Wonder Woman: Earth One
Grant Morrison, Yanick Paquette, and Nathan Fairbairn
I have always enjoyed Wonder Woman as a member of the Justice League, but I think this is the first non-Justice League Wonder Woman-centric comic I’ve read. I did read some books about comic book history in college though so I’m conversant with the Golden Age origins of Wonder Woman.
In the early ’40s heyday of superheroics, DC Comics hired child psychologist William Moulton Marston to create a superhero for girls. Marston was a feminist with heterodox views, including that women should rule the world in order to ensure peace. Marston’s personal life was also heterodox, he lived in openly polyamory with his wife and girlfriend.
Marston baked a lot of weird bondage sexuality directly into Wonder Woman. In the classic stories, her superpowers don’t work if she is bound by the wrists. And, of course, she has the the magic lasso she can use to tie you up and make you tell the truth.
In the past, Morrison has admitted to being perplexed by Wonder Woman:
When I dug into the roots of the character I found an uneasy melange of girl power, bondage and disturbed sexuality that has never been adequately dealt with or fully processed out to my mind.
This led him to make Wonder Woman patient zero for the Anti-Life Equation in his Final Crisis series.
Now he seems to have gotten over that and grokked and accepted the essence of Wonder Woman, weird bondage and all. Wonder Woman: Earth One, Vol. 1 is an origin story whose thematic playfulness is innocent even if it’s also sexual.
The central conflict is between Diana and her mother Hippolyta. Diana, who is 3,000 years old and has never left home, wants to go out into the world. Hippolyta wants her to remain in the Amazon’s hidden homeland ofParadise Island.
The imagery on the Paradise Island is lush featuring both nice coastal imagery and Ancient Greek-inspired cityscape verdant with plants. We get to see the Amazons engaged in peace-time martial games, including jousting on the backs of large kangaroos. Wonder Woman’s invisible, robot plane fits into aesthetic world of interesting, kind of He-Man-like tech mixed with Ancient Greek tropes.
As in the classics, Man’s World’s intrusion into Paradise Island takes the form of Agent Steve Trevor. He crash lands on the island and Diana decides that she has to save him.
Once she is in Man’s World, Diana befriends Beth Candy (who should’ve been called Etta). Beth is a fat and sexy, body positive feminist sorority girl. Her confident and effortless body positivity in the face of Diana and other Amazon’s concern trolling her fatness is great. She comes through as one of the book’s stars. I want more Beth.
Predictably, Morrison uses Greek mythology to great advantage. Hercules, Aphrodite, and Medusa all play important roles in the story. The Fates serve as a Greek chorus throughout the tale. The mythology gives it a real Morrison feel.
This is Morrison’s definitive take on Wonder Woman but it has one major flaw. Its brevity leave room for winding Morrisonian machinations present in much of the rest of his ouvre.