Wonder Woman’s brief, but awesome role in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice has given her a surge of popularity. Since her first live action film debut has been overwhelmingly positive it’s time to talk about some of Diana Prince’s awesome comic books that can be recommended. A comic that older fans can appreciate, and newer fans can dive into without having to constantly check Wikipedia for explanations about DC Comics ever confusing continuity. It would be extra awesome if that book was great for kids too. Thank Hera that The Legend of Wonder Woman exceeds at everything needed to get new fans hooked on the character.
This 9 issue limited series is not just a fascinating reimagining of the character that’s great for fans, but it is also a wonderful, epic, and engaging story for all ages. It retells Wonder Woman’s origin from being a princess on Themyscira, to her introduction to Man’s world, to eventually becoming the superhero Wonder Woman. The series started as a digital release first, and is now being printed at the time of this article. It’s being written and penciled by Renae DeLiz, and her husband, Ray Dillon is inking and coloring the series. Both have worked together adapting great fantasy novels such as The Last Unicorn, and Peter Pan. The idea of Legend of Wonder Woman was to create an accessible for all audiences origin story.
The key word there is “accessible” and it’s an important word in this case, because superhero comics can be very inaccessible. The Legend of Wonder Woman does away with the continuity of other books and just focuses on its own storyline. This makes it a lot easier for new readers to get into and is unique enough for older readers to see a new iteration of the classic character. Plus, so many of DC’s greatest stories are in their own little separate universes. The Dark Knight Returns, Kingdom Come, and Superman Red Son weren’t great stories because they were building off established continuity. They were great stories because they focused on their own stories.
The Legend of Wonder Woman is focusing on the origin of Wonder Woman much like how Batman Year One focuses on the origin of the The Dark Knight, or how Superman Birthright is the origin of The Man of Steel. And much like those two, “Legend” goes deeper into the character of Diana and shows us how she came to being, her desire to protect her home, and where her ideas of compassion stem from. It also borrows heavily from the world of Greek Myth, and reinforces the established lore that character came from. But, what makes the story really work, is that the it’s told simply. This doesn’t mean that there’s not complexity in the narrative, but it’s presented for the reader to want to learn more about the world surrounding Diana. The story focuses entirely on her growth, and her conflicts in becoming Wonder Woman, which is where it should be. Any good fantasy writer knows that the lore surrounding the main plot can be complicated, but the through narrative has to be presented in a simple way to hook the reader. This what makes classics like The Hobbit, Game of Thrones, and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy so strong. They gave the reader just enough to want more about their respective world, but it never took away from their main plot.
The series is similar to the recently released Wonder Woman: Earth One (which, I actually reviewed a few weeks ago), but the two are totally different in style. While “Earth One” focuses on the philosophical discussion of sexuality, and matriarchal ideals, “Legend of” is an adventure fantasy. This makes it a great book for an all ages audience; there’s an epic feeling with the mythological elements, but there are beautiful character moments that are small yet distinct and welcoming. There’s also a large cast of great characters that Diana bounces off beautifully, Etta Candy in particular is one of the best parts of series. And the book doesn’t shy away from a larger DC universe either, there are references to Plastic Man, and the Justice Society of America, great interactions with great characters like Perry White, Johnathan Kent, and a wonderful cameo from a little Alfred Pennyworth. It builds on, and embraces a full universe that’s familiar, friendly, and enjoyable for DC fans.
What also makes this story so great is how it’s still completely accessible to everyone who reads it. It’s easy to follow, but the dilemmas and emotional weight are still dramatic and effective. The audience isn’t given cookie cutter, easy morals that involve obvious bad guys fighting with the obvious good guys. Instead, we see Diana learn and grow as an individual through small moments of dialogue that stay with her and evolve her as a character. Some of these moments don’t have easy solutions, and teach us that sometimes doing the right thing isn’t easy or has an obvious answer, but we see Diana make those choices. This Wonder Woman is a character that children (and adults) would want to emulate in their own lives. We want to be like Wonder Woman: loving, compassionate, and honest with those around us and ourselves.
Plus, from an aesthetic standpoint, the art is just beautiful. Renae DeLiz and Ray Dillon work together to create some of the most magnificent artwork in the industry. Renae DeLiz’s designs and pencils give each character a unique detailed look, and all the monsters and creatures have a level of creativity that is just fantastic. Ray Dillon’s colors are bright and diverse; each panel in the book is a gorgeous scene that is unlike most mainstream books. Hell, buy the comic just so you can look at the amazing images it has, it’s worth the price tag just for that.
So, I know what some of you are thinking right now, “okay this comic is pretty, it has a different vision of the Wonder Woman origin story, and it’s a good comic book for kids. Why is this such a big deal?” And to some extent, there’s a point to be made there. DC will print all 9 issues, there’s going to be a graphic novel version, and it’ll have a fairly large number of fans like myself. However, there are two reasons why this comic should matter to everyone who’s a fan, old and new.
First and foremost, is that it goes against the notion that modern superhero comics are inaccessible for new readers. This is a complaint I hear a lot about DC Comics in general, and since the company continues to focus on large crossover events it’s easy to sympathize with the struggles of a new reader. (Though to be fair, Marvel is not innocent of this misdeed either). As a fan, it is hard to explain to my non comic reading friends what books to read without having a ten minute conversation about what Crisis on Infinite Earths and Flashpoint are. This book is a fantastic way to herd in a new audience without making a huge event out of it, or rebooting anything. This is a form of superhero storytelling that should be encouraged in the comic book market place.
Secondly, the final issue of Legend of Wonder Woman is hopefully not the end of DeLiz and Dillon’s stories. The two have plans to continue Wonder Woman’s tale, and write a prequel story about the Amazons. But, wait there’s more! Not only do they want to do all that, but they also want to give every Justice League member their own “Legend of” series. From an artistic standpoint, wouldn’t it be awesome to see these two interpret Krypton, or Oa? Imagine this level of detail and beauty for Atlantis as Aquaman takes on a Kraken, and Gotham City during Bruce Wayne’s first night as Batman. And then after those comics there would be a “Legend of the Justice League,” where all these characters would join forces.
That all sounds pretty awesome right? Well unfortunately the sales of this book haven’t been great. They haven’t been horrible, but they could be better. However, it is disheartening to see this fantastic book get overlooked for uninteresting, repetitive (and sometimes very poorly drawn) dreck. Luckily there is some hope for this book, as the comic’s digital sales have been strong, there’s a lot of support on social media, and the comic is now nominated for an Eisner award. It is the only Wonder Woman comic to ever be nominated for an Eisner, which is pretty amazing. This is allowing DC to be more open about DeLiz and Dillon’s plan for an accessible Justice League superhero universe.
Above all else though, Legend of Wonder Woman gets to the core of what makes this character so great. It’s a genuine retelling of her origin story that doesn’t exclude anyone, and shares the love and kindness Wonder Woman is known for. We as readers have the chance to help its success by letting DC know that we want to see more of these stories. The over the top crossover events and reboots, both soft and hard, are never going to go away, and they can be very enjoyable. But, there is nothing wrong with having another series of stories that are more inviting and open to allow new readers to dip their toes in the pool. And for experienced fans to fall in love with these characters all over again.
Whether you’ve never read a Wonder Woman comic in your life, or you’re an avid collector there is something here for you. Don’t let it go away with just one story. Hopefully, I have convinced you to buy the first four issues that are in print, or to purchase the digital copies. But, let the publishers know that we want more of these stories and this fantastic art. Talk about it on social media, let your retailers know about the series, and tell all your friends about it. It’s definitely worth a higher level of attention. Hopefully, we can show DC Comics that this is a series that is worthy of its legendary status.