12/22/2011

Wonder Woman #3

By Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, Matthew Wilson, Jared K. Fletcher

In my posts on Aquaman and Green Lantern, I mentioned in passing their predilection for R-rated violence. Illustrating scenes of bloodletting comes very easily in the DC Universe. The same can't be said for the rendering of any kind of sexual content, which ranges from embarrassingly juvenile to simply bizarre. So when the scene in Wonder Woman #3 revealing the affair between Queen Hippolyta and Zeus is actually handled with a measure of something approaching intelligence and maturity, it can be considered a meager victory for the series and its creative team.

I haven't changed my mind about the decision to make Diana the illegitimate daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus. It still feels like a retreat from what originally made the character unique and different. But as far as execution goes, WW is shaping up to be among the better titles the New 52 has to offer. Artist Cliff Chiang is one of a handful of artists at DC (Along with Francis Manapul on The Flash and J.H. Williams on Batwoman) who employs a style that's individual and yet accessible - one that doesn't look like a refugee from the Image-influenced 90s. Chiang's clean lines and grasp of drawing fundamentals even manages to make the new WW costume look passable (Or at the very least, look less overdone). His linework is full of energy. The characters look like they're inhabiting an actual space instead of just floating in front of a backdrop. The attention to quality is matched by Brian Azzarello's story. While I'm still not sold on the scenes involving decapitation back in issue #1, his WW is, if not completely human, certainly more grounded. By way of contrast, the reader has only to read WW's debut in Justice League #3 to see how poorly the character can be handled. The series creators have chosen to portray their ensemble as broad types rather than individual personalities. In the case of WW, she's an ingénue who takes her cue from the George Perez and Jodi Picoult runs on the title, but updated to fit in with today's more bloodthirsty standards.

Justice League #3

The Justice League version is a very generic product seemingly whittled down from other sources that were themselves rip-offs of other ideas - a walking engine of destruction dressed in a bathing suit and heels, who becomes immediately objectified by her would-be colleagues. Ugh! In contrast, The Azzarello WW's barely restrained anger to her mother's revealed dalliance makes her immediately more relatable as a character. The difference between the two interpretations of her is the difference between competent vs. lazy genre writing. In her own series, her reaction helps define her personality a bit more while pushing the story forward. And for now, it's a story worth reading.

Wonder Woman #3