Comic Book Review: "Wonder Woman: Blood"
Diana Prince AKA Wonder Woman returns with the rest of DC Comics New 52 in a new, engaging story that rewrites her origins in her first story arc, “Blood” written by Brian Azzarello with art by Cliff Chiang. Before the New 52 reboot, Wonder Woman was an Amazonian warrior goddess forged out of clay and brought to life. Here, she gets a whole new story, making Diana’s story more complex, giving her more depth. Although she has always been immortal and ageless, like all the revamped DC characters, she looks younger and her Wonder Woman armor has a more form-and-function look to it. She carries a sword and shield along with her trademark Lasso of Truth. This story begins with everyone in the world already knowing that Wonder Woman exists, and this tale revolves around Diana learning who she is and where she comes from, while dealing with the Greek mythological world that she was born into on Paradise Island. This new storyline makes her more accessible to newer readers.
Issue #1 “The Visitation” begins in Singapore with a dark, rock-skinned man on top of the city’s tallest building with three young women drinking champagne. His eyes and mouth glow orange. He talks to them about how he in a “sun” and how his father has been lost. One of the women looks down from the balcony and says she can see for miles. Suddenly, he grabs all three of them and he says that they can see forever. In Virginia, a feather-cloaked woman enters a farmhouse barn and cuts the head off of a horse with a sickle. Out of the severed neck a human head and arms grow. In the farm house a gangly blue man wearing a World War I uniform and helmet opens the door and tells the young woman inside, Zola, that she has to leave for the sake of her and her child. Threatening him with a shotgun, she questions who he is and demands he leave. Suddenly, a huge arrow flies through the door and impales him as two centaurs, (half horse and half human), crash through the door. The blue man gives Zola a key that magically transports her to a London apartment. She’s standing in a bedroom with a sleeping woman who suddenly awakens, grabs Zola, and demands to know who she is. Zola mumbles about the farm attack and the magical key. The woman introduces herself as Diana; Zola knows that she is Wonder Woman. She dresses in her Wonder Woman costume, telling Zola that she’s safe in the apartment and asks Zola to give her the key. Just as Zola hands the key over she grabs Diana’s hand and they both get transported back to the Virginia farm; Zola was afraid to be left alone. The centaurs are still fighting the blue man. Diana begins to fight one of them. The other grabs Zola and being running away. Diana throws her sword and cuts off its arm, freeing Zola. The two centaurs flee, leaving Diana and Zola to care for the blue man, who Diana recognizes as Hermes (the messenger of the gods). Hermes says that she must protect Zola and her child. Zola retorts that she isn’t pregnant. Hermes explains that Zola was impregnated by Zeus in disguise. Back in Singapore, the three women are floating in the air. Under a trance, telling the glowing man that his father will have a child that will kill one of its siblings. As the sun rises he begins glowing brighter and brighter. The bright light engulfs the three women and they disintegrate into flame and ashes.
In issue #2, “Home”, we see that the feather-cloaked woman who severed the horse’s head is Hera, queen of the gods, and the jealous wife of Zeus. On top of Mount Olympus she’s complaining to her daughter Strife that her plan to kill Zola didn’t work. She says that Zeus’ numerous affairs will not go unpunished and she will have her revenge by killing all of his illegitimate offspring. Diana has brought Zola and Hermes to Paradise Island for care and safekeeping. At first, the Amazons threaten to attack her for bringing a male to the island, but Diana informs them that she is the queen’s daughter. The queen, Hippolyta, appears and welcomes her daughter home. She questions Diana about her “mission” to protect Zola and how dealing with Hera’s wrath is dangerous. As Hermes is resting, Zola asks him about Diana. He tells her that the legend surrounding Diana is that Hippolyta was barren and couldn’t have children. So, she formed a child out of clay and prayed to the gods for a child of her own. In the morning she was awoken by her little clay baby come to life: Thus the story of Diana’s birth. Zola finds it amazing. During the nightly feast, Aleka, an Amazon warrior, challenges Diana to a friendly sparring game. During the match Dessa, one of the Amazon woman, asks Hippolyta what is bothering her. She says that Hera knows that there is a child of Zeus on the island and that it is dangerous. Diana easily wins the match, but suddenly there is a massive explosion. All the Amazonian women rush into the forest to investigate. There is a battle going on, but they can’t see the invaders. Aleka attempts to attacks Diana. Diana defends herself and warns the other Amazon warriors to stop fight because they are actually unknowingly attacking each other. Suddenly the sound of Strife’s voice echoes through the forest. She’s calling for Diana, saying that she wishes to speak to her sister. Diana asks if Strife knows that Zola carries a female child. Strife now 50 feet tall, picks up Diana and says that she wasn’t talking about Zola’s child; she was speaking about Diana.
Issue 3, “Clay”, begins with the Amazonian women are building great pyres to burn the dead in the aftermath of Strife’s trickery into attacking each other. Aleka blames Diana’s bringing Zola and Hermes to the island for Strife’s attack. Aleka considers Diana a threat that should be dealt with. Diana doesn’t believe Strife and she are sisters. She was made of clay, not fathered by the king of the gods. Strife tells her that after Zeus has a few goblets of wine in him he starts talking. Hippolyta interrupts the conversion between the two. She’s decided to tell Diana the truth about her birth: It was indeed Zeus who fathered her after a passionate tryst between Zeus and herself. She knew she was pregnant and hid from Zeus and decided to hide to truth. She lied to the Amazon women about it so she could protect Diana and Paradise Island from Hera’s wrath. Diana takes the truth very badly and runs off into the forest. She punches and kicks the trees, smashing them apart. At the funeral for the fallen Amazons Aleka attempt to rally the other warriors into attacking Diana because she brought this evil to the island. Diana interrupts her by knocking her out cold. She tells the other women that she is to blame for the massacre and that she is leaving the island; never to return. She tells them that she is no longer Diana, the clay daughter of a queen, but simply as the rest of the world knows her: Wonder Woman.
At the start of issue 4, “Blood”, in Darfur, the glowing man from Singapore (Apollo) finds his brother, War, in a bar littered with dead bodies. Apollo tells him that he is needed; War seems uninterested. In London, Diana, Zola, Hermes and Strife are at a nightclub. Diana is trying to absorb the news that she is one of Zeus’s daughters. Strife is trying to cheer Diana up, trying to get her to drink and “celebrate” family. Hermes tells Strife that Hera will want her “pound of flesh” (her revenge against Zeus’ illegitimate offspring). Strife suggests that they just take the unborn baby from Zola’s womb. Diana stabs Strife’s hand with a broken champagne glass when she touches Zola’s belly. Strife leaves the bar telling Diana she might regret pushing her away. On Paradise Island Hera appears in a lighting storm to confront Hippolyta. The Amazons prepare to attack her, but Hippolyta tells them to stand down. Hera is filled with anger at Hippolyta for keeping Diana’s birth a secret, and asks why she betrayed her. The Amazon women stand ready to defend their queen. She tells Hera that she has told them to stand down. She kneels and hands Hera her battle axe, ready for punishment. Hippolyta asks for her forgiveness. Hera raises the blade, but at the last second changes her mind. She drops the axe, and embraces Hippolyta and says that she wishes she could forgive her. Back in Diana’s apartment, Zola and she discuss what family means. Zola’s father is in prison and her mother has died; she has no family. This makes Diana decide to return and make amends with her own mother. As she appears at the palace on Paradise Island (using Hermes’ staff to transport) there is a constant hissing of snakes everywhere. In the mists of the sea of snake is the stone figure of Hippolyta. It seems Hera turned her to stone and the Amazonians into snakes. Diana embraces her stone mother saying she’s sorry. In the Darfur bar, Apollo asks for War’s assist in finding their father. War says he wants nothing to do with it, but he’ll stay out of Apollo’s way. He leaves saying the future of the world is in the hand of the mortals.
As Issue 5, “Lourdes”, begins in London, a fishing barge travels down the Thames and find a dead hippocamp (half horse, half fish). At a nearby café Diana, Hermes and Zola are eating breakfast when a stranger shows up, saying he know all about them and what’s going on. He says his name is Lennox and he is Diana’s big brother (another of Zeus’ long-lost children). He’s over eighties years old but doesn’t look like it. He says that Zeus is missing and his brothers (Poseidon and Hades) are looking to take over the throne. Lennox and Hermes go to an underground tunnel. Hermes stays behind because of his injures. At the London Bridge, Zola and Diana are talking about the odd family that they both have recently been inducted into. Zola reminds Diana that Lennox said that she needs to be on the London Bridge at exactly 6 o’clock as Big Ben rings six times. Suddenly, a group of hippocampi appear out on the Thames. Diana jumps off the bridge and onto the water as Poseidon (a giant, ugly-looking talking fish) rises out of the waters. Diana asks for an audience with the god of the sea. He tells her that since Zeus is gone he will take the throne. Diana claims that Hera plans to take the heavens for herself, which enrages Poseidon. In the underground tunnel Lennox is attacks by a giant three headed dog (Cerberus). Out of the darkness, walks a man with a flaming head, who tells the dog to stop. On the bridge the two centaurs from the Virginian farm arrive for Zola. On Mount Olympus, Hera has been watching the exchange between Diana and the water god on a magical pool; confused as Poseidon is grappling with Wonder Woman.
Issue 6, “Thrones”, takes us back to London, where Diana and Poseidon are fighting and arguing about who has the right to rule over the gods, earth and heaven. Diana points out that Hera is queen and has the right to rule. Poseidon doesn’t see her as having the right since Zeus swindled the others out of the throne to begin with. The two centaurs charge after Zola on the bridge. Diana jumps away from the water god, onto the bridge, kills one of the centaurs, grabs Zola, and jumps back onto Poseidon’s back. Back in the tunnel Lennox is talking to Hades (the flaming-headed guy, whose head is topped with large candles and the melted wax covers everything except his mouth). He tells him that they have a plan to deal with the power vacuum created by Zeus’ absence. They exit the tunnel to find Hermes, Diana, Zola, and Poseidon waiting. Diana tells them that she have the prefect plan: Poseidon rules the throne by day, Hades by night and they share Hera as queen. Hera suddenly appears in a rage saying that she won’t stand for it. Neither brother measures up to her standards. Lennox rips a candle from Hades head and tosses it to Diana as Hermes tosses her his magical staff. Hera demands Hermes to explain his actions. He says they’re sending her a message, as Diana throw the candle at Hera. Hera quickly transports back to Olympus, causing an explosion. At Olympus, Diana appears before Hera as an apparition/projection telling her that she’s proved that Hera is venerable, and she’ll continue to be trouble for Hera for what she’s done to her mother. Back on earth, the two brother gods leave laughing at the trick that was played on all three of them (Poseidon, Hades, and Hera). Diana says she was just protecting a mother and daughter. In the tunnel a woman appears. Zola recognizes her as her mother. Suddenly, tentacles fly out and grab her. Diana rushes after her as Hades appears telling Diana that she better keep her side of the bargain or else.
It’s nice to see this new take on Wonder Woman, by Azzarello and Chiang, in "Blood". For a while she seemed somewhat dated; like all of her adventures had already been told. Now, these new revelations about her mother and father create a whole pantheon of stories to tell. This is a fascinating way of telling an origin story. It doesn’t tell us how Diana Prince becomes Wonder Woman or how she first meets the people of earth. It tells us how she learns the truth about her own past, and gives us an insight into the world of Greek goddess’s and gods that she have to navigate through. It gives us tidbits of a looming war caused by an absent king. There is Zola as the newcomer; unknowing thrust into this fantastical world, a family crisis, secrets brought to light, jealousy, and revenge. It has one of the more interesting cliffhangers—leaving many questions unanswered. What’s happened to Zeus? What does Apollo have to do with all of this? What about Paradise Island? What are the ramifications of Diana’s trickery of the gods? What about Strife and War? But, it is gripping enough to make that next issue worth looking forward. Other interesting highlights are the imaginative artwork: All the Greek characters are distinctive; Hera, although looking like a normal woman, spends most of her time clothed in a peacock feather cape and nothing else. Strife is bald, has dark circles under her blood-shot eyes, and dressed in a shredded skintight one-piece black micro-skirt. Apollo’s skin is dark and rock-like with molten eyes and a mouth. War is a shriveled old bearded man. Hades looks like a cenobite from Hellraiser, and Poseidon looks like a monster fish from 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. These are very creative, if eclectic, visual takes on these characters, that add that little touch of the otherworldly that this story benefits greatly from. The next issues will surely been as enjoyable to read as these ones were.
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