Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Yannick Paquette, Nathan Fairbairn and Todd Klein
Cover Price: $22.99
Release Date: April 12, 2016
I will start this review by declaring my undying love for Wonder Woman, but also admit that I am no scholar when it comes to her history. For Christ's sakes, there's a whole lot I don't know about my own wife's past, so when dinner party conversation turns towards William Moulton-Marston or even George Perez, I excuse myself and try to find the guy handing out the cocktail weenies. I do love me some weenies. Again, no scholar. However, I have been around the block a few times and know enough to realize that Wonder Woman has had a varied past that includes multiple origins and interpretations that sometimes blend together and sometimes don't. That usually is a recipe for disaster, but Wonder Woman always seems to rise above it all to remain the shining light of beauty, power and wisdom. I think this book is a prime example of just that. Grant Morrison combines her mixed history into a new version, but never forgets to give fans the character they know and love. That's all fine and dandy, but is it any good? Let's find out...
The story begins not with Diana's origin, but with the origins of the Amazonian way of life. It is a cold opening that turn hot real fast and while I was a little confused at first, once I got my footing, I was good to go and loving every second of it. I said it was not Diana's origin, but that is only a half truth. It's one of those "aha" moments later in the story, but I don't want to get ahead of myself.
The first thing that everyone is going to see when they start reading this book is how damn great it looks. Yannick Paquette gives readers the whole package...great art, but also the best panel layout and frames that I have seen in a long time. This is easily the best looking Earth One book by far.
After we see the yoke of man lifted from the Amazons and their Queen, Hippolyta, we go ahead 3000 years and after seeing the fantastical sites of Paradise Island, we finally see Diana...in chains?!? Yep, Diana is under arrest and will face Trial by the Truth for "Breaking Ancient Vows and Laws and consorting with Man's World". The rest of the book revolves around this trial and the revelations that come from it.
Grant Morrison knows how to get the reader's attention, that's for sure. Going into this book, I knew that we weren't going to get a "generic" story and that things would certainly get crazy before it all ended and that's what I was looking forward to. Guess what? Besides a puzzle piece narrative that really comes together with repeated readings, this story is less "Morrison" than I expected. Depending on what side of the fence you sit on, you can take that as a plus or minus.
The rest of the book is filled with the familiar and unfamiliar, twisted and turned to make something new, but still recognizable. Starting with a young Diana who is more adventurous and headstrong than her mother had ever hoped, we not only see how her restricted life led her to her fate, but also the man that sparked her "betrayal"...Steve Trevor.
For the most part, Steve comes off as more of a pawn and a plot device than anything else in this volume and it's one of the few things that upset me. Sure, he does step up by the end, but just as he (and his relationship with Diana) gets interesting, the book is over. I say that, but he is one hell of a plot device! After showing us just how driven Diana is once she gets an idea in her head, Morrison takes us all to Man's World and it's easily my favorite part of the book.
After seeing how desperate Hippolyta is to prove a point, we get one of the best fish out of water scenes with Diana trying to figure out how things work in Man's World. Morrison nails it by not trying to make Diana appear as something she isn't...she has no idea how things work and she really comes across as a crazy woman in a costume. It all leads to some unwanted attention from the military. It also leads to Diana agreeing with the Amazonian view of the outside world.
This is all some heavy stuff, but then Morrison throws a wrench in Diana's plans and also gives readers the best character in the book...Elizabeth Candy! Mirroring the awesome Legend of Wonder Woman book by Renae De Liz, Beth is a big gal and very proud of it. She is also fantastic and when she introduces herself at Diana's trial, I laughed out loud...and I mean loud! She is such a great bridge between worlds and even gives Diana her iconic look with an impromptu makeover party.
With all the characters in place, Morrison finishes it all up with a little horror, a couple of laughs and some huge revelations. We find out how and why Steve Trevor ever got to Paradise Island, but more importantly, the how and why of Diana's origin. It all makes perfect sense with what is going on, but still is a bit heart breaking all the same. It also gives a nice little moral about not accepting one's fate and being true to yourself. The issue ends with the beginnings of just that as Wonder Woman takes her first steps in trying to make the whole world a better place.
I really liked what Grant Morrison has started here. He cherry picks from Wonder Woman's past and pays tribute from Moulton-Marston all the way up to Azzarello's New 52 run and maybe beyond and I loved it. His Wonder Woman is conflicted and naive, but also strong and simply wonderful. I said it earlier...Morrison devotes may scoff at the straightforward nature of the story itself, but I think it is out of respect for the character and it's many great writers of the past. That being said, there is enough here to make you double-take and I really suggest reading this multiple times before deciding if you like it or not. I read it three times and I can truly say that I like it. I like it a whole lot.
I loved Yannick Paquette's art. It is stunning throughout and I have to stress again just how inventive and fantastic the panel layout and borders are. He actually advances the story with his panel borders! Who the hell does that? Yannick Paquette does, that's who and I thank him for it. I'd be a real dick if I didn't mention Nathan Fairbairn's color work which is great in it's own right and combines with Paquette's art to give this book a look that nobody could call less than awesome. I guess they could, but they'd be wrong.
Bits and Pieces:
Grant Morrison has reached back to give fans a different take on Wonder Woman that is new, exciting, yet still familiar. This book is easy to get into, but with its twists and turns and beautiful art, is very hard to put down. I highly recommend this to every comic book fan, but if you are a Wonder Woman fan, I demand you pick it up. You can thank me later.