WON­DER WOMAN : EARTH ONE Vol­ume One

A Lass In Chains

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews - Saxon Bul­lock

re­leased OUT NOW! Pub­lisher DC Comics Writer Grant Mor­ri­son Artist Yan­ick Pa­que­tte

graphic novel Leg­endary war­rior, fem­i­nist icon – Won­der Woman is one of DC Comics’ best- known char­ac­ters, yet she’s lack­ing the kind of de­fin­i­tive in­ter­pre­ta­tion that both Bat­man and Su­per­man have re­ceived in the past. Now, in the wake of her first live- ac­tion movie ap­pear­ance in Bat­man V Su­per­man, we’ve got a new jump­ing- on point for the char­ac­ter as part of DC’s Earth One se­ries of graphic nov­els.

Scripted by comics mas­ter­mind Grant Mor­ri­son with gor­geous art from Yan­ick Pa­que­tte, this fresh take on the Won­der Woman ori­gin story is set in the same uni­verse as pre­vi­ous Earth One ti­tles, away from DC’s main con­ti­nu­ity. This gives Mor­ri­son and Pa­que­tte the chance to take risks, and the re­sults are bold and imag­i­na­tive, if not al­ways en­tirely suc­cess­ful.

The ba­sic set- up is fa­mil­iar, as war­rior princess Diana finds her life on an is­land of im­mor­tal Ama­zons dis­rupted by the ar­rival of Air Force pi­lot Steve Trevor, re­sult­ing in a jour­ney to the USA and a po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous cul­ture clash. What’s dif­fer­ent is that Mor­ri­son has gone back to the source, chan­nelling the orig­i­nal sto­ries of Won­der Woman cre­ator Wil­liam Moul­ton Marston in the same way he tapped into ’ 60s Sil­ver Age comics for the clas­sic All- Star Su­per­man.

This means an un­usual ap­proach to the cen­tral char­ac­ter, em­pha­sis­ing Diana’s com­pas­sion and sense of duty over her abil­i­ties as a kick- ass war­rior ( barely a punch is thrown). Mor­ri­son makes Par­adise Is­land into a com­plex, rit­ual- based cul­ture, while hap­pily in­clud­ing the nut­tier as­pects of early Won­der Woman sto­ries, from heal­ing pur­ple rays to kan­ga­roo joust­ing.

He also con­tro­ver­sially plays up the layer of kink­i­ness that’s hard- wired into Won­der Woman’s mythos, thanks to con­cepts like the Lasso of Truth. Marston’s orig­i­nal sto­ries fea­tured sur­pris­ing lev­els of kink ( of­ten in­volv­ing the heroine in chains); a num­ber of eye- open­ing homages here mean this ranks as one of the most dis­tinc­tive takes on the char­ac­ter.

Un­for­tu­nately, this strat­egy doesn’t al­ways fit with Yan­ick Pa­que­tte’s lush art­work. The book is a vis­ual feast and Pa­que­tte draws star­tlingly beau­ti­ful women, but the art is so heavy on cheese­cake- style sex­i­ness and the male gaze that it cre­ates a ma­jor dis­so­nance with the story’s in­tended fem­i­nist ap­proach. It’s frus­trat­ing: the book is oth­er­wise as well- crafted and in­ven­tive as you’d ex­pect from Mor­ri­son, yet it’s hard not to end up feel­ing that the de­fin­i­tive Won­der Woman story is still wait­ing to be writ­ten.

Marston also worked in Hol­ly­wood – he tested au­di­ence re­ac­tions to Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde by mon­i­tor­ing blood pres­sure.

Now that’s what we call a thor­ough MOT.

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