This issue, along with last week’s Swamp Thing book, have demonstrated the best way to do Villain’s Month. It’s not to parachute in some fill-ins to write about a random member of a superhero’s rogues gallery, no, it’s to let the current ongoing writer tell a story about a villain they are currently using and fill-out the ongoing narrative. Here, Brian Azzarello sheds some light on the history of the First Born, and given his mysterious nature, it’s a welcome story, and man, it’s all kinds of bad-ass.
We open with Apollo hanging around with 3 Latina graffiti artists, before opening up his Limo to reveal the unconscious body of the First Born. It turns out these women are not just random women, they are actually Oracles, and Apollo goes to them to find out more about his older brother.
What follows is an origin story that seems to be loosely based at first on the legend of Hercules, but with enough changes to make it different, and to make the First Born a great villain. Zeus is told by a witch that this baby was going to rule Olympus alone, so he decides to kill him. Hera is distraught at this, so the witch decides not to kill the First Born herself, but to leave him out in the wild to be eaten by animals. Only, he ends up being saved by a Jackal and raised among them. The First Born grows up amongst the animals, like a psycho Mowgli, and he is hardcore as fuck, a teenaged feral kid, attacking and killing a Lion, that is bad-ass. Even as the First Born and his pack kill all the other animals on the plains, he is ignored by the Gods and his father.
We then flash-forward a few years, and see that not only does the First Born live with the Jackals, he also has sex with them, and has creepy Jackal-Hybrid kids, which is disturbing and brilliant. The First Born moves on from fighting animals, to men, and dragons, until he becomes the ruler of the world, with a massive army, with which he declares ‘War On Heaven’. All throughout this, he is still ignored by the Gods, right up until he’s at the foot of Mount Olympus and about to strike. Then his dad notices him, and he is immediately crushed, his army is washed away by the sea, and Zeus, Poseidon and Hades work together to send him to the centre of the Earth, which is where he escaped from back in Wonder Woman #12.
The Oracles then tell Apollo that the First Born and he will fight in the future, and that only one will survive. They also say that a naked woman will be there, is that Wonder Woman? They say ‘sister’, but then half of this book’s cast are Apollo’s sisters.
This was a great issue, that added a lot of depth to Azzarello’s already excellent run, the First Born was already a great new villain, but finding out his full back-story made him even better, this was one fucked-up, blood-thirsty life, and it was awesome. I also liked how Azzarello had the story narrated by the 3 Oracles still in modern street-slang, it made for an interesting incongruity, and that’s what this whole series has been about, seeing ancient myths in the modern world.
I’m not really familiar with the artist here, ACO, but this looked good, and crucially, kept a lot of elements that Cliff Chiang has established for this title, I’d certainly like to see ACO step in again. Matthew Wilson’s colours also deserve a mention for maintaining that consistent aesthetic. This was just a great book, but it’s Azzarello Wonder Woman, what else did you expect?