"Wonder Woman" #0 purports to actually be an old tale from "All-Girl Adventure Tales For Men" #41. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang combine their powers to generate what looks like an olden tale. Azzarello drops some thought balloons and Jared Fletcher swoops in with some great lettering that brings the golden vibe from decades ago. From this set up, a tale opening on Princess Diana's birthday begins that defines the origins of this character through her training and final understanding of how the world works.
This issue succeeds because Azzarello sets out to tell a story instead of just an origin. As a result, readers get an insight into Wonder Woman without it feeling didactic. A pre-teen Princess Diana lives in a world she feels doesn't understand her. The warm embrace of acceptance comes from a man called War who takes her away and trains her. In this environment, Diana grows and prospers. She also learns lessons about what violence and war truly mean.
The final thrust of the issue takes place around a battle with the Minotaur. Azzarello's writing toes a fine line between lazy and charming that evokes the vibe of how comics used to be handled. In the end, it feels like Azzarello works very hard to make the writing flow so smoothly. There are some cheesy lines with the Minotaur, but they work because they feel like homage. I couldn't stop thinking of that feeling I always got when Bart Simpson would read a "Radioactive Man" comic. The tone and words were so cheesy and yet so perfectly right. This is the brilliance Azzarello brings to the page.
Cliff Chiang delivers a succession of beautiful pages without pause. His linework is clean and expressive. His storytelling is as pure and crisp as an ice block. When coupled with the vibrant color art of Matt Wilson, this book will sing once a page is cracked open. The feeling behind it all might be Golden Age but the clarity and precision screams of a modern master.
"Wonder Woman" #0 is exactly what a character origin one-shot should be. This isn't a wiki page set to panels, this is a tale that delves into the establishing psyche of a character we know today. This issue is a hell of a lot of fun and exquisitely crafted. You can love this issue on multiple levels, reread it many times, and give it to fans and new readers of any age or gender. This comic is one of the New 52's strongest assets yet to lure in new readers and demonstrate the strength of comics.