By Carter Glace, Staff Writer
In my quest to cover some of the best comics we can find from female creators, I would be remiss not to bring up one of my favorite adaptations of my favorite characters. While my original intention was to avoid any and all super hero comics, I feel like I have done a small disservice not celebrating a brilliant series cut down in its prime. And, given her return to prominence as The Female Superhero, it is high time to talk about Wonder Woman’s best modern comic.
“The Legend of Wonder Woman,” written and illustrated by Renae de Liz and colored by her husband Ray, was an attempt to re-imagine the original Wonder Woman comics in a modern setting. The series brought back the energy, color, themes and characters of Professor Marston’s original work, creating an incredibly popular volume. Unfortunately, DC canceled the planned second volume with little explanation, leaving us with a one great comic and a feeling of what could have been.
The most immediate thing that hits you is how vibrant the art style is. Everything is rich hued, warm, and delightfully oversaturated. Combined with the striking, tableau style framing, this is one of the most uplifting and gorgeous superhero comics I have read. One of the ideas I am constantly hammering home is that superheroes, above all else, are wish fulfillment. They capture and embody how we want the world to be. And this comic makes a world that I want to be in.
Where “Legend” truly succeeds at capturing the spirit of Marston’s work is that it is gleefully and unabashedly weird. Something that has been sanitized from the last several decades of Wonder Woman is that her world was the wild, strange, and vaguely and confusingly kinky. The kind of works that would be made by a trio of mad geniuses too radical for the suffragettes. Renae’s vision of Themyscira might as well be a page for page translation of Marston’s work, with its themes of female sisterhood, high concept lore and even the incredibly weird ecosystem. Did you know DC’s Amazons originally traveled in kangaroos? Well, they do again! And even when we finally get to ‘Man’s World,’ we have a wry, wholesome, loveable sense of humor. With the film, Wonder Woman’s supporting character’s are finally getting their days in the limelight, and seeing Etta Candy as the boisterous sorority sister and Steve as the classical masculine but just a little out of his depth hero again makes me gleeful.
All of this is before I get to the actual star of the show herself: Wonder Woman. When we talk about what Princess Diana was or should be, this is one of the works to which I turn. She’s headstrong and fierce, but never hostile or violent. Her desire to fight is out of a sense of justice and love. She’s a fish out of the water, but can figure things out quickly. When she runs into battle, you believe she’s going to win, even though this version of the character finds herself in over her head and conflicted. She’s simultaneously the most iconic and arch version of the character but also the most human and empathetic.
I could go on for another three columns about this series. How Renae captures the sweeping and romantic mythic lore, making it her own. How the series finds the best of both worlds with the two types of Wonder Woman villains, revising one of the classic psychology based villains into something fresh and genuinely threatening while working in some clever Greek myth villainy. The comics flow together really well, making one strong trade as oppose to several miniature stories. How the series understands and respects that Wonder Woman was meant to be a paragon, a figure to stand in for the centuries of heroic woman who never got their moment in the spotlight.
But I’ve already captured why this might be our best version of Wonder Woman. When I say heroes are wish fulfillment, no character captures that better. Wonder Woman represents a world made just, driven by passion and empathy, a world where we all have the courage to stand and fight for what we believe. And even though DC decided that didn’t interest them, no modern artist has done a better job than Renae at capturing the wonder woman.