Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wonder Woman #1

Let me start by saying that I'm against censorship. If DC Comics wants to pile on the gore in comics that should be mainstream, that's their right - but it seems to me that it's a questionable business practice.

(We should also note that DC has instituted its own ratings system, though you have to look mighty hard to find the tiny "Rated T Teen" wording on the cover.)

All of which brings us to the latest "New" Wonder Woman. This issue impresses by having more gore than any other "New 52" issue (that I've read) to date, though I somehow doubt the record will stand for long.

What's so gory about it? Well, in the opening pages, a mysterious woman takes up a huge mowing scythe and cuts the head off a white horse, with clear illustrations of the severed head and the headless body, which then spawns a horrific creature that rises out of the bloody carcass.

Who's ready for a snack?

Now, if you're into horror, that's prime stuff, I suppose. But I have to think there are still girls out there who might pick up an issue, expecting the adventures of the world's most prominent superheroine - only to find the pages bathed in blood.

OK, enough of that. If you can get past the gory elements, you actually have a darned good comic, as written by Brian Azzarello. The story is loaded with mystery, as a strange creature shows up at a woman's home (apparently in a remote area) and tells her she's in danger - all this just as she's attacked by two monsters.

Wonder Woman is brought into the story by clever means, and she's a bit of a mystery - but she gets plenty of opportunities to show off her fighting skills, and the menace she's up against certainly promises to be challenging.

The art by Cliff Chiang is excellent, with a unique style that's loaded with powerful images and distinct characters. Diana is fierce, powerful and beautiful - and she's built like a real woman, not the usual comic book caricature. (Interesting to note that she's lost the black pants and has returned to her star-spangled skivvies.)

As has been stated many times over the years, the Wonder Woman character has long been in need of an infusion of new ideas.

This issue offers up an interesting setting for future stories (though one that's not appropriate for young readers). Hopefully the new creative team can continue down the path and figure out who Diana is and why we should care about her adventures.

Grade: A-


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