"I am Diana of Themyscira, daughter of Hippolyta. Your wrath upon this world is over."
This past weekend was a big deal in the world of superheroes, big blockbusters, and feminism. Wonder Woman, a major studio film starring Gal Gadot, directed by Patty Jenkins, debuted on Friday and is by all accounts set to smash box office predictions (it is estimated that the film raked in $100.5M gross domestically—that’s the largest opening weekend for a female director in history). It is the best-critically-received film in the contemporary DC expanded universe with a score of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes—versus Suicide Squad’s 25%, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice’s 27%, or Man of Steel’s 55%.
Most importantly, Wonder Woman is just a damn good movie. It is hopeful in a sea of grim and gritty one-upsmanship; it chooses the path of optimism and of love in the face of ever-spreading darkness. Diana in this incarnation is truest to her Amazonian roots—she is full of wide-eyed wonder at the world of man and outraged at the apathy and corruption of others. When she refuses to “stick to the mission,” knowing she can stop others from suffering, and marches through machine gun fire and muddy trenches, because it’s the right thing to do, she encapsulates the best parts of human nature. We may not deserve her empathy, but we are inspired to emulate Wonder Woman’s strength, justice, truth, and grace.
Suffice it to say, I loved the film. And, having watched it, I felt immediately compelled to run home and tear through some old Wonder Woman comics and novels. Here’s some recommended reading for the fan who wants more Diana of Themyscira in his or her life:
Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Gods and Mortals by George Pérez and Len Wein – This graphic novel is a logical starting point for fans after the film as it follows Diana’s introduction to the world of man—and a battle with her arch nemesis, Ares, who threatens to tear the world apart in war. This particular reboot—post Infinite Crisis—is among my personal favorites.
Wonder Woman: The Circle by Gail Simone, Terry Dodson, and Rachel Dodson – Greg Rucka will probably always be my favorite writer at the helm of Wonder Woman’s book, but Gail Simone’s run wasn’t too shabby. This particular arc, The Circle, follows Diana as she fights Genocide. Also, in terms of movie tie-in value, this particular story examines invading Germans (Nazis from WWII as opposed to the WWI of the film) on Themyscira and glories in the brilliance of Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth (as the movie does). It’s badass.
Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Year One by Greg Rucka – Ok, it’s another origin story tale, and of all of them, this one is probably closest to the plotline of the film: Steve Trevor is rescued by Diana; she is convinced to leave her family and home to stop Ares and meets all kinds of friends and enemies along the way as she learns to adjust to Man’s World. This book, more than any other, captures that playfulness and humor of Diana in a world that makes no sense to her.
Wonder Woman at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee – The first book in the awesome female-focused Super Hero High middle grade series, Wonder Woman (aka Wondy) struggles to adjust to life away from her mother and the other warriors of Themyscira as she settles into a high school full of other superheroes. Wondy’s story here deals with her focus on truth and earnestness—she doesn’t understand why others aren’t as truthful as she is. For any younger fans of Diana of Themyscira, this is a lovely place to start.
The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore – While this isn’t a work of fiction, historian Lepore’s book examines Wonder Woman’s origin story through copious notes and logical conclusions about the comic book character’s creator, William Moulton Marston. Unpacking historical context of the suffragette movement and later women’s rights movement, The Secret History of Wonder Woman is a thorough accounting of the feminist warrior princess’ creation.
Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia by Greg Rucka and J.G. Jones – One of my absolute favorite standalone graphic novels, The Hiketeia is a Greek tragedy that follows Diana as a young woman begs her for supplication as part of an ancient ritual. Diana is bound by honor and tradition to protect the young woman from all enemies—including Bruce Wayne, who vows to bring the girl to justice for her past. The result is a showdown between Diana and Batman, and an epic clash of wills.
JLA: A League of One by Christopher Moeller – Speaking of the Justice League of America, written and painted by Christopher Moeller, this original graphic novel explores Wonder Woman as she deceives and takes down her teammates in order to save their lives. A dragon has awoken, and thanks to the Oracle, Diana knows that if her fellow JLA members try to fight it, they will all perish. So, Diana in her warrior heart does the only thing she can—she lies to her friends; she takes them out; and she flies to her death in order to save the world. This is a beautifully drawn comic that shows Diana’s fundamental belief in the power of truth.
Wonder Woman: Eyes of the Gorgon by Greg Rucka and Drew Johnson – This is actually my favorite of Rucka’s work on Wonder Woman, in which she battles Medusa and plucks out her own eyes in order to win and save the world from turning to stone. Following this victory, Diana is without her eyesight, and the JLA, in typical macho b.s. fashion, questions whether or not she can still serve—and true to form, Diana kicks everyone’s ass because of her strategic cunning and her ability to still fight. Wonder Woman is shown as a compassionate leader in addition to her warrior skills here, which is why it remains one of my favorite trades in Wonder Woman’s story, period.
Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo – Last but not least, this forthcoming young adult prose novel follows Diana as she makes a decision to save a mortal girl—and may have damned the world in the process. For the girl Diana saves is a Warbringer: she has a horrible fated bloodline as a descendent of Helen of Troy, and her life means war and misery for all. Together, Diana and Alia choose to fight fate, the gods, Amazons and mortals alike—for what is the worth of freedom if it costs an innocent life? This fantastic novel is not out until August, but is already getting rave reviews—I recommend preordering it now.