Why the new Wonder Woman comic is like horror movies and the Republican debates

Today, a new Wonder Woman series hits stands, replete with centaurs, scheming gods, and a stern and taciturn Amazonian heroine.

We really dug the first issue and were fortunate to catch up with Wonder Woman's creative team, illustrator Cliff Chiang and writer Brian Azzarello, who also filled us in on his upcoming "science hell" miniseries Spaceman.

What sort of aesthetic are you bringing to Wonder Woman?

Brian Azzarello: Wonder Woman is set in the present. She's been established for a while. My aesthetic is to put her in a dangerous world where stakes are real and people can get hurt. I've described it as a horror book, and I'm going to stick with it. I'm playing up the horror elements that exist in mythology.

Cliff Chiang: If you've read any of Brian's stuff before, you know where he's coming from on that. If you haven't, you'll think something like, "Oh, Hostel or Saw." It's not that. It's otherworldly elements with human stakes.

What sort of supernatural touches can readers anticipate?

CC: For us, what we wanted to do was build a mythological world around her. People recognize Wonder Woman. You don't want to mess with that. Everyone knows her costume, so the way it is now hearkens back to the classics. People have seen enough superhero movies that you don't need that origin story. Let's start there. A lot of times the origin isn't the best story.

BA: There's Zeus, Hera, and Hermes. The gods have a significant presence. These are the gods who are jealous, feel hurt, take revenge, and betray each other. They're my kind of people. The Republican debates are really inspiring me these days.

So the pantheon of Wonder Woman has Michele Bachman running around?

BA: Primaries are wonderful. The debates are great. They have to act like they all like each other, but they are sticking knives in each other's backs. It's great theater.

Why the new Wonder Woman comic is like horror movies and the Republican debates

Will we ever see Wonder Woman throw the tiara?

CC: So far, not yet. But I can't get rule it out. If Brian made Wonder Woman throw the tiara, I don't know if it would come back.

One of my favorite things to come out of this summer's Flashpoint series was Batman: Knight of Vengeance. Brian, will we ever see you return to that storyline?

BA: You know man, I think we told that story. Would it be fun? Yeah. Would it have as much of an impact? I don't think so. We got to the end of that world!

We saw a preview of Spaceman in the Strange Tales one-shot earlier this year. In your own words, what can readers anticipate from Spaceman and its protagonist Orson, who's the bioengineered result of a scuttled NASA voyage to Mars?

BA: They can anticipate the 100 Bullets team doing science fiction or as my editor calls it, "science hell." I have a friend who's a bioengineering professor at George Washington University. We were out having a drink, and we were discussing human travel to Mars. And he said, "Brian, by the time these astronauts reached Mars, their bone density would be diminished and their skeleton would be compromised." So I said to him, "Could you bioengineer someone with big, dense bones?" And he said, "Sure, you could." Playing Frankenstein!

Why the new Wonder Woman comic is like horror movies and the Republican debates

So is he super-strong?

BA: He's not super-strong! Don't use the word "super" in anything. He's a big guy and in a lot of pain because of his joints. Parts of him are arthritic. He's no Superman by any stretch.

What's Orson's world like?

BA: This is what we're hoping doesn't happen. If any of the predictions that major scientists are making about climate change, and how that will affect political change — if those things come true, this is the world. I'm not making this stuff up. I'm working on a future slang; it's inspired by Tweeting and texting. People are very concise when they communicate these days, I'm trying to reflect that. We have four issues finished and will do nine issues the first year. If we feel like it, we'll come back next year!

Wonder Woman #1 is out today; Spaceman #1 is in stores October 26.