Artwork by Cliff Chiang
With the conclusion of the first arc for Wonder Woman under the 'New 52' banner, Brian Azzarello takes Diana, Lennox and Hermes into the mountain on their quest to retrieve Zola from Hades. Diana's adventures thus far have been moving at a great pace with a good blend of action and storytelling. This month, Azzarello introduces yet another god of myth - Hephaestus, god of fire and the forge - as the group seeks out new weapons with which to battle Hades.
One of my favorite parts about comic books is the flexibility in narrative possibilities. With the Green Lanterns, they have an entire Corps and millions of years of history from which to draw inspiration. Wonder Woman is a character that hasn't really had much expounded on her character world - she's an Amazon who was created out of clay and given life. It was a pretty boring origin and Azzarello's take on Diana sets up so much more in the way of new ideas. Within Hephaestus' mountain, Hades sends a monster to attack the lamde god as punishment for speaking with Diana. One of the seemingly automated worker drones is injured and revealed to be a real man, not something of Hephaestus' creation. This leads the group down a dark path of truth and cultural tradition.
The men are revealed as the unwanted sons of the Amazons. After (basically) raping men on boats, the Amazons would slaughter the crew and go home to wait and give birth. If they bore a son, it would be removed and sold into servitude under Hephaestus in return for the weapons used by the Amazons. Diana can't abhor this and decides to set her brothers free. In one of the best series panels of the issue, Diana throws the bound god through the wall to their barracks and says, "Get up, brothers! That is a word I've never used, but it brings me joy to use it...BROTHERS!" It's a bittersweet moment as the men beg her to stop hurting their master.
The truth comes out that if Hephaestus didn't save them, the Amazons would have drowned them simply for being male. It's a harrowing moment for Diana as she has to come to terms with the fact that her people murder innocents on a regular basis. By the final panel, Diana is weeping into her hands. It's a solemn end and a dramatic set-up for next month's journey into Hell.