On Wednesdays I look at various chapters in Wonder Woman’s history. Click here for previous installments.
Wonder Woman vol. 4: War, DC Comics, 2014.
I’ve had the latest hardcover collection of the current Wonder Woman series lying around for months now, and I haven’t gotten around to writing it up because… because… well, because Brian Azzarello’s storyline moves so damn slowly that there’s not much sense of urgency, you know? But now vol. 5 is coming out, so it’s really high time I got off my ass and wrote up vol. 4 (which doesn’t actually involve getting off my ass, but you know what I mean).
Wonder Woman #19, DC Comics, June 2013.
We start in Olympus, which looks a lot like Club Med, with a whole lot of deck chairs. The gods are doing what they’ve been doing ever since this story arc began—lounging around kvetching about the prophecy that a child of Zeus is gonna come kill ’em. The general consensus seems to be that this would be the newborn baby of Wonder Woman’s pal Zola, “the Last Born,” so every once in a while Apollo (who’s seized the throne since the disappearance of papa Zeus) sends somebody to try to grab the kid. This time it’s going to be Artemis, but we’ll get to that later.
In the meantime, Wondy has assembled a pretty substantial posse: not just Zola and her baby but Lennox, a Cockney demigod with skin of stone who’s yet another child of Zeus; Orion of the New Gods; Hera, shorn of her godly powers; and Ares, the jaded and semi-retired god of war. As we catch up with them, Zola’s finally getting around to naming her kid with advice from the rest of the motley crew. She finally settles on Zeke, reasoning that the Z is kind of a nod to the baby’s father, which is a weird thing to say because her own name also starts with Z.
I don’t love that Cliff Chiang is mainly just doing the covers at this point, but artist Goran Sudzuka does a good job preserving a sense of stylistic continuity, and actually does a damn good job in general.
And we keep coming back to the First Born, the hot new bad guy that I’m already tired of even though he hasn’t even met Wonder Woman yet. He’s the long-imprisoned first son of Zeus and Hera who’s free now and out to kill everybody, but so far all that’s meant has been a lot of posturing and questing around for his lost stuff. We rejoin him amid a bit of macho posturing between him and Poseidon, who’s still some kind of cool whale/walrus thing and is in possession of one of the First Born’s lost weapons, and the sea god informs the big brute that he’s going to need the baby if he really wants to conquer Olympus. Finally there’s some small reason for Wonder Woman to give a crap about this guy, even if she doesn’t know it yet.
Orion’s still kind of a lecherous jock in Azzarello’s story, a far cry from the grim and warlike character that Jack Kirby created, but the original Orion was lost in the reboot to the current New 52 continuity. (In the universe that preceded this one, Wonder Woman and Orion had at some point been colleagues in the Justice League during Grant Morrison’s tenure.) Now I don’t really know why Wondy puts up with him. I guess he’s decent in a fight, but mostly all he does is leer at her and call her “legs.” In this issue Wondy finally slaps him around a big for the disrespect, but I don’t think it really takes. Macho jerks will be macho jerks.
Speaking of the Wondy/Orion thing, I appreciate that there’s been nary a nod to the Wonder Woman/Superman romance in this series so far. Not even a mention, even though they’ve been an item for a while now in Justice League and Superman/Wonder Woman. I think there was a little face-off between Orion and Superman in one of those other comics somewhere along the way, but I can’t remember which. Obviously it made a big impression.
Wonder Woman #20, DC Comics, July 2013.
So once again Artemis attacks, come to kill the baby, and once again Wonder Woman kicks her namesake’s ass (her Roman namesake, anyway). They mostly call her Moon in this particular series, just like they call Ares War and Hades Hell, while other gods—Hera, for example—stick to their Greek names. During the battle, the two of them make trash-talking banter that’s just painfully awkward, which has been a problem throughout this series.
Anyway, that battle is won pretty easily. But then the First Born finally, finally meets Wondy’s Scooby gang, with his sidekick (and apparent half-sister) Cassandra in tow. We learn she and Lennox used to be close, until he tore her throat out for using her power of an irresistible voice to force people to slaughter each other, and that’s why she has a robot neck.
Honestly, I can’t remember if we even knew she was a demigod before this moment because things have been happening so slowly. I barely even remembered that she had a prosthetic neck.
Wonder Woman #21, DC Comics, August 2013.
At last, Wonder Woman and the First Born meet! And fight! And Chiang’s back on art duties to document the asswhuppery. Or rather, the First Born fights Wonder Woman and Lennox and Orion, and holds his own, so I guess he must be pretty tough.
Meanwhile, Cassandra stalks Zola and Zeke while telling her whole backstory about those fearsome powers she no longer has, though I guess she’s still a demigod with just enough superhuman strength to be a problem for plain ol’ mortal Zola. But we’ll never know, because when next we see them Cassandra’s knocked out, and we have no idea why. Did the baby take her out? We don’t know. But Orion sends his weird space-god robo-scooter to find the baby, and when it does, Cassanda’s no longer a problem.
The battle’s cut short when our heroes decide to get the baby the heck out of there, taking Orion’s Boom Tube to transport them…somewhere else. Anywhere else. But apparently the Boom Tube only works if one side closes before the other one opens, and the First Born is holding this weird extradimensional tunnel open with his bare hands. So Lennox has to drop back to fight him off and let his friends escape, with the implication that he’s almost certainly going to die in the process.
And where the heck have they gone? New Genesis, of course, home of the New Gods who sent Orion to find the baby in the first place. So is this a good thing, or very much the opposite? We’ll just have to find out in the second half of the book, because that’s certainly enough for one week.