Wonder Woman #9
CoverOne of the reasons why DC’s New 52 came about was to give a fresh take on DC’s storied cast of characters, and no book has lived up to that goal more than Wonder Woman. Writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang took the Amazonian princess back to her roots in the backstabbing world of Greek gods and defining Diana’s role in it and the world beyond.
And with April’s Wonder Woman #8, Chiang will be taking on a new role in addition to drawing the book: co-writer. Chiang and Azzarello have worked together prior to this series, and it’s a testament to that partnership that Azzarello asked Chiang to become more involved in the development of the story going forward. DC has ushered a number of artists into expanded roles as writers like J.H. Williams III, Francis Manapul, David Finch, and Tony Daniel; Cliff Chiang is next in that pantheon.
Newsarama talked with Chiang about what’s coming next, from boy gods to Wonder Woman’s new family and even into the depths of Hell itself.
Newsarama: Cliff, you’re set to return to the Wonder Woman series with next month’s Wonder Woman #7. What can we look forward to?
Cliff Chiang After the game-changing events in issues 5 & 6, Wonder Woman goes to Hell to rescue a loved one, but Hell will turn out to be an even worse place than she imagined.
Nrama: In the cover to issue #7 we see Wonder Woman forging a sword - presumably to use for herself. How does that factor into what comes next?
Chiang: Though he may look like a small boy, Hades is not to be underestimated. She's going to need help. And weapons. So she pays a visit to one her new uncles, the divine blacksmith Hephaestus.
Nrama: In the solicitations for Wonder Woman #8, you’re credited as artist and co-writer. What brought about this additional duty, and can you tell us about the process with you and Brian?
Chiang: Our creative process is pretty fluid, and both of us are concerned foremost with storytelling, so it just made sense for me to be involved at an earlier stage rather than do the book full-script. We'll throw ideas back and forth, he'll ask me to put on my old "editor's hat" for feedback on scripts, so really we're just making the process more official.
Nrama: People may not remember, but before you began your comic artist career you were an editor at Vertigo.
Chiang: Right. Basically, it's old school "Marvel-style," where I'll begin breaking down from a plot. Brian is still driving this thing, I'm just getting to add my two cents about the road we take.
Nrama: Will this be a permanent change or something just for this arc?
Chiang: We'll see how it goes! We're open to trying some new things, and I hope this ends up being creatively fruitful. I've always preferred comics that really rely on visual storytelling. It's what makes comics special. Otherwise, you're better off reading a novel.
Nrama: However you slice it, it’s still you and Brian forging ahead with this new direction for DC’s flagship female. One of your stated goals was to make Wonder Woman mean something again, and you've definitely done that. Now that the series is out and it's a success, what are your longer term goals for the character & the title?
Chiang: We've only started building the foundation for the series. We're going to introduce more gods, more intrigue, and some unlikely allies as we get a sense of the bigger picture and the monstrous threat on the horizon.
Nrama: You have a clear artistic vision for this series, and from interviews people can really tell you're invested in the book. What's it like having a guest artist like Tony Akins come in for Wonder Woman #5 and #6 and take what you've done and go with it, especially with you coming back on soon after?
Chiang: I think Tony's done some fantastic work. While I would love to draw every issue, it's simply not possible for me right now, and it would be a mistake to get proprietary about it. I was part of a rotating art team before on Human Target, and it's great when you have a team that works together as smoothly as this one.
Nrama: In addition to brandishing a new take on Diana, you've also done new renditions of a number of gods and godly people like Hades. Will we be seeing more of that in the near future?
Chiang: Absolutely. We introduce Hephaestus and his son Eros in issue 7, and they are a lot of fun to draw. Hephaestus, in particular, has allowed me to push things in more of a Jack Kirby direction, while Eros is quite modern and flamboyant.
Nrama: Now that you're several issues into the book, how has the response been from fans online and at conventions and stores for you?
Chiang: It's been really rewarding to hear how readers are enjoying the book. People often tell me they've never picked up a Wonder Woman book before, while others are excited to come back. When all is said and done, my biggest hope is that we've expanded the possibilities of what a Wonder Woman book can be.