and began putting out a new line of comic books called the New 52. This jumping on point saw the re-imagining of quite a few big names in comic books, and Wonder Woman was no exception. I was impressed with three aspects of these changes; Wonder Woman has become a relatable and interesting character, the gods and her support cast have become more than static backups, and the villain was an original character that held not only a fitting back-story, but an insanely interesting one.
Wonder Woman: More than clay
Wonder Woman, or Diana, is the child of the god Zeus and Hippolyta, the queen of the Amazons. This is contrary to the story of Wonder Woman in the past, but I love how this creative team adapted this facet. Wonder Woman’s traditional origin flowed nicely with other Greek tales, having Diana formed from clay by her mother and made real through an answered prayer to a god. The new line of issues began with that pretext, but we slowly found out that Diana’s mother told this lie to protect Diana from the wrath of Zeus’ wife Hera. The writers did a great job of showing the isolation Wonder Woman experienced as a young girl being “made of clay”, and they give us reason to empathize with the queen in why she told this lie.
This isolation along with her prowess at combat lend themselves to catching the attention of the God of War, Aeries, who saw her from the heaven and comes to earth to train Diana. These novels, while using the driving story of the gods fighting for power, really outline the transition from Wonder Woman being a warrior to the actual god of war. In fact, this is why the bound editions are labeled Blood, Guts, Iron, War, and Flesh. As Aeries told Diana while training her in the issue labeled as issue #0, “Hast thou spent all thy time in the arena and none in the temple? Truly thou art after my own heart! Little one, I be an Olympian, I be the settler of dispute. I BE BLOOD! I BE GUTS! I BE IRON! I BE WAR!"
Ironically, this story of how she became a god makes her more human. This story pulls Diana from being a warrior poet beyond reproach and turns her into a relatable superhero.
The Support Cast
What do a rock-man, Orion of the new god’s comic, a hobo, a baby, and the queen of the Greek gods have in common? I know it sounds like a bad joke, but Wonder Woman’s support cast in this arc are phenomenal. In finding out that she is a daughter of Zeus, Wonder Woman gains a somewhat messy family situation.
After she becomes the protector of Zeus’ latest conquest and her son sired by Zeus, Wonder Woman finds herself in the same place as the baby. Her new found father’s wife is a vengeful goddess, and is famous in legend as killing the women of Zeus’ love.
As Wonder Woman protects this new child, she is informed of her relationship to Zeus and encounters a cast of all the children of Zeus born since 1900. Needless to say her new siblings are interesting, but the character play within her new family is perfect. This cast of misfits brings to mind for the first time in the new 52 a character created by Jack Kirby back in the silver age. Orion of the New Gods.
He is an overconfident jerk sometimes, but he is on earth because he had befriended Diana's new found brother. This brother is homeless because his connection with insect life makes him somewhat repulsive to others. Wonder Woman's new brother Linux (the rock man) and her sister (literally the wind itself) have been hurt by Zeus' wife Hera. Between these two and the new mother, not one of these characters can stand this queen of the gods, and yet... Diana becomes Hera's protector as she becomes mortal! Having such distain all around the cast is simply priceless.
Between Orion's overconfidence, Hera becoming mortal, and the southern girl who mothered the newest child, things get bumpy, and what a fun ride it is!
Throughout the series, we encounter a host of villainy at the hands of traditional gods; the sun god Apollo taking his father's throne in heaven, the god of death tries to take Wonder Woman as his bride, and of course Hera tries to kill the baby. These all pale in comparison to the main villain though... The firstborn of Zeus!
The first child of Zeus and Hera was abandoned in the wilderness as Zeus feared that one day the child would steal his throne. He was raised by hyenas in the African plains after being abandoned to die. He then attempted taking Olympus. His punishment for trying to take Olympus was to be submerged in the earth's core. For 7,000 years this god has been escaping his prison in the center of the earth.
This violent and strong foe has a motivation and single mindedness that is reflected in other villains, but due to his back-story, becomes believable. Without the key element of digging for 7,000 year. I wonder at the sanity of any being forced to go through this tragedy.
Wonder Woman’s battles with this first born are both emotional and engaging. We have a lot of villains to be sympathetic towards throughout the series, but the firstborn lacks that sympathy. He is truly a villain, and he would not be content with happiness.
I say all of these things to bring to mind, that unlike older publications, this was not Greek to me. I urge you, dear reader to go read these titles! This will be from this moment on THE ICONIC WONDER WOMAN ARC. If you want humor, Greek mythology, good versus evil, or even the exploration of destiny, this is the story for you.