Wonder Woman Vol. 4: War (The New 52)
Pros: Writing is stronger for the finish, lots of action
Cons: Chiang’s artwork still not to my liking
Zeus’ child the First Born has been captured by his uncle Poseidon, the king of the sea. Poseidon hopes to make a deal with him in order for the First Born to keep his personal war away from his seas. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman and her team come under attack by her other siblings whom hope to kill Zeus’ new born child from the mortal girl Zola, whom according to legend will bring death to the new god of Olympus. -summary
Wonder Woman Vol. 4: War is by far the best volume of the series up to this point as it appears to take advantage of each and every story element introduced through out Brian Azzarello’s run. One can tell that this arc is on its last legs almost immediately and Azzie wastes very little time upping the stakes preparing the reader for its high-octane climax. Now although this volume does deliver a lot of the goods it still manages to hit some small bumps along the way. This volume collects Wonder Woman issues 19-23.
The biggest and only real flaw with this book is that it isn’t the least bit newbie friendly. Azzarello is clearly hoping that readers are completely familiar with all events leading to this point, since it does not contain a recap of any sort and the story just takes off running. I personally have no issue with this mainly since I’m up to speed, and because the story grabbed me by the throat and hardly ever lightened its grip; others will be advised to start this from the beginning because you will be lost.
Now for those unfamiliar and would like a little insight to this story arc. Wonder Woman learned that she’s one of Zeus’ bastard children and he has a habit of making children at random, which leads him to impregnating the mortal girl Zola; this led to Zeus’ wife Hera becoming angry and making various attempts to kill Zola and the child. Wonder Woman decides to defend Zola and the baby at all cost. Meanwhile, Zeus has disappeared for unknown reasons and his grown children decided to make a mad dash for his throne, in which Apollo manages to become new king. Apollo made a deal with Wonder Woman to kill Zola’s baby should the child truly become the threat according to legacy; a deal she has no intention on upholding.
The plot follows Apollo as he sends his sister Moon to carry out the execution in which she comes to blows with Wonder Woman again, and at the same time, the First Born is hunting for the child and Olympus’ new king. This volume is more action packed than all of the previous volumes combined and it delivers heavily on that end . Action wise the brawls are just too entertaining, as the combatants level some of everything as they try and get to each other. Everyone comes off looking really good, and the seeds are planted for future rivalries in which I can imagine numerous clashes between Wonder Woman and Moon.
While the action is indeed the story’s high point, it really isn’t that far above the character and world building. This is by far Azzie’s best writing on this storyline so far; he delves deeper into Wonder Woman’s dysfunctional family of gods by once again tapping on the constant backstabbing and power struggles between them, and his writing made this book hard for me to put down. He also introduces the New Gods into New 52 continuity; and even though I wasn’t too gripped to this portion of the story, he still made it interesting enough to flow through.
I gave up trying to get use to Cliff Chiang’s manga influenced artwork. I personally don’t feel it’s right for Wonder Woman’s fantasy world. I get that the aim here is to display her as beautiful and powerful, as opposed to just being dead sexy, but it lacks the stylish edge that could have truly brought this world to life; and if anyone tries to mention that flashier artwork would have simply turned Wonder Woman into mere eye candy. Then I urge you to take a look at Ivan Reis’ designs for Mera over in Aquaman. She still looks deadly and feels like royalty at the same time.
I will give credit to the backgrounds and amazing battle scenes though. There is a high sense of urgency during the fights; they clearly get the point across that these combatants are out for blood and the devastation they leave behind is proof of this. The battles can tell their own story without the dialog.
Wonder Woman Vol. 4 feels like a good enough pay off, and although this story arc took way too long to see some type of conclusion and the ride was bumpy. I can honestly look back and say that Azzie couldn’t have done it a different way. He had a very large cast and a world to develop, and I commend him for not rushing things. If he left this title right now it would be in good shape for anyone else to pick up and run with. I didn’t completely like this arc, but in the end it was worth reading. If you already began this run then I recommend finishing up for completion’s sake. However, if you’re new to new 52 Wonder Woman, please start from the beginning in order to familiarize yourself with this world.