Who's it by?
Wonder Woman #1 is written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Cliff Chaing.
What's the history?
Wonder Woman is perhaps DC's most iconic character outside of Superman and Batman. The Amazonian heroine was created by William Moulton Marston in 1941, first appearing in All Star Comics #8 that year.
DC has published an ongoing Wonder Woman title ever since. Aside from a brief hiatus in 1986, the comic has enjoyed an uninterrupted run.
Writers to tackle the title over the years include Gerry Conway, Gail Simone, Greg Rucka, John Byrne and J. Michael Straczynski. Artists such as Gene Colan, George Perez and Mike Deodato and Don Kramer have also made noted contributions to the book.
Wonder Woman was created as a feminist role model, battling for the Amazon ideals of love, peace and sexual equality. Her powers include super strength, flight (in some incarnations), animal-like cunning, super speed and agility. She is also wields the Lasso of Truth - which prevents those bound by it from lying - as well as indestructible bracelets and a tiara which serves as a projectile weapon.
The modern costume design introduced by Straczynski and Jim Lee in Wonder Woman #600 has been abandoned in favour of a more traditional take on the Amazonian. There's a harder edge to the character now, though the differences to classic interpretation are subtle.
Wonder Woman has always been subject to continuity changes, and the story Azzarello has chosen to tell is no exception. It's a modern take on the Greek myths, set entirely in the Earth realm of the DC Universe (so far at least), and the controversial alterations introduced during the 'Odyssey' plotline have been jettisoned.
The story begins in Singapore, where a dapper looking Apollo transforms a band of groupies into oracles to yield a prophesy. The foretelling reveals that an unborn brother of his could one day rise up and become a threat.
Meanwhile, fellow Pantheon member Hera has also gotten wind of the prophesy, and has tracked down a mortal woman named Zola, who is unknowingly pregnant with Zeus's child...
What's the verdict?
Wonder Woman #1is a bold taken on the Amazonia princess. Previous continuity has fallen by the wayside and gore and horror elements mark a shift in tone for the title. These changes will no doubt be welcomed by long-term readers, many of whom have been dissatisfied with recent takes on the character.
Newcomers will find this a good jumping-on point due to the standalone nature of the story, although those without basic knowledge of the Greek myths might struggle to identify some of the key players. Apollo and Hera are never mentioned by name, merely outed by recognisable features.
Wonder Woman is characterised as strong, confident and powerful. She finds herself caught up in the midst of the Pantheon's latest conflict, and isn't afraid to use lethal force when it is called for.
There are several brutal moments in the book, from Hermes's compound fracture to the dismemberment of one of the centaur assassins. Writer and artist resort to shock tactics on occasion, though most gruesome moments serve to unsettle and emphase the sense of creeping horror throughout the comic.
Placing these characters in a modern setting works well, presenting figures of legend in an entirely different light. Chaing's character designs are inspired. Apollo looks like Doctor Manhattan's evil cousin, and Hermes a rejected Avatar character design with bird-like talons for feet.
Colourist Mathew Wilson should be praised for his visceral depictions of day, night and dawn. The grisly battle takes places on a sundrenched farm, which creates a heightened sense of dissonance, and the use of darkness and shadow is harnessed equally well.
Wonder Woman is off to a promising start. The first issue gives us a prophesy hinting at big things to come, as well as an action sequence and some genuinely unsettling moments. The creative team deserves much credit for playing to the character's strengths and delivering a title ideal for new readers to pick up.
> Buy the digital version of Wonder Woman #1
> Read our review of Blue Beetle #1
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