Friday Favorite: Wonder Woman

THAT is a warrior princess.

When we started doing Friday Favorites here at G3, the concept was more about featuring B-list characters that we loved. We wanted to shine a light where it isn’t always shining. But this Friday, I want to honor the leading lady of comics because she deserves it. More specifically, I’d like to honor Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s Wonder Woman. She is the Wonder Woman I have been waiting for.

Wonder Woman is the reason I am a geek at all. It was Lynda Carter’s TV version that inspired my interest in super-heroines when I was wee nugget of four. If it wasn’t for my Wondy nostalgia, I don’t know that I would even be reading comics, let alone writing about them.

Upon diving headfirst down the comic book rabbit hole, I devoured many a trade of stories past. Thus, when I was all out of trades to borrow, the time had come for me to make my own pull list. Having been utterly spoiled by the fierceness that is Greg Rucka’s Diana, Wonder Woman was the very first thing I added.

Since his run, I’ve not felt particularly excited by the title even though it is the one book I will always pull. At the time, I was thrilled that Gail Simone would be writing Wonder Woman. I hoped for amazing. While the writing was solid and Gail certainly dignified the character … something was still missing. Then there was the JMS Odyssey debacle, which Phil Hester somehow salvaged in a moderately respectable fashion. But it ultimately fell short of anything reputable.

To be fair, Wonder Woman is arguably one of the most difficult characters to write. She has the weight of being a cultural icon on her broad shoulders and a convoluted continuity. With so many facets of the character to choose from, it could be challenging for even the best of writers to find a groove with her. And we all know that editors play their parts, particularly with big ticket characters (unless your name is Grant Morrison, but I digress). Whatever the reason for the lackluster stories, this fangirl feels like she’s been eating tofu when I want a New York strip. I have been longing for a Wonder Woman to be excited about.

People, I think she has arrived.

The first two issues of Azzarello and Chiang’s Wonder Woman have been immensely satisfying. Azzarello is telling a relatable, well-paced, juicy Greek mythology-meets-Jerry Springer story. He makes waves with the subtle dialogue, and damn it, it is interesting. I realize that there is controversy regarding Diana being yet another offspring of Zeus. Somehow it steals her purely matriarchal origin while insipidly planting the patriarchal seed. This is perceived by some as inherently misogynistic. Perhaps it is. But I will take that stance if, and only if, Diana is depowered by the change in origin. Let’s be real here — is being a golem more positive or feminine-affirming? All will be revealed as the issues unfold. I am tabling this controversy for now.

The very best thing about this book is the beautiful, BEAUTIFUL art. Cliff Chiang is perfect for this book, and Matthew Wilson’s colors set Chiang’s pencils and inks off into the stratosphere. There are many talented artists out there who have delivered great Wonder Woman art, but Chiang renders Diana so well that I don’t want to imagine her any other way.

I feel like DC finally got the damn memo and put a creative powerhouse team on this title. Of all the books DC has relaunched, this is one of the few that has potential for being the gold standard. Azzarello and Chiang’s Wonder Woman is a stunning book that thus far portrays a powerful Diana. We are only two issues in, but the writing and art rings more authentic than this Wondy fan dared to hope for. I am thrilled by Wonder Woman’s glorious “new” beginning.

11 thoughts on “Friday Favorite: Wonder Woman

  1. I have been having a good time re-reading the paragon of WW lately. I include George Perez and Greg Rucka in that bracket.
    To be honest V, I am going to re-read my new number 1 WW and the number 2. I was not as thrilled as you seem to have been, in my first read through.
    I honestly think it is because I was so tired of how they have been messing with my favourite character for the last year and the a half.
    They change her outfit, they promote a new writer with pomp and circumstance ( and he did not even stay his whole “run”! I know that this was due to illness on his part, but it still left me feeling a tad let down.), they renumber her books so that they are in the 600’s but guess what they just change it back to number 1 again. It made me feel that Wonder Woman was not important to DC even though they give lip service to her being part of the TRINTY, and that just made feel sad.
    I am to be honest worn out, but I will NEVER abandon my all time favourite super.

    But I must tell you that I do really really appreciate the props, and the pride that you give Wonder Woman, by giving her pride of place on your FRIDAY FAVORITE!
    Because Diana is my forever favourite. : )
    Like I said I am going to re-read 1 and 2 and see how I feel.
    Thanks ever so for sharing your love of the character and your thoughts!
    : )

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  2. I also think JMS was pulled from the two books (Superman & WW) to work on the Superman Earth One graphic novels. I could be mistaken though. I am still very partial to Rucka’s WW but I too am enjoying Brian’s take so far. We are such an impatient group. Let’s give these people some time to develop their characters.

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  3. After flirtations beginning in the early ’80s, I read Wonder Woman every month from 1993-2006. I have a complete run of volume two, and plenty of issues before, after, and during that period. You’d think out of those hundreds of comics, I’d enjoy more than a few runs and odd issues. I love the character, especially the versions that are askew, but she’s so often a drag to read on account of faulty writing. Perez was good for a year or so, but his last three years are a friggin’ slog. John Byrne was lame and meandering. Erik Luke was misguided. Phil Jimenez did a lot of stuff I wanted to see done in a way that bored the crap out of me. Greg Rucka was milquetoast and derivative. Alan Heinberg was trying to be Jeph Loeb, which is like Rob Schneider aspiring to be Adam Sandler. Gail Simone was a terrible fit and never “got” the character, coasting on secondhand Morrisonism and awful “twists.” I never even gave JMS or Hester a chance.

    My two favorite runs remain William Messner-Loebs and Mike Sekowsky. I love the stories where Princess Diana is intelligent, humanistic, wise, cool, capable, and acclimated without being fully acculturated. That’s why I named my blog “Diana Prince” instead of something like “The Amazing Amazon.” I don’t want her wearing capes or swinging axes as some sort of penis envy compensatory mechanism. I can do without her flying like Superman when she’s got her own jet, or flinging a tiara like a Batarang when she’s gone her unique lasso. These guys crafted stories that were smart, entertaining, and different from anything else out there.

    I think the main problem with writing Wonder Woman stories is twofold. First, most Wonder Woman stories are crap, and you can’t build on a stinky, shifty foundation. The second is that nobody bothers to read anyone else’s stories to learn why they were crap in the first place, then craft stories on a book jacket summary understanding of the character, and repeat the same mistakes as the earlier crap. Robert Kanigher and George Perez deserve the lion’s share of the blame. Kanigher took over from William Moulton Marston after his death, and treated it as a paycheck gig for twenty years. Perez threw out much of what had defined the character, offered a creatively limited new interpretation, and creators were forced to continue in his stifling, diminishing mode for another twenty years.

    I HATE, HATE HAAAATE that golem crap (another dubious trope started by Perez,) so even though I deeply dislike the seed of Zeus garbage, it’s sort of like seeing Romney or Cain trounce Rick Perry. I’m not excited to read the new volume, because it looks like more Xena Amazon Princess, but I’ll at least sample the first trade.

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    • Frank, you are a lot of things, but I did not know you were a thunder stealer! I may or may not have just gotten schooled. But, I am rather young in my comic book career. I have not read several of the runs you mentioned above, and I don’t think I want to.

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      • I have been reading WW as long as Frank has and I beg to differ with him in regards to Perez and Rucka’s runs. I loved them and found them fantastic and exciting to read! Diana was now no longer some female who used to get endlessly tied up with her lasso or was in some janky bondage scene on her covers, which really put me off, because I never saw Superman or Batman in that kind of distress or at the mercy of their foes on their covers.
        For me Messener-Loebs runs was ok, I was not as jazzed by it as he was/is. And he did annoyingly bring back Diana in bondage covers. :P
        But that is what makes comics fun and lame at the same time. Not everyone is going to love every thing!
        As for the golem crap Frank, Perez did not start it. Diana was indeed created out of a clay construct made by her mother and given her gifts by the gods Perez just brought that back. What I LOVED about Perez is that he gave Diana and the Amazons BACK their Greek myth roots and that is also what separates Diana from the rest of the other supers, and I also LOVED the ethnically diverse Amazons, because I saw my self and my friends amongst them. : )
        I loved that Diana could now fly! Why should she not be able to fly? Why would she have to have a jet? I always wondered why she had one when I was little to be honest and how on Earth did she find it or no one bump into the dang thing when it was parked?!!
        I also loved that she was a foil to both Batman and Superman, she was the best of them. Yes she could fly like Superman but she was NOT him nor nothing like him, yes she eventually got her invisible plane back but she did not use her transportation like Batman and the plane was really a malleable disk given to her by some space folk she helped.

        I am so not a fan of Zeus being Diana’s father, it is very sexist and it reminds me of the langage used to describe the birth of Athena who was inside her mother Metis when swallowed by paranoid Zeus.

        “Athena’s birth “is a desperate theological expedient to rid her of matriarchal conditions” says J. E. Harrison. She was the Goddess of Wisdom, and the daughter of the Titaness who basically personified it. By having her born only from Zeus, it gave males authority and power over something that had previously only been a female realm. Zeus swallowed Metis, and so he did not lose wisdom, but made it a part of himself. Likewise, the Achaeans suppressed the Titan cult and said wisdom was only with Zeus. Athena could be free of the bonds that tied her with a mother. She did not have any loyalty to a mother figure. That played a big role. She described herself as misogynist but would not have been able to take that role had she had a mother.”

        And that is part of the reason why that I am not cottoning onto Zeus being Diana’s father. At least as a clay figure come to life or statue come to life by her mother’s desire and the the goddesses will, she was truly independent from being under the banner of patriarch’s world, and made her being an Amazon a pure idea. And she was born out her mother’s love not out of Zeus’ lust.

        V give the other runs a browse and make up your own mind and thoughts about them. You may find things that you like or dislike. : )

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  4. I cannot say I’m in love yet. Although I love greek mythology as much as the next person and it is inevitably intertwined into the WW mythos, I feel like so much light is cast on the topic that it feels distancing. I want to see WW interacting more with this new world around her.

    Maybe its just me. To be honest I don’t think I’ve ever finished an entire WW solo arch before. It just doesn’t feel like the WW I love yet, the one that stands completely on her own as a character. I want to see what makes her stand apart from the rest of the heroes, I want to see her military attitude at work and see her as the bad ass we all know she is.

    Maybe with JL3 I’ll understand this DCnU WW a bit better. We’ll see.

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  5. “I have not read several of the runs you mentioned above, and I don’t think I want to.”

    Indeed you do not, but give Messner-Loebs a spin, if you haven’t already. The stuff in trades is alright, but the real goods are the uncollected #66-84.

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  6. Pingback: Stream of Comicsness – Week of 01.18.2012 |

  7. I’m very fond of the Gail Simone run, but I felt she was slow in “finding her feet”, including a early four-issue fantasy-world plot which was really bad. There’s actually a lot of subtlety to her interpretation, and discussion of the nature of Amazonian culture, which made me feel that she’d actually got the oddities of the Marston concept of WW better than most post-Marston writers. But just around the time I thought she was really settling into writing an interesting and consistent Wonder Woman — and starting on new material rather than retconning previous writers’ work (Ms. Simone likes her retcons) — WRITER CHANGE! REBOOT! Aaaarrgh. That’s what happens to everything good DC does, isn’t it?

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  8. Pingback: Thoughts on Azzarello’s Wonder Woman |

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