New 52 Review: Wonder Woman #1

Brian Azzarello's take on the mighty Amazon is pretty mysterious, but one thing's for sure - she has no pants.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

Wonder Woman #1

Well it was bound to happen. With fifty-two new titles it was only a matter of time before one the DCU issues stumped me. Wonder Woman #1, I’m not sure if it’s good or bad.  In fact, I’m not really sure what the hell is going on. I do know that I’m a fan of what writer Brian Azzarello has done in the past, especially with Batman and The Joker. I also know that Wonder Woman has long been one of my favorite characters. What I’m unclear of is exactly what the writer I so enjoy is doing with the character I so love. I’m not going to say that Wonder Woman #1 is bad, but, in the words of Ricky Ricardo, Azzarello has a lot of ‘splanin to do.

It’s safe to say that Wonder Woman #1 has zero direction. With a writer as seasoned as Azzarello, I’m going to assume the lack of direction is on purpose. The issue opens in a penthouse apartment where three party girls are getting their drink on with an odd looking gentlemen who has glowing eyes. In as vague and confusing way as possible, the odd man makes a speech about his dad being a God. Cut to a farm where a woman in a hooded peacock feather cloak cuts the head off of a horse. From the stub-neck of the horse a man comes crawling out. Suddenly, a blue version of the god Hermes, dressed as a World War I soldier, tries to protect the redneck farm girl from the sudden appearance of two really pissed off centaurs.

Here’s where it gets weird. Hermes tosses the redneck farm girl a key and she suddenly zaps into the apartment where Wonder Woman lives. After a quick exchange, the girl uses the magic key to zap her and Wonder Woman back to the farm and a battle rages. By the end, the two centaurs are dead and it turns out that the girl is knocked up with Zeus’s child. Oh, and the weird guy in the high rise sets fire to the three girls after they spout some kind of 'bubble bubble toil and trouble' type words of wisdom. If you think my description is abrupt, try reading the issue. After reading Wonder Woman #1 three times, I was still left with the same feeling. I didn’t like the issue, I thought it was badly written but I was also fighting that idea because I know Azzarello is a great writer. It’s almost as if he made Wonder Woman too serious.

For those expecting the stylized violence of Azzarello, fear not, it’s all over the issue. From the decapitating of the horse to Wonder Woman’s brutal slaughtering of the centaurs, the bloody fingerprints of the man who gave us 100 Bullets simply won’t be denied. The violence was part of my problem with the issue, not because I have a problem with egregious violence, but because it didn’t feel like Wonder Woman. It reminded me of Detective Comics #1, where Tony Daniel wrote Batman in a way that felt wrong, as if reboot suddenly meant 'let's completely gut who the character is.' I started out being really excited by the direction Azzarello would take Wonder Woman, now I’m just kind of interested.

Outside of the abysmal cover (Wonder Woman looks like a man), Cliff Chiang’s art is pretty solid. It’s not always easy to draw for a writer that blends action into almost everything that happens. Azzarello is a visceral writer, even when the panel is just conversation it has a sense of movement and action. Chiang does a great job of keeping up with the ideas being laid down and maintaining that level of intensity even within the confines of a two dimensional medium. He also makes Wonder Woman look pretty but also formidable, like a true Amazon warrior. This is a rocky start for Wonder Woman, one that fans might not appreciate. While I can’t rave about this issue, I choose to have faith in the talents of Azzarello and Chiang.