As Wonder Woman wraps up its current storyline in this week's issue #18, writer Brian Azzarello is promising "changes" and "big, big stuff" in the next story that starts in April.
Over the first year of Wonder Woman, Azzarello and artists Tony Akins and Cliff Chiang introduced a frightening new take on the gods from her pantheon, winning critical acclaim and respectable sales for the title's approach. And at end of his first year, Orion — a "new" god — was introduced to the title.
Newsarama has been checking with Azz every time there's a shocker in the pages of Wonder Woman, and that means we've been talking a lot. There's our interview after Orion's appearance, our spoiler-filled talk after he revamped her origin to make her the daughter of Zeus, and our talk about changes he made to the history of the Amazons.And there are more changes to come. This time, Newsarama talked to Azzarello about his approach to Diana's character, his plans for Orion, and the motivations for some of the story developments readers have been seeing in Wonder Woman.
Newsarama: Brian, much of the first year of your run has been built around Wonder Woman's attempt to protect Zola and her baby. But in the last issue, Ares pointed out that Wonder Woman has no long-term plan for their protection. And he was right. What were you trying to say about Diana at that point? Are you pointing out the flaws in her approach?
Brian Azzarello: Well, that's part of her character. I don't really consider them "flaws," it's more like... that's who she is. She thinks with her heart. And it's not a bad thing. It's what makes her an endearing character. And it's actually something that separates her from everyone else in the Justice League.
Nrama: But she's also headstrong, so the tendency to just follow her heart sometimes results in quick, impulsive moves that don't work out. At the beginning of Wonder Woman #17, she was rehearsing how she would start a conversation after one of her impulsive moves. It was a little weird to see Wonder Woman unsure of what she was going to say.
Azzarello: Yeah, but look at what she had to say. When we were working on that scene, I thought, let's have her say this stuff out loud. Because she screwed up! You know? She was facing it.
I mean, that's one thing about that character that I think is really great. When she does make a mistake, she owns up to it. But that's because she trusts herself so much.WW #19 Inked
InteriorsNrama: Is that just an inherent part of the character, that she trusts herself?
Azzarello: I think that's a very inherent part of that character, that she does trust herself.
Nrama: Let's address the big question at the center of this story, since we're talking about Diana trusting herself. Would Wonder Woman kill Zola's baby?
Azzarello: Would she? I'm not going to answer that. But is she capable of doing it? If the stakes are as high as they will be getting, then yes, she's capable of doing it.
But I don't want anybody to get the wrong idea. She's not a baby killer.
Nrama: The breakout characters in your Wonder Woman run are the gods, and I think one of the favorites among readers is Strife. But I have a question about her: Whenever Strife shows up, there seems to be strife; does she cause it, or is more that she's attracted to it, showing up when there's already strife?
Azzarello: I'm attracted to her, so I guess I'm causing it.
Nrama: [Laughs.] So the readers aren't the only ones who love her?
Azzarello: She is, like... we have the best time when she's in the book, because she's fun to write, she's fun to draw.
But to answer your question, she shows up because there is some strife.
But where isn't there strife?
Nrama: Particularly when the gods are involved.
Nrama: Let's talk about Orion. What's his motivation for sticking around? Is he waiting to see how everything with the baby is going to play out?
Azzarello: Yeah, but he's intent to kill the baby.
Nrama: But what's he thinking? I mean, why's he hanging around?WW #19 Inked
InteriorsAzzarello: You'll find out. In fact, issue #18 addresses that.
Nrama: OK, but on the subject of Orion, how in the world could Wonder Woman let Orion get away with that slap on the butt in issue #17? I know she got interrupted, but I was ready for her to deck him.
Azzarello: The slap is not the end.
Nrama: The slap gets a follow-up?
Azzarello: Oh yeah. Yeah.
Nrama: I think a lot of us female readers were like, "What?? She didn't hit him after that?" [Laughs.]
Azzarello: [Laughs.] But she got interrupted.
Nrama: I know. But still...
Azzarello: "But still." OK. Let's say she did hit him. You wouldn't be talking about it anymore.
Azzarello: It's a month later and you're still talking about it.
Nrama: It's your way of making us pick up the next issue.
Azzarello: Like I said, strife happens when I'm around.
Nrama: You mentioned before that Diana trusts herself. And I think one of the themes in Wonder Woman is trust. It was pointed out in the last issue that Diana wants to be independent, yet she has a team around her. What are your thoughts behind that theme of trust?
Brian Azzarello: Yeah, trust is something that we're exploring. It's like, she trusts herself more than she trusts anybody else. But at the same time — like we said in #17 — she's surrounding herself with all these other people. And she wants them to play a role in her life. But she's also kind of the bossy one. You know? She's in charge.
And we'll be exploring more of that.
Nrama: The solicitation for Wonder Woman #20 hints about Wonder Woman discovering someone she shouldn't have trusted.WW #19 Penciled
InteriorsAzzarello: I don't read solicitations. But like I said, we will be exploring trust.
We're also going to be exploring — Wonder Woman and Orion's relationship is going to go to another level. You'll definitely be seeing that in issue #19.
A lot of the things we've set up are going to get wrapped up in issue #18, and we're going to move on with a new story arc in issue #19.
And the next story arc is going to be a big one.
Nrama: Does this next "big" story arc that begins with issue #19 involve the First Born? That continues for awhile?
Azzarello: We are just getting started with First Born. You can tell something big's going to happen between him and her, right?
Azzarello: He is going to have a major, major impact on her family.
Nrama: What else can you say about the next story arc?
Azzarello: She hasn't changed enough yet. She's got some more changes. I think the changes have worked really well, but we're not done. It's part of the plan.
Nrama: Wait, how has she already changed? Do you mean Diana herself has changed?
Azzarello: Well, she's actually leading a team now, which is something that's different for her. But... obviously, things around her — the whole mythos — has changed.
Nrama: Oh I see. When you say she's going to change more, you mean some of those shocking twists like we saw when we found out Zeus was her father.
Azzarello: Yeah. We're going to be doing some more of that as well, in this next story arc. Don't miss it.
Nrama: Are you, Tony Akins and Cliff Chiang on Wonder Woman for quite a bit longer?
Azzarello: We are definitely taking it through the second year.
Nrama: And Cliff's still committed going forward?
Azzarello: Yeah. He's still committed. He just got busy with some other things. But he's going to be doing, I believe, the bulk of this next arc on his own. And we really like working together.
Nrama: That's it for this interview, Brian, but from the sound of what you teased about "changes" coming up, I have the feeling we'll be talking again soon.
Azzarello: Oh, there's going to be some big stuff. Yes. We will definitely be talking. Big, big stuff.