Wonder Woman: Earth One, Vol. 1
by Grant Morrison & Yanick Paquette (DC Comics, 2016)

Wonder Woman: Earth One, Vol. 1 completes the main DC Comics trinity (Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman) by writer Grant Morrison. Morrison is an attention-getting writer, and his turn at Wonder Woman is something, to say the least.

In all fairness, Diana is a hard character to get right. Her history both on and off the pages is both turbulent and unconventional (for just about any era, really). Sexuality is literally the core of Wonder Woman's creation. She is more than just a "female Superman," though she was indeed crafted to do the superhero gig a complementary way. Wonder Woman/Princess Diana was the brainchild of William Molton Marston, a psychologist who lived in a polyamorous relationship with his wife, Elizabeth, and his mistress, Olive. Olive and Elizabeth were also lovers. Additionally, both women had children by him. Today, this would be Kardashian territory.

But there's no separating creator from act of creation, and Elizabeth and Olive were key to the creation and direction of Wonder Woman, imbued as she was with their feminist ideals. It was controversial at the time and is covered in the movie, Professor Marston & the Wonder Women.

With an unconventional and BDSM-filled relationship as the source material for one of the most popular superheroes of all time, there's bound to be extreme difficulty with interpretation. What matters most is if a certain spirit and time can be captured, and Morrison at the very least does a bit of that. The story, while rushed and a bit unfocused in its time jumps, does have strong feminist vibes. It's unafraid to have lesbians as main characters and establishes from the get-go that Diana has a female lover, which in her world is completely normal. The artwork is pretty good and the mythology is a treat. Themyscira's allure has always been its mixture of magic and reality, like Asgard on Earth. Gods and epic myths are fun and islands where women are as strong as men while being wise and kind at the same time, are even more fun. That part of the story is terrific escapist fare.

That said, there are times when the story is a bit too over-the-top. The character of Etta Candy is convoluted, goofy and not exactly a compliment to women. Diana herself indulges in regrettable behavior such as calling men boys and body-shaming an overweight woman. The bondage theme is overworked. The humor is pretty good but there are points where the story just slogs, largely due to Diana's seemingly unending proselytizing. The ending is somewhat anticlimactic. On the whole the story felt less like a story and more like a series of images and characters who were advocating points of view.

Still, Wonder Woman is down with breaking the chains and ending patriarchy-created gender roles, so it's worth a look. It's definitely a break from the known narrative.

review by
Mary Harvey

28 October 2017

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