Volume 4, issue 1 coverIn September of 2011, DC decided to do a reboot/partial reboot/complete reboot/they weren’t quite sure what was happening, of their line, called the nu52. (This major step seemed to have come as a surprise to many creative teams who said they had only a month or less warning, though TPTB said this had been orchestrated at least a year in advance.) September saw the publication of Justice League #1, and the next month was when all the other 51 titles of the new line debuted, including Wonder Woman.

We’d been seeing promotional covers, and both JLA #1 and WW #1 started out with her in tights. Fan uproar (not from me) made DC change the design back to briefs, but nonetheless the costume was fully redesigned. Unlike most of the rest of the nuDC, Wonder Woman did not get a costume with a turtleneck, but she did get a dog collar. Her bodice got seams—everyone had seams all over the place now—and her red boots turned black. Gold elements were replaced with silver, so now she was dressed in a (US) patriotic red, white & blue. Her =W= emblem was replaced with a jaggedy other one, and her costume began to affect various doodadery such as arm bands and, you guessed it, a sword. (In Justice League she sometimes had a scabbard with which to carry it. Often the artist forgot the scabbard. Sometimes—and I have the action figure to prove it—she just strapped the sword on her thigh without the benefit of a scabbard. Obviously the artists involved have no idea of what swords ARE.) The total effect to my eyes has been more ElectraWoman than Wondie. I expect a cape dressed like this to shoot lightning bolts from her hands.

The first cover shows nuWW doing a Bullets & Bracelets variant deflecting spears, though this version of WW is at Superman level of power (at least in other DC books) and is near invulnerable. She brandishes a bloody sword and snarls at her enemies.

The story begins with an off-duty Apollo (in the modern world, how can Apollo ever be off-duty?) in Singapore changing three “party” women into oracles before he releases them to fall to their deaths from the top of a skyscraper. Apollo’s father, Zeus, is missing, and the oracles tell him (before they die, of course) that “one of your father’s children will murder another and take their place.” And so in lies the next few years’ worth of story. (Note that with the sunrise, the dark Apollo becomes a being of light. This is really quite crazy. None of the gods in these stories are actual gods, in charge of anything. They are merely capes and not really efficient ones, operating within a soap opera that rarely has anything to do with the outer world.) (And that, my friends, is a major, MAJOR world-building design error in a universe that contains both capes and gods.)

Next we see Hera, who of course is nude under her open peacock-feather robe (there’s a lot of nudity for the women in this book) enter a Virginia stable and slash the throats of two innocent horses. For some reason this makes evil centaurs out of them. (They are dressed similarly in leather straps, except that the female’s outfit is, well, strapless, whereas the male gets shoulder straps.)

Inside the farmhouse we meet a rifle-toting Zola, who hasn’t yet gotten a last name as far as I’ve read, which is the end of 2013. This demonstrates how important she is to the plot; I’ve named her Zola MacGuffin, because that’s all she really is, a MacGuffin, a device and not a fully-fleshed character. She is dressed in camisole, open flannel shirt, and panties, because women can’t be really dressed in these stories. I mean, if she didn’t have that shirt, she might have been tooling around in her underwear on a hot day; understandable, especially since the outdoors is colored in a blindingly yellow light. But she’s got that shirt on, so why isn’t she wearing pants? Because it’s not sexy. Or because her running around in panties with no pants means that we’re being told she’s some kind of slut because, you know, that’s what sluts do, or guys imagine they do.

A blue-skinned, large-eyed, bird-footed Hermes has arrived to warn Zola of danger, but he gets hit in the gut with an arrow instead. Two centaurs, brandishing a sword and mace (but not bows, though there is a quiver on one’s back), break into the house, and Hermes unapologetically borrows from Harry Potter and throws a portkey at Zola, who grabs it and teleports to London. Specifically to Wonder Woman’s room.

Though it had been bright in Virginia, it is the middle of the night in London, and Diana, of course, is sleeping naked. Not just naked, but in a bed so unmade that the sheets have not only slipped well off her shoulders to her lower back, but are disconnected from the foot of the bed so her legs are bare to the thigh as well. “So this is the way it’s going to go,” I mutter to myself.

Diana gets dressed in her new tightless togs, and demonstrates how clever she is by not being able to avoid Zola catching a ride with her via portkey back to Virginia. Again we go through another arrow bit with the attackers not brandishing bows, but Diana does a B&B with the one arrow, and then gives a nice athletic display (no power of flight) in disabling their centaur foes, which includes literally disarming the one.

Diana talks with Hermes, who says that he is dying. For some reason the two think this is impossible (apparently it is; why then the fuss?), and then Hermes declares that Zola is pregnant and must be guarded from Hera’s wrath. Upon hearing this announcement out of the blue from a MAN (all hail), Zola takes the pronouncement as true. I begin to wonder if she’s bewitched, because no woman with any kind of mind function would have done so. There would have been pregnancy kits bought, doctors seen… But no, not here.

Issue #2 checks in with Hera and Strife, an asexual-looking “goddess” who wears heavy eye makeup and lipstick and a microdress made up primarily of rips. Hera does a peekaboo costume change while complaining about her husband’s unfaithfulness. Strife insinuates—very likely unjustly if we think about it—that this means that Zeus does not love Hera. (Whereas all the other gods have been updated, Hera has not. She, the “goddess” of women and marriage, is subservient to her husband, powerless within her own marriage, has to gad about in prurient peekaboo fashion, and ultimately does not view herself on the same social level as her husband or brothers, to claim the throne that is rightfully hers when her husband the king disappears.) (Do you see a pattern here?)

Meanwhile on Paradise Island, Diana brings Zola and Hermes to safety, while we discover that the populace are intense in their hatred of men—even of their male gods. Zola has taken the news that she is pregnant to heart. (Though she doesn’t pause to ask herself the questions that a real pregnant woman would. What will become of her life? What does she feel about the situation? What does she feel about the baby? Should she get some medical attention? Will she consider abortion? Adoption? How will her life change? Nope, cardboard characters who don’t even have last names don’t get the option to THINK.) She tells Hermes that she likes men (meaning: she has sex often) and isn’t going to apologize for that (why should she? The text assumes she should), but when he asks her to tell her in what fabulous form Zeus seduced her, she can’t recall which one he was. We’re talking Zeus. The guy who visited women as showers of gold, as magnificent animals, disguised as their husbands, etc. King of the freaking gods, and he didn’t stand out in a crowd of mortal lovers for her to recall him.

Like I said: these aren’t gods. They’re utter pretenders.

Hermes gives a version of the traditional origin of Diana as a red-haired Amazon with a bad attitude challenges Diana: staff vs the Amazon’s sword. Diana wins as Strife begins to walk Paradise Island. Strife changes the look of some of the Amazons so they think they’re being invaded, and massacre their own people. Only Diana can see through the illusion (how?) and manages to call the attack off before it can finish. As a reward, Strife refers to her as her “little sister.”

Issue #3 tells us that when Diana was young, other Amazon children called her (and were allowed to call her) “Clay,” to make fun of her origin. Now the red-haired Amazon, Aleka, calls her that again.

But Hippolyta confirms Strife’s words and recounts how the magnificent (and naked, oddly enough in this book) Zeus seduced her through a great duel, ultimately conceiving Diana. The clay story was invented to protect Diana from Hera’s wrath.

So Diana now has a father. Her very existence in this volume of the book revolves around this: the definition of her being her father’s daughter. As Diana says, “I’m a lie.”

And this is when I gave up on this nuWonder Woman. The true Wonder Woman is not defined in any way by men. This was done to weaken her and her iconographic image. This was done to “put her in her place.”

Actually, the book should be called “The Gods,” because that’s what it has shown itself to be about. Diana is merely one of the God Gang. Did DC really need to use Diana in this role? Couldn’t they have dredged up ANYONE else and left Wonder Woman as, well, Wonder Woman?

Blahde-blahde-blah, Zola hasn’t even closed her shirt much less found some pants, and Wonder Woman goes on a rampage across Paradise, ending only when she finds the Amazons’ funeral service, in which Aleka (acting as spokeswoman for the Amazons) proclaims what a horrible Amazon Diana is, that she has no allegiance to them, etc. This follows Diana’s revelation that her mother never asked her why Diana left the Island years ago.

it was all a lie, and Diana is a fool

Why? Because Diana is a cardboard character with no depth. She doesn’t need reasons or motivations. She can have a seventy-year-old origin trashed in a single page. She’s not worthy of respect.

Diana uses her Kryptonian-level super-breath (many readers were surprised by this display) to light all the pyres of the amazons before she leaves her people in a huff.

It only took three issues to destroy Wonder Woman. Imagine that.

Writer: Brian Azzarello; art: Cliff Chiang (who does have a very distinctive, clear, and consistent style and points given for that. I’m sorry I can’t appreciate it more than by saying this, as he does have quite a few fervent fans. I don’t like Wonder Woman with a barrel chest, thick thighs [now and then they hold marks indicating that they’re muscular, but normally they don’t] and tiny, pointed head). Editor: Matt Idelson.


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