By this point, it’s almost become trite to point out how difficult writing Wonder Woman is. The Amazon hero is one of the world’s most recognizable fictional creations, but DC has had a hard time capitalizing on that fact these past few years. From the disastrous Amazons Attack through the ill-conceived ‘relaunch’ marred by delays and poor storytelling choices into the final months of JMS’s haphazard alternate universe Wonder Woman story, Diana has not fared well these past few months. Which is why I’m so happy to say that, after a rock-solid debut by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, Wonder Woman #2 continues to stand-out as one of the creative successes of the New 52.
Azzarello has turned in a fairly strong script. His idea for the war the Amazons try to wage on Strife is cleverly constructed, but Chiang struggles at first to figure out how to portray the fight, leaving Azzarello’s dialogue to do the heavy-lifting. Similarly, the issue’s only all-out fight scene, a friendly brawl between Diana and another Amazon, is cleverly paneled but doesn’t flow terribly well. Aside from that, however, Chiang does fine work, giving the Amazons a distinctive look and feel, his illustration of Paradise Island feels vibrant and alive.
Following the attack on Zola last issue, Diana brings her to Paradise Isle. There, Zola hides and Hermes recovers while Wonder Woman revels in being among her sisters again – and Hera plots her next move. An attack on Paradise Isle by one of the more malevolent Greek gods leads to an unexpected (and possibly untrue) revelation about Wonder Woman’s parentage, even as she becomes even more embroiled in the dark games of the gods.
Much has been made of the horror-tinged direction Azzarello has decided to take the character, and it’s a genre-choice that becomes even more obvious with this issue – and even more obviously beneficial. The opening pages on Paradise Island, as the trio are stalked by threatening voices in the jungle, is ripped straight from the pages of horror cliches, while the Amazons fighting off a mysterious intruder in that same jungle is a more clever, and more chilling, take on the mythological material from last week that posited normal humans as little-more than toy soldiers in the games of the gods.
The book isn’t perfect – see this week’s fantastic issue of Snyder’s Batman for a near perfect superhero story – but it’s got a solid voice and an intriguing concept, two things that Wonder Woman rarely has. If Chiang can get a firmer grasp on the action sequences and Azzarello can continue to find novel ways to blend horror, action and mythology, the two of them could have quite a winner. Dark and memorable, this is a book that has the potential to define Wonder Woman for a new generation of fans.