Wonder Woman Volume 1: Blood

Written by Brian Azzarello and drawn by Cliff Chiang and Tony Akins

Published by DC Comics

Wonder Woman Blood cover

We all know Wonder Woman. Even to the non comic reader she is an icon, an Amazonian Princess with her stars and stripes outfit, invisible plane and knack for dealing with bullets with her bracelets. And yet, I own hundreds of comics and not a single one bears her name,  its long past time to remedy that and DC have given me a great opportunity with their new direction for the character in the New 52.

Starting with perhaps the most intriguing creative team of the relaunch. Brian Azzarello is best known for gritty crime noir, most famously his epic 100 Bullets at Vertigo but has also turned his hand to superheroes, writing both Batman and Superman for DC. His artistic partner Cliff Chiang is known for his covers and for helping convert Neil Young‘s Green Dale album into a shockingly good graphic novel.

I have been interested in mythology since I was a little kid and the argument could be made that it continues with my ongoing love of superheroes. Azzarello has chosen to strengthen Diana’s ties to the Greek Gods here and it goes a long way in creating a unique place for the character.

wonder-woman-blocking arrows

The tale revolves around a missing member of the pantheon, the secret of Wonder Woman’s birth and a human woman called Zola who is deeply entangled in the whole mess. We get a  story with great scope while still viewing this frightening and incestuous world through the eys of an outsider. It also does a great job of showing us who Diana is and what is important to her.

The fact that she is a warrior rather than a superhero is a major focus, she doesn’t fight crime, she is a fighter. In battle she seems far more skilled and brutal than the Wonder Woman I have read in the past. When she is not headbutting centaurs she is lobbing swords through the air to lop off their arms. And that’s another thing, it’s got blood, gore and sex scenes all of which are well suited to a mob as lusty and blood thirsty as the Olympians.

Wonder Woman headbutt

The portrayal of the gods is a great mix of the mythical and the modern day, they aren’t walking around in togas all day but they don’t appear as regular humans either, in fact some are down right alien in appearance. Hermes is a cross between bird and man, Ares an old dude with blood soaked trousers and Poseidon an enormous sea creature amalgam of squid, whale and more.

Cliff Chiang’s art is striking in its loveliness and he does a great job in drawing Wonder Woman in action. He’s got that clear, seemingly simple line that lends itself to such crisp storytelling. His Wonder Woman is beautiful but strong, there are even moments that suggest actual muscle tone and her fellow Amazons look the part. They are a tribe of warrior women who spend their lives preparing for war and it shows. Hippoltya first appears with an enormous axe and Aleka (the woman Diana is sparring with below) is quite frankly built like a tank.

Wonder Woman Combat

Second artist Tony Akins does an admirable job of matching Cliff Chiang and I hope they can keep this tag-team effort going for the long-term. The colouring by Matthew Wilson is bright but not garish and goes along way towards making the two artists appear cohesive.

Lord Poseidon

Should I buy it? I loved reading this book and am waiting eagerly for the second volume.  If you have always wanted to check out Wonder Woman but haven’t known where to start this is the book. Or if you just like interesting, action packed comics tinged with mythology this is that too.

Next time: It’s time to round out the trinity by reviewing a Superman book. Sadly I haven’t heard great things about the relaunched Man of Steel so I am going back to a modern classic, the exceptional All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.

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