After the socks-offknocking twist at the end of Wonder Woman, Vol. 2: Guts, it was always going to be difficult for Azzarello and Chiang to keep the steady, dramatic climb going–the story had to apex somewhere, so it’s no surprise that Wonder Woman, Vol. 3: Iron takes a step back in terms of storytelling quality, especially as it doesn’t really offer a resolution of any kind. It’s a decent volume with a few good moments, but unfortunately the disconnect between this book and Diana’s personal adventures in Justice League as well as an uneven and anticlimactic conclusion to the “Zola’s baby” story arc move this one further down the backlog than the preceding volume.
STORY AND SCRIPT
Azzarello’s writing remains witty and incisive at times, but the plotting in this collection really struggles with pacing. The heroes’ reaction to the theft of Zola’s baby at the conclusion of Vol. 2 lacks the urgency with which that collection ends, and after some wandering around and meeting of various other Olympians and demigods, a lumbering story forms around the Diana and Lennox’s search for the child. By turns, the central plot is interrupted with a new adventure in Antarctica (fodder for the “Zeus’ disappearance” arc), some funny scenes with a now-mortal Hera and a surly bartender, and a sparse check-in with Apollo and Artemis. All of the elements are more or less familiar to the story, though the appearance of an “old god” in the Antarctica plot really seems disjointed with the rest of the story. I think I see where the story is heading, but the fulfillment of this collection didn’t quite gel with the promise of the previous one.
PENCILS AND ARTWORK
Style-wise, Azzarello doesn’t miss a beat with his script, but Wonder Woman might be the one book in DC’s New 52 that absolutely hinges on its artist’s relationship to its writer. As I’ve noted before, Cliff Chiang’s pencils fit the setting and the story of this version of Wonder Woman perfectly, but the issue with the art in Vol. 3 is the same as it was in Vol. 1: Blood: when somebody else takes over for Chiang, it’s very jarring, like the whole tone of the book changes in an instant. Chiang’s covers each present a Diana that we only get when he is at the drawing table, and when he’s not, the story seems less distinct. At these moments, I read the book faster, found myself flipping forward to see when Chiang returns to work, always glad when he does. We have yet to see a full collection of Wonder Woman in which Chiang maintains a steady presence, but as he’s a busy man, this likely can’t be helped.
5.5/10 – Vol. 3: Iron isn’t a bad collection, but in comparison to the previous collections of the New 52 version of Wonder Woman it comes across as weaker: its story has a little less direction, its artwork still suggests that there are a few too many cooks in the kitchen, and while much still has to occur in the quest to save Olympus, the twists and turns of this volume slow things down overall. It’s not worth skipping altogether, but there are other Volume 3 collections from the New 52 that should come first.