Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 2 by Grant Morrison – Comic Book Review
I enjoyed the interesting and modern take on Wonder Woman this book presented, in particular on some of Diana’s most iconic villains. Dr Leon Zeiko (Dr Psycho) in particular was a very interesting and clever choice, presented more as a reality-based, troll sharing his hatred of women and his manipulation to an online audience (and as a military weapon, of course) than an actual supervillain.
The Amazon ideology is presented differently in Earth One than the more contemporary interpretations that, for me personally, have replaced it in canon – in line with Morrison’s intention to bring a literal light to William Marston’s original Wonder Woman and the ideas surrounding her. The words ‘loving submission to a benevolent authority’ are bandied around a lot and sent shudders down my spine every time. The scenes in Themyscira just come off so backward, from the forced submission and ‘reprogramming’ of Paula von Gunther to Hippolyta’s implied harem of Amazonian lovers.
I didn’t know the inspiration behind the book before reading it and so my reactions were generally negative (as they should). I feel knowing the thought process behind the story makes the world of difference for a reader’s experience.
Whilst I can holistically respect and even enjoy what Grant Morrison has written from a story-telling and character perspective, I don’t know why exactly it needed to be written? But then, at the end of the day, I didn’t really need this book to teach me that the subjugation of someone’s free will is wrong, or that anyone, no matter how brave or strong can be manipulated and controlled by the right (or indeed, the wrong) person, but maybe other people do.
There were some issues in terms of pacing and though a key part of Zeiko’s arc was to isolate Diana from her loved ones I never felt like we saw enough of them or they were fleshed out enough for me to notice.
Due to this general approach to the book, it could really fall into either Powerful or Problematic Content territory depending on what the reader takes away from it.
One example that immediately springs to mind is a scene where Wonder Woman dons a ‘Wonder Niqab’ inspired costume when visiting a middle eastern country. I’m viewing this in the light of paying respect to another country’s religious customs as opposed to cultural appropriation, however, an argument could be made.
The artwork is amazing, and the design of Diana’s costumes alone is just awe-inspiring. I don’t think anyone has ever looked that good in red, white and blue (sorry, Steve Rogers). From her trouser suits (that I want) to her variety of combat costumes, the attention to detail can’t be missed. This is reflected in character-specific panel borders and individually detailed crowd members in the background.
I think everyone who’s heard of Wonder Woman (so, everyone, give or take) could jump straight into this book but I feel going into it, or reading up after it, knowing the approach the creators took will alter, if not add to, the reading experience.
I have a strange relationship with Wonder Woman, as she is a character I’m very much in love with the idea of but, aside from the recent movie adaption, have yet to read the story that secures that ideal. I had heard great things about Grant Morrison on Wonder Woman specifically, and I think I may go back to read Vol. 1 but despite the book clearly being very clever and generally well-written, I don’t think this is a Wonder Woman I can rock with.
I can only say with certainty that my future with this book holds a discussion post on Themysciran politics in the very least.
Writing Quality – 7/10
Image/Illustration Quality – 8/10
Character Development – 5/10
Overall – 6/10
“I wasn’t so much trying to be timely. It was about trying to honor William Marston’s original version and thinking, “Okay, what would this be like?”
The Earth-One books are very much set in a contemporary, believable world, and it was the simplicity about what would happen if Marston’s ideas were taken seriously. Those are very strange ideas. You put them in the context of today’s politics, and gender politics, the whole thing that we’re dealing with, and they become quite provocative and quite extreme and strange. It was just to follow his lead, and to show the Amazons the way he showed them, which was, yes, a separatist race of technologically advanced super women. But they’re quite happy to use mind control on their enemies. They’re quite happy with that. Their idea of weapons of peace is to just control you and tell you what’s right. They don’t use bombs. They don’t use the traditional weapons that we’ve seen Amazons use in the past. They will control your mind. Right now, that’s a really interesting thing to explore. To see a society like that, which is very powerful, come up against a contemporary world and current politics and current affairs is incendiary to a certain degree.”
– Grant Morrison in an interview with DC ‘On the book’s interpretation of Wonder Woman…’
I received a copy of this book from DC Comics via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.