Brain Azzarello’s story continues at a slow burn rate and once again features almost no action whatsoever. In the build up to the title’s launch Azzarello had warned that the new book would not be a super heroine book as such, but more of a horror book. Thus far however, there had been very little horror in the conventional sense, but certainly an absence of any super heroics and instead a great deal of family intrigue and melodrama in the tradition of the old Greek legends. This lack of typical Wonder Woman elements had not seemed to affect sales thus far however, as the book continued to sell far better than it had for many years and was widely perceived as being an interesting story that genuinely intrigued readers enough to want to read the next issue – as well as generally recognised as being one of the most successful of the “New 52” re-launch titles.
That said, although the book featured familiar elements such as the Gods and the Amazons, there remained for a few the nagging question as to whether Diana’s character could in fact be replaced by any other female character – and that the story would still essentially work. In other words, while it may have been a very good story – did it necessarily follow that it also made a very good Wonder Woman story?
It would be easy to imagine a situation whereby fans had been starved of any recognisable version of Wonder Woman for so long (during the misguided Odyssey arc) and were quite simply grateful for anything that at least depicted a Diana they could relate to once again – even if the book was rather down beat in tone and missing that certain “inspirational” DNA that Wonder Woman as a character is supposed to embody.
Or perhaps it truly was a new dawn for the iconic character and a very clever and appropriate revamp for a modern audience? Only time would tell for sure.
Cliff Chiang’s artwork also continued to receive plaudits and he admittedly draws a lovely Diana, managing to bring some much needed vibrancy and appeal to her rather drab and needlessly redesigned costume.
In a village in war torn Darfur the Sun God Apollo strides down the street towards a bar as militia engage in open combat around him. As he enters the almost deserted and dimly lit establishment he sees what appears to be an old man propped up at the bar. The old man greets him “Hello Brother” and Apollo replies in kind to his brother, Ares, God of War.
As he pours himself another drink and offers one to Apollo, Ares asks what he is doing here. His brother replies that he is concerned about the War God but Ares is not convinced. Apollo tells him that the War God is more vital now than he has ever been. Ares raises hi glass and nonchalantly says that he does his best to keep the world spinning….out of control….
Meanwhile back in a bar in London Diana, now dressed in civilian attire, is sipping a drink as she stands amongst the crowd watching a rock band perform live on stage. Sitting over at one of the tables, Hermes looks on concerned and tells Zola he is worried about the Amazon Princess. Zola jokes that she feels the same as Diana appears to have taken up with the wrong crowd! Hermes asks her to be serious and continues that after learning the truth about her origin and how she subsequently reacted, it seems strange that she now appears to be celebrating. Zola replies that Diana is not celebrating – she’s sharing. She tells the bemused God that Diana likes music and so do the crowd. It is called a community. And she needs to feel she belongs to something again.
Just then Strife walks up and add that it makes her feel warm inside – or alternatively it could just be the champagne she is drinking. Regardless, she likes how it makes her feel so she decides to share it. Taking two glasses with her she strides over to Diana and with arms outstretched cries “Come. Have a drink with me baby sister.”
Diana scowls back at the Goddess and replies “Don’t mock me.” Strife feigns a look of horror and responds in turn that she means no offence and that she is simply trying to be nice. Diana agrees that she is certainly “trying”! Handing a champagne filled glass to the Amazon Princess, Strife tells her that she is a family member now and there are only two kinds of members – those against you…and those against you! She then raises a glass and says “To family.”
Meanwhile on a rain drenched Themyscira, Hippolyta watches from her balcony as the storm draws in around them, filling the black sky with thunder and lightning. Dessa remarks at the sheer fury of the storm and the Amazon Queen quietly and knowingly replies “It is of a woman scorned.” As another flash of lightning fills the tumultuous skies, Hera appears in the courtyard below.
Dessa immediately calls the palace guards to arms but Hippolyta tells her to belay that order. Resting a reassuring hand on the Amazon Captain’s shoulder she tells Dessa that Hera is here with good reason. This is a matter between the two Queens and is not something that the other Amazons should come between. With that, Hippolyta gabs her battle axe and strides out into the rain lashed courtyard to face Hera’s wrath…
Back in London a sulky Strife is now sitting back at the table and comments that Diana can be a real bitch sometimes. Zola tells her it takes one to know one and the Goddess smiles back, admiring the feisty nature of the young girl and telling her that she may just grow to like Zola. Hermes then warns Strife not to trifle with Amazon Princess at the present time. Strife tries to explain that her motives are honourable and that she realises Diana is all alone now but Hermes is unimpressed by her pretence of empathy. The Goddess takes another swig from the champagne bottle and replies that she simply showed Diana the truth. “Split happens”.
She then tries to encourage the others to lighten the mood but Hermes responds that this is not the time for levity and that they both know that Hera will have her pound of flesh. Strife makes a grabs for Zola’s belly playfully and says that perhaps that should extract it for her. Instantly Diana grabs Strife’s arm and slamming it down on the table palm down she proceeds to use a broken glass to then stab the Goddess in the back of the hand!
Leaning close to Strife’s wincing face Diana warns her that the “pound of flesh” is hers to protect while Strife had also shown her just what “being family” means in her family. Licking her wounds, Strife lays her hand on Diana’s cheek and says “Is that what I did? I promise it will not happen again.” She turns to leave the club, leaving her blood smeared on Diana’s cheek and adds menacingly “And that the day will come you will beg for it.”…
On Themyscira, Hera tells Hippolyta, who’s head is bowed in submission, that the Amazon Queen has offended her. Hippolyta respectfully replies that it had not been her intention to do so. “Respect..Now?” Hera angrily cries “After what you have done?”. Hippolyta responds that she did it to protect her daughter. “My husbands daughter!”an enraged Hera reminds her.
The Amazon head hangs her head in shame as Hera, a little calmer now, adds that she is the Queen of the Gods, the Goddess of Women and ultimately yet, a woman herself. As she speaks the other Amazons, armed, race into the courtyard to protect their queen. As Hippolyta sinks to her knees in submission Hera continues that her intention for the deceit is of no interest to her – she wants to know however why the Amazon Queen would do this to her – to another woman? “What did you say to make him love you?” she asks almost in sadness.
She finally becomes aware of the Amazon warriors surrounding them as Aleka tells her that they will give their life to protect their queen. Hippolyta tells Hera that they have disobeyed her orders to not get involved. The Goddess replies that she clearly inspires their loyalty which is something to be proud of. A meek Hippolyta replies that pride is the last thing she should be feeling right now. “My intentions have stripped me bare. I’ve lost my daughter….and your faith. Queen Hera…Goddess...forgive me.” She then hands Hera her axe.
As the Amazon Queen bows in supplication and Hera raises the axe over Hippolyta’s head, preparing to strike, the Amazons raise their bows aiming at Hera. As another crack of lightning fills the sky illuminating the stand off Hera pauses, considering her next move. She slowly lowers the axe to her side and kneels down by Hippolyta, lifting her head up gently so she can look into the Amazon Queen’s face. Hugging her tenderly she says simply “I wish I could…”
Meanwhile in Diana’s London apartment Zola pops her head around the bedroom door to tell the Amazon Princess that she had had a great time. Diana replies that it did indeed feel liberating to get lost for a while. Zola replies “Tell me about it, after what I’ve been through!” It suddenly hits home to Diana that she has been so wrapped up in her own trouble she has forgotten about Zola’s part in all of this. She asks if the girl is OK and Zola replies that her life is upside down right now. “Back home…jeez, I can’t even call it that anymore. And I’m never going back am I?” Diana tells her that she will not let Zola return. The young girl asks why but before waiting for a reply adds that it does not matter and that it was only her home because she had never left it. “My house is there. Nothing else.”
Diana responds that she had also left her home. She had always felt she never quite fitted in with her Amazon sisters – she did not belong – because she had been created from clay. But that is not the case anymore Zola reminds her. She adds that she cannot comment about sisters as she never had any. She was not lucky enough to have any kind of family. Her father had gone to prison for a really bad crime and her mother had made mistakes too, which Zola had never forgiven her for. But then her mother had died. “So my home is just a word. I’m probably better of without it eh?”. Zola’s words penetrate Diana as she ponders her own feelings towards home…and family.
A few minutes later she strides into the living room wearing her Wonder Woman costume and armed with a sword and shield. She holds them up and asks Hermes if he will trade them for his staff. “Of course” he replies, realising that she has had a change of heart and is intending to return to Paradise Island.
Using the magical transportation properties of the staff, Wonder Woman materialises in the Amazon Capital. The storm has now passed but the streets are still drenched. As she makes her way towards the central courtyard she notices weapons and armour lying discarded on the ground. As she enters the courtyard she sees to her horror that it is seething with snakes – the fate that has befallen her Amazon sisters – and in the centre of the courtyard she sees something else. As she makes her way slowly towards the inanimate object she tells her mother that she had made a mistake and had reacted to what Hippolyta had done instead of listening to why. She adds that she is sorry for what she had said and what she had done – and for hurting her mother. As tears stream down her face she continues “You deserve better. I am your daughter. Your blood. It is something I always wished I was. And I am now. But now it’s too late. Please forgive me…”
She kneels down sobbing and hugs her mother, who has been turned into a clay statue by Hera.
Back in the bar in Darfur Apollo explains to Ares that Zeus, their father, has gone missing. In fact, according to his Oracles, Zeus no longer even exists. The War God asks if he has been murdered, but Apollo reminds him that only someone of the same blood could do such a deed. Ares tells his brother that while he may be disappointed to hear it, the War God has not slain their father. Apollo replies that he did not think that was the case, but that others may suspect him of such a deed however and he may therefore require an ally. A smiling Ares wonders whether it is more the case that the Sun God himself needs an ally as Zeus’ absence creates a opportunity for Apollo to perhaps become head of the family.
Pouring himself another drink Ares says that if Apollo wants to become king then he is welcome to the throne. “Have it all. I’ll sit this one out.” he says. Apollo asks for his promise but Ares simply says that he may feel differently when he wakes up in the morning. As he exits the bar and begins to walk down the corpse littered street he reminds Apollo that the Gods fate has never been in their own hands. It has always been in the hands of the mortals.
“The world will be ruled by war. It is inevitable.”