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Comic Book Review: "Wonder Woman #9: The Dearly Beloved"
Diana Prince’s fight to save Zola (the mortal woman carrying Zeus' unborn child) from the clutches of his brother, Hades, continues in Wonder Woman #9. “The Dearly Beloved”, written by Brian Azzarello with art by Tony Akins and Dan Green, Diana’s and Hades’ marriage is on; the date is set and the guests invited; now Diana (Wonder Woman) must marry Hades or face death (for herself, Zola and her child). She hopes marrying Hades will satiate his desire to keep Zola and her child in the underworld. In this issue, the dark recesses of the underworld are brought into the light, Hades’ past comes back, and Diana must prove her resolve in order to protect Zola or face an eternity of darkness.
“The Dearly Beloved” begins in Damascus. Strife finds her brother, War, at an outside café. She wants him to take her to the wedding. He doesn’t want to go; he’s been to one of Hades’ weddings, which should be enough. She claims that the two are the life of the party. She says it will be a blast. (A truck pulls up across the street from the café. The driver runs down the street just as the truck explodes.) War doesn’t care that Hades is marrying Wonder Woman. He has to “tend to things I don’t care about”. He walks away from Strife through the burning rubble.
At Mount Edna, Hephaestus, Lennox, Zola, Hermes, and Eros are arguing about how Diana was captured by Hades. Lennox and Zola blame Hermes for just leaving her there. Hephaestus says that’s the price for saving Zola. Hermes can’t go back for her, because it would be breaking a sworn oath. Hephaestus says he’s been invited to the wedding, and he’ll take Lennox as his guest. Now he’s got some work to do, because it would be rude to go “without a gift”.
In hell, Diana is getting dressed for the wedding. She looks at the bullet wound on her chest, it aches. A lady-in-waiting is helping her. She tells Diana that she has all of eternity to make Hades happy. He’s given Diana a gift: he’s made the underworld look like Paradise Island. Diana begins crying. The lady quickly closes the curtains, and droplets of blood fall to the ground. She’s bleeding. Diana demands to know who did this to her. The lady tells she did it to herself: she tried to escape hell once and she was punished, and now Hades will never let her forget. She’s Persephone; she was once Hades’ wife.
Hermes and Zola are walking through the forest. She is mad at Hermes for not trying to saving Diana; since she had saved both of them before. Aphrodite suddenly appears (she is nude and you never get to see her face). Hermes introduces her as Hephaestus’ wife (he’s such a charmer!). Zola is embarrassed at how beautiful Aphrodite is and that she isn’t. She tells Zola not to blame Hermes for what happened to Diana. “Don’t blame the messenger for the message.” She won’t be going to the wedding, because there is no place for love in hell; “it’s too cluttered with memories and regrets”.
In hell, Hades is sitting on his throne (his chained father, Kronos). Hades is sad that only a few people are coming to his wedding. His titan father tells him that it is his nature to find something wrong with everything. Hades agrees. Strife arrives early for the wedding. She’s so happy for him that he’s found love. She offers him a drink. He tells her there is “wine”. Kronos cries red tears. She fills a goblet with it. She apologizes for her mother and brother not coming; Hades has odd taste in women, (the hard-to-get type). She hopes this time the marriage will work. She says there is a way to make sure…
Hephaestus, Eros, and Lennox are arriving for the wedding. Lennox asks what the plan is. Hephaestus says they figure it out as they go. There is a blinding light from every soul is hell attending the wedding. As Diana is finishing her preparation for the ceremony, she is being assisted by three dog-headed women. They warn her not to break hades heart or they’ll feed her to rats for eternity.
Hades arrives on horseback and offers Diana another horse to ride as they proceed to the wedding together. As they ride, Hade says he don’t think she loves him. This is a trick to keep Zola and her child safe. If so it wouldn’t work; he would still go and drag Zola back to hell. Diana professes that her heart belongs to Hades. He says that there is a way to prove it. As they approach the altar, he says she can start wear the wedding ring before the ceremony. There, hanging above the altar, is her Lasso of Truth. She will put it around her neck and proclaim her love for Hades. If she does, then they are bound forever, and if she doesn’t, she’ll hang.
So far in the series, the strongest elements of the story are the dark mood, and eerie imagery of the Greek mythological world. The visual portrayals of the characters are so different: you don’t even get to see Aphrodite, not because she nude, but because she so beautiful, she’s beyond description (and thus beyond depiction). In every panel, she’s is carefully edited to only show her long hair, her arm, leg or back of her head; she’s never fully in the frame. The three dog-headed women dressing Diana is an odd reference to Cerberus (the three-headed hound of hell). The imprisoned titan, Kronos, used as Hades throne is twisted; he’s old, decrepit, starving and weeps blood. All these images continually add to the otherworldly atmosphere of the series. Of course, now, the biggest question is: with this Sword of Damocles hanging over her, will there be an epic rescue for Diana or will she unveil a plan that she had all along to save herself and Zola form Hades; or will her fate be worse than Persephone’s? Only the next issue will tell.
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