Like the proverbial Phoenix itself, ‘Classic Wonder Woman’ returns, regenerated and reinvigorated after its semi-conclusive epilogue last episode. We reached our objective denouement by both completing our original purpose; a chronicle of Wonder Woman comic-book covers, charting her heroic history from the 1940’s through to modern day, whilst counting down to her 75th anniversary. Plus we managed to surface from the Ancient Amazon Archives, from whence we recounted these great tales of Herculean proportion, in fact the trek through the archives formed an epic tale all its own (why not visit the archives yourselves, fellow fans, and relive that Olympian Odyssey.)
But from any ending a beginning can be wrought, reborn like the aforementioned Phoenix, arising from the ashes of it’s predecessor in Greek mythology, just like Diana has done so many times in her very own munificently multifaceted mythos.
And so we begin a new chapter in the ongoing chronicles of Wonder Woman, and what better place to start than with an original take on Diana’s childhood and subsequent upbringing on the secluded tranquil paradise island known as Themyscira, home of the legendary Amazons.
Jill Thompson is an Eisner award winning writer and illustrator who has worked in the industry for nigh on 30 years. She has collaborated on titles such as Sandman alongside the inimitable Neil Gaiman, and in the eighties worked with the great George Perez, drawing Wonder Woman. Perez is highly regarded for his classic run on Wonder Woman in the 80’s and 90’s, revitalising the character for a modern audience. Thompson’s spouse is comic book writer Brian Azzarello, who was responsible for the highly acclaimed Wonder Woman run in 2011 after Diana was relaunched in DC Comics’ New-52 reboot.
Almost three decades later Thompson has returned to the venerable paradise island to retell the tale of Wonder Woman from a fresh and even more mythical perspective with ‘Wonder Woman: The True Amazon’
Thompson begins her story before the birth of Diana, back when the Amazons fought a war against nine armies led by Heracles and his father Zeus, who had disguised himself in a bid to seduce the Amazon Queen, Hippolyta. Zeus’ wife Hera discovered her godly consort’s plan and, with the help of Poseidon, rescued the Amazons and delivered them to a secret island, where they thrived and prospered as immortals untouched by the outside world for millennia.
Hippolyta though longed for a child of her own, she would fashion a baby out of sand and clay and would nightly sing to it a sad and sorrow filled song, that eventually reached the ears of Olympus, the Gods upon hearing the melancholic strain cried tears of gold and silver that fell onto Themyscira, breathing life into the childlike sculpture.
And thus Diana was born, reckless and at times arrogant due to her being not only the sole child on the isle of the Amazons, but also one gifted with superhuman powers by the Gods of Olympus. It’s this supercilious and condescending attitude that takes centre stage in Thompson’s retelling of Diana’s childhood, spoilt from birth and treated as if she can do no wrong, Diana begins to believe that she actually is better than all else around her, a literal gift from the gods. That is until she meets Aletha, a stable girl who isn’t overawed by Diana like all the others, her friendship cannot be attained through the usual methods of boasting, and on occasion bullying which causes Diana, initially, to change her imperious attitude, in a bid to procure this seemingly unattainable Amazon’s affections, yet an even greater upset lies in her not too distant future.
‘Wonder Woman: The True Amazon’ is an astonishing piece of work from Jill Thompson, an alluring yet at times provocative take on the world’s first female Superhero. The story has a level of true emotional depth oft unfound in certain Superhero comics. The retelling may be seen as divisive by some, but Thompson adds a level of humanity to Diana that elegantly supersedes her demi-god status, which ultimately allows the story a much more poignant and emotive accessibility. Of course we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Thompson’s astounding artwork that adorns the pages of her groundbreaking graphic novel. Breathtaking is a word that fits her visual style perfectly, each and every panel is a fully hand painted watercolour by Thompson, the book really stands out when compared to it’s modern counterparts. The True Amazon is truly a work of art, and cannot come more highly recommended.