Thursday, 26 September 2013

Wonder Woman, Volume 3: Iron by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang Review

Brian Azzarello’s take on Wonder Woman in the New 52 has been to really hit the Greek mythology angle hard so that his WW comics are full of Greek gods like Zeus, his wife Hera, and their many children, including illegitimate kids. It’s this latter that has been the driving force of the series so far. Zeus had yet another baby with a human woman which got snatched away as the vengeful Hera, intent on killing off any woman who sleeps with her husband, tried to kill both baby and mother. Wonder Woman stepped in, saving Zola (the mum) and has been helping her find her baby. But others are on the hunt to kill this baby before it grows up and fulfils its destiny - of destroying humanity!

The summary above is for the entire series, not just this book. We’ve had 3 volumes now of Wonder Woman chasing this baby and the storyline is starting to feel really stale. In comparison to Snyder’s Batman, Snyder has written a massive Court of Owls storyline, the Death of the Family storyline, and now Zero Year, while Azzarello has been stuck on the one storyline for the same length of time: WW chasing a baby while getting to know her strange dysfunctional family of gods.

It wouldn’t be so bad if Azzarello was doing new things with the plot but the story in this book doesn’t feel like things have moved much since the first book. Hera is now mortal – and that’s about it. Still chasing the baby. Still getting to know her brothers and sisters. I’m not criticising the writing (which is perfectly fine), I just wish Azzarello would finish up this storyline and move on to something more fresh and exciting. This storyline has never felt very interesting since the first volume, and now we’re on volume three and it hasn’t improved. At this point, I really want to see WW do something else, leave the family behind, the baby, and do anything – anything! - else.

But if the storyline is too static, the setup feels overfamiliar. The mythological content and the focus on bizarre family members who’re also gods feels too much like Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Dream and his siblings are basically Diana and her siblings, their relationships basically the same, while Sandman also explored the mythological angle in its stories more originally and cleverly than Azzarello does with Wonder Woman. I get that people like these kinds of stories, but Wonder Woman’s a superhero, not Percy Jackson!

I liked the opening issue of a 12 year old Diana as she went on heroic quests to obtain valuable artefacts as tribute to her mother, then went into training with Ares, god of War because it shows Azzarello’s commitment to continue building up the character’s background. Plus the story is pretty good, showing Diana’s personality develop as she makes changes that show us why she’s heroic and not a villain - it’s good solid character building. Although I will say that later in the book when Orion slaps her ass, Diana whirls about and says “hey!” angrily instead of clocking him in the head, which she would do. It’s an uncharacteristic move that didn’t sit right in the story, even though it’s revealed later that Orion wasn’t just being sleazy.

An explanation for why Diana didn’t punch Orion for slapping her ass could be that Orion is Diana’s love interest, and therefore Diana let him get away with it because she fancies him. It’s not a massive stretch of believability as he looks like a Calvin Klein model and Diana is, well, a goddess. It’s just that it’s all so predictable – of course he’s the love interest, he’s handsome and smiles a lot. Zeus’ first child who stands around in the ice of Antarctica for much of the book looking scary and menacing, killing things, is the bad guy – again, predictable.

Wonder Woman is a character I would love to enjoy reading about if she only had a series I was actually excited about. Unfortunately, Volume 3: Iron, continues the uninteresting story of Wonder Woman, her extended family, and a doom baby as it’s done since Volume 1. Maybe it’s time for a new creative team and direction for the character?

Wonder Woman Volume 3: Iron

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