Saturday, February 18, 2012
Review: Wonder Woman #6
The play is the thing in which writer Brian Azzarello and artist Tony Akins try catch the conscience of the King, or in the case Wonder Woman #6, the Queen. Wonder Woman et al are still in London doing ‘god’s work’ and little else. There’s a game afoot, but the details are sketchy. Basically, Wonder Women is looking to pick a fight, and hell’s coming with her.
Azzarello’s script is a cocktail of puns, one-liners, and double-entandres spiked with some devilish wit, and yet, it does not entirely hold together. From the start, Wonder Woman has had stakes; asking big questions about birth, origins, and ancestry, serious stuff. So, what happened? Well, it appears that when one plays with the Gods one gets dragged into their drama; which slows down the plot. Perhaps, Hades puts it best, ‘… this playing with the gods. It never ends well for you because it actually in only a game to us.’ There is a lot of playing with words (and lives) in issue #6, perhaps, a little levity was needed in this (family) production … all work and no play as the saying goes.
Speaking of playfulness, the character designs of the Greek Gods in Wonder Woman have all beena great game of one-upmanship. Poseidon as barnacle-encrusted-giant-catfish-whale-thingy was a thrill and now Hades emerges from the London sewers – perhaps, the London Underground would have been too on the nose – in the body of a small boy with the head of candelabra! Azzarello restrains himself -- almost until the end -- before having Poseidon wax on about how Hades should ‘lighten up.’ These are the jokes, people.
It’s the knockabout Lennox who starts the clowning by asking Hades for a light (get it?), he’s denied, but there is talk about ‘striking’ a bargain with the Lord of the underworld. When Hades spots Hermes, Lennox tells him ‘I’m runnin’ with the messenger.’ Hades laughs. ‘I make a joke,’ says Lennox. Hades gets the joke just not subtlety; God’s truck in restraint. ‘Was jus’ a turn of phrase,’ says Lennox, a reminder that the Greeks did invent comedy as well as tragedy. Azzarello channels his inner-Aristophanes with some, ahem, light-hearted scripting to be sure, but he’s having fun and his sense-of-humor is evidenced in his writing.
The best bits come when Hera appears to curb the scheming and tomfoolery telling Hades and Poseidon, ‘Heaven [Zeus] has left his throne wanting an ass to warm it. And though both of you certainly qualify in that regard, neither of you measure up … to mine.’ Wit, potty humor, and guile; Hera’s got it all, plus a kick-ass coat made from peacock feathers. Poseidon responds that Hera’s, um, assets, are really ‘quite frigid. Burn. In a great example of script and art working together, Poseidon’s quip comes one panel before Lennox lights his cigarette (finally!) off of Hades and then literally steals fire from a God. Classic(al). What follows is a confusing mishmash of teleportation, explosions, and toothless threats that may or may not matter. It’s all been a ruse, a plan that Wonder Woman put into motion to protect Zola … oh, yeah, Zola. What's she about, really?
Wonder Woman is a model of decompressed storytelling – a Rube Goldberg device that seeks to prove paternity at its own pace, or not at all. Caught in the middle of this game between the Gods and their brood is poor Zola, sidelined as a plot device to move the action from one switchback to the next. As Azzarello continues to redesign this rogue’s gallery of Greek Gods, one hopes -- for God's sake? -- that Zola will be allowed to find her place within the pantheon.
The cliffhanger brings an end to playtime as Zola, again (!), is whisked away from the frying pan to the proverbial fire. Wonder Woman's deal with the devil was no joke, not to Hades, and now he wants his half of Heaven’s throne. It’s not clear how that happened, but as goes Zola, so goes Wonder Woman. It took Odysseus a decade or so to return to Ithaca, here’s hoping it takes less time for Wonder Woman to find its home.