I am all about this series, gang. It’s the kind of Wonder Woman book I’ve been wanting to read for I don’t even know how long. The Legend of Wonder Woman is classic and iconic but fresh and new, and the slow build of focusing on Diana’s childhood in these early issues is so much fun; it’s a period of Wonder Woman’s life that’s often been ignored, except for Wonder Girl’s adventures in the Silver Age. Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon are capturing the mythological wonder of those old stories, which were chock full of Diana facing off against magical beasts, but in a cohesive, contemporary way. It is so my jam.
But even more interesting than the mythological fun is the relationship between Diana and Hippolyta. De Liz has set up a Themyscira that is, in many ways, dependent on the gods. The Amazons live in Themyscira because the gods allow them to, and the gods are why Hippolyta and a select group of Amazons are immortal. This is a fascinating dynamic, because that’s kind of a messed up way to live. The gods seem like okay folks so far, but historically speaking they tend to be rather capricious. That’s not such a big deal for Hippolyta personally, because she’s immortal. If the gods turn on her, she’ll probably be okay. But she’s the queen of the mortal Amazons, and even more significant, the mother of a currently mortal daughter. Thus she’s very inclined to tow the line, for her people but especially for her daughter in hopes that one day the gods will grant her immortality as well.
As such, Hippolyta is pretty strict with Diana in this issue. Diana wants to learn “dead” languages like English and Mandarin, but Hippolyta wants her to focus on the languages of the various creatures who reside on Themyscira. Diana wants to learn how to fight like a warrior, but Hippolyta wants her to focus skills that will help her rule peacefully when she becomes queen. All of this is to maintain the status quo the gods desire, and to ensure that the gods are pleased with Diana and grant her immortality. There’s a sort of cold distance to Hippolyta in her interactions with Diana here, but it’s all a cover for the warmth and love at the core of Hippolyta. She clearly loves Diana more than anything, and wants her to be safe. And nothing is safer than immortality.
But Diana doesn’t even know if she wants to be immortal, a revelation that shakes Hippolyta. In trying to protect Diana, she’s pigeonholed her into a life she doesn’t enjoy. Part of it is that kids will naturally want what they aren’t allowed to have; parenting is a tricky scene that way. But part of it is that Diana is different than her mother. She sees and feels their home in a different way, and wants to explore and know it all, as well as be prepared to protect it, rather than staying trapped within the confines of the city walls. Diana seems meant for something more than just being a queen.
Things get super fun after the heavy emotions of the opening scene. Amazons do combat training on kangas, which is a Golden Age throwback blast. Then Diana sneaks out of the city and encounters all kinds of cool things, from water nymphs to golden stags to griffins and giants. It’s all rad and gorgeous, and I love the direction it’s going. I can’t wait for next week to see Diana interact with them all. But what’s special about The Legend of Wonder Woman so far is the heart of it. While I’m all about mythological creatures, and I’d be happy with just that, De Liz has set up a unique, interesting world and a complicated mother/daughter relationship that drives the story and gives it real stakes.
Anyway, this book is great. There’s kangas! But it’s also shaping up to be one of the best examinations of Diana and Hippolyta’s relationship that we’ve seen. Capturing both fun and heart is a tricky balance, but De Liz and Dillon are doing so with aplomb. It’s been delightful thus far, and I’m excited to see where it all goes. You can buy this second digital on Comixology now, and it will be available in print form this January.