Wonder Where It All Began


On Wednesdays I look at various chapters in Wonder Woman’s history. Click here for previous installments.

Well, she certainly looks fierce.

Well, she certainly looks fierce.

Secret Origins #6, DC Comics, December 2014.

One week before Brian Azzarello finished up his run on Wonder Woman last Wednesda,y he told his version of Wondy’s origin in Secret Origins, the series that catches us up on how every familiar hero’s story is different in the New 52 continuity than it was before the reboot.

Just as he did in Wonder Woman #0 two years ago (holy crap, has his one story arc really been dragging on for three years?!), Azzarello writes this one (or rather cowrites it with his WW artist Cliff Chiang) with the conceit that it’s a Silver Age reprint from the 1960s, with a Stan Lee-style jocular intro about “the monthly monster” and “Wonder Woman’s merry men” fighting deadline doom, cute nicknames for everyone in the masthead, and a box claiming this story “originally appeared in Closet of Mystery #7.”

I’m guessing that’s some kind of reference to the mild lesbian subtext in the opening tussle between young Diana and her redheaded Amazon rival Aleka. (Seriously, what is it with Wonder Woman and redheaded rivals?)

Subtext? What subtext?

Subtext? What subtext?

There’s a bit of Diana angsting about how the other Amazons taunt her, calling her “Clay” because that’s supposedly what she was made of, and her mother angsting over her deep dark secret that Diana actually came from Hippolyta letting Zeus into her deep dark secret, if you know what I mean. But mostly the story shows Diana overly curious about the outside world—man’s world—and determined to go see it. It also shows her using the phrase, “sounds like fun…not,” demonstrating that she may not know man’s world, but she does know Wayne’s World.

The story also features a surprise appearance by Athena, who’s been conspicuously absent throughout Azzarello’s Wonder Woman run (although she also appears in his last issue the following week). This first glimpse of the goddess of wisdom is pretty striking. She has an owl’s head and a human body covered with down, clawed hands, a cape of wings and a large shield vaguely reminiscent of African art. Artist Goran Sudzuka does a great job with this story, sufficiently reminiscent of Chiang’s style to make it seem of a piece with the WW series proper.

She knows how to make a first impression.

She knows how to make a first impression.

And of course this also includes Steve Trevor crash-landing on Paradise Island—and what I believe is the first time we’ve seen Steve in Azzarello’s Wonder Woman at all. (And it’s not even in the Wonder Woman series proper.) Most of what we know of Diana’s past relationship with Steve in the New 52 reboot has been told in Geoff Johns’s Justice League series and its many spinoffs.

Could this be what they call...a meet-cute?

Could this be what they call…a meet-cute?

Anyway, here Steve crash-lands and walks on the island, because apparently a man walking on Paradise Island isn’t a big deal the way it used to be in the old universe. And of course Diana’s still the one who finds him and likes what she sees. We don’t get to find out if the rest is the same—the tournament to determine who’ll bring Steve back to man’s world and all that—but it’s reassuring to know that not everything is different in this brazen new world.

Oh, and the teaser for the next issue of her own series is kind of cute, too: “A Muck Man Runs Amok!” At first I thought it was just a bit of Silver Age silliness, but then I remembered that Swamp Thing guest-stars in the first issue of the Finches’ Wonder Woman next month.

Then I kicked the swamp in the face!

Then I kicked the swamp in the face!

It’s only a 12-issue story, and there are two more in the same issue: a Deadman story by J.M DeMatteis that’s less an origin than a new-agey addendum of how Boston Brand found a jolly guru after he died, Much as I like DeMatteis’s writing in a lot of ways, these smiley new age gurus are a trope he comes back to a lot in his supernatural work (Dr. Fate, et cetera), and I can’t help bit find it a little mawkish. Cullen Bunn’s Sinestro origin is a little meatier, showing that the guy was a rat bastard even when he first became a Green Lantern. But none of that has anything to do with Wonder Woman, so I won’t get into it much here.

Matter of fact, that’s about it for this week! Check back next week for… well, I haven’t decided yet. Maybe I’ll finally get around to writing about the latest collection of Azzarello’s Wonder Woman. Who can say?

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