It’s been around a year and a half since I first read The Secret History of Wonder Woman and went on a Wonder Woman reading binge. Despite reading a decent stack of Wonder Woman comics back then, I never really found a story that resonated with me. My favorite of the bunch was Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman, which is a collection of short stories — in this book, I got a bunch of versions of Wonder Woman in one place, some of which I really liked, but none were the long-form story I was looking for. So, I figured I’d burnt myself out and needed to call it quits…. and then the trailers for the upcoming Wonder Woman movie started coming out. Trust me, I know exactly how foolish it is for me to get my hopes up about this movie given DC’s movie track record. Nevertheless, my hopes – they are up.
The movie trailers also re-piqued my interest in finding “my” Wonder Woman comic. (Evidently, I’m not willing to accept that maybe Wonder Woman just isn’t for me.) So, last month I started another Wonder Woman reading binge. I picked up another non-fiction book about her history — Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine by Tim Hanley and combed my library catalog for Wonder Woman books that I’d missed or skipped on my last reading binge. And I FOUND IT! I finally found a Wonder Woman book that I genuinely like. Do yourself a favor and go find a copy of Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon’s The Legend of Wonder Woman. There’s a lot that I love about this book, but I’ll try to break down exactly why it works so well for me.
I’m not a fan of “house styles” and I’m particularly not a fan of DC’s house style. The art in Legend doesn’t conform to DC’s house style; it has much more in common with the webcomics and non-big-two comics that I usually read. I also appreciate that this version of Diana actually looks like she might be able to bench press a bus if she needed to. You won’t find any waspishly thin waists of boob armor in this book.
The Origin Story
I prefer Diana’s original “made of clay” origin story over the New 52 “Zeus dad” origin. I’m a casual enough comics fan that I don’t usually care what’s currently considered cannon, but in this case, I do. I like the clay origin story because it’s one full of hope and love – Hippolyta wants a daughter so badly that she makes one out of mud and Wonder Woman’s powers stem from this act (plus some blessings/magic from the Greek gods), not because she’s a demigod. I also love Wonder Woman’s superhero origin story in general – as Kate Beaton so humorously points out in the above strip, she’s not avenging her murdered parents, she’s not the sole survivor of a destroyed planet, she’s a kickass lady with an unshakable moral compass who wants to make the world a better place.
One of the best things about reading Wonder Woman comics is knowing that no matter what, she’s NOT going to be the only woman in the comic. There are probably going to be appearances by the Amazons, the Holiday Girls, or at the VERY least, Etta Candy. In The Legend of Wonder Woman you get a wise-cracking, supremely confident Etta Candy, a group of carefree but confident Holiday Girls and a variety of Amazons with back stories of their own. My favorite type of Wonder Woman story is one where she’s working together with other awesome ladies and this is definitely one of those stories.
The Legend of Wonder Woman wasn’t the only Wonder Woman comic I read last month, here are a few others I picked up:
Wonder Woman: Earth One by Grant Morrison, Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairbairn
My favorite part of this book is Etta Candy (or in this version “Beth” Candy) delivering the excellent line, “So let me get this straight. You’re from a paradise island of science fiction lesbians? With a side of bondage?” It’s also explicitly stated that Diana is bi, which is awesome… but there’s not much else that I liked about this title.
DC Bombshells by Marguerite Bennett and Marguerite Sauvage
This isn’t strictly a Wonder Woman title, but it shares a lot of my favorite features from The Legend of Wonder Woman – the art is not DC house style, and it features an awesome team of women working together. Coincidence? Perhaps not — both Bombshells and Legend started out as digital-first releases from DC.
Wonder Woman (Rebirth) Vol. 1: The Lies by Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp
Oof. Gonna stick with the old adage, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine by Tim Hanley
Hanley’s book moves through the different comics eras (gold, silver, bronze) and how Wonder Woman changed with the times. If you’re interested in comics history, this is a great read, but if you’re more interested in reading about Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston (who is absolutely fascinating), I’d recommend The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore.
Until next time, find the stories that make you stronger. #WorkOutNerdOut