This issue opens on Hera in her palace atop Mt. Olympus. Azzarello portrays Hera just like she’s depicted in the Greek myths. Hera is a goddess who is jealous of any woman who sleeps with her husband Zeus, and she visits terrible vengeance on those unlucky women. This comic is no exception to that rule which is played out in multiple Greek myths. Hera is angry that Wonder Woman and Hermes are protecting Zola, a young woman who’s pregnant with Zeus’s child, from her murderous wrath.
Something that struck me about this comic is that it’s somewhat risque. In the first few panels, Hera disrobes and changes into something a little more comfortable. While it isn’t done in a cheesy or graphic way, you could argue that this is gratuitous nudity. Hera goes on to reference Paradise Island as “that cockless coop”, which has the obvious meaning that there are no “roosters” on the island, and also the more crass meaning that I’m sure I don’t have to spell out for you. I thought that was a clever pun, and Azzarello is pushing the threshold of what you can get away with saying in a Wonder Woman comic.
In the following scene on Paradise Island, Azzarello has the Amazonian army commenting on the male Hermes’s presence in their girls only club. The disembodied whispers of the hidden Amazonian army says, “Aye, what hangs between the shanks now fouls my nose…Perhaps I shall take my blade and separate the offense from the offender. Leave them to shrink and wither on the sand.” I have to be honest, I didn’t think I would read a Wonder Woman comic where the Amazons are not only directly talking about male genitalia, but they’re also threatening to castrate a male intruder on their island. Maybe I’m just ignorant of Wonder Woman comics and there’s a precedent for this sort of thing, but I was definitely surprised by how provocative Azzarello was willing to be.
I also thought Cliff Chiang’s illustrations of Paradise Island and the Amazons were very well done. The depictions of Paradise Island that I’ve seen usually show the home of the Amazons as a beautiful place with amazing buildings carved out of immaculate marble. Here, Chiang’s Paradise Island isn’t one huge marble palace after another. It looks more like what a real ancient Greek city would probably look like. His Amazons are not the toga wearing beauties that I’ve seen before; they’re shown as warriors who look ready to go into battle at the drop of a hat. The style of Paradise Island and the Amazons comes across as more realistic and true to actual Greek society, and less of an idealistic island of palatial marble edifices.
I’m a huge fan of Greek mythology and superheroes as well, so it’s cool to see Azzarello successfully combine those two worlds into an entertaining story. His Greek gods are acting just like they acted in the classical mythology, and I almost feel like I’m reading a new myth in this comic. Azzarello’s depiction of the Greek pantheon reminds me a bit of Neil Gaiman’s The Endless, so if you liked Sandman you might enjoy the direction of this series. Overall, I’m enjoying this series quite a bit, and I’m on board for the next issue.