With the Wonder Woman movie having a successful summer at the box office and multiple comics depicting Diana’s origin being released in the past year, it’s a great time to compare how the different elements of her origin are being presented.
The most recent origin published is Wonder Woman, vol. 2: Year One by Greg Rucka and artist Nicola Scott. Rucka and Scott are both familiar with Wonder Woman as they have worked on the character for years. Year One describes how Diana leaves Themyscira (also known as Paradise Island) to live in the contemporary DC Comics world. Steve Trevor’s plane crash is the impetus for her exile from the Amazon’s world, but most other aspects of her origin are updated or left as a mystery. Rucka expertly modernizes Diana and her supporting characters with believable modern motivations, cultural identities and sexual orientations. Steve is depicted as a competent and caring military man. Etta Candy is a skilled combat tactician and Dr. Minerva (the future Cheetah) is a troubled academic who knows enough to understand Diana’s ancient language.
Much like in the movie, Diana is depicted as new to the ways of man, but not naïve. She takes action but doesn’t surrender her values. Scott’s artwork is realistic and beautiful. She is a good artist for Wonder Woman as she draws women’s’ faces and bodies well from a variety of perspectives. If anything, her male forms seem too perfect, which is an interesting switch from most comics. Rucka and Scott make good choices about when to depict violence and when to leave things to the imagination. For instance, there is a contest to see which Amazon will accompany Steve back to the US. During the final contest, we don’t see how Diana wins, we just get the reveal that she will be the champion as she comes out dressed as Wonder Woman. Later in the book, she defeats someone we think to be Ares through inaction and her golden lasso, not through a drawn out battle scene. Rucka seems determined to focus on Diana’s mission of peace, not her skill at war.
Rucka also seeks to reset her origin story. In recent comics, a major change to Diana’s origin is that she was really a child of Hippolyta and Zeus and not made from clay. The movie Wonder Woman (spoiler alert) also adopts this part of her origin, which explains why she is so powerful. Rucka doesn’t reveal where she comes from, but makes it clear that she has been lied to about many things over the years, including her god-like beginnings. In this story, her powers are bestowed upon her from the ‘patrons’ on Earth, the Greek Gods. All of this serves to open up storytelling possibilities for future writers.
Another recent Wonder Woman book, The Legend of Wonder Woman, vol. 1: Origins by Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon, puts Diana back in the context of World War II and takes up the original birth story by having Diana formed from clay. There are many elements of her origin that show up in this book as well. Her training in combat, Steve Trevor’s crash landing, her victory in combat to become the Amazon’s champion, her introduction to the larger world and characters like Etta Candy are represented in both books.
Once away from Paradise Island, the stories diverge quite a bit. In Legend, Diana eventually goes to Europe during WWII in search of an ancient evil, which she fights and defeats. The evil she must ultimately defeats harkens back to Iron Giant and Attack on Titan in some ways. It also connects to DC’s long history in it’s reveal, which should engage longtime comic book fans. In general, her cartooning style is light, funny and visually appealing. Dillon’s coloring does a fantastic job and the artwork really pops off of every page. This story is a delight on many levels.
Both books are worthy library purchases for most teen collections, particularly since there is so much interest in Wonder Woman at the moment. Year One is more graphic and violent in tone and art style. Legend is much more lighthearted and humorous even though it tells a dark story as well. I could see De Liz’s book being appropriate for older elementary kids as well. There is very little blood in the violence depicted in her book, but there are many occult references as the evil Diana must face raising the dead, among other things. It is a shame that DC chose to discontinue De Liz’s take on Wonder Woman. While both books are good, De Liz’s will be the one I will be recommending to kids interested in memorable Wonder Woman stories that capture the hope and lighthearted nature depicted in the movie.
Wonder Woman, vol. 2: Year One
by Greg Rucka
Art by Nicola Scott
DC Comics, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: 12+
The Legend of Wonder Woman, vol. 1: Origins
by Renae De Liz
Art by Ray Dillon
DC Comics, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: 12+