Wonder Woman #7 review

If you’ve no attachment to the Wonder Woman legend, I can see that this comic could go down well. It’s full of relationships that get more interesting by the page, clever moments of action and unexpected revelations.

As a longtime fan of Diana, I enjoyed the introduction of two more of her relatives, Eros, a love god by way of La Dolce Vita and 100 Bullets, and Hephaestus, beastly-looking blacksmith to the gods, arms like Ben Grimm with sunburn. I loved that Diana showed the smith that she doesn’t need a deadlier version of her magic lariat, and his later assertion of how its truth abilities work (I’m not saying that I believe them!). I liked the battle with a lava lizard sent by Hades, and Diana’s attempt to inspire a revolt among those she sees as oppressed workers.

But would someone please introduce writer Brian Azzarello to the work of Wonder Woman creators William Moulton Marston and Harry Peter? I’m not meaning the bondage business, just the nature of the Amazons. They’re warriors, yes, but they’re fighting for love. They want to enlighten the world, spread the message of goodness.

They don’t, oh, let’s take something off the top of my head, seduce sailors for sperm (insert your own seamen/semen gag), turn them into empty husks, then throw them into the sea. They don’t, nine months later, swap any newborn boys to Hephaestus in return for weapons.

I get that Azzarello pitched his Wonder Woman run as a horror story. This take on the Amazons fits right in with such an approach, But it’s just not an approach that should be used for Wonder Woman’s sisters – they’re supposed to be the good guys, but here they’re monsters. Succubi.

We only have Hephaestus’ word for it that this is how things go down, but there’s no feeling that he’s being duplicitous, and he certainly has a very grateful gang of likely male Amazons working for him. The revelation really soured the first issue I was properly enjoying in ages; it’s bad enough that Diana is related to scumbug gods without the other side of the family being beyond vile too.

Back to the good stuff. I like Eros, he’s entertainingly Italian. I like Hephaestus, because he saves orphan kids. I like that Diana is smiling here, that she has an easy confidence rather than unearned arrogance. I like that we learn something of the source of Lennox’s knowledge. There really is a lot of good craft on display in Azzarello’s script – Hephaestus would be proud.

And the artwork of illustrator Cliff Chiang and colourist Matthew Wilson is exemplary, taking us through the story step by good-looking step. Their newest creations, Hephaestus and Eros, fit into this world of ever-surprising god forms, while the lava monster is a hoot and the (reviving a horrible old term, here) Manazons look great in and out of their workwear. And Chiang’s cover is a beaut.

I just wish this creative team wouldn’t twist Wonder Woman’s world quite so much as they’re attempting to redefine her for a new century.

93 thoughts on “Wonder Woman #7 review

  1. Hi Martin,

    Well, Azarello certainly got the reaction he was looking for, eh? The art and writing are extremely high, which make the problematic story choices harder to dismiss. I hope there is a eventual light at the end of this tunnel…and that it doesn't turn out to be a train.
    Morlock50

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  2. Great points as ever, Carol, and a killer final question. Wouldn't it be great to one next issue and find Diana front and centre, cleaning up the mess around her. As it is, I expect her to wind up with some kind of Pyrrhic victory, one instigated by Lennox or Hermes.

    ('one' in that second sentence is meant to be 'open', I blame the gods.)

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  3. I doubt you'll be surprised to hear I like your ideas, Jan. I'm assuming that many of these fans who think that the Amazons as murderers is a blow for realism, are teenagers raised on first person shooter video games. Suddenly the Amazons are 'cool' and 'kick ass', as if there's something intrinsically clever about taking lives..

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  4. Hi Hellacre13, good to hear from you. I just don't see how Azzarello is showing the Amazons as comprising shades of grey … what he's doing is showing that their society is built on a great evil; no grey, just black. I can't believe this is the only way they can 'survive in a savage time'. It's fair to say, there are other ways to meet men.

    I do agree, that I feel a gut pain from all this. How, though, can you feel sympathy for Hippolyta? She's leading a pack of sex-crazed murderesses.

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  5. Yes, 'odd and idiosyncratic' – that's a good thing. Bit by bit, Brian Azzarello is making Diana less unique, an imitation of her imitators. It's depressing. It was the kangas and the like that helped Wonder Woman catch on. There are plenty of takes on the Classical gods, but only one Wonder Woman.

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  6. Well, Hellacre, Diana is in a better position than us readers to judge whether or not she's being lied to, given she knows the Amazons, and she's with Hephaestus, so can read him. I don't see it reflecting badly on readers if we are being lied too; well, not on those of us appalled at the idea of murderous Amazons – it doesn't look good on the message board posters who love the idea.

    What we should be getting is some kind of internal dialogue from Diana – she's the title character but we really don't know how she's feels about the people around her.

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  7. Hi Arnold, I'm with you, Xena was terrific fun, but back then we had Xena AND Wonder Woman; right now we have Wonder Woman in a Xena story, but without the humour.

    Hmm, I do think it's possible to be human without killing our sexual partners, like a black widow spider; to me, the Amazons now feel distinctly INhuman.

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  8. Nah, the fans of the Amazons as killers are all about the “CLASSICAL MYTH” idea. They love the idea that Azzarello is drawing from myths, myths created by a society that was not a huge fan of women and then later translated by societies not too into women either. It's also a fact that his interpretation of the Amazons is clearly flawed. I also don't understand the people that like that Diana is nothing more than a Demi-Goddess, it makes her no longer remotely special, she's just another of the bazillions. The funny thing is NONE of the people who love this are actual Wonder Woman fans that I've seen and they'll openly admit it, but they like this current one because the story is good.. Not because anything about the character draws them to her. The moment these flashy stories are gone, they will be gone.. This will end in ruin for Diana and DC will blame Diana and say she cannot sell even when they try to make her “new and cool”..

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  9. Here's another thing.. You know some people don't like Marston's take on the Greek gods, but you know what? It was one of the only times in all of literature when Hera, Goddess of women, wasn't shown as being petty, nasty and jealous. Same with all of the Goddesses, they were shown as being something MORE and that was actually INTERESTING. Instead of the tried and true stereotypes that we all known and read, Marston tried something DIFFERENT. I hate this idea that we can only rehash the Classic greek myths, nothing new can happen to them and they MUST go into the tried and true Classic mythology run.

    For me, who has read the stories (or versions of them at least), I find rehashing this to be rather boring.

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  10. I found Marston's take fascinating, and don't get those readers who won't even countenance that an update of his wacky magic could work today. If nothing else, it'd be original for 2012!

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  11. ANOTHER thing (sorry, I've been getting prodded about this on twitter by people and I need to VENT), would people be so HAPPY to here that to “modernize” Superman, DC revealed that Ma and Pa Kent were cannibalistic serial killers? B/c that makes them “edgy and new” for the modern era right? What if it was revealed that Thomas Wayne regularly molested young boys (and Brucie), does that make it suddenly BETTER? Would that be accepted by the people who LOVE this new WW?

    also will SOMEONE explain to me how the hell Steve Trevor brought Diana to Man's world if.. the Amazons club men over the head, “Seduce”/rape them and then kill them? Because it makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE. It's like there are 2 entirely different origins. I don't think Johns and Azzarello discussed this at all. (Notice Johns has been using WW's Lasso more in JL than she's used it in her OWN TITLE? she's chosen the short sword more often than not)

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  12. I love this book! I know I'm a rarity among Wonder Woman readers in that I've never really followed Wonder Woman more than just a few issues at a time, but this one I've read since the start. I haven't regretted it even once. For the first time, Wonder Woman is an interesting character; her supporting cast each seems like they could have their very own miniseries, and wow, if I'm not interested in this title for the first time since William Messner-Loebs teamed up with Lee Moder back in the early 90's, then I don't know what else is going to interest me. Love this book so much. So complex, so gray, so…awesome. Sorry to disagree with the horde, but those are my feelings. I'm sorry it's not everyone's cup of tea!

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  13. I get your point, man. Pretty good summary. But I have a bone to pick. There is a whole literary genre about main characters doing nothing. It's called Tragedy. And it's not nothing per se. It's a suffer fate kind of nothing.

    I laughed with the futurama reference. I'm going to fatten myself to put this properly on a t-shirt.

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  14. Hi Jeff, there's nothing wrong with enjoying the book, and your enjoyment of Loebs/Moder shows great taste. I'd love to see a second Wonder Woman comic launched, featuring a more classic take, so pleasing more people, more of the time.

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  15. Really distasteful I must admit, but then I thought that there must be a reason for it or it's not the whole truth, so I'll just go along for and enjoy the ride. I think the writing is intended to tease/mislead/provoke at times, one needs to read between the lines. Case in point is about the lasso—one could say that its truthsense is being questioned, but the smith was actually not telling a lie: WW was angry and was indeed intimidating the god.

    Incidentally, to me, what the present team did about the Amazons is really nothing new. Basically, they turned the Themyscirans into the Banas, whom I had more interest/symphathy. The pre-52 Amazons reminded me a bit of Tolkien's elves (also immortal but can be felled) who were also sequestered and shielded by their gods in Silmarillion, and what made Simarillion an interesting read was that the elves were flawed and their history riddled with tragedy, including kinslaying, and the all too human condition.

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  16. WW uses her lasso quite a bit in this issue…BTW-as for modernizing Batman and Superman with edgy backstories including heaps of morally questionable baggage given the hero, it has sort of been done, take for example the Frank Miller Batman stuff, or the thinly veiled Superman stories such as Straczynski's Hyperion stuff and Waid's Irredeemable. These were controversial for the reasons you mention I think, but many people found them interesting…

    The Amazons of myth were often portrayed as quite brutal (check out their wiki page where the tales of what they did with male offspring can be found), the current authors are simply tapping into that. Wonder Woman herself seems to be pretty well centered and still guided by love and other better angels of her nature-witness her compassionate, albeit misguided, attempt to free her “brothers” and her arc long adventure protecting Zola.

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  17. I will give you this Martin, this discussion about the Marston mythos had me think back to my recent reading of WW Chronicles reprints of the first fifty or so issues, and I do remember at the time that while it was very, very bizarre, it certainly did stand the title apart from something like, say, the early Starman, which I read around the same time. The latter seemed generic, and that's not something you could ever say about Marston's WW issues…

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  18. I hate to “good points” you right back, but…good points! The Byrne run on Superman should have popped right to mind, he totally reshaped the Krypton myth from the wacky Silver Age days. It seems to me that more recent portrayals have, if anything, been pretty hard on the Kryptonians, with their ultra-rigid caste system and militaristic ways being focused on…You're right that depictions of Kryptonians in Superman would be the better analog to how the Amazons in WW are depicted, but I could anticipate the following reply from Jan: no matter how the Kryptonians are depicted we can believe Superman being the good person he is as he was never raised by them, but how can we buy a kind, decent Diana knowing she was raised by people who would engage in the mass slaughter of infants? Something to ponder..

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  19. The basic problem here is that Azzarello is doing too much damage to the franchise, and creating a major mess when the next writer takes over. Unless it's all handwaved away as a divine hallucination like the last Amazon-destroying story was, he's depowered the character, gutted the supporting cast, and making it next to impossible for related charcters like Donna Troy, Artemis, or Philippus to reappear in the DCU.

    Barbarizing and then losing Themiscyra is itself a major depowering of the character. Think Batman without a Batcave. Before this dreck, Diana not only had a large roster of potential henchpeople; she had an army of metas at her command.

    The current Cassie Sandsmark Wonder Girl stole magic gear from a temple. I gather this relates somehow, but it's hard to see clearly. What I do know is that this development cuts off the possibility, say, of an uplifting tale about Diana's childhood among the barbarian pirates. Young Diana stories such as Ben Caldwell drew in Saturday Comics are off the table until this is repaired.

    (I guess I'm glad Donna Troy is staying out of sight. Must not be enough room in the refrigerator.)

    As I see it, Azzarello is burning too many bridges and not building enough new ones. It's trying too hard to be weird and “edgy”; I still blame the elitist Vertigo mentality. Nobody who thinks that magic lassos, invisible planes, and purple healing rays are dated or silly has any business writing a Wonder Woman book.

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  20. Thanks so much, SteveGus, eloquently argued and the whole crystalised into a final killer line. I want to see all the things that made Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman. The current character is being defined as Not Wonder Woman, making for a much duller character and world.

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  21. Mr. Whiskas is right by in large, Kryptonians play a very, very small part of WHO Superman is. He didn't even find out he was Kryptonian until later in life in most modern stories and even when he does, he doesn't know much about Kryptonian life until he meets Kryptonians as a full grown adult. Not the same impact as Ma and Pa Kent have on Superman and that's been seen countless times. If you even remember in the recent New Krypton storyline, it was mentioned that Superman was too human and not very Kryptonian in his thought processes. They didn't raise him in a single origin, ever. He has ALWAYS been raised by humans.

    Wonder Woman, on the other hand, has ALWAYS been raised by Amazons, including this current version. And while Amazons in myth, written by the Greeks and Romans that hated them as enemies, have shown them to be violent in some cases (not violent in others), it was written by the Greeks and the Romans that viewed Amazons as enemies to be hated and feared, not revered and looked up to. Not to mention that women in general are typically looked down upon in those same myths. Diana, on the other hand, was raised by a group of nasty, vicious men hating women and from what we've seen, most of them didn't particularly care for Diana (or Clay as they called her even as adults). There is a huge difference in that.. Not to mention that all the Amazons are now barbarians that can't do anything except make war (they can't even make their own weapons!?!?!)

    Also, I don't buy into this concept that we've just been told this story because we're gonna learn the real truth later. That's all someone else trying to rationalize the story away. Azzarello has shown thus far he really doesn't care about telling a story about Diana, so revealing the horrific “origins” of the Amazons as a lie or a half-truth that later gets revealed to be false all so we can tear Wonder Woman down to rebuild her seems like a massive pipe dream to me. Diana is barely present in the stories and when she is, it's for scant moments before a more interesting God or character steals the spotlight to be the real center of the story. Diana is just being dragged along by events. That may work for Dream of the Endless, but not so much for Wonder Woman. I just don't see this all coming up as fake later.

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  22. Jeff, you're the kind of person that this launch was meant to please. A man who has never really read or cared one iota about Wonder Woman and cares a great deal about the story, but.. As Wonder Woman as an interesting character.. given this new take, what do you KNOW about Wonder Woman? I've read Wonder Woman for years and all I've gotten from what I've read is a vague impression that she's Xena, but no real clue about who she is and what motivates her.. why she's come to man's world.. anything.

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  23. that last line is PERFECT. I don't think the Vertigo mentality is alive here.. I just think it's more DC has no clue what to do with Wonder Woman, so they've been trying to cast her more and more in the role of Badass Warrior Woman.. this is just a continuation of that. I mean, it wasn't that long ago she was snapping Maxwell Lord's neck or using a giant battle axe, engulfed by rage.

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  24. You know what else? The same people that will tell you how amazing and fantastic it is that Grant Morrison adds all these great Golden Age and Silver Age elements, and how a genius he is.. will tell you, in the same breath, that the previous Wonder Woman never worked because she was too “cheesy” (they of course never read a single issue of the EITHER previous Wonder Woman incarnations). I love people telling me that the Pre-Crisis Wonder Woman wouldn't work for modern sensibilities at all and they have proof because it didn't sell well previous.. I'm always like, “And when was this TRIED?” The LAST Wonder Woman, they only threw the Diana Prince secret ID at her as an aside, made Diana Prince into a secret agent, while keeping Wonder Woman a warrior and a barbarian. Her only love interest appeared as an out-of-the-blue love interest that made no sense and she practically clubbed him over the head and dragged him back to her cave!

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  25. And yes to everything here, Jan. You're right about the traditional difference in Diana and Clark's backgrounds.

    Reboot or no reboot, I really do not like the notion that the writer of one of comics' most iconic characters can get the job without more than a passing knowledge of her. I'm not saying Brian Azzarrello needs to be a huge fan of Wonder Woman, but familiarity and affection would be a pretty good starting point

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  26. Nice one, Jan, making me smile while making great points. I wish someone at DC were reading the arguments here, and elsewhere, as to why the new approach to Wonder Woman isn't the only game in town.

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