While many of the accolades of DC’s New 52 revamp deservedly go to stellar titles like Scott Snyder’s Batman or Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man, there is another book that is consistently one of our favorites to hit store shelves each month: Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s Wonder Woman. After 19 issues, Azzarello and Chiang have managed to make Wonder Woman a must-read title each month, putting her on par with the other two members of DC’s holy trinity of superheroes, Batman and Superman. By tapping into Wonder Woman’s mythological roots and giving her a sorely needed cast of supremely memorable supporting characters and the highest stakes version of Baby’s Day Out you’ve ever seen, the dynamic duo behind this book have hit upon something special. Now, with issue 20, the tension is rising as First Born, Diana’s eldest brother, is hot on her trail, and Diana finds herself betrayed by the one person she thought she could trust. Intriguing, right? We couldn’t just leave it at that, so I caught up with series scribe Brian Azzarello to get the inside scoop on just how the shit will be hitting the proverbial fan, rebuilding an entire pantheon, and his upcoming return to the world of 100 Bullets.
Nerdist: Your run on Wonder Woman has been pretty terrific so far. You’ve managed to return Diana to her mythic roots, but with a twist. Tell us about the decision to steep it in so much mythology and some of the challenges of redesigning an entire pantheon.
Brian Azzarello: I thought that it was necessary to give her a new supporting cast; she didn’t really have one beyond a couple of characters. It seemed obvious to me, like, waitaminute, she does have a supporting cast; we can just tweak them a little from what they were before. Get rid of those damn togas!
N: Right, they’re not exactly the most fashionable thing outside of frat parties these days.
BA: Right. [laughs] And even there…
N: So, you’ve worked with Cliff Chiang previously as an editor, and now he’s the artist on Wonder Woman. Does that make your process any easier, working with an artist who understands the editorial side of things too?
BA: We actually worked together on a book called Doctor Thirteen as well; he did the art for that. But, yeah, I’ve known Cliff a long time. He was an assistant editor on 100 Bullets, but he took the plunge, he wanted to be a freelancer – God knows why. We’ve worked together since. Coming from an editorial background like that, he’s got a really good sense of story. Out of everyone that I’ve worked with, the closest collaborations come from Cliff.
N: I have to imagine that makes it a bit easier to explain what you’re going for, since he gets that story aspect.
BA: Yeah, plus we’ve known each other for a long time, so, like I said, I know what he’s doing.
N: It’s been awesome to see Orion and the New Gods brought back into the fold. Orion, in particular, with his smug misogyny, seems like a natural foil to Wonder Woman. What excited you about the characters and motivated you to bring them into Wonder Woman?
BA: Well, once we were redesigning the Old Gods, it seemed like a natural fit – let’s bring in the New Gods too. There’s this corner of the DC Universe; it makes sense because we can reintroduce them kind of slowly, which I think needs to be done. There’s no need to hit them over the head with it all at once.
N: Yeah, it’s definitely a sprawling mythology, so taking your time with it seems smart.
BA: Again, this is the New 52, so it’s not going to be exactly the way it was before. We’re reinventing a lot of it. We’re trying to stay as close to the spirit of it as we can, but we’re going to freshen it up and add a few unexpected twists.
N: Speaking of redefining this mythology and unexpected twists, in the Wonder Woman #0 issue, we see War, who bears a striking resemblance to yourself. Was that an easter egg? A joke from Cliff?
BA: Yeah, that’s Cliff. He’s a funny guy, huh? I described what War looked like. You know, he’s a guy who’s seen much better days, he’s haggard, thin. And he comes back and it’s like, “Hey, you did me…”
N: We’re entering into the next big arc of Wonder Woman and it looks like we’re in for a little bit of sibling rivalry from First Born. Tell us what we can look forward to from this new arc.
BA: Oh, there’s gonna be a lot of bloodshed. [laughs] Yeah, some of the characters you’ve seen are not going to make it out the other end.
N: Obviously, the hunt is on for Zola’s baby, since he’s Zeus’ son. In the preview pages, it seems like Diana’s pursuers have arrived, so the bloodshed starts pretty immediately, I take it?
BA: Immediately, yeah. A lot of what’s going to happen is stuff we’ve been building to since we’ve started the series. We’ve set up all these dominoes and now it’s time to knock ’em down.
N: Now that we’re more than a year out from the New 52 launch and you’ve been on Wonder Woman for a while, how has the experience been?
BA: It’s been great. It’s been really rewarding, working with the people I’ve worked with, doing the stories we’re doing. Getting people to talk about Wonder Woman, that’s really gratifying. I mean, she’s on the radar now.
N: Agreed – I feel like she was a bit underserved previously, but your take on it has been so exciting and very refreshing.
BA: She’s always been referred to as part of the trinity. Maybe in the broader pop culture sense it could be argued, y’know, Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman – not in that order either – but I don’t think it’s been like that in the comics. That’s something that we were really conscious of – let’s get this character her own mythos and world to play in.
N: Speaking of Wonder Woman in pop culture, rumors have been circulating that Gina Carano was being considered for the role of Wonder Woman. I’m curious as to who you think would make a good Diana on the silver screen.
BA: Who would make a good Wonder Woman? Oh, boy. Let’s see, what’s the date today? My mother would make a good Wonder Woman. Happy Mother’s Day, mom.
N: Well, that’s awfully sweet of you. Most moms have a lasso of truth somewhere.
BA: Mine had the Hot Wheel Track of Truth. When she was wielding that, I would tell her anything.
N: Unrelated to Wonder Woman, has there been any movement on the 100 Bullets series that was being set up at Showtime? I’d love to see that on my TV.
BA: There’s a mini-series coming. Eduardo Risso and I are going to revisit that particular world we created in Brother Lono, which is coming out in June.
N: Oh, rad. How many issues of that can we expect?
BA: Oh, boy… eight.
N: And how far after the 100 Bullets continuity does it take place?
BA: Real time! It’s been four years. [laughs]
N: What comics are you reading and enjoying right now?
BA: What am I reading? What did I just read? I just picked up this thing from Viz called Pepita: Takehiko Inoue Meets Gaudi, so it’s about the architect Gaudi and this artist’s relationship with him, which is pretty interesting. What else? I’m looking around – Vader’s Little Princess. That was good. Jeff Lemire’s Underwater Welder? That was pretty cool.
N: One more question: what would be inside your ideal burrito?
BA: What would what?
N: In a perfect world, what would be inside your ideal burrito? You can choose anything.
BA: [laughs] Carne asada, lettuce, a good habanero sauce, tomato… you know the only thing I would do differently – because I think a carne asada burrito is already perfect – is I could do without the sour cream. I’ve got to watch my cholesterol.
N: Yeah, you’ve got to stay alive long enough to keep eating those perfect burritos.
BA: The real perfection has already been made; there’s nothing I can do to top it.
N: That’s the kind of positive attitude I like to hear.
BA: It’s why that particular food has endured for so long.
N: It’s ideal – it’s self-contained. Kind of like when you order a bread bowl with soup – it’s great because you get to eat the bowl too.
BA: [laughs] It’s like a hamburger. For me, lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard – that’s it. No bacon, no cheese, no nothin’. Give me the basics. I want what got this thing off the ground in the first place.
N: Exactly. It’s a classic for a reason.
BA: That’s right. And it doesn’t have to be good to be a classic. [laughs]
And now, without further ado, feast your eyes on these awesome preview pages for DC’s Wonder Woman #20 by Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang and Goran Sudzuka.
Click to expand the images.
Have you been reading Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s Wonder Woman? Let us know what you think in the comments below!