While technically year two of "Wonder Woman" started last month with issue #0, Brian Azzarello, Tony Akins and Dan Green kick it off with "Wonder Woman" #13, picking up from the status quo-changing issue #12. With Zola's baby kidnapped by Hermes, the book has shifted from a story of protection and running away to that of a hunt, and this issue gets that rolling quickly.
Azzarello wisely starts the issue touching on the other characters of the book; first the mysterious nameless figure in the Antarctic (that most people including myself are guessing to be Orion of the New Gods), and then to the new Olympus to see what the Greek pantheon are up to. The Antarctic sequence is chilling (no pun intended) and a bit harrowing. This new figure comes across as a dangerous force of nature, and I love the way that he towers over humans at twice their height. It's a dark scene that quickly shifts your perception of the character, and as an attention-grabber it works.
With "Wonder Woman" #13, I feel like we're starting to see some new pieces added to the foundation of the first year's issues. After being introduced to Diana's half-brother Lennox last year, here we learn about other children of Zeus born in the 20th century and learn about one of them hiding in Libya. Placing Siracca in the heavily damaged country (instead of a fictional stand-in) is a daring move from Azzarello, but I think it pays off. The scenes with Wonder Woman traveling to North Africa are strong and dramatic, and build up to a strong final moment. Add in some of the side stories (Hera's new mortality, Zola's hatred of Hera, the other gods of Olympus adjusting to Apollo's new vision of their home) and it's another strong issue.
Akins' art has become an integral part of the series as the second main artist for the title, but this is the only time where I found myself briefly disappointed. The pages where Hera and Zola tussle look a little more cartoonish and less crisp than I'm used to in "Wonder Woman," and that's a real shame. Fortunately when the book shifts to Libya, Akins' skills that he's shown off here are back in full force. The lines are much stronger and more defined, the characters look more realistic, and the reactions spring to life. And if nothing else, the first three pages of the book (the Antarctic sequence) are so wonderfully creepy and dark, I feel like they'd more than balance out anything else that follows.
"Wonder Woman" #13 is a great example of how well a reboot of a company's line of comics can work with the right creators. Azzarello, Akins, and Cliff Chiang have turned the title into one that's continually enthralling, and this is no exception. Bring on the rest of year two, please.