Wonder Woman #10
Writer: Brain Azzarello
Pencils: Kano/Tony Akins
Inks: Dan Green/Tony Akins
Colourist: Matthew Wilson
The Wonder Woman series of the New 52 has been darker than her other interpretations, mostly because of the characters around her, namely the new incarnation of the Greek gods. Hermes only just resembles a human, Poseidon is a giant fish monster, Hephaestus almost resembles Hellboy, and Eros is now wielding a pair of love guns.
So far it’s been a lot different form many other superhero books DC produce and often comes across more like a Vertigo title, because of the violence, the scary creatures, and the character Lennox, who I initially thought to be a stand in for John Constantine. Cliff Chaing’s cover portrays the difference of other Wonder Woman stories alone, with a skeletal Diana wielding Eros’ pistols. So far, I’ve been enjoying this take as it is obviously fresh and different but everything feels dangerous and unexpected. Each new take on the Greek pantheon and the adventures Diana has been involved have all been surprising and it’s a series in which I never know what to expect.
The problem is with all this is; is it still the Wonder Woman everyone knows and loves? Diana has always been a character that has many different interpretations of and many people are dived on which they prefer. However, in this series I believe that Brian Azzarello is managing to incorporate every aspect that make people love the character. She’s still a superhero; she wears a costume, she fights villains and while it hasn’t come up in her solo title, she’s a member of the Justice League. She’s an amazon warrior, using a wide range of weapons in brutal combat and often ebbing involved with her sisters of Themiscyra. She’s a diplomat (in this issue and the previous she’s agreed to marry Hades in order to save her friends). She’s a guardian (the current series has been centring around Wonder Woman’s guardianship of the woman Zola) and she is a caring, loving woman.
This was seen in #7, when she attempted at great risk to herself to free who she thought were the slaves of Hephaestus. She did this without a moments pause but would feel extremely guilty and saddened when she realised she had misunderstood the relationship between Hephaestus and his workers, who had considered the forger a saviour and father, rather than a harsh master.
Issue 10 was a testament to Diana’s personality, as Hades, thinking that her acceptance to marry him was some trick threatened to hang her with the lasso of truth if she didn’t love him. Obviously, being bound by the lasso meant that she couldn’t lie, so Azzarello skilfully set up a genuinely tense situation. Then when she admits that she does love Hades, it seems like she has somehow tricked him and the reader. Did she know a way to overcome the lasso’s power? But Azzarello pulled through again and having Diana without and hint of irony admit that she loves everyone and for me, that is a great personification for Wonder Woman, a great and powerful warrior with an boundless amount of love and understanding. The ending as well was a great one, in which Hephaestus, manage to teach, or force, Hades to actually love himself. Wonder Woman may be a darker series that it has been in the past, but it is as true to the character as any other interpretation.
The art of the current Wonder Woman series has been provided by Cliff Chiang but to keep on deadline it has had Troy Akins to cover for him. Akins is on art this issue and joined by Kano. Guest/filler artists can be a real annoyance in comics, having the art style shift for one issue (or in worse cases multiple issues with multiple artists) can really take you out of the story, but Akins has been a fine substitute for Chiang as his style is similar. Having two artists on one issue could of proved problematic but I have to say I didn’t even notice. Kano and Akins’ styles really mesh well together and so the art flows smoothly. Both men’s style is a little less smooth but more expressive than Chaing’s which probably fitted #10’s story better with is focusing on Diana and Hades emotional conflict but this doesn’t mean they have any problems conveying action. From Wonder Woman’s high speed horse mounted escape though Hell as she battles vicious dog women, to her battle with a giant blood creature, both artists keep the intensity and creepiness of Azzarello’s writing, but a great deal of this is thanks to Matthew Wilson’s colouring.
Wilson enhances the atmospheres by focusing on one set of colours for the environment, with Hades chamber where the wedding takes place being completely white, except for the ominous red skies and Diana’s gown, creating a contrast that coveys her as the outsider and victim. Then when things get more dangerous everything turns red, and Wonder Woman is lost in the colour, enhancing the idea of her drowning in blood.
Wonder Woman has been one of my favourite series of the last year and this issue might be my favourite so far.