As you may or may not know, I have took a vow that I would not buy a new book until I have read all the books that I have owned. That being said, I was reluctant to reaching my last volume of Wonder Woman because I was not sure if this volume was the conclusion for the story arc that I have became so deeply invested in. Yet, I am happy to note that this volume is the last installment of the series and that I will not have to break my vow because of a cliffhanger!
Hades has an army ready to invade heaven yet Poseidon convinces him to retreat. Meanwhile, Hera reveals to Wonder Woman that she is unable to turn Hippolyta back to normal, causing Aleka to believe that it is merely a ploy for Wonder Woman to become the queen of the Amazons. Hermes and Dio are instructed to leave Paradise Island because their presence offends the Amazons and will hinder Wonder Woman’s chances of gaining their trust. Wonder Woman tells the Amazons that they need to evolve as they have alienated themselves from the rest of the world, she asks them to all to become mothers to Zeke. I took a bit of an issue with this because although the Amazons are a powerful community of women that are consumed by ancient customs, having them to “evolve” by becoming mothers does not seem to send that great of a message. Additionally, it just reminds me of all the times the series attempted to make up for Wonder Woman’s seemingly unfeminine behavior.
Elsewhere, Hades is feeding Immortal (his father) and debating if he should send his army to attack heaven. First Born appears and blows out the candle on Hades’ head, resulting in Hades’ demise. This scene reminded me of Pegasus blowing out Hades’ hair in Hercules, and I think that because of this, I found myself unsatisfied with Hades’ death. Blowing his flames out like he was some birthday candle did not seem like a death suited for well, death. Immediately, Hermes and Dio observe the dead walking among the living and determine that something must have happened to Hades. They arrive to hell and Cassandra and the Minotaur attack them.
Wonder Woman informs Dessa, her mother’s consultant, that she must implement societal changes for the Amazons because they are going to war and that many of them might not come back, hence, their society must be able to sustain itself (and apparently this can only be done through the Amazons learning to become more nurturing because sustainability clearly involves constantly looking out for others’ interests). Zola is laying in bed talking to Zeke and does not even realize that he is not there until she moves closer to him, how? Did she mistake her baby for pillows? Aside from Zola’s constant naivety, turns out that Zeke went missing because Dessa kidnapped him believing that she could restore order for the Amazons through killing him. Wonder Woman once again uses the power of love to convince Dessa to hand Zeke over before she jumps off the cliff, yet Wonder Woman uses the power of justice to swoop on over and rescue Dessa as well. At the same time, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Eros, and the sons of the Amazons arrive to Paradise Island as Wonder Woman plans to have them assist in the war. Shortly after, Dio warns the others of First Born’s invasion in hell.
Strife attempts to seduce First Born into keeping her around so that when he accomplishes his goal of killing all the gods he will not be lonely. Wonder Woman leaves Aleka in charge of Zola and Zeke as she prepares to face First Born. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman sends Artemis and Eros to hell to find out what happened, as well as to allow this wonderful scene to exist:
Eros, the god of desire, explains to Artemis why Wonder Woman selected him. He then complains to Artemis that it is too dark and she responds with, “Certainly Eros, whatever you desire” (he is the god of desire, and they also call him Desire!) because the team had to remind us that they are still able to perform excellent wordplay in a fast-paced plot.
Hermes escapes to Demeter’s realm as Cassandra and the Minotaur chase after him. Demeter captures Cassandra, and Eros and Artemis appear as they figured that “After conquering death, life was the next target” (Again with the excellent wordplay!). Wonder Woman arrives as First Born sucks the life out of, well life, and instructs everyone to leave. This is obviously a good idea considering First Born is able to single-handedly kill gods and Wonder Woman has lost to him before.
Orion unfortunately comes back into the series with Milan to help the Amazons in the war and is furious that everyone else left Wonder Woman behind. Aleka demands him to stay with them yet he makes an iconic chauvinistic remark and attempts to leave, but Hera pushes him down and orders him to stay, allowing him to remain behind the scenes. Thank Hera!
While Wonder Woman is held captive in Olympus, First Born sends his army to invade Paradise Island. As this occurs, he attempts to court her because what is more romantic than your brother declaring war on the nation that you rule? By the way, this is deeply based in mythology, so the whole brother thing is not an issue, actually familial ties in general are not an issue. Wonder Woman is forced to watch the war, unable to help her friends or Amazon sisters and First Born continues to try and woo her. Cue plot: woman is held captive and villain loses sight of his villainous ways and attempts to romance her only for him to be rejected and lash out by reverting to his villainous ways. After being rejected once again, First Born stabs Wonder Woman with the intention that she will bleed out as she watches him kill everyone that she loves. Cue: “If I can’t have you, no one will!” or to keep up with the puns, you broke my heart now I will break the hearts of everyone you love!
It becomes a stab-fest as the Minotaur stabs Orion and Cassandra stabs Aleka. Zeke opens his eyes and Hippolyta as clay joins fight with her eyes lighting up in the same blue as Zeke’s. Perhaps he possessed her, or restored her as clay, rather than as a human? Strife finds Wonder Woman and brings her to Paradise Island for her to witness its destruction. When will these people learn to just finish their enemies off or leave them where they are? Orion, who was rescued by Milan, heals Wonder Woman. Cassandra finds Zola and Zeke and is about to attack Zola but Hera saves her. Hera, with the right thinking, tries to kill Cassandra yet Wonder Woman, using the power of love, begs Hera to spare her. Instead, Hera smashes Cassandra into a wall to ensure that she will not cause anymore problems.
Hermes, Zola, Zeke, and Wonder Woman zap to Olympus to fulfill the prophecy by placing Zeke, the last born, onto the throne while First Born is preoccupied fighting in the war. Unbeknownst to them, Poseidon awaits and strikes yet Zola somehow develops claws and fights him off. First Born arrives back to Olympus and Hermes is immediately taken down, as he is in every single fight. The Minotaur fights Wonder Woman as First Born captures Zola and Zeke. First Born commands the Minotaur to kill Wonder Woman, but it turns out that this is the exact Minotaur that Wonder Woman had spared years ago when Ares was training her. Through the POWER OF LOVE, the Minotaur refuses to kill her. First Born kills him for his insubordination and this is when Wonder Woman finally has enough. She finally decides to remove her cuffs and fight First Born without them. Why did she not do this before? Well, she had to harness enough love from everyone to fuel her apparently and then watch them die.
As they fight, Wonder Woman tells First Born, who is holding Zola and Zeke above an abyss, to release him. First Born happily accepts because how stupid of a request is that? Yet, Hermes is able to do something in this fight and rescue them. Zola places Zeke onto the throne and Olympus begins to crumble. First Born and Wonder Woman are about to fall into an abyss and Wonder Woman offers her hand to First Born in what he believes to be an offering of love. He grabs her hand, accepting the offer, showing that all he had needed was love – and Wonder Woman tosses him into the abyss granting him . . . “tough love.” Really?? This whole series has been about the power of love and the one character that probably needs it the most opens his heart and gets thrown into an abyss because he gets tough love? Was the dramatic pause necessary? Oh, okay she is still giving him love because she is Wonder Woman, but it is tough love. Everyone else got redemption but he gets sentenced to another seven thousand years of isolation.
So what of Zola’s sudden growth of claws? Turns out that Athena has been sleeping inside Zola this whole time and has just begun to awaken. She claims that, “As Zeus once gave birth to me, I gave birth to him.” So let’s get this straight, Athena, sleeping inside Zola, had sex with Zeus, and became pregnant with Zeus’ son, who turned out to be Zeus. Welcome to mythology! Wonder Woman is taken aback by this and asks Athena what we are all wondering: why. Athena responds with:
So either Zeus regretted the man that he became and wished for a different life, or he did it for amusement, or (and probably) for both. Typical Zeus behavior, toying with humans for his own entertainment. Athena determines that she can now relinquish the last remnants of the vessel’s, Zola’s, humanity yet Wonder Woman pleads that Zola is needed to show the gods humanity and that Zeke/Zeus needs his mother as they have all seen what kind of monsters gods create when love is denied. Hello, didn’t you just deny love to your brother and send him into an abyss? Athena agrees and transfers herself to an owl.
This is the ending of the series. The whole time I knew that Zeus would reemerge at the end, yet part of me was surprised that he was Zeke while the other half of me was more like: “Of course he is! Why would he not be?!”It was a bit disappointing as an ending because Athena basically relayed that the entire plot was nonsensical, it had no purpose. Just like Wonder Woman was toyed by Zeus, we as readers were toyed by Azzarello, as he created a plot for his own amusement. There are also a lot of loose ends, does Aleka remain dead? Is she even dead, or is she just injured? What happens to hell and Hades? Do we just need a match to light him back up? Is Hera going to find out that all this time her husband was just her grandson? What about Hippolyta, will she just remain as animated clay? More importantly, if Zeus regretted who he was why did he not opt for just changing himself? I don’t think the solution for being a manipulator entails manipulating your entire family. Yet perhaps these questions will be answered under the new writers in their story line. I was also a little disappointed with how the power of love seemed to be the overall message of the series. I remember that it was super strong in the first few volumes and it began to become more subtle in the latter ones only to come out ten times stronger in this volume. It is not that I think the power of love is a bad message (however cliché it might be) but can’t a woman assert righteousness without having to rely on love as the main vehicle? Must she always become nurturing as the Amazons had to? That being said, I still found the mythological roots of the volume to be incredibly interesting and I really loved the illustrations for the different realms, yet I do have a bone to pick as I did not feel the ending in my bones the way in which I expected to. See Azzarello and team? I can also insert the volume’s title in bold in my writing.