WONDER WOMAN #35 Review
“untitled” (21 pages)
Story by: Brian Azzarello
Art by: Cliff Chiang
Colors by: Matthew Wilson
Letters by: Jared K. Fletcher
Covers by: Cliff Chiang; Aaron Lopresti
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
This is Azzarello’s swan song!! He’s moving on to greener pastures. His ship has set sail for uncharted waters.
After a three-year build-up, everything has culminated to this grand finale. In a way, I’m left wanting. I find that the saga wasn’t past its prime, that it didn’t drag on. It was crystalline characterization with dashes of soap opera elements and successive story-building. Alas, it’s over.
Picking up immediately from the previous issue, Poseidon stands tall and triumphant ready to stake his claim tentacles on Olympus. The vying for power never gets old especially when they are factions wanting a piece of pie. Poseidon is a pale threat since The First Born hasn’t been felled. The sea god will not be stopped and he is determined to vanquish The Last Born a.k.a. Zola’s son Zeke.
A true WTF?!? moment. Zola has regained consciousness and re-emerged as a bird-like being. I literally didn’t see this one coming. I had myself guessing what exactly happened to her. I’m glad Azzarello identified her near the very end. At any rate, Zola kicks into hyper-overprotective mom mode to fend off the sea slug from her innocent baby boy. She slashes one of his tentacles and also cuts into his eye. Talk about gruesome but just!! This is exactly what Greek drama entails. Zola is just as surprised as anyone else (including me) as to what is happening to her. There’s less than a millisecond to reconvene when out comes The First Born from that enormous pool of blood along with his minion the Minotaur. Uh oh! They’re goners for sure.
People who live in glasses houses lofty settings shouldn’t throw stones. Hermes mislabels The First Born too quickly. For a split-second I do feel some empathy for the monstrosity. After all, he’s harboring resentment for being cast out of Olympus for being born first. Go figure! Those gods sure know how to be cruel. Either way, Hermes is downed by him. I thought for sure the messenger of the gods bit the bullet when FB takes Hermes’ caduceus and impales him. I cringed a bit at that scene.
Diana begins to tussle with the man-bull. She’s actually ready to go to all extremes. With one of her bent swords (how interesting. I didn’t notice nor realize the curve of the weapon)., she does some impaling of her own. Zola charges head-on towards FB. I fully comprehend the concepts of gravitas and pathos. Even so, it irks me that a super-woman like Diana can’t actually take down the Minotaur in one blow. I get that she isn’t some bloodthirsty crazed Amazon. I get that there would be no story without the conflict and/or danger. I get that she many more incredible abilities. But, come on!! To be easily defeated by the Minotaur? That’s just bogus. This is freakin’ Wonder Woman, people!!! In all the years that super-heroes have existed, I find that it is an extremely rare case (like Halley’s Comet) that an über-powerful hero cuts loose. I can count on my hand how many times that has happened in any medium. Zola is no match for FB either.
Upon turning the page, as soon as I saw the “POP” effect, I actually thought someone had snapped FB’s neck or broken his back or something to that degree. I was thrilled that he got his just reward and I was wondering how could this deus ex machina be. Turns out it’s only Strife, opening a bottle of crys-tal. This scene made me chuckle a bit since she’s so flippant and nonchalant at the same time. She simply wants to spectate and witness the end of an era. FB allows her to watch and reminds her that Olympus is for himself, not her greedy little hands.
FB has Zeke firmly in his branches(?) Instead of death, he wants to give the baby a more cruel fate: being cast into an abyss devoid of love and happiness. FB address dear-old-dad by saying he is doing the exact same thing that was done to him as a means of vengeance. This is totally Cat’s in the Cradle. For those of you out of the loop, Zeus is FB’s father. To provide a bit of backstory: Zeus and Hera decided to discard their first child after it was prophesied that he would dethrone the sovereign and slay all the other Olympians.
Strife openly admits to being a spectator (called it!) but also points out a chink in the armour. Hephaestus and the Amazons were actually winning against FB’s hordes. He retreated to Olympus to retrieve a secret weapon, to get a Hail Mary. I just love her bluntness and supposed passiveness! The Minotaur is ordered to murder Diana but it seems that he just doesn’t have it in him. Memories stir of a time when a younger WW was just about to do the deed but lowered her weapon and showed mercy instead. FB has no time for that. He gives the “less-than-a-man” a real good whooping and sees that under the helmet there’s a steer. He sneers and calls him “less-than-beast” as well. The final insult is addressing him as ‘cow’ and saying that his murder is a mercy to all. Cow to the slaughter.
Well, that was all that was needed to trigger the driving force in Diana. She goes into full god-mode. WOOT WOOT!! As she removes her silver shackles, she bursts with energy given herself three definitive distinctions: (1) the daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus, (2) the God of War, and (3) simply, beautifully WONDER WOMAN!!! Diana digs deeps into FB’s chest cavity to see if he has a heart. That makes no difference as he hurls Zeke and Zola into the abyss. In a ball of light, Hermes catches them. Diana untangles some of FB’s branches and pulls out the golden lariat a.k.a. magic lasso uttering these words: “Love requires compassion, nurturing, and above all, submission.” There is no greater force in the entire universe.
We’ve reached the apex of the story. Everything kicks into high gear. The slow burn that has been three years in the making finally explodes!! Zola places Zeke on the throne and KRAKOOOOMM!!! The Last Born is unleashed! Lightning strikes everywhere. Appropriately, it hits the rock where FB is standing. Unfortunately, Diana is also on said rock. The massive chunk starts to descend into the abyss. This has FB freaked out like no tomorrow. Diana loses her footing and foolishly asks the FB to give her his hand. He is stunned that she is willing to give him love and accept an eternity of suffering. Diana turns it all around and tells him that tough love is what he needs. He heads back into the abyss where hopefully it’ll be another 7,000 years before he resurfaces. WW offers these wise words: “Submission is faith in the strength of others.” Profound stuff!! I never pegged Azzarello to be a philosopher!
BIG REVEAL and continuation of WTF? moment — Zola wasn’t mutated at all. She was Athena all along hiding inside the mortal woman’s body. Diana sees it as deceit. Athena assures her that it was only at the very end of the battle that her true self awoke. Being the goddess of wisdom, she knew all but kept it to herself. Athena vocalizes the most biting form of irony: even gods have regrets and are flawed. Zeus wanted a way out of his sorry existence. What better way than mess with the entire universe, especially humans?
The revelations continue. Athena explains how Zeus knew the full extent of the prophecy. His absence caused FB to return. Ares was past his prime. Diana was being groomed for her current position. Strife, living up to her name, stirred the pot and spilled the beans about Diana’s lineage. All were actors on the stage. CREEPIEST CONCEPT EVER — just as Zeus gave birth to Athena, she in turn gives birth to him in the form of Zeke. Talk about keeping it in the family! What would Hamlet say about these incestuous sheets?
I never realized Greek deities experience reincarnation. That definitely changes my perspective on things as well as my knowledge of Greek mythology. Like a true Greek goddess, Athena is ready to dispose of Zola’s body so that she can re-form as her true self. Diana, ever devout, pleads with her to spare Zola’s life. She lists many of Zola’s admirable qualities. She also hits home: “We’ve seen what kind of monsters we gods create when love is denied.” Ever the most humble, Diana admits that Zola has impacted her life and the she needs her as well, not just her son Zeke. One more to really get the point across: “Goddess, when given choices, should we not choose love above all else?” Omnia vincit amor!!
Diana has broken through to Athena! She reverts to an owl and Zola snaps out of her possessed self. Fittingly, Athena flies away. How ironic that Zola asks “Who?” when Diana thanks Athena. She was definitely out of it. The titular heroine, the mortal mother, the legacy of the gods, the messenger, and the discordant deity stand atop Mount Olympus triumphant as the sun begins to rise. As touching as it all is, Strife guzzling the bottle of champagne is the most fitting way to end this run. Azzarello has a very subtle humorous streak. I love it!!
Paragraphs galore can be written examining and praising Brian Azzarello’s dedication and commitment to this title. Instead, I will sum up his opus by looking at two major themes: love and submission. Only now in this very last chapter do I see what he was doing beneath the surface — he was honoring, recognizing, and continuing to espouse William Moulton Marston’s ideologies via Wonder Woman!!! Diana said it herself. Submission is not a bad thing. There’s no negative connotation to it. It simply is the recognition of strength in others and believing in those individuals. Love is the real driving force of reality as we know it. This surpasses gender roles and/or stereotypes. Being submissive = being strong. Love is the ultimate super-power. Bravo to you, Brian. In a blink of an eye, I can see it all (literally). You weren’t just writing about gods, humans, petty squabbles, power struggles, super villains, major menaces, catastrophes, etc. You were educating the masses about the importance of Princess Diana of Themyscira a.k.a. Wonder Woman not just as a fictional character but as a cultural icon and an anthropological/psychological/sociological topic.
Cliff Chiang comes back to finish what he started. There’s no better way to put the cap on things. The circle is complete. What can I say? He encapsulates the nuances in every single character. The eyes are what show the most as well as the faces. Zola looked especially creepy when she transformed. I thought she was a Harpy. There was a real ferocity in her eyes and determination to protect her child. Despite Diana’s brute strength or imposing physique, she remained calm, gentle, and steadfast. Zeke is cuter than a button being that he’s a baby and all. I don’t think I could ever draw one. It’s ultra rare that children, let alone babies are drawn in comics. Adult characters cater to adult audiences, I suppose.
Mathew Wilson picks up the baton and finishes the race. The vivid colours come out best: the red covering the First Born, the blue energy around Diana, and the gold in the lasso. However, he does an exemplary job in shading in four of the last five pages. It is night and even though that is obvious and predominant in the panels, you can still make out the other colours on the clothes as well as the contours of Mount Olympus. Way to go!
Jared K. Fletcher transcribes Azzarello’s words beautifully. He does all the right things with italics, punctuation, and most importantly, the sound effects.
It’s a good thing I do my research!! I just discovered that Mathew Wilson and Jared K. Fletcher are the real stalwarts of this book! They’ve done almost every single issue (including #0 and #23.2 but excluding #23.1) of this title!! They deserve just as much praise, if not more! That is professionalism, gentlemen!!!
Bias time: Wonder Woman is my abso fave heroine in all of comic book-dom. To me, there is no greater creation put on this Earth!! I have always loved her, followed her, worshipped her. I’ve always stuck by her and have the majority of her books even if the quality was less than impressive. I will keep following her exploits until the day I die. You’re a wonder, Wonder Woman!! I mean Brian and Cliff!!!
I give this book two big W’s up!! In other words, a perfect 10.
(Editor’s note: For fans of artist Cliff Chang you can still pick up TwoMorrow’s Modern Masters edition featuring his career here. The cover is on the immediate above left and the link also includes a 33 page preview of the book.)
Bevy of Beauties:
The main cover (see the first cover at very top of this review by Cliff Chang) portrays from the left — Artemis, Demeter, Strife, Hera;
from the centre and foreground — Wonder Woman (of course);
from the right — Hippolyta, Dessa, Aleka, Cassandra, Siracca, Zola.
Tags: New 52 (DC Comics), Wonder Woman