This week’s issue of Secret Origins tells the tale of how Diana, Princess of Paradise Island, became Wonder Woman. Sort of. It’s a truncated story that leaves out a lot of the parts traditionally associated with Wonder Woman’s origin story. Nonetheless, it provides some fascinating backstory for a character who hasn’t had a lot of it thus far. We’ll dig into it all, but first:
I am about to reveal Wonder Woman’s secret origin!
You should read it yourself first!
The book is worth buying for that amazing Lee Bermejo cover alone!
Okay, so back to the origin. The story is written by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, and a lot of it is stuff we know already from their run on Wonder Woman. Diana is actually the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta, but she and the rest of the Amazons think that she was made of clay. The story is a snippet from the life of Diana, starting with her desire to someday leave Paradise Island and ending with Steve Trevor crash landing there being her ticket out. It doesn’t go back in time to tell us about the history of the Amazons, nor does it show us how Wonder Woman left Paradise Island. It’s sort of a mini-origin, which is somewhat unsatisfying.
However, what we did get was both enjoyable and illuminating. The biggest reveal was Diana and Aleka’s relationship. They’ve been antagonistic for most of the current Wonder Woman run, but here in the past they were good friends, and perhaps more. There was a definite flirtation between them, and the way the fight scenes were constructed seemed to regularly place them in somewhat sexual poses. Whether or not they were more than friends isn’t clearly stated, but I got the feeling that there was an attraction between them, perhaps that had yet to be explored.
Whatever the nature of their relationship, their closeness in the past explains their distance in the present. Diana wanted to leave and Aleka wanted her to stay, and after Diana left to become Wonder Woman it’s obvious that Aleka didn’t take it well and turned against her. Her deep anger in the present again hints at a spurned lover or an unrequited love situation more than a broken friendship to me, but that’s again not explicitly stated.
This backstory adds a lot to both characters. Aleka’s been rather one note, but now we can understand her better. As for Diana, seeing her curiosity and desire to explore the wider world explains a lot of who she is today.
The story’s style is very similar to Wonder Woman #0, the flashback issue where a young Diana is mentored by Ares. It’s got a Silver Age vibe, both in terms of the writing and the gorgeous art by Goran Sudzuka, which is some of the best work I’ve ever seen from him. The tone is very upbeat and light, almost in an artificial way, which suggests that the story might not be a perfect recreation of what “actually happened,” and that there was more darkness and emotional depth beneath the cheerful surface.
Another surprising reveal was the first official appearance of Athena, in the form of an owl-like creature. I’ve been harping on the lack of Athena in Wonder Woman for years now, and in my review of the latest issue of Wonder Woman I revealed my theory that Zola is actually Athena in disguise. Part of my theory hinged on what happened to Zola’s eyes, how they took on an owly appearance when she visited Olympus. Owls are traditionally associated with Athena, and now we see Athena as a full on owl-like person, so I think my theory has definitely increased in likelihood.
While the story was limited in scope, that may well be a good thing. I was hoping for but also dreading reading more history of the Amazons; Azzarello’s done some bad stuff to the Amazons, turning them into rapists and murderers. While something that addressed and fixed these changes would have been nice, not having anything worse added to their altered history can only be considered a positive. It also leaves parts of their story, particularly the Amazon’s very beginnings, unexplored, which will allow other writers to fill that in and hopefully present a better take on the Amazons in the future.
Similarly, we don’t know if there was any sort of competition for who returned Steve Trevor or anything like that, which is usually a big part of Wonder Woman’s origin stories. Again, someone else can pick up on that in the future, which is cool.
All told, the Wonder Woman story in Secret Origins #6 is both enjoyable and adds a lot of interesting, albeit limited, elements to her backstory, and to Aleka as well. It should also have ramifications for Azzarello and Chiang’s upcoming Wonder Woman finale, if my Zola/Athena theory proves to be true. Plus it was all pretty gay, really, however unspecifically, and that’s fun to see. There is obviously a massive lesbian component to the Amazons, and I’m glad to see them start to be explored.
Secret Origins #6 is available online and in stores today, and also features the origins of Deadman and Sinestro. I didn’t read the latter two, but hey, more stories! The issue is worth buying for the Wonder Woman story alone, and the fantastic cover.