AT LAST! shrieked thousands of Wonder Woman fans, or maybe it was just me and my husband, high-fiving across the room as I read Wonder Woman #19 in print and he read it on his iPad. If you’ve been reading the Amazon’s title you may have noticed that her new ally Orion has been written pretty consistently as a raging jackass, and perhaps you too were giving Azzarello the benefit of the doubt, assuming a pending giant pay-off for unwanted ass-slapping and general douchitude. Well praise Hera, because that pay-off arrived in grand style.
Was it good for you, Orion? It was awesome for me. The funny thing is, I don’t actually hate the character; Orion reminds me of a few guys I was friends with in college. I also don’t mind Diana socking him one, though I’ve seen comments decrying her leap to violence instead of hugging it out. Diana’s tried talking Orion around in previous issues, and occasionally it even seemed to work, but there are people in the multiverse who have to be shown, not told, and apparently Orion is one such. #19 offered some other great character interactions, including one between Diana and War that stood out particularly for me. I have a soft spot for old-warrior/young-warrior mentorships, and I loved the zero issue of WW which featured Diana’s early relationship with Ares. DCnU!Ares is a good bit different from the old Ares we knew, who was typically a major villain in Wonder Woman’s rogue gallery, and though it’s possible–even probable–that he has ulterior motives for aiding the Amazon, he also isn’t wrong in his assessment of her as a leader (even if things fall apart a few pages later). If the only thing she accomplished was getting Hera and Zola to behave, that would still be a major achievement, considering the laundry list of nasty revenge Hera is famed for enacting on Zeus’s lovers. But she’s also led her people through Hell, protected the innocent, negotiated with deities, and laid down some good old-fashioned hurt. And she hasn’t even met Heracles yet! Oh I have high hopes for those interactions (and am truly curious about cyborg Cassandra…).
This review is heavy on the side of “what about the menz?” but the book Azzarello is writing is an ensemble book. That wasn’t really what I wanted from my Wonder Woman title, but it’s what we’re getting and a lot of the ensemble is male. And for what it’s worth, their perspectives on and relation to Diana are interesting: Ares’ influence on her development has been shown, Hades bets on her winning out against Apollo, Orion is her inverse as Darkseid’s child raised on peace-loving New Genesis. The interplay between Diana and Orion has been interesting to me in large part because of what they represent beyond themselves–the concept of “blood will out.” Is Orion’s nature overcoming his nurture? is his true nature, as a son of Apokolips, cruel, demeaning, and grasping? What impact is Diana’s newfound knowledge of the Amazons really having on her psyche and her actions? I pondered similar topics in a previous review, and I’m still wondering, hoping this overarching theme of blood and family will be answered satisfactorily in the character of Zeke, Zola’s baby and the fulcrum of the entire plot so far.