Wonder Woman #35 review

It’s ages since I dropped Wonder Woman. Brian Azzarello’s makeover of the Amazon legend was, to understate, not my cup of tea. But I can’t resist an ending, so popped back to see how Azzarello and artistic partner Cliff Chiang wrap up their three-year story before the next creative team arrives.

In a nice bow, I’d say. Diana remains the god of war – a fundamentally wrong fit for William Moulton Marston and HG Peters’ creation – but Azzarello, in a key scene, remembers something of what Wonder Woman is about: compassion and love.

I can’t claim that the gory battles which take up most of the issue mean much to me; not the book’s fault, obviously. Apparently Uncle Poseidon wants Olympus, and sees baby Zeke, son of Diana’s mortal friend Zola, as the key. It isn’t Diana, or brother Hermes, who defeat the god of the sea, but Zola herself, her body suddenly unearthly and powerful.

Then a new/old threat shows up, in the forms of the First Born – Diana’s oldest, most bitter sibling – and his Chicago-cosplaying minotaur chum. 

There’s a fight scene I don’t understand involving the First Born’s entrails, or something, and minx godling Strife and a champagne bottle, or something. Chiang’s art is lovely to look at, but the storytelling here should be clearer – a prodigal reader should be able to parse a scene. Anyway, the consequence is that Diana and Zola are bound, and Zeke is taken by the First Born.

A revelation involving Zeke was predicted by pretty much everyone reading this series at least three years ago, and it turns the tide of battle. This is followed by a reveal around Zola, which prompts Diana to beg one of her typically remote goddesses to embrace Love. It’s a great little scene, Diana – technically now the equal of her mistress – the supplicant, humble in her petition.

This follows a vignette in which Diana, fighting the First Born for her life, offers a lesson in submission involving her golden lasso. It’s not quite the ‘loving submission’ of the Golden Age, but it does at least tell us that Azzarello isn’t entirely unfamiliar with the source material for his epic.

The issue, and the run, ends with the war of the gods over, and a mother and child reunited. A definite win. I’m not sorry to see this Wonder Woman era end, but I’m glad Azzarello, Chiang and their collaborators – chief among them the superb colourist Matthew Wilson – got to finish their story on their own terms. And while this hasn’t been ‘my’ Wonder Woman, every now and then there have been flashes of the character I love.

Next month, Meredith and David Finch take over the writing and artwork, and look set to give us a more traditionally superheroic Diana. I wish them, along with Azzarello and Chiang, all the luck in the world.

23 thoughts on “Wonder Woman #35 review

  1. Yeah, I'm such a selfish fan that I've just written about how I'm glad this run got to play out, allowing people who did enjoy it their fun. Having a favourite interpretation of a character is not actually obnoxious.


  2. Nothing selfish about wanting to read stories you like about characters you respect. I'm with you on wanting the real Wonder Woman back. Both George Perez and Phil JIminez proved that she can be strong and dignified, and still have a good story with tons of adventure.


  3. Hey Martin, I haven't read the issue yet, but I'm glad you popped back in to see how the arc ended. I've enjoyed the azzarello and chiang run, and his modernized take on the gods and also Wonder Woman. It's a pretty interesting story. However, it's become very apparent to me that Azzarello doesn't really want to tell stories about Wonder Woman, but about the world around her. Which is entertaining to me, but kind of strange since the book is called Wonder Woman.

    I still have very fond memories of Perez's reboot of Wonder Woman, but I also understand the need to move forward. However I think this title didn't really dig into who Wonder Woman is as a character. Like you, I'm glad Azzarello and Chiang got to add to her mythos and have made a well-crafted run, but I think it is high time to switch teams and bring the focus back to Diana.

    Not sure how the Finch run will do, but the previews I see look like they're integrating her more to the new 52… In the meantime, I'm glad DC also started Sensation Comics as another alterantive title to keep different Wonder Woman stories going.

    I also read Superman/Wonder Woman, but the arc in there seem to have been over taken by Superman, even though there are hints of the Wonder Woman I remember in there.


  4. I don't see a problem with the god of war thing, as long as she's “Diana” about it.

    Azzarello seems to really like world building and adding characters into the mix to mirror the main one. Not everyone's taste, but I think this last issue is all Diana. Btw. You ought to read the Wonder Woman secret origin issue after Wonder Woman #35 for more Athena! It's really up beat in a lovely way. It also features Steve!


  5. I've not read this issue yet, but this Azzarello & Chiang's run has been one of my favourite things about the New 52. While other favourites, like the Legion and OMAC, fell by the wayside I'm very glad that the team have been able to complete their story arc.
    My favourite version of Wonder Woman will always be George Perez's, and as a result I always prefer to see Diana's adventures closely tied to the Gods of Olympus. And that's what has made this series for me. The new 52 relaunch has given us a bold new version of Olympus, filled with gods that could've fallen straight out of a Studio Ghibli movie. Hera alone has been worth the price of admission.
    I doubt I'll be sticking around for the Finch's rendition. David Finch's art isn't my cup of tea, and this run coming to an end provides me with the perfect jumping off point. And I'll definitely be keeping these last 30-odd issues as some of the most treasured pieces of my Wonder Woman collection.


  6. Its been a long three year trip but finally this mess is over. amd I agree with Arvin wholeheartedly btw. I miss the pre 2010 Diana and the success of the Sensation Comics has proved that.
    All told this has been a fascinating tale but I am glad its over.


  7. Hi Arvin, you're right about Azzarello tailoring the book to his interests, it reminds me of how he took on Hellblazer and moved John to the States, changing the core of the book. In anything, his 'Wonder Woman' run should have been in a second title – what else? – Sensation Comics.


  8. My problem with the War business is that Diana's basic mission was to teach peace – embodying the spirit of War, no matter how she tries to skew things to the positive,- seems wrong. OK for a story arc, but not the default – Assarello should have taken that away with him.

    Funnily enough, I was reading that Secret Origins the other day, it was indeed rather sweet!


  9. it's heartening to hear that a Perez WW fan can love the just-ended run – you're a chap of diverse taste. Great point about the Ghinliness of things.

    I wouldn't say I was a David Finch fan, particularly, but I'm very keen to see what he and the missus bring. Watch this space.


  10. A god of war on a mission for peace is quite in line with how alot things in the book is written.

    For example Diana telling Ares (in a vision) that she's fighting FOR people to be themselves, but also AGAINST it.

    The status quo is also interesting. Diana reforming paradise island (inhabited by women with male like privileges) but also religion (since the amazons now are the mothers of Zeus.)

    I don't think the next writing teams will have any problems using for example the origin, or moving past it. She's still Diana, aka Wonder Woman. Clay origin is still intact (Zeus infused instead of several gods.) with the focus on Hippolyta being her mother and a focus on “identity” (one could argue the Minotaur represents sexual identity. Dressing out as a MAN and then being called cow when shown to be without his phallic horns.)

    Either way. Foremost looking forward to Tomasi's SM/WW, WW77 and Grant Morrison's WW-book, and hoping the best for both Sensation comics and the main WW!


  11. More great insight, thank you!

    I do have a problem, though, with Diana being the daughter of Zeus, clay or no clay. I've just read JIll Lepore's Secret History of Wonder Woman which explores Marston's influences chief among the the Suffragettes and his two wives Margaret and Olive, and it seems Diana as the child of a sole female parent with the goddesses as her god others is fundamental to the psyche of the strip. DC should buy all Diana writers a copy of this excellent book.



    There were some fairly problematic aspects to this take on WW — the Amazons as mass rapists is surely the *most* revolting idea, but the general interpretation of the Amazons as a much more violent, martial culture is definitely at odds with the origins of the book, as you note.

    Having said that, I personally think there's room for lots of different interpretations of characters over time, and can appreciate dark, ultraviolent, brooding Batman as well as Biff! Pow! Batman.

    This was an incredibly well-realized interpretation of Wonder Woman. If you can get past the fact that the Amazons are more like the violent warriors of Greek mythology than the peace-loving wise women of the WW origin, there's an incredible expansion of WW's overall, well, mythology, a huge new villain that's truly dangerous, a large cast of interesting characters, and a fascinating new set of concerns for Diana as both a goddess and queen. And even though her origin changed in a way that's somewhat at is with her history, her fundamental core personality never takes the kind of dark turn that would truly have made her unrecognizable.

    So overall, I really enjoyed this run, despite its problems. It was a truly epic take on the character, executed beautifully. But while I wouldn't wish following this run on anybody, I wouldn't have any problem if, over time, the problem parts of this run get rolled back and retconned away to give us a more traditional take on the character.


  13. this run was my introduction to the character in parallel to Legend of Wonder Woman, and i have to say both have made me a fan for life of Diana.But ,speaking about this run, i enjoyed inmensely, specially the art which was unbelievably pretty,showing an imposing,strong-willed,caring Diana without ever oversexualizing her; about the story itself there were great moments,some fun, some terrying,the pacing was a little uneven at times,but it´s complex and layered as hell,something you realize only with re-readings.

    I agree that the change to the amazons wasn´t worth it,too much noise for too little reward in the end (they were really well written when present though),but i totally got Diana,who she is and why she stands for,because the story is structured to do exactly that,just through everything,not only herself.

    Btw, i know it sounds weird w/o context, but stuff like the God of War thing and some other risky moves(Orion´s harrasing for example) all make sense in context,they aren´t gratuitous,and ends showcasing different facets of Diana wonderfully(ha!)


  14. ((Eighteen months later…)

    Apologies for the non-reply – well, severely delayed reply, Tesseractive, sometimes Google Blogger doesn't give me alerts of new comments. Thanks for taking the time to respond… I wonder if you're still reading Wonder Woman. If so, I hope we both enjoy the upcoming Greg Rucka return.


  15. One great thing about Wonder Woman is that there's a run for everybody. If one take on the character doesn't work, there's almost certainly one that will. So while this wasn't 'my' WW, I have about 40 years' worth of stories to enjoy. I'm really pleased this Diana gave you so much pleasure, I wonder if a reread down the road will have me enjoying it more.


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