We’re doing a two-in-one review this week because last week’s issue of The Legend of Wonder Woman came out on Christmas Eve and I was busy prepping cornbread stuffing and sweet potato casserole for the next day’s big meal. I definitely took a break from the festive preparations to read the new issue, though, and it was great. As is this week’s outing! I really love this book, you guys. I’m sure lots of folks are buying it digitally, but if you can you should try to get the paper version when it starts in January too, just to let DC know that this book is fantastic and that we want more.
The past two issues have dealt with iconic elements of Wonder Woman’s origin, including the crash landing of Steve Trevor and the tournament to choose the Amazons’ champion. I’ll spare you a lengthy runthrough of the details, because no one likes a review that’s just plot summary. Instead, let’s talk about why this book works so well. I’ve been describing The Legend of Wonder Woman as a classic yet fresh take on the character, and I think these last two issues embody that perfectly. They honour what these huge, iconic moments of Wonder Woman’s mythos have been in the past, while adding something new to them. It’s less a revision of Wonder Woman’s history so much as an expansion with cool tweaks.
The first element is Steve Trevor crash landing on Paradise Island. We’ve seen this a bunch of ways over the decades, and usually very briefly; he crashes, the Amazons flip out, and then they decide to return him to America. Here, Renae De Liz takes her time with Steve, which allows her to do several things. First, we get to know him a bit. He’s not just “generic man” like he so often is in a lot of Wonder Woman comics. He’s inept but kind of charming, and friendly and kind. I liked him from the get-go, which is not something I can say of most versions of the character.
Second, by having Diana save and then hide Steve, De Liz delves into both how the Amazons approach men AND how Diana’s compassion leads her away from this path. To the Amazons, men are evil and destructive, and live in a fallen world. They are not to be trusted or helped. But to Diana, Steve was a person in need of assistance, and the impulse to help overcame the fear of the outside she’d been taught since she was a child. She was cautious with Steve, but she couldn’t help but care.
After Steve was captured, Hippolyta threw down some cool Zeus powers and declared a tournament to choose a champion who would decide his fate. The tournament is a classic Wonder Woman element, though the lead-in here was slightly different and De Liz made even more changes to the tournament itself. Usually the tournament is sort of lame, little more than a track and field event with a few sparring matches thrown in. De Liz turns it into something magical and dangerous, making it a straight up melee and bringing in mists to increase the difficulty as well as the peril. It’s a cool change that is ultimately true to the core of what the tournament should be: Diana entering it against her mother’s wishes and ultimately winning it. As she’s so ably done everywhere else thus far, De Liz captures what’s important while adding fun and compelling new tweaks. Plus it looks really rad.
So Diana is now the Amazons’ champion, and I’m excited to see Hippolyta’s reaction next week. Their relationship is so complex that I’m not entirely sure how it will play out; I’m sure Hippolyta will be proud on some level, but scared for her daughter on another what with so many rebellious Amazons set against her. There’s a lot of drama on the island right now, and I can’t wait to see what happens next, both at home and presumably when Diana soon leaves the island as Wonder Woman! Dang, this book is fun.