(a) Cliff Chiang
With Wonder Woman #15, Brian Azzarello heralds the introduction of the New Gods to DCn52 continuity. The age-old stand-off between New Genesis and Apokolips has been hinted at and mentioned a few times so far in the ‘New 52’ (see Justice League‘s first arc, and the conclusion to Justice League Dark‘s “War for the Books og Magic”), but not yet have the New Gods made any sort of appearance beyond Darkseid’s villainy. Azzarello has spent 14 issues (and a zero issue) focusing on Greek gods and goddesses and immersing readers in that world, and now he’s introducing a whole new aspect of divinity that’s just come tumbling out of the sky, literally. It makes sense that various pantheons of gods would interact on the mortal plane, and it’s even more exciting because Azzarello reveals almost nothing about Orion beyond his godliness.
“The Burden of God” is a misleading title because it’s supposed to be about one, monotheistic god. Here, though, Azzarello applies the phrase to each and every deity he writes. Diana has to protect her family, Lennox has to find some way to stick it to Zeus, and Hera must figure out how to become a god once more. Since each of these characters has their own agenda, different obstacles present themselves. For dear, sweet Milan, that obstacle is his friend, Orion.
If you were at all inclined to listen to experimental or avant garde music in the late 1990s and early 00s, you might have possibly maybe heard of Wesley Willis. He was a schizophrenic man who wrote some of the crudest, most simplistic, cheapest, most incredible, mindblowing music I’ve ever heard. Willis’ music was indebted to The Shaggs who pioneered “music so bad it’s good” as a genre. Willis wrote songs like “Rock and Roll McDonald’s” about going to a fast food restaurant, and “I Whooped Batman’s Ass” that pretty much explains itself. Willis was quoted on many occasions claiming that the only way to suppress his inner demons and the voices inside was to create music. It may not have been the most complex or technical, but Willis’ music is a testament to creativity as a medium of healing and growth.
Milan is Wesley Willis. Down to the “Rock On!” he spouts when Orion gives him a “joyride” on the New Genesis skiff thingy. Milan has the same body type, hair style, and wacky personality that Willis possessed before his death in 2003. And it’s a trip to read.
Milan is a soothsayer, for lack of better words. He obviously has some sort of psychic sense or future sight that causes him great anguish, and he lives in perpetual grunge because of it. There’s a theory in psychology called the “Supersanity Theory” that suggests that people with mental disabilities–those we’ve deemed to have different brain functions than ‘normal’ people–actually think on a level us normies could only ever dream of. It’s like our thoughts exist on an outer ring of consciousness, and people mental disabilities think on an inner ring, something closer to actuality. Milan obviously sees and feels more than most, and a ‘normal life’ is that cost of that sight and feeling.
Of course, Orion’s arrival and Diana’s quest to collect all of Zeus’ children on Earth come to pass when Lennox confronts Milan about joining the cause to get back Zola’s kid from Hades. Milan is hesitant, and Orion stands up to defend that indecision. At this point, it’s pretty obvious that Zeus is coming back with a vengeance, and it seems like Orion knows this too because he wastes no time in interrogating Lennox about the final child of Zeus. And in true superhero fashion, they all get into a fight by issue’s end.
Wonder Woman is consistently one of DC’s best titles each month. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang are a shining example of what the ‘New 52’ is (partly) supposed to be about–reintroducing characters by using elements from their previous incarnations and twisting them enough to make them fresh and interesting. Outside of her eponymous title, Diana is oddly written and often comes across as too naive or too brutish. It’s really Azzarello’s interpretation that makes this character now, and the deep mythology surrounding divinity is great. It very much feels like Jason Aaron took a cue from Azzarello when relaunching Thor: God of Thunder for ‘Marvel NOW!’ which also features cross-pantheon entrapments. Wonder Woman #15 is a great issue because not only does it completely move the story forward, but it also provides some great character growth for Hera, Zola, and the newly introduced Milan. It’s also a great issue for new readers, as you wouldn’t need to know too much about what’s happened before this to enjoy the events of the issue. DC has a gem with Wonder Woman, and they’re Azzarello and Chiang go crazy with the series just to see how fantastical they can get, and the results are amazing.