Another fairly slow-paced issue of Wonder Woman, as the various villains arrayed against Diana put their pieces into place. I don’t mind the slight slow-down, because this title has demonstrated in the past that, when it explodes into action, it does so in a big big way, but I would prefer a little more stuff to happen now, rather than the prospect of a lot of stuff in the future. It’s a bit like Robert Kirkman’s Invincible in a way, where you sometimes get issues where not much seems to happen, but in 6 months, it was all very necessary.
The most important villain in this issue is Strife, who’s pretty much been a constant thorn in Wonder Woman’s side for all of Azzarello’s run, but always as a secondary threat behind Hera or Apollo. Now it looks like, in the wake of War’s death, she’s coming into her own, and that’s exciting to see. The issue opens with her visiting Hephaestus and having him forge a weapon for her which she can use against Wonder Woman. Its not a sword or an axe or anything… it’s a pin. Which is weird, but her whole plan is unclear at this point, so I’m sure it’s going to make sense in the end.
Wonder Woman, Zola and Hera are still hanging around in London, and the best scene in this issue was when Hera attempts to explain how different it feels to be mortal. I said this last month, but Azzarello has done a wonderful job at slowly evolving Hera’s character, turning her from a despicable villain into someone you really empathise with. Hermes is still watching over them, and it’s unclear what his plans are, and it looks like Azz is doing the same thing with him as he has with Hera, or at least, making him a ‘shades of grey’ character. Of course, someone who doesn’t see in shades of grey is Orion, who flies past, sees Hermes, and immediately starts a fight. I really like Azzarello’s take on Orion, and it makes me wish that he would do a ‘Fourth World’ series for DC, and do the rest of these characters justice.
Before Orion and Hermes can really get into, Strife shows up, and she comes bearing gifts. These aren’t very nice gifts however, as it looks like they are chosen very deliberately to cause, well, strife amongst Diana’s group. She gives Hera the Peacock coat she wore as a God, which sends her into a bit of a funk, just as she was coming round to being mortal, she has this reminder. To Baby Zeke, she gives a blanket made of secrets (huh?) and to Diana… the helmet of War, playing up her feelings of guilt over killing him, and her conflict over whether or not to take up his mantle. Orion (who doesn’t get a present, the poor lad) tries to start another fight with Hermes, but before that can happen, Siracca shows up. She tells Diana that their brother, Milan has been captured by Cassandra (the scenes with her keeping him in a cage are creepy as hell) and taken to… Chernobyl, which is full of the Jackalmen who fought for The First Born. Orion BOOMs off to rescue him, and the others follow, leaving Strife alone with Zola and Zeke. Uh-oh. See, after two slow issue, it looks like the next one will bring the action I want. You just need to have patience, a quality sorely lacking in most comics fans.
Of course, Apollo is still a presence in this issue, as he and Dionysus continue to torture the First Born, this time serving him up on a platter and eating him, which is so twisted, I love it. The best thing about this scene was that Azzarello is also beginning to move Dionysus into a more prominent position. This book has such a great cast of villains, it’s wonderful to see.
Goran Sudzuka once again fills in as artist, and he does his usual excellent job, I say this a lot, but it’s still true, although I wish Cliff Chiang could draw ever single issue of this book, the other artists they get do a fantastic job of keeping the same look, and colourist Matthew Wilson plays a big part too. It’s like Daredevil in that way, and it’s no coincidence that that book and this are among the best in the business right now.