Book Review: Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Blood (The New 52), Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang (2013)

March 20th, 2015 12:21 pm by Kelly Garbato

A Nice Starting Point for New Fans

four out of five stars

Up until The New 52, my experience with Wonder Woman had been limited to the live-action television show starring the incomparable Lynda Carter. While the reruns made a fan out of me (I still have my Wonder Woman underoos! Both sets! The tank makes a pretty rad dog costume, fyi.), I was never that much into comic books as a kid. As an adult, I’ve been trying to expand my tastes, but so far I’ve mostly been drawn to original series (Pretty Deadly, Sex Criminals, Saga) – or titles based on stories I’m already familiar with from other mediums (the Whedonverse; Stephen King; Django Unchained). I’ve steered clear of old-school superhero stories not for lack of interest, but because the sheer volume of content is so intimidating – it’s hard to know where to dive in. That is, until Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman reboot.

Praised as the Wonder Woman series for people with no more than a general knowledge about WW’s origins, history, or various story arcs (“It’s an intriguing concept and easy to grasp. The reader doesn’t need to know that much about Wonder Woman because she is, well, Wonder Woman.”), Blood is an excellent starting point for new and would-be fans.

The story’s straightforward and easy to follow: Zeus, ruler of Mount Olympus, has gone missing. In his absence, son Apollo is scheming to claim his throne, as are Zeus’s brothers, Lord Poseidon, ruler of the sea (who appears as a pretty spectacular sea monster), and Hades, king of the underworld (his visage? a little less impressive). Meanwhile, Queen Hera is hunting down a young woman named Zola. Zeus’s latest “conquest,” Zola is pregnant with his child – though she doesn’t know it yet. Appalled by Hera’s murderous ways, Hermes delivers Zola to Wonder Woman for protection. Princess Diana’s involvement with the Greek gods ultimately rains death and destruction down upon her beloved Paradise Island, and challenges everything “Clay” thought she knew about her mother, Queen Hippolyta – and her own origins.

While the surprise twist isn’t terribly shocking – given the Greek gods’ prominence in the plot, you can spot the twist a galaxy away – it’s still an interesting spin on an old story – and one that promises to provide plenty of fodder for future installments.

Cliff Chiang’s artwork is lovely and befitting of the Princess. Thick, muscular legs, rippling biceps, shoulders that just won’t quit – this Wonder Woman is a force of nature. Sexy but not sexualized, with a commanding presence. (Of course, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t love to see a reimagining in Gina Torres’s image. But still. This Wonder Woman pretty rocking, for a more traditional incarnation.) And I love the costume; while fairly close to her traditional garb, it has some fun industrial/modern flairs.

That said, the story could use a little more diversity. There are a few women of color on Paradise Island (two by my count; and only Dessa is named), but that’s about it. Azzarello does get points for taking on slut-shaming vis-à-vis Zola, in an especially amusing exchange. (“I like men, Hermes. And I’m not gonna apologize for that.” “As you shouldn’t. But on this island, you might want to keep the story to yourself.”)

2008-10-28 - Kaylee as Wonder Woman - 0014

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

 

Comments (May contain spoilers!)

Diversity: A little. At least two of the Amazons are WOC; one is named (Dessa). At times, Apollo takes the form of a black man, and there’s one dark-skinned male centaur (unnamed).

 

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