Wonder Woman has been published almost continuously since 1941. Along with all the other DC titles, this impressively long running series got a reboot in 2011. It began again at issue #1 with a new storyline and some changes to the look of the characters. Written by Brian Azzarello and drawn by Cliff Chiang and Tony Akins, The new Wonder Woman has an an edgier, grittier feel. With more blood and a fiercer, this is certainly a far cry from the the 1970's TV show I remember watching as a kid. The centaurs in this version in particular would give a horse-mad little girl nightmares! It's certainly different, and this fresh new look will probably win the series some new fans.
The plot revolves around a young woman named Zola who is pregnant with the child of Zeus, king of the ancient Greek gods. Wonder Woman joins forces with Hermes, the messenger god, to try and protect Zola and her child from the jealous Hera, Zeus' queen. Meanwhile the goddess Strife reveals the truth about Wonder Woman's past which causes a split between Wonder Woman and her mother, Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Meanwhile Zeus has gone missing and Hera is engaged in a struggle with the other remaining gods to determine who will take his place.
The gods and monsters in this new series have a truly imaginative look to them, reminiscent of some of the characters in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman. Hermes is birdlike and alien, with taloned feet, feathery hair and black eyes. Hades' head is covered with candles whose melted wax covers his face except for his nose and mouth. I can't even describe the bizarre Lovecraftian horror that is Poseidon. Then there is Wonder Woman herself, whose costume has gone through quite a few changes over the decades. A couple of the character design sketches in the back of this volume show Wonder Woman wearing … wait for it... trousers! Apparently the comic's creators changed their minds about this because she only wears trousers during one scene where she is visiting a night club incognita. The rest of the time she appears in little black hot pants and knee high boots as well as her red top, bracelets and tiara. She still manages to look pretty badass on the cover wielding a bloody sword and giving what I like to imagine is a Xena Warrior Princess style blood-curdling battle cry. Hippolyta also isn't wearing pants, but that makes more sense in the context since male warriors in the ancient world didn't either, and her body armour is refreshingly sensible.
DC have copped a bit of criticism for their portrayal of female characters in the New 52 titles, but Wonder Woman at least doesn't strike me as sexist. I would rather have seen her in trousers, but her costume isn't as exploitative as the revamping of some of DC other characters, such as Harley Quinn of the Batman universe, who suddenly transformed from fun-loving trickster to clown hooker. More importantly than the costume, Wonder Woman's character remains essentially the same. She is a strong woman who makes her own choices and fights her own battles but who can display compassion and love when needed. In her role as protector of Zola and her child she is both tough and maternal and she remains a hero a little girl could look up to (not that I'd really recommend these books for children, what with all the violence).
The new Wonder Woman series is off to a great start and I plan on picking up Volume 2: Guts.