Overview

Wonder Woman #1

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Wonder Woman #1

Credits

  • Words: Brian Azzarello
  • Art: Cliff Chiang
  • Colors: Matthew Wilson
  • Story Title: "The Visitation"
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Sep 21, 2011

Princess Diana celebrates the New 52 with a horrifying makeover, courtesy of Azzarello and Chiang.

Arguably the most dramatic relaunch of the New 52, Wonder Woman would seem to be the book that has the most to gain from a blank slate. The victim of countless reboots, re-imaginings, and redesigns, historically Princess Diana has had a difficult time stepping out from the shadow of her male counterparts, Superman and Batman. Suffering from an unfortunate lack of sac, she’s had trouble resonating with male fans still somehow unable to relate to a strong female character in this day and age (time to move out from the basement and into the 21st century, gents!). Most recently, more emphasis has been put on her appearance than the rich history she enjoys as the most recognizable superheroine on the planet.

Enter Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang.

While Chiang’s clean, stylized lines would seem to be the perfect match for DC’s premier female property, Azzarello’s inclusion on the creative team no doubt continues to raise eyebrows, especially considering his promise to write Wonder Woman as a horror comic. As someone who’s never really followed the character thanks to countless years of mishandling, let me assure you, this is a move DC should’ve made a long, long time ago. In fact, the ease with which Azzarello embraces Diana and her unique position in the DCnU makes it seem as if he was born to chronicle her adventures. This isn’t an exaggeration. Both Azzarello and Chiang elevate their games to a whole new level, creating an instant classic take on the character that will no doubt set the status quo for years to come. It’s just too bad it took an event of the New 52’s breadth and scope to make it happen.

With a renewed focus on the darker aspects of Greek mythology and featuring disturbing, truly frightening incarnations of Apollo and Hermes, Azzarello succeeds in redefining Diana’s origin while reminding all of us that she possesses the power and respect of the gods themselves – something even the Man of Steel can’t boast. Appropriately taking a cue from Homer, the grand-daddy of all storytellers, Azzarello immediately drops the reader into the middle of a horrifying battle for the unborn child of Zeus by an unsuspecting (and rather unassuming) mortal woman. Just as Homer opens the Odyssey with Odysseus clinging to the wreckage of his destroyed ship in the middle of the raging sea, so too does Azzarello begin this new chapter in Diana’s life by thrusting her into one of the most dangerous, personal conflicts of her fledgling career.

The plot is fluid and quick, with a supreme (and welcome) lack of exposition. Azzarello doesn’t waste panels attempting to find clever ways to retell Diana’s origin for the umpteenth time and instead focuses on developing her character, turning to his collaborator Chiang to handle the lion’s share of the “acting” chores. With smooth, stylized visual storytelling and a clean line reminiscent of Alex Toth in some panels, Chiang’s Wonder Woman is larger than life while somehow remaining down to earth. Pants or no, there’s no denying the inherent nobility, compassion, and ferocity Chiang infuses in his rendering of Diana.

Not merely a surprise but a revelation, Azzarello and Chiang’s incarnation of Wonder Woman is quite possibly the strongest, most resonant version of Princess Diana yet.

And just for the record, I like her pants-less.

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