Wonder Woman continues to be one of my favorite ‘New 52’ titles each and every month. Brian Azzarello has such a command of Diana that it’s difficult to imagine her as any less. There’s a minimalism to this series that works on many different levels: Diana’s adventures are — more or less — separate from the major going-ons of the DCnU, her relationship with the Greek pantheon of gods has been simplified and thusly made stronger, and her overall characterization — while definitely not the only way to portray the Amazonian princess — is perhaps one of the strongest representations we’ve seen in a long time. Add to all that consistent artwork and compelling storytelling and it’s no wonder this title is so critically acclaimed.
And Azzarello doesn’t stop at the Greek gods. Orion, of New Gods fame, has been a mainstay in Wonder Woman for some time now, showing that there is some sort of connection between the old gods of Earth and the New Gods of the cosmos. Wonder Woman #22 explores this connection by focusing squarely on Diana, Zola, and Hera’s time on New Genesis, home of the New Gods. Fans of Jack Kirby’s New Gods will love this reinterpretation, as it basically keeps the same tone and meaning of the pre-‘New 52’ versions of these characters, but gives the entire concept a much-needed facelift. It’s not an extreme difference, but that’s a good thing. The New Gods have always been popular for a reason, so why fix something that isn’t broken?
Fortunately, Azzarello also keeps with the tradition of making the New Gods not exactly what they seem. High Father’s explanation of New Genesis differs greatly from how Orion describes his homeworld to Diana. In the end, Diana understands that gods are the same wherever you go: manipulative, paranoid, and eager to keep their power.
Wonder Woman #22 is another stellar issue in an already amazing series. Even though Zeus’ First Born son is still the overarching threat, it was a treat to take a trip to New Genesis and open up a whole new world of characters and stories. Cliff Chiang’s artwork is one of this series’ strongest elements. Chiang (and Tony Akins, who does an excellent job keeping a similar style) makes Azzarello’s words come alive with vivid facial expressions against more minimal body designs. His backgrounds are also stunning. This is a series I could see standing on it’s own, outside the ‘New 52’, outside the DC comics mythology — just a series about a demigod who can’t seem to make everything right for her friends.