Comics Review – Wonder Woman #22

Wonder Woman #22: The Calm

On a perfect world, where foreigners are forbidden, Wonder Woman takes a moment of respite to recover from her fights with Artemis, and The First Born.

New Genesis is the home of the warrior Orion. It is a grand metropolis, floating in the sky. A true place of peace, where the New Gods dwell and meditate on well-being, and life. Highfather leads this nation, and he is the unquestioned patriarch of the New Gods.

Jack Kirby created the New Gods in 1971. Kirby wrote tales of heroes and gods that broadly represented forces of good and evil in an ongoing struggle.

In the pages of DC comics new 52, readers would have seen the villain Darkseid confront the Justice League. This battle marked the beginning of the new 52 in Justice League issues #1 to #6.

It is significant that Wonder Woman #22 marks the introduction of the Highfather’s character: he is the spiritual opposite of Darkseid.

Wonder Woman is currently the only member of the Justice League to have met both Highfather and Darkseid, the gods of good and evil respectively. Could this mean that DC comics attitude to Wonder Woman comics is now more positive, since she blazes a trail through New Genesis, which is a major part of DC’s history?

Art

Beneath the spires and domes of New Genesis lies another world. It’s not a utopia – High father remarks that  New Genesis is a glorious sight. Ruins, rubble, and broken things litter the surface, however. Despite that, it’s still green and lush world without devastation. There are scenes where a giant statue lies in a forest covered with creeping vines.

Orion meditates in the ruins, and in the murky, spoiled glass of a sky scraper, he sees a reflection of his violent and ugly nature screeching at him. The artwork is powerful for these scenes, as Orion collapses into the dirt, exhausted at tempering his impulsive and violent nature to better fit into New Genesis society.

The comic book cover itself is also a strong artwork, inspired by the red, yellow, and orange colours of Soviet era propaganda posters. The letter “R” is even reversed to match the Russian, Cyrillic alphabet. The reversed letter R stands for a “Y” sound instead of an “R” sound.

Cast

Orion is at war with himself. He must keep his angry nature on a leash to fit into New Genesis society. Wonder Woman tells him that perfection is sometimes our worst enemy. She encourages Orion to accept himself.

Themes, ethics, and values

Orion’s struggle fits together with themes of the comic: Propaganda, lies, and conformity. New Genesis appears ideal on the surface, but there is something suppressive and Orwellian about it when the ruins beneath the floating city are revealed. The Soviet-inspired cover artwork presents Highfather as something of a patriarchal figure. George Orwell was alarmed by the uncritical admiration of Soviet Russia, aware of the hidden suppression.

This version of New Genesis has a similarly deceiving appearance, where Highfather orders his storm-troopers to aim their weapons at Wonder Woman’s friends and family – Zola, Hera, and the baby Zeke. This is a society that condones threatening women and children in the service of greater goals. Orion rebels against Highfather. The key ethic here is taking a stand against the pressures of a society in the face of propaganda and conformity.

A bit more on Wonder Woman #22

The First Born has not waited patiently for Wonder Woman, Zola, and Zeke to return to Earth. The London that Wonder Woman returns to is gloomy, with black shadows and a grey sky highlighted in red. A battle is about to begin, which is why it is appropriate that Ares, the Greek god of war, arrives to join in.

Wonder Woman #22 is published by DC comics. $2.99(USD). Brian Azzarello (w). Cliff Chiang (a). Mathew Wilson (c). Jared K. Fletcher (l). Cover by Cliff Chiang.

 

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Comic Review – Wonder Woman #21

Wonder Woman #21: Flesh and Stone

(Some minor spoilers for Wonder Woman #21 follow)

Wonder Woman leaps to the defense of her friends and family, and a villain defies the laws of science fiction physics in his relentless attack. The First One has caught up with Wonder Woman, and he wants to bring the world to an end. He needs Zola’s son Zeke – the last born. The battle between Zeus children accelerates.

Reading through the actions scenes is like being swept up in an orange and red-yellow lightening storm. The First One towers over the other cast, and he makes this fight terr0r-streaked with his brute force.

Orion swoops in to help out. He, Lennox (another of Zeus’ kids), and Wonder Woman try for an escape through a portal in space. The First one proves too powerful, however, as he grasps the closing portal, and holds it open – a feat that should be impossible.

Art

Orion opens a portal called a “boom tube”. It’s technology from his home dimension – New Genesis. The artwork as the characters travel through the boom tube is incredible. Blurred red and blue lines create a visual effect inside the wormhole tunnel that vibrates – it’s like the older red and blue 3D effects. Lettering during the action scenes is powerful, and evokes a deeper sense of action, which is further enhanced by the expert colouring.

Characters

Wonder Woman defends Hera from The First One, who slaps Hera off panel. She responds to his violence: “judging by what I saw…you have this coming”. She then wastes no time in fighting The First One off. Her actions raise ideas about protecting elders, women, and children from violence.

Orion fights for different reasons. He has a mission and is ruthless. Wonder Woman states that he fights “like an animal”. This shows the difference between Wonder Woman and other brawlers in comic books. She fights to protect, and does not use excessive violence.

Ethics and Values

Wonder Woman’s actions prompt questions: is violence an acceptable response to protect those in danger? Or does more violence just extend a cycle of fighting?

Despite being an action fueled comic book, Wonder Woman #21 makes a statement about violence toward elders, woman, and children – under no circumstance should it be tolerated. Orion even states, when attacking The First One “you’ve made a huge mistake”.

The characters in the comic book certainly don’t fit with pure, non-violent philosophies, and are an example of the ongoing problem of using violence to stop violence – particularly Orion. But the comic itself stands up as critical of larger problems in our society.

Wonder Woman #21 could align with the third principal of non-violence written by Martin Luther King Jr in his first book, Stride Toward Freedom: “attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil” is the third of six principals. The comic attacks tolerance of violence. The comic also judges the perpetrators of violence – they are as misguided as the villain, The First One, who lets his past trauma dictate his actions as an adult.

Cassandra, who allows The First One to strike Hera without comment, also lets her past influence her choices. Cassandra lets The First One threaten Hera – bystanders who let violence happen are therefore also making a mistake.

 A bit more on Wonder Woman #21

Historically, Wonder Woman has had key moments of being a role model. I think that her defense of Zolo, Hera, and the Baby Zeke show courage that can be looked up to.

Wonder Woman #21 is Published by DC comics. Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Cliff Chiang. Colourist: Mathew Wilson. Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher.

Comics Review – Wonder Woman #18

Wonder Woman’s monthly comic continues to shine as an example of great story and stunning art. Brian Azzarello puts on a show in Wonder Woman #18, with several epic battles, and a reunion long delayed. 

I am enjoying this continuing story about Wonder Woman rescuing her friend Zola’s baby: the Greek god Zeus is the child’s father, and his wife Hera therfore want’s to punish Zola and the baby. And then the baby was taken away by Hermes – who embodies many things: namely speed, healing, and theft.

Further, a god named Orion –  a “New God” from the same place as Darkseid  – arrived on earth with plans that involve the latest child of Zeus.

That’s the only weakness of the story I can see: the background reading of Greek Gods and Comic Heroes of the 1970’s needed is steep at times. The good news: the comic does not expect readers to know details.

Wonder Woman #18

There are several impressive action scenes, namely a race between Hermes and Orion, a Duel between Wonder Woman and Hermes, and a battle between Posiedon and “The First Born” – Zues and Hera’s first child together, which is new mythology.

Colour and lettering work well to build an atmosphere and accent the characters poses and movement. Hermes’ weapons glow blue, and Wonder Woman‘s swords shine a deep, metallic purple – almost imperial purple.

The race to outrun the god of speed is an small epic, constructed across several panels. The sequence uses lines to effectively convey motion. lettering – the loud, large words used to indicate sound effects in comics (called Onomatopoeia) – also give a sense of speed.

Combined with blurred colours, the art team, Cliff Chiang and Goran Sudzuka with Tony Akins, Dan Green, Matthew Wilson and Jared K. Fletcher, have achieved a strong sense of movement.

The First Born’s regal, dark blue armor stands out against the aquamarine of the ocean as he fights Posiedon – refereed to simply as “Ocean”. The idea that a god is an avatar – a physical representation of a force of nature, or soceity, is a key part of the Wonder Woman comic.

Demeter – the goddess of fertility – is called “Harvest”. In this issue, however, she is also called “Nature”. Some gods represent multiple forces.

As another example, Ares is called “War”.

Nature and War face each other as Ares tries to help Wonder Woman, and rescue Zola’s baby from Demeter, who agreed to protect the child with Hermes – Who could be called “Thief” as well as “Messenger”.

It’s a spoiler to write about what happens next, however Wonder Woman is facing more challenges from the pantheon of gods than it appears, as she escapes Ares and Orion in the cover art below.

Wonder Woman #18 is published by DC Comics.