Since the Wonder Woman title relaunched in 2011, Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang have been surprising readers by introducing new approaches to the iconic heroine and her world.
And the latest has her — spoiler alert! — becoming the new God of War.
From the revamp of Wonder Woman's origin that made her the daughter of Zeus to the introduction of some new New Gods, the creative team on Wonder Woman has been shaking up the title, ignoring expectations about the title character and her world.
In this month's Wonder Woman, the latest change is a doozy. Not only did Wonder Woman kill someone (which is not necessarily new, but definitely worth noting), but she killed the God of War himself. Then, because she killed him, she became the new God of War.
But wait, isn't Wonder Woman supposed to be all about pursuing peace first? And isn't the God of War one of her main villains? Is he really gone? We asked Brian Azzarello about what this new twist in Wonder Woman's story means for the book and for the character as the series heads toward September's Wonder Woman #23.2: First Born.
Newsarama: Brian, it seems like we're talking every couple months about the way you're shaking up the world of Wonder Woman.
Brian Azzarello: Yeah, no kidding, huh?
Nrama: The story has constant movement! And this time around, we're talking because Wonder Woman just killed War. Just to clarify, was it because she felt like she had to in order to prevent what the First Born was about to do? That's the way it appeared to me, but I've seen some confusion online.
Brian Azzarello: She killed War because if First Born had killed War, which he was about to do, then he would have become the God of War.
She really didn't have a choice. Well, the only choice she had was that she could have let him do it.
Nrama: So if she wanted to stop him from becoming the God of War, she had to become the God of War herself. And War was awfully happy she was doing it.
Azzarello: Yeah. So was she manipulated into doing it? I don't know. Maybe. We'll find out.
Nrama: Well it's an odd twist of events to have the God of War happy with Wonder Woman, because they're usually not agreeing on much.
Azzarello: I think during Cliff and my run, we've done a lot of "odd" things with Wonder Woman and her supporting cast, but "odd" being good, because we're shaking it up. We're giving you things that you haven't seen before. Stop bitching about it and enjoy it! It's fresh! It's new!
Nrama: What does this change to Wonder Woman, as she becomes the God of War, offer to you as a writer?
Azzarello: It gives her a different status, and I think that's something that should be exciting for everybody.
Nrama: It's got to be a struggle, though, for a character who's always fought against War. She prefers peace, doesn't she?
Azzarello: Who doesn't?
Nrama: The God of War!
Azzarello: Well, yeah. And isn't it interesting, putting her in that position? How is she going to deal with it?
Nrama: Does the God of War have responsibilities as a "god?"
Azzarello: It goes with the territory, sure.
Nrama: So she has to balance her own values with her new responsibility.
Azzarello: Yeah. And I think that's going to be really fun to explore, someone of her character in that position.
Nrama: She doesn't want to be the God of War, but the only way to get out of it is if somebody kills her?
Azzarello: Yeah. For now.
Nrama: Yeah, I bet she'll do her best to find another way around it. Do you think War, as he died and was happy to see her make this choice, was he inspired by her at all?
Azzarello: I think he was, yeah. I think over this past year, as they've been together, she changed him.
Nrama: We've seen growth in Hera as well.
Azzarello: Yeah, Hera was the villain in the beginning of this. You know? Now she's some people's favorite character in the book!
Nrama: Wonder Woman seems to have that inspiring effect. Can she continue to inspire as the God of War?
Azzarello: I think so.
Nrama: So does Wonder Woman have a ghost army now?
Azzarello: I'm not going to answer that question. But she does, doesn't she?
Nrama: Yeah, she does. And she has added power when she takes off her gauntlets?
Azzarello: That's containing her divinity, her god-like power.
Nrama: The gauntlets are?
Azzarello: Yeah. That's from old Wonder Woman lore. I didn't invent that. She wore those cuffs to protect other people from herself.
Nrama: Yeah, the Amazons had slave bracelets or something like that, right?
Azzarello: Yeah. I just gave it another layer by saying it kept her godliness in check.
But that's something that she learns in this issue too. It's like, "I don't need the godliness. I need to be me, or what I think I can be."
Nrama: I don't understand. What do you mean?
Azzarello: Well, when she takes off her gauntlets and she goes head-to-head with First Born, and they're both like two storms crashing into each other, she's not being true to herself.
It's funny that I'm writing Wonder Woman and Brother Lono at the same time, and they both are kind of dealing with the same issue, so that's what's going around in my head right now.
Nrama: What? Finding who they are? Being true to themselves?
Azzarello: Yes. It's the question, are you supposed to give in to your base instincts? Or are you supposed to try to be something better? But if you're trying to be something better, are you not being true to yourself? Because maybe you're not supposed to be something better.
Nrama: Maybe I need to embrace that part of me.
Nrama: And for Wonder Woman, that part she needs to embrace is the warrior/god inside herself?
Azzarello: Well, I don't want to answer that yet. We're going to find that out.
Nrama: Can you describe what we're going to see going forward?
Azzarello: More change. And Wonder Woman as the God of War.
Nrama: And Apollo stepping up his game?
Azzarello: Apollo's been with us since the first issue. But Apollo's definitely going to become one of the big players.
Nrama: So one of her first acts as God of War is to not kill First Born.
Nrama: Does that lead right into the Wonder Woman #23.2: First Born issue in September?
Azzarello: The First Born issue is the next chapter in the story.
Nrama: But you had told us that it would fill in his backstory. So we're going to be with him for that issue, right?
Azzarello: With him and someone else. Somebody who has oracles.
The First Born issue should stand alone, but really, it's the next chapter. It was going to happen regardless of Villains Month. In the outline, I just finessed Wonder Woman out of the issue into the next one. But we're moving along according to plan.