Brian Azzarello Talks Wonder Woman, New Gods, And Creating New Greek Myths [Interview]
In stores today is Wonder Woman #18, the conclusion to the current storyline centered on Wonder Woman’s search for Zola’s baby, the latest child of Zeus and Diana’s half-sibling. This story also introduced a new character, First Born, revealed to be the first child of Zeus. With this current arc coming to an end, the youngest and oldest children of the Father of the Gods seem destined to cross paths soon, as their parallel stories begin to come together.
ComicsAlliance spoke to Wonder Woman writer Brian Azzarello about what we can expect in the upcoming storyline, creating new Greek myths, and how his approach to writing Wonder Woman is similar to his approach to writing 100 Bullets.
ComicsAlliance: First off, I’d like to talk about the inclusion of Orion and the New Gods in your Wonder Woman run. They probably represent the most significant contribution Jack Kirby made to DC, so bringing them back is significant. How’d that decision go down? Did editorial just figure it made sense to bring them back in a book that already focused on Gods, was this something you asked for from the beginning, or was it something else entirely?
Brian Azzarello: It was my idea. Cliff and I were talking about it, outlining the story and where it was going to go, and at the end of the year we decided we were going to bring in the New Gods and Orion. We went to DC with it and they said “Yeah, great! Go.” We have a plan.
CA: I never doubted!
BA: Listen, I approached this pretty much the same way we approached 100 Bullets. If we’re going to be doing this story that’s long, we need to know where we’re going. We need to know the end. So we’ll have the end, and then we’ll work backward, and fill in things along the way. So it’s the same approach with 100 Bullets that Cliff and I took with Wonder Woman.
We know what we’re doing, I think. Despite what everyone thinks. [Laughs]
CA: Cliff Chiang was your assistant editor for a while on 100 Bullets. Wonder Woman isn’t the first time you’ve worked with him as an artist, but is it ever different writing a script for an artist who used to edit your scripts?
BA: Man, I never thought about it. But you know what? He’s got a really good sense. And he has really valuable input into things. Cliff’s the boss.
CA: Since Wonder Woman discovered she’s Zeus’ daughter, a huge focus in this series has been on family, specifically what it’s like to be in a family of Gods. You’ve obviously expanded on Diana’s family as well, with characters like First Born and Siracca. In a sense, it’s almost like you’re creating new Greek myths, while also playing with characters created by Kirby, a legend. Do you feel any added pressure when you look at it that way, or is your only focus telling a good story?
BA: I haven’t felt any pressure until you just brought it up.
CA: In that case, my bad.
BA: Everything’s happening for a reason, so no. There’s no pressure.
CA: One of the things I found interesting about Orion’s initial interaction with Milan was how sympathetic he seemed. That’s not the way we’re used to seeing the character. While I certainly wouldn’t say he’s calm now, he’s certainly calmer than what we’re used to. What was the motivation in toning down his anger, even if just a little?
BA: Just to give him a wider breath of character. Nobody’s angry all the time, unless you’re a psycho. And one of the things I think is a problem with some of these characters is that if they only respond with one note, you know what’s going to happen before we do it, you know? Yes, his anger has been established, he’s an angry guy. He’s got issues. But let’s pull back a little and see him when he’s not so mad all the time.
CA: Given what we saw in the Wonder Woman Zero issue, and War currently helping Diana search for Zola’s baby, you could argue that War has had more of an impact on Diana than any other God. And while you’ve likely already discussed this several times, you’re obviously War. Was that just a fun in-joke, or was it meant to be a play on the fact that you’re currently the writer in control of Wonder Woman?
BA: Yeah, Cliff’s a real comedian [Laughs]. No, it was Cliff who did it. I kind of explained to him War should be old, thin, and we should keep his beard long. And Cliff sends [the design] back and I’m like “Haha. Okay, fine Cliff. I like the meta aspect of that. Sure. Let’s do it.”
CA: Speaking of Gods resembling real people, we wrote a few months back about you and Cliff’s version of Milan obviously being Wesley Willis. He was a Chicago guy. You’re a Chicago guy. Was that your idea?
BA: I knew Wesley.
CA: Oh wow. I had no idea. I think it’s worked really well for the story. I don’t want this to turn into a conversation just about Wesley, but did you know from the beginning that you wanted to use him in the series?
BA: When I wrote Milan, I didn’t really have anyone specific in mind when we were planning it out, and then I said “Hey, you know, let’s go in this direction.” So that’s what we did.
CA: Issue #18 is out Wednesday, and it’s the conclusion of the current story, which has centered around Wonder Woman’s search for Zola’s baby. Can you talk a bit about where the series is going from here, starting with the new story in issue #19?
BA: War is going to play a very significant part. And so is Orion, and the New Gods.
CA: And while Wonder Woman is looking for the baby, you’ve introduced a new character, First Born. So now you have the first child of Zeus and the most recent child of Zeus. How much of a roll will First Born play in the new storyline? Will that connect to the search for the child?
BA: You kind of get the feeling they’re on a collision course, don’t you? There are going to be big, big changes. People think we’ve changed things, but they ain’t seen nothing yet.
CA: So First Born is going to take an interest in Zola’s child soon? I guess I’m really asking how quickly these two parallel stories are going to connect.
BA: Very quickly. That’s the next storyline. Up until this point we’ve been setting things up. We’ve built up this nice little house, and now we’re going to tear everything down.