It’s an excellent time to be a Wonder Woman fan, especially if you like your Wonder Woman to have an exciting, well-written, gorgeous, feminist origin. Earlier this year we got The Legend of Wonder Woman, a fresh yet iconic reimagining of her World War Two origins by Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon. Now we’ve got “The Lies” by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott in the main Wonder Woman book, and while we’re only three issues in, I think it’s reasonable to say that this is going to go down as one of the best Wonder Woman stories of all time. It captures the spirit of Diana, the Amazons, and even Steve Trevor so well; it’s like the platonic ideal of every key aspect of Wonder Woman’s mythos. The story continued today in Wonder Woman #6, and we’ll dig into it all, but first:
Go read the issue before you read this review!
You’ll love it, I promise!
It’s worth the $2.99!
This issue shows Wonder Woman’s first days in the world of men, and she spends them imprisoned. Everyone is wary of her and her advanced technology and weaponry, she doesn’t speak their language and they don’t speak hers, and the authorities view her as a potential threat. But things have picked up by the end of the issue: the military brings in Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva, who understands the Amazon language, and the gods come in animal form and bless Diana with a variety of gifts, including super strength.
It’s a fun issue for a lot of little reasons. First off, there’s a George Perez cameo! He’s there as Dr. Perez, an expert on Ancient Greece who unsuccessfully tries to communicate with Wonder Woman. It’s a great shout out, but also a clever one; Perez’s Wonder Woman run added a very Ancient Greek aesthetic to the Amazons and Wonder Woman. We also get official confirmation that Wonder Woman is tall, which is a small thing but something that many Wonder Woman fans will be pleased about. She is now canonically 6’2! Fun details like these help to make an already great book extra special.
But what I loved most of all in this issue was its subtle juxtaposition with Wonder Woman #4, which offers a clear contrast between Paradise Island and the world of men without beating the reader over the head with blatant metaphors or shocking imagery. In the last issue of “The Lies,” Steve Trevor crashed onto Paradise Island and looked like an aggressor; he was a man, he had weapons, he was part of a larger force. But the Amazons immediately set about healing his wounds and carefully deliberated over what to do with him, and ultimately decided to return him home. They also treated him well during his brief stay. Steve was often bewildered by the utopian island of tall of warrior women and was very much out of his depth not knowing the language or that this place even existed. But the Amazons were kind and welcoming and he just went with it because he clearly felt comfortable there. In both his occasional remarks to himself and the way Scott drew him, he was at ease. He felt safe, even when he didn’t understand anything that was happening around him.
Compare that to Diana’s arrival in the world of men in Wonder Woman #6. Now she’s the fish out of water, not understanding the language or the culture, but what unfolds is the complete opposite. As soon as she steps out of her plane, everyone stares at her and armed men quickly surround her. She’s processed like a criminal and locked in a cell. She clearly feels threatened and uneasy throughout it all; her wide eyed shock and defensive positioning when the police first approach her show this even better than the dialogue does.
Wonder Woman feels an immediate lack of comfort and safety in the world of men, and understandably so. It’s not due to a culture shock at the tall buildings or technology or fashions like we’ve seen in the past, it’s the instantaneous distrust from everyone around her. Diana was raised in a utopian society of constant acceptance and security, and the loss of that disturbs her straight away. There’s also a loss of control and autonomy. Diana was able to roam Paradise Island and live freely, and more personally her body was her own and it was a culture of mutual respect and trust. In the world of men, she’s placed in a cell, catalogued and confined by people who obviously do not have the same respect for her personhood. Even the colouring shows the difference; Paradise Island was lush and warm and beautifully coloured, while Wonder Woman’s processing and her cell is drab, with a lot of cold blues.
In just two issues, Rucka and Scott captured exactly what makes Paradise Island such a utopia, and with this third installment they’ve underscored this while adding a smart twist to the typical critique of patriarchal society we usually get in a Wonder Woman origin story. It’s interesting that Wonder Woman isn’t raging, either. We often see Wonder Woman fight back in such situations, but here she is voiceless and has no recourse for her treatment, like so many women the world over. It’s very powerful indeed that her introduction to the world of men is to be confined and controlled.
But it’s not all grim. There are still bright spots, even within the world of men. Steve has her back, of course, and it’s definitely not a coincidence that the first two friends Diana makes once she arrives are women. First, Etta reaches out to her and treats her with kindness, and then Barbara Minerva is able to converse with her because of her academic expertise in archaeology. The world of men isn’t terrible, and there clearly are good people in it. It’s just very different and definitely not a utopia, and it will be interesting to see Wonder Woman navigate this new world, especially with her new superpowers. Will the inherent mistrust and lack of safety she felt when she entered America pull her down, or will the good people trying to make the world a better place bring her up? I’m guessing it will be the latter, but it will be fun to see all of this play out over the next few issues.
Quick programming note: If you read through to the end of the issue you probably saw that next month’s even numbered Wonder Woman is going to focus on Barbara Minerva. Wonder Woman #8 was originally going to be “The Lies, Part 4” but that’s been pushed back to November and instead we’re getting a special issue written by Rucka with art by Bilquis Evely, which should be very cool.