Review: WONDER WOMAN #23

Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: August 21, 2013

wonderwoman23Without exaggerating, this is the most important issue of Wonder Woman since the launch of the New 52. Depending on where things go from here, it may become one of the most significant issues in Wonder Woman’s history. Brian Azzarello has been tinkering with the Wonder Woman mythos but with this issue, he introduces a dramatic change to her canon that will disrupt how she sees the world and her family.

MASSIVE SPOILERS AHOY: The First Born attempts to kill War and take his godhood, thus granting him access to Olympus. To avert this calamity, Wonder Woman kills War before her mad half-brother can, and grievously wounds the First Born in the process.   Thus, Diana of Themyscira becomes a god. Her first act is to grant the First Born mercy.

Azzarello’s take on Wonder Woman since the start has been very different from the Diana I know. In many respects, however, she’s still recognizable to me as Diana. Younger, less experienced and with a bit of a temper, she’s still a bottomless well of compassion and a fearless protector of those who need her. She’s a warrior born, but she’s not the one to start a fight, and takes pains to negotiate rather than resort to violence. Diana is now a Goddess of War who refuses to kill her vanquished foe. She’s visibly heartbroken by the burden she’s taken on. What can we expect from a God of War who does not wish to wage war at all? Diana has the capacity to change the entire world with her new status. Rather than ending an arc, this issue starts us on the next phase of her journey, one I’m anxious to see unfold.

Cliff Chiang has been stupendous issue after issue, and this was no exception. The anguish on Diana’s face as she cradles War and accepts her new burden gives so much weight to the scene, and conveys so much of the tone of what’s being said. Hera’s maternal instincts play across her face first with Zola and Zeke, then with War, making me realize that she snuck up on me and became one of my favorite characters. I’d read a solo book about her, but only if Chiang drew it. You also can’t go wrong with old man War toting a shotgun. The final page is especially beautiful, and due praise to Matt Wilson for using bright pops of color (especially red and yellow) to make every page more gorgeous than the last.

This issue made me think a lot about Wonder Woman, and where she’s heading. How will the rest of the Pantheon react to Diana’s ascension? Considering a bunch of them were recently trying to kill her, I bet that first all-staff meeting is going to be awkward. What happens when you have a god of war who only wants peace? Will her new bond with Hera, exiled Queen of the Gods, help or hurt her standing? Will Diana track down her deadbeat dad Zeus and drag his abdicating ass back to the throne? With her new status (and presumably powers), can she undo the horrible fate of her mother and sisters back on Themyscira? Even if Diana’s journey doesn’t take her where I want her to go (the compassionate, loving warrior-diplomat who once loved the world so much she got a Star Sapphire ring), Azzarello has hooked me bone deep until the end.

The Verdict: 9.5/10



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