Read my Review of Wonder Woman: Earth One by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette at The Comics Journal


Wonder Woman: Earth One by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette seems to be making a bit of a splash with readers, perhaps due to its well-timed released in the wake of Batman v Superman, and my full review of the book is now online at The Comics Journal. I talk about how the book is deeply rooted in the Golden Age Wonder Woman comics of William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter, and how Morrison and Paquette’s deviation from Marston’s core message weakens the graphic novel. By copying all of the imagery and metaphors that came from Marston’s central premise (that being the superiority of women and the coming matriarchal age) while simultaneously undermining that central premise by making the Amazons unlikable, practically villainous characters, the whole book sort of falls apart. It makes little sense to tie it so closely to that era and then ignore why that era is the way that it is. Anyway, you can read my full review at The Comics Journal.

Apart from the historical, Marston/Peter pastiche things I discuss in the article, I’ve got a few other thoughts on the book. I was surprised that I didn’t hate it, actually. I rarely enjoy Morrison’s work, and all the interviews leading up to release of Wonder Woman: Earth One had me very concerned. But it’s not terrible. It’s just sort of weird, an odd mishmash of elements that don’t make a look of sense strung together like this.

There are some good bits in the book. Etta Candy (here called Beth Candy as an homage to Beth Ditto) is pretty fun, and steals the show; she’s also one of the few likable characters in the book. And Paquette’s take on the Amazon’s home is gorgeous and inventive, both futuristic in tech and classical in inspiration. The architecture of the place is really lovely. Plus it’s cool that the book is super gay and very up front about it, as well as not at all exploitative with it. Lesbian Amazons could go real unpleasant real fast in the wrong hands, but Morrison and Paquette handle it well.

The book’s story just didn’t work well for me. The Amazons are kind of terrible people, Wonder Woman is arrogant and sometimes cruel, and her whole escape and the subsequent trial just made everyone involved come off awful. Apart from Etta. Etta was cool. There were also a lot of bizarre decisions throughout the book, scenes that made me go “Really?” or “Is that necessary?” or “What is this even adding to the story?” It didn’t do much for me, but that’s just me. The book didn’t make me mad or anything; just confused and rather underwhelmed.

You can read my full review of Wonder Woman: Earth One at The Comics Journal, and the book is available everywhere now. Let me know if you liked the book or not; I’m curious to hear your thoughts. It’s certainly a graphic novel that should inspire a lot of discussion. There’s a lot to dig into and pull apart.

Published by Tim Hanley

Tim Hanley is a comic book historian and the author of Wonder Woman Unbound, Investigating Lois Lane, The Many Lives of Catwoman, and Betty and Veronica: The Leading Ladies of Riverdale.

3 thoughts on “Read my Review of Wonder Woman: Earth One by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette at The Comics Journal

  1. Great review. I was really looking forward to reading your thoughts on the book.
    This was such a mixed bag for me. I loved the world building in this book. They could finally acknowledged the implicit lesbianism of Amazons openly. And they brought back the sci-fi elements, which I am always a fan of. I hate it when the Amazons are stuck in the bronze age (and togas) so I was very pleased with the mixture of ancient and sci-fi elements in the depiction of their culture. Visually this is my favorite depiction of Paradise Island and the Amazons to date.

    But as you pointed out in your review the core of the Amazons’ ideals and what they ought to represent has been eroded by making them elitist jerks. I wonder if it was Morrison’s intention to make us feel Diana’s need to escape by making the Amazons so obnoxious and full of themselves. It certainly felt that way to me, and I guess that is actually effective and clever storytelling? It just has the side effect of undermining everything else in the story.
    It really baffles me when writers depict the Amazons this way. The Amazons should be awesome and Wonder Woman should be awesome because she is an Amazon not in spite of it. Paradise Island should have Hogwarts appeal. It doesn’t need to be perfect, in fact it shouldn’t be, but it needs to be awesome, it should be a place you desperately want to go too because it just seems so cool and exciting. Making Diana curious about the outside world is fine. But I think making Diana a “Disney princess” who wants to escape her dull overprotected life in paradise is a miscalculation from a story perspective because we the audience already know the outside world. We can’t share Diana’s excitement about seeing the outside world, especially when set in modern day, because we already know it, and would probably much rather explore this dope fantasy sci-fi world that she inhabits. Leaving paradise should feel like self-sacrifice not like an escape.

  2. I know you didn’t hate this comic, but I did, for many of the same reasons you mentioned. I think some fans are dazzled by all the references to Golden Age Wonder Woman iconography (and I admit, I enjoyed seeing them updated in a modern comic as well), but the core message of those Golden Age stories is completely undermined. There’s no getting around it–the Amazons in this comic are the villains of the story. They’re cruel, smug, hateful, and murderous. Hippolyta callously decides to sic Medusa on Man’s World, just to prove a point to Diana about how worthless mortals are. WTF!

    Yes, the art and all the designs were beautiful. I loved seeing the kangas, the Holliday girls, and the Amazonian technology. I liked the idea of incorporating the Amazons’ sexuality and the bondage elements of the Marston years, but I actually found it to be presented a bit like a freak show, rather than as a demonstration of the Amazons’ sexual empowerment and liberated attitude. Overall, I found it to be a very pretty looking comic with a lot of very ugly ideas.

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