Friday, September 6, 2013

Issue Review: Wonder Woman 23

Wonder Woman's team faces down the Firstborn in the middle of a ruined Westminster Abbey.  The Firstborn has an army of bipedal wolf-creatures fighting for him, so Ares summons an army of dead soldiers from ages past to battle on Wonder Woman's side.  As the battle progresses, each team member contributes.  Orion takes on the Firstborn in a knock-down drag-out fight, but loses. Wonder Woman takes off her wrist-bands, unleashing her full power, but is unable to defeat the Firstborn and ends up bruised on the ground.  Ares battles the Firstborn with martial arts skills, but loses as well. As the Firsborn prepares to kill Ares and take his powers as the god of war, Wonder Woman takes a spear and runs both of them through, killing Ares. This keeps the powers from the Firstborn and instead transfers them to Wonder Woman.  As the story concludes, the Firsborn lies on the ground defeated, but not dead, and Hades appears to take Ares to the underworld.

This is another solid story by Azzarello and Chiang.  I really enjoyed how the whole group that has gathered around Wonder Woman fought together as a team, and protected each other.  They've come to repeatedly refer to each other as family, clearly meaning it not in the biological sense, but in the sense of bonds between those who care for each other.  Even the formerly haughty Hera seems to have come around, trying to protect Zola and her child, even to the point of standing between them and the Firstborn. Hera does this even though she is now mortal and no longer has any real powers to use against him.

Perhaps the most powerful scene in this story comes when Wonder Woman puts her wrist-bands back on.  We have seen in the past, and we see again here, that the wrist-bands serve to somehow contain Diana's powers, and that when she takes them off, her full, awesome power is unleashed.  She removes them here to go up against the Firstborn, and Ares asks her if she is really prepared to do whatever it takes to win.  At first, Wonder Woman seems like she is. But after being beaten down by the Firstborn and getting back up again, Diana puts the wrist-bands back on. She realizes that there are some things she is not willing to do.  In the end, when she has the Firstborn at her mercy, and Hades asks her if she's going to send the Firstborn to the afterlife with Ares, Wonder Woman declines.  Thus, we see personal growth for Diana.

As the story concludes, Hades tells Diana that she will make an interesting "god of war," demonstrating that Diana now seems to have the powers and responsibilities that were once Ares'. I'm curious to see how this plays out, as Wonder Woman seems powerful enough without also being the goddess of war.  I suspect that this is not a permanent role for her, and that either the powers will revert to someone else, or perhaps she will give them up or bestow them on someone.  Maybe Zola's baby (Zeke) will become the new god of war after everything is over.

Chiang's art as usual is solid.  I like the way he draws Diana's face as well as the action scenes. He's rather minimalist with his lines, but I think the style works well for this series.  I much prefer his work to the other primary artist's (Akins).  The scene where the dead soliders rally behind Ares is fantastic, in particular.

Overall, this was another very good issue for this series.  Wonder Woman has been surprisingly consistent for two solid years now. I only hope DC's silly "Forever Evil" event doesn't louse it up.

My Score: 9/10

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