BRIAN AZZARELLO Thrusts WONDER WOMAN Toward Even More Change

 

As Brian Azzarello attended Chicago's C2E2 convention last week, there was a lot of buzz surrounding his current projects.

Not only is he writing two of the series for DC's big summer event, Before Watchmen: Rorschach and Before Watchmen: Comedian, but he's made some surprising changes to the mythos of one of DC's iconic character in Wonder Woman.

Working with artists Cliff Chiang and Tony Akins on the series, Azzarello altered Wonder Woman's origin by giving her two parents, making her father the god Zeus (see our interview with the writer on that subject here).

Last month, he explained the absence of men on the Amazon's island as being caused by choice, as the women of Paradise Island discarded their male babies, keeping girls only.

 

This week's Wonder Woman #8 had yet another shocking conclusion, but this interview was conducted before that issue came out, so it's spoiler free. Suffice it to say that Azzarello's promise of more changes for Wonder Woman is being clearly demonstrated in this week's issue.

In the second installment of our interview with Azzarello, we asked about all these changes he's bringing to Wonder Woman and why he felt they needed to be made.

Newsarama: Brian, this last issue, you revealed some information about the Amazons that we didn't know. And I don't think Wonder Woman is liking them very well. What was your thought behind having them discard all their male children that way? Did you want to give an explanation for why there are only females on Paradise Island, one that's more grounded in reality?

Brian Azzarello: Well, I wanted to address that. But I think we actually made them feel more mythic, you know? They're almost like a legend that sailors tell each other.

 

Nrama: Yeah, like the Sirens, or mermaids.

Azzarello: Yeah. I know the reaction has been a little strong, but people have to realize this is just one chapter in a long story, you know?

Nrama: So be patient?

Azzarello: Be patient. And if we're surprising you, enjoy it. It's great to get outraged. I'm loving the reaction. Some of the name-calling, though, I could do without.

Nrama: And like you said, there's probably more to the story, right? Obviously, you don't want to reveal what's coming, but as an Amazon, surely Wonder Woman is going to try to understand all these things she's learned about her heritage, isn't she?

Azzarello: Sure, sure.

Nrama: We've talked several times about how you're making the gods feel more mythic, but it's clear that you're also giving them a more of a human quality, personifying them, complete with flaws and wrong-doing.

Azzarello: Yeah, I think so. And I think that one thing that we've lost culturally, as far as those gods go, is a fear of them. You know? The Greek gods have been so sanitized by Western culture over the past 100 years.

 

So what we're trying to do here is establish that, yes, you're supposed to worship them, but you're supposed to fear them too.

Nrama: As I read this series, I keep thinking I should get out Edith Hamilton's Mythology and read up on these gods.

Azzarello: No, that one's too clean.

Nrama: What books are influencing what you're doing in Wonder Woman?

Azzarello: I'm pulling from a lot of different sources. The thing about some of the gods is that they are different things to different sects of people. Different stories in different cultures.

Nrama: But this approach you have, where you're making them both worthy of worship and fear — is that the same approach you're using toward the Amazons, particularly with this brutal discarding of their male children? That they're more in line with the people they run with.

Azzarello: Yeah, yeah. Exactly. From a storytelling perspective, perfection is death. You know? Where can you go? If she's in a perfect culture, if she's a perfect warrior, where are the challenges there? How do you argue against perfection? So we've got to dirty them up a bit.

Nrama: Right now, a lot has been ripped from Wonder Woman. I think you summed it up when she said, "I feel...." and doesn't finish the sentence because she's not even sure what she feels.

Azzarello: Yeah, exactly.

Nrama: Is this one of those things you hear writers talk about where you have to kind of tear down the hero in order to show who they are? At this point, she's really going to have to define and defend who she is and what she thinks about all this, right?

Azzarello: Yeah, she is. I mean, she's going to have to address these things. Of course. Everything's changing around her. Fundamentally, right now, she's still the same person. She's the same icon she's always been. It's just that other things about her are changing.

Nrama: Well, it's one thing to say she's the same as always, but this is some wild stuff that's getting laid on her.

Azzarello: And it's going to get wilder.

Nrama: So her reaction isn't really predictable, is it?

Azzarello: I hope not. And keep in mind that we're only half done. It's not even close to time to build her back up yet.

Nrama: We just saw solicitations for Wonder Woman #11, and it indicated that's where a new story begins. Is that accurate? Is this a 10-issue story?

Azzarello: I think it's actually going to break to 12. There are going to be some major, major things that happen over the next three issues.

We've asked a lot of questions over the first seven issues. It's time now to provide some of the answers.

 

And Cliff is doing an incredible job on this series. His art is just phenomenal. So is Tony's. I'm really happy with the way this book is turning out. And Matt too, the colorist. It's just... I'm very pleased with what we're doing with Wonder Woman right now.

Nrama: I'm not surprised the end of the story arc is less defined for you, because the series feels much more single-issue focused, within a larger story. You've taken Diana to different locations in almost every issue, and you've introduced enough new characters in this first story arc that it feels like there's something new every issue.

Azzarello: Yeah, the point is to make the book feel thrilling. I mean, hopefully, it has the feel of an epic kind of story, as we meet all these characters and start revealing how they fit into it all. When it plays out, you'll see answers about these characters, like what are they going to do? And why are they involved? Why does Stryfe keep screwing with Wonder Woman? What's her end game?

Nrama: Is that end game clear to you? I mean, you have an end in mind for these threads you've got woven in the story now?

Azzarello: Yeah, yeah. We have an ending.

Nrama: But it's not issue #10.

Azzarello: It's not #10. No.

Nrama: Is the ending the end of your run?

Azzarello: Probably, yeah.

Nrama: Do you know how long you're on the book?

Azzarello: It's going to be awhile.

Nrama: In this week's issue, we got to see Hell in the DCU.

Azzarello: I'm sure some people would argue that she's been going to hell since the second issue. [Laughs.]

Nrama: Maybe a few, but this title is selling better than Wonder Woman has in a long time, isn't it?

Azzarello: Yeah, it is. But for me, the cool thing is that we've got people talking about her! People actually care what's going on in Wonder Woman. And there are a lot of new people who care.

Nrama: In this week's issue, Wonder Woman travels to Hell. Is this issue's version of the underworld the "official Hell of the DCU?" And were you given free rein to guide it into whatever you wanted?

 

Azzarello: This is the underworld of Hades. And I did get to make it whatever I wanted, but there are several versions of hell, I think. This one is very different from other hells. And it's "hell" with a lowercase "h." It's where the dead go. All the dead. So it's a little different right from the start.

Nrama: The last few issues, Diana's kind of gotten a team together.

Azzarello: Kind of. I mean, she's got a family. She lost one family and gained a different one.

Nrama: But they each have their own agenda, don't they?

Azzarello: Yeah. It's an ensemble though. It's funny too. We might have created a break-out character by mistake with Stryfe.

Nrama: I'm liking Lennox.

Azzarello: Yeah, Lennox is a good character too. We're having a blast, giving Wonder Woman a world to work within.

Nrama: Poseidon's new design was cool too. Did Cliff design that?

Azzarello: Tony designed Poseidon. Cliff and I talked about him just designing all the gods that we had coming up, but Cliff was like, "No, we should let Tony do some because he's part of the team now." Everybody should be invested in this thing. And Tony did Lennox too.

Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell readers about what's coming up?

Azzarello: It's going to be a bumpy ride. We'll fill out the pantheon some more too. You haven't been introduced to all the gods yet. You're going to meet some more before the year is over.

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