Wonder Woman: Guts by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang – A Book Review

Guts is the second volume of Wonder Woman’s New 52 iteration.  Now, I have to admit, I’ve never particularly been a Wonder Woman fan.  I mean, sure, as a young boy, I liked her just as much as the next young boy, but I never read her comics.  But, when DC decided to (sort of) reboot their shared universe with the New 52, and when I learned that Brian Azzarello would be taking over Wonder Woman, well, even as a thirty-five year old man with a wife and two daughters, I couldn’t resist.  Azzarello is a superb writer.  He’s multifaceted, visionary, and merciless to his characters.  Plus, in the months preceding the series’ debut, he spoke at length about how his version would focus upon the Greek Gods and have more in common with horror than super hero adventures.

He had me at Greek Gods.

I haven’t reviewed the first volume of Wonder Woman yet because, while I loved it, I frankly wanted to wait and see if the second volume would sustain my interest.  Not only did it sustain my interest, it in fact increased my interest.

With Guts, I have a lay of the land.  I’ve gotten used to Azzarello’s interpretation of the Greek Gods and his general “atmosphere” for Wonder Woman.  Now that I know what to expect in certain regards, I love the title all the more. His take on the Gods is unconventional, but that’s what makes it captivating.  He gives us just enough to make them recognizable, but changes everything else.  Make no mistake, however, this man knows his mythology.  At no time does he write a God “out of character.”  Of course, the genius is that these Gods have existed in world mythology for thousands of years, so that gives Azzarello a lot of wiggle room.

In Guts, Wonder Woman is trying to save a young woman who has been impregnated by a missing Zeus.  Hera, as usual, wants the girl dead, and is going to great lengths to make that happen.  Hermes is assisting Wonder Woman with the girl’s rescue, and before long Wonder Woman encounters Hephaestus, Demeter, Eros, Apollo, Artemis, Pandora, and Hades.  They are exactly like you’d expect and nothing like you’d expect, and that’s why I love this title.

There is a lot going on in this book, but I never felt overwhelmed or confused beyond comfort.  All literature should confuse a little, after all, for if the author makes everything crystal clear, well, that’s a little boring, isn’t it?  But like the Greek Gods, Wonder Woman is recognizable enough to satiate the fans, but she and her back story have also undergone a few tweaks that makes the character even more likable and, to be honest, respectable.

Chiang’s art is definitely a great match for Azzarello.  His Wonder Woman is attractive without being a sex object, powerful looking without losing her femininity, and is always drawn to look like the royal she is.  As a father of two small girls, I’m always searcing for female super heroes they can look up to that are not a facsimile of a male super hero or presented as a pin up model.  I got really excited when they were going to put pants on Wonder Woman because, you know, she’s basically wearing a bikini and I’d like her to put some clothes on for my daughters’ benefit.  Of course, they opted to keep the corset and bottoms.  Even with that being said, though, Chiang draws her in such a way that, again, she is beautifully rendered, but her clothes also completely cover her.  She is not drawn with ridiculous cleavage or wearing a g-string.  Admittedly, no matter how strongly she is written by Azzarello, if they did present her in such a fashion, I’d be too embarrassed to read her book.  As it stands, though, I’d have no problem with my daughters (if they were twelve or older) reading it.

I’ve read several of the New 52, and I have to say that Wonder Woman is so far the best when it comes to art, action, dialogue, characterization, plot complexity, and general coolness.  Even if you’ve never read the character, I urge you to do so.  And don’t worry, instead of your wife rolling her eyes at you for owning it, she might just pick it up and read it herself … so long as she doesn’t mind a little bit of Greek God horror.

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