Wonder Woman #5: War of the Gods

The new Diana has made many mistakes in her life, and she's going to war with a god to make amends.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Wonder Woman #5

The New 52 Wonder Woman series so far has been just interesting enough to keep me buying, but not really sucking me in.  It's likely I just don't know enough about her canon or Greek mythology to really grasp the impact of the characters Brian Azzarello keeps rolling into Diana's life – there's constantly the sense of 'huh, I guess I should recognize this person/deity/etc., so maybe he'll tell me who it is sometime in the next three issues.'  However, a friend of mine insisted that Azzarello was really nailing it with Wonder Woman, which prompted me to try to find a new angle from which to look at it, hoping to figure out where her excitement is coming from.

Her point seemed to be that Wonder Woman is no longer this beacon of light and perfection, but a very human woman who can make mistakes, and that seems to be a focus of Wonder Woman #5, which is mostly conversation.  Diana has learned that she is the daughter of Zeus, and her temper tantrum over being lied to led her to not be there for her mother, Hippolyta, when the vengeful Hera turned her to clay, which is how Hera deals with the women her husband dallies with.   That, and she also goes after the offspring, which means that not only is Diana in danger, but her new friend Zola, pregnant with Zeus' child, is in the line of fire as well.  Now, some guy named Lennox interrpts their breakfast conversation all chock full of knowledge about who they are, bragging about his talents with the wind, and generally being mysterious.  I'm hoping the fact that Diana and Hermes don't recognize this guy means I'm not supposed to yet, either, but he claims to be Diana's brother – apparently, another son of Zeus. 

Now, Zeus is gone, and the remaining gods of Olympus are gearing up to go to war over his throne, so Lennox nudges Diana towards an audience with Poseidon.  On the way there, she and Zola have a chat realizing that Zola's about to be sort of an aunt to her, and that Diana is full of regrets, she's not even close to perfect, and she's not always right.  Then she goes and picks a fight with the god of the seas in the name of Hera… much to Hera's apparent surprise. 

Since Wonder Woman #5 kinda hits on the nose what my friend was stressing about the new version of Diana, it gave me that angle I was looking for – and it kind of extends to Action Comics as well – in that Wonder Woman and Superman are no longer the iconic symbols they once were, or at least not in the actual context of the DCnU.  I've been looking at Action Comics and, to a lesser extent, Superman, and wondering why they seem to be trying so hard to make Clark Kent into Peter Parker, constantly riding the line between hero and menace in the eyes of the public and being kind of a put-upon schlub.  Sure, bringing out all the flaws of a character can help make them more relatable, and one can argue that their triumphs should be all the more inspiring as a result, but those gleaming symbols of hope don't come around as often as you might think.  There aren't all that many characters who project the feeling that, as long as they're around, there's some kind of hope for humanity.  There are plenty of stories about people fucking things up.  But that's a tug-of-war with no clear resolution.  Azzarello is making Diana more 'normal' while also cranking up the weirdness of the world of gods and madness she lives in, and it's a good contrast.

I like what Diana appears to be doing here, trying to change the familiar 'Hera will kill us for what we are' game they've heard so much by going to war in her name, which is certainly something Diana knows how to do.  Perhaps trying to get into her good graces so she'll have grant them the boon of not killing them or the baby.  At least I assume that's what she's up to.  I could be wrong.  It's possible she's just stirring up the shit to get the gods pissed at Hera, so maybe they'll get her revenge for what was done to Hippolyta, but that really doesn't seem to be the case.

Tony Akins handles the art for this issue, and it seems like he's trying really hard to be the regular artist Cliff Chiang, but he's not quite there – although close enough to make me wonder what was wrong with Chiang in this issue before I checked the credits.  However, he goes balls-out with his supremely weird rendition of Poseidon as this big bloated catfish-walrus-monster thing, and that is very impressive.

Overall, Wonder Woman continues to be what it's been for me – decent stuff I like well enough, but nothing I'm ever super excited to read.  However, I've got a new perspective on it, and that might help it grab me a bit more in the long run.  The symbol of truth, justice and love isn't really there anymore, and she is missed, but it can also be fun to see how a more down-to-earth and mistake-prone Diana deals with her extraordinary circumstances.  And maybe this Poseidon thing will bring her into confict with Aquaman, and maybe Azzarello can handle it a hell of a lot better than Flashpoint.