At last, Azzarello’s incredibly slow paced epic reaches its climax and after three years it goes out with a whimper rather than a bang. Most readers had already guessed most of the revelations revealed at the end of the arc and even the climactic showdown between Diana and the First Born proved to be all rather predictable and under whelming – with Diana once again a bit player in several moments throughout the issue , although finally she gets her moment in the sun at the end. As a resolution it felt unsatisfying, with Hippolyta still (presumably) an animated clay Golem and the battle down on Themyscira between the Amazons and the forces of the First Born over/won?
Clearly, many readers felt that Azzarello’s very different take on the Amazon Amazon was a shot in the arm the character needed and polls indicated that many felt his run to be one of – if not -the best ever. Many however loathed almost everything he did – particularly the revised origin, the Amazons being portrayed as murdering child slavers and particularly Diana’s rather more aggressive attitude to everything – including now becoming the God of War.
With the new creative team of the Finch’s taking over from issue 36, interviews they gave clearly indicated that they would be focusing on bringing Diana back into the overall New 52 universe, versus Azzarello’s effectively stand alone tale. Some hoped that they might address or even retcon some of the more controversial elements of Azzarello’s run in order to mark their own stamp on the character.
Whether you were a fan or not of Azzarello’s time on Wonder Woman however, it cannot be denied that he certainly raised her profile and got people talking about this iconic character once again with passion. But tellingly, with the subsequent introduction of “Sensation Comics” and the forthcoming “Wonder Woman ’77” books, which focused on the more traditional and classic version of the character, it seems clear that even DC finally realised that it was rather premature to write off and say goodbye to that version of the Diana – as they had attempted to depict at the end of Issue 600.
So, as another chapter closed on the career of the Amazing Amazon, fans looked forward to what lie in store ahead as a new, and hopefully very different chapter commenced.
On Mount Olympus, Wonder Woman has just discovered that Poseidon has claimed the throne for himself in the First Born’s absence. Seeing that Diana brought Zola and Zeke with her, the god of the sea demands that the child be given over to him without negotiation. In his anger, he causes Diana to drop the baby, and its screams bring the anger of Zola, whose body appears to be in the midst of some kind of transformation, giving her razor-like talons that she uses to tear at Poseidon, and send him retreating into the pool of blood.
The First Born returns, warning that he will kill them all, and he thrusts a spear into Hermes’ chest. Diana, meanwhile, angrily attacks the Minotaur, who killed many of the Amazons in the battle. Taking her vengeance, she thrusts one of her blades into his gut. The First Born, meanwhile, turns his attention to Zola and her child, who stands her ground. Unfortunately, the Minotaur knocks Diana unconscious, and the First Born ensnares Zola within his veins. Strife appears with a bottle of champagne, feigning celebration, but the First Born reminds that Olympus is his alone.
Ready at last to do away with Zeke, the First Born decides to cast the baby into the void, rather than simply killing him. As he holds the baby over the chasm, he calls on his father to watch as he avenges himself on the last born. Before he throws the baby in, he sees that Diana is waking and comments that he will destroy the things she loves here as he crushed her home. At this, Strife scoffs, loudly pointing out that the First Born’s forces were losing in Themyscira. He retreated from the battle to get a secret weapon. Annoyed, the First Born orders the Minotaur to finish Diana off, but it refuses, remembering how, long ago, she had shown mercy on it in the labyrinth. Diana watches with a tear in her eye as the First Born thrusts one of the Minotaur’s horns into it’s chest, and she is reminded that mercy is one of the greatest lessons she ever learned.
She warns that she needs none of the great gifts she was given to defeat the First Born, dropping her bracelets to the ground. She declares herself the daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus, the God of War, and Wonder Woman. All she needs to be to defeat him, though, is herself. If he releases her friends, she promises, she will be merciful. His response is to let them go by tossing them into the void. Fortunately, Hermes is well enough to teleport to them and save their lives. Annoyed, he calls back that the First Born doesn’t deserve her mercy.
Angrily, Diana comments that as much as the First Born speaks of love, he knows nothing of the things it requires: compassion, nurturing – and above all submission. She decides to show him these things, wrapping him up in the Lasso of Truth.
In the meantime, Zola and Hermes carry Zeke up the high rock upon which the throne of Olympus sits. She explains that if Diana’s theory is right, placing the boy on the throne will put an end to all of this strife – but whatever happens, Zeke will always be her baby boy. As soon as he is placed on the throne, he begins to crackle with electricity. A powerful lightning bolt cracks off the chunk of earth on which Diana and the First Born are struggling, causing it to topple into the abyss. The First Born lands safely on an outcropping, but Diana barely manages to grip it by its edge.
She begs the First Born to give her his hand, but he is confused by her. If he saves her, they will suffer eternity in the void together. He realises that she is offering this out of love. He takes her hand, but she throws him into the Abyss herself, calling after him that it is tough love. The power of submission is faith in the strength of others. She hopes that over the next seven thousand years of solitude, he will come to learn that.
Diana returns to the throne, hoping everyone is okay, but she finds that Zola is changed. Zola is, in fact, the goddess Athena. Nearly twenty years ago, she was born into the mortal body of Zola, and her true nature remained dormant. Their father Zeus had known when he first disappeared that the First Born would appear, and that Ares was faltering. He had wanted more for Diana, too. Strife was told the secret of Diana’s birth with the knowledge that Strife’s nature would set Diana on the path to godhood. Only Athena was privy to Zeus’ plan, but it played out as expected. Now, Zeus – or Zeke – is back on the throne. All that remains is for Athena to cast off the trappings of Zola’s humanity.
Diana begs her not to, as Zeke cries out. She explains that Zola – the vessel – has a person-hood all to herself. She is both kind and clever. She is honourable and forgiving and witty. She has bettered lives simply by being in them through her humanity. Zeke will need his mother – and Diana needs her too. She begs Athena to choose love over all else. Through her tears, Diana hears the owl’s “hoo” and worries that her friend is gone, but she looks up to see that Zola is herself again, and Athena has returned to the form of an owl. Hearing her son’s cries, she hurries over to him and sweeps him up into her arms. Happily, Diana hugs them both to her, thanking Athena for her mercy, as the owl flies away.