Wonder Woman is too many things to too many people. Inevitably, any attempt to do a bold declaration of “This is what Wonder Woman stands for” turns out to be fairly divisive. She is an ambassador of peace, but she is also a great warrior and military strategist. She is chosen by the goddess of love, but no love interest will ever be worthy of her in the eyes of her fans. The contradictions continue, and help explain (I believe) why there is no one definitive Wonder Woman story for her fans. Perhaps my favorite part about Brian Azzarello’s current run on Wonder Woman is that he doesn’t delve deep into Diana’s character and lose himself in that particular hall of mirrors. No, under Azzarello’s pen, Wonder Woman is a supremely confident action heroine fighting massive, horrific enemies who see humans more as ants than people, a superhero trying to beat back the tide of a horror film. It probably shouldn’t work. It so does.
That’s not to say that Diana lacks a personality. Wonder Woman #5, titled “Lourdes”, deals with many of the same issues Azzarello has been playing with all along – issues of family, as Diana finds out the truth about her father and gains new, untrustworthy siblings; of loss, as she copes with the death of her mother; and of loyalty, as she defends humanity from her new family. We don’t need to be told who Wonder Woman is – her actions and reactions tell us everything we need to know.
“Lourdes” isn’t my favorite issue of Wonder Woman. In fact, it’s probably my least favorite since the relaunch. The introduction of the mysterious Lennox, who shares family with Diana and may know some family secrets she doesn’t, opens up some interesting story possibilities, but is clumsily handled here. His too-cool attitude and mysterious knowledge, combined with Wonder Woman’s fascination with his fairly bland origin story, make him seem a bit like a Mary Sue. And Tony Akins turns in some solid work – I particularly like his bizarre, monstrous take on Poseidon – but doesn’t entirely fit in with the tone Azzarello and Chiang had been building
All that said, it’s still a fairly solid issue. A late issue twist that doubles as Wonder Woman’s first shot at Hera is both hilarious and fascinating, and the issue sets up a potentially fascinating story as Hades and Poseidon join Apollo in the contest to take over for the now-absent Zeus. Similarly, Wonder Woman’s budding relationships with Hermes and Zola is refreshing, and offers a pleasant contrast with the no-nonsense warrior side of her we saw in early issues. Wonder Woman is a character full of contradictions – but then, most real people are. Azzarello’s surprisingly confident take on the character presents those contradictions to us without comment and lets us be the judge. And in this thrilling, stylish story of one woman rising up to defend us from the gods, I have to say, I like what I see.