Comic Book Review: Wonder Woman: Earth One

Details: Released in 2016. Listed price is $22.99. Art by Yanick Paquette. Written by Grant Morrison. Official site is https://www.dccomics.com/graphic-novels/wonder-woman-earth-one-2016/wonder-woman-earth-one-vol-1

Like Marvel’s Ultimate comics line, DC’s Earth One line of books seeks to re-imagine popular superheroes and retell their stories. Unlike Marvel’s Ultimate line, Earth One only seeks to change them, not change them into more realistic or grittier versions of themselves. Wonder Woman: Earth One is a good example of that change. In this book, Morrison retells Wonder Woman’s origin story in a way that glorifies a few of the more progressive elements of the character while also shining a spotlight on the more perverse and embarrassing aspects of the character’s almost seventy year history.

Wonder Woman initially tells a familiar story. Diana is the daughter of the Queens of the Amazons, a nation of women where men are outlawed. A male soldier lands on the Amazon’s hidden island of Themyscira and prompts Diana to go out and explore man’s world.

While the big story beats are mostly the same, there is so much in here that either respects the mythos of Wonder Woman or draws attention to the ridiculous origins of the character. For instance, the Amazons in this book are pretty much all lesbians. If you ever really thought about it, it would seem obvious they were lesbians. I mean, there are no men and they live forever, so… how else are they going to pass the time?

Even further, Morrison took a conveniently forgotten element of the characters history and has thrust it back into the story, and that is bondage. I read a while ago that the creator of Wonder Woman was really into bondage. That was his fetish and he drew Wonder Woman is many sexual poses involving bondage, chains and being tied up. Generally, I think most people forget that history, especially when there’s a new popular Wonder Woman movie preaching women’s empowerment. While Wonder Woman may symbolize that now, historically, Wonder Woman was in a large part simply an object for comic book fans and its own author to look at.

Morrison brings that up again with actual discussion of the bondage. Further Paquette’s art certainly does a good job of sexualizing a lot of these Amazon characters. In many ways, Morrison’s retelling of the Wonder Woman story is more honest than any that have been told in recent memory. More recent stories involving Wonder Woman are more progressive, ignoring her over sexualized past. Morrison embraces it, telling a more sexualized story that recognizes the characters history as an object to look at.

With all that said, there is more to the story than just sex, lesbians and bondage. The majority of the story is still that same old Wonder Woman goes to man’s world and tries to change it. There is a bit of exploration into Greek mythology, as there should be.

Overall, Wonder Woman: Earth One is an interesting re-imagining of the Wonder Woman origin story not because of the broad strokes, but because of the more subtle elements. This story is arguably regressive in its treatment of Wonder Woman, objectifying her and turning the Amazons into a nation of lesbians. That certainly wouldn’t fly for the more religious fans of Wonder Woman. Morrison’s take on the character isn’t ground breaking, but communicates to me the flawed nature of the character. Wonder Woman was a sexualized, objectified female character from the very beginning. To deny that part of the character for political reasons (like feminism) is disingenuous. If you want to truly embrace the character of Wonder Woman, to be a fan of the character and its history, then you have to accept the good as well as the bad. Morrison sort of does that here.

Score: 6.8/10

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