Hold onto those golden lassos and fasten those golden lassos, fellow Amazons. This could be a philosophical ride.
"Isn't it ironic? We ignore those who adore us, ignore those who adore us, hurt those who love us, and love those that hurt us." - Unknown
Sad, true, painful, pessimistic, and endlessly on point. Typical human behavior and pretty much the theme of Jill Thompson's The True Amazon original graphic novel recently released from DC Comics featuring Wonder Woman.
I have often said that one of the things I love the most about the characters of the DC Comics universe is their versatility. DC Comics hosts such an iconic stable of characters that they have no problem treating fans with different, yet meaningful, interpretations and reimaginings of their original characters.
A "Gotham by Gaslight," a Wonder Woman of "Amazonia," a "Red Son of Krypton" - all classic tales, indeed.
I think this is the category of stories from the DCU that Wonder Woman: The True Amazon falls under.
When I first heard of this project (quite a while ago, it seems), it had the working title, Wonder Woman: The Selfish Princess and was what I thought to be a fully painted storybook. Which it is, but it's more of a graphic novel, storyboard format than I thought it'd be. I'm glad it's title changed, as "selfish" can be an off-putting word and hardly one I'd associate with Wonder Woman, although it proves relevant to this iteration of the character.
It's an excellent example of the power of comics and graphic storytelling. I expected it to be Jill's take on "Lil Wonder Woman" or such, because of her seminal work on Lil Endless and Scary Godmother. That which starts out as a classic storybook fable quickly takes a turn as it becomes a soul-wrenching Greek tragedy, seamlessly melded with the comic format. Speaking of Greeks, I really enjoyed Thompson's interpretation of the Amazons in Armor, as well as the Greek Gods. Especially the Greek Gods! So much so that I would love to see Thompson take on an original graphic novel or mini-series featuring her version of the Pantheon.
This is where the review could become misinterpreted, and I want to say that I really loved this book. That said, I look at it as a reimagining of WW's origin. It offers a very selfish, spoiled Wonder Woman and a somewhat selfish, spoiled mother in Queen Hippolyta. I can handle QH. I've often held contempt for Diana's Mother for so often mistreating her daughter and constantly putting her in horrible and potentially dangerous - if not lethal - situations without giving much of a damn.
But to me, Wonder Woman is perfection, and she loves life and honors it as the gift the gods have given her and her mother. Even as a child, she held appreciation and respect for nature and animals and was kind to others. This awful, spoiled, self-centered version of Wonder Woman is painful for me to entertain. Although some could argue that Wonder Woman is not perfect, she is relatable. I have witnessed writers struggle with the character under the notion that she is perfect. I think they deem that as "boring" or "impossible" to write.
In a way I think perfection is her biggest and most interesting flaw. Perfection's a heavy cross to bear. I think when Diana deviates from her perfection, it's always more consequential and meaningful than the casual mistake.
Separated from my ideal of Wonder Woman and used as a vessel to tell a story, I truly enjoyed The True Amazon and was moved in a way that I hadn't expected.
Perhaps the lesson of this fable lies in the potential danger of spoiling your daughter, especially if said daughter was brought to life by a combination of your sculpture of clay on the shores of Paradise Island and the tears of the gods. Oh, did I forget to mention said tears were the result of being moved by by Hippolyta crooning to her sculpture, pleading for it to come to life? Her beautiful singing is carried over the winds of Themyscira, and the Amazons are enchanted by their queen's impromptu audition for "The Voice." By the time it reaches Mount Olympus, the gods are so moved themselves that their eruption of silver and gold tears washes from the heavens to the shores of Paradise Island, bringing to life the sculpture of Hippolyta's greatest desire, her daughter Diana! A beautiful daughter with amazing gifts infused in her was all she ever wanted.
That's when things take a turn south. Diana is spoiled by her mother and the other Amazons and always gets her heart's desire. She's rude, selfish, careless, and reckless. She's quite an unlikeable brat, truth be told - used to getting her way and never denied her every heart's desire.
I believe her mother would be too noble and proud to raise a spoiled daughter, especially one she so woefully coveted. Hippolyta always remained staunchly obedient to the gods as painfully illustrated by a specific scene at the end of this tale.
Diana earns the one thing she can't get no matter how much she tries: the attention of her mother's horse wrangler, Althea, the grounded and wise woman who is perhaps the only Amazon less than impressed with Diana's beauty and god-given talents.
In a twist on Diana's origin, the contest in this version is to prove the "One True Amazon." Diana enters, figuring she will have no problem acing the competition, and impresses Althea, thus winning her over once and far all. Instead, what occurs is heart-breaking chaos and tragedy due to Diana's ego and selfish, reckless behavior.
The Amazons decide to spare Diana's life despite her sins. Another punishment is put in place for the fallen princess. She is forever banned from Paradise Island and made to live out her life doing good deeds in man's world as Wonder Woman.
A very clever, if not maudlin, take on the origin of Wonder Woman. This could be perhaps "What I'd Wonder Woman Was a Millennial?"
Thoughtfully written and lavishly illustrated, Jill Thompson's The True Amazon is a welcome edition to my Wonder Woman book shelf. I always love a book that has you reflecting on it randomly after you've put it down and this is certainly one of those.
See you next week for Wonder Woman Wednesday, and as be sure to check out the "I Am Wonder Fan" page on Facebook.