When you hear that a Grant Morrison story is about to come out, you stop what you’re doing and you pay attention. When it was announced that Grant Morrison would be providing his own take on the origin of Wonder Woman, many were excited to see what the prolific writer could bring to the iconic heroine and face of feminism. Well the day has come and Wonder Woman: Earth One has hit the shelves by Grant Morrison, Yanick Paquette, and Nathan Fairbairn. I will start out by saying that this comic is not for everyone, but for those who do wish to try it…you are in for a treat. This book delivers and it delivers big time. The book is provocative but thought-provoking, delivering a beautiful tale of independence, the strength of motherhood, sisterhood, and the inevitability and acceptance of change. Grant gives us a Diana who exemplifies love, compassion, and an unquenchable curiosity, but none of that negates her strength and individualism. This is a Diana who is young and curious about the world beyond Paradise Island, curious about the Amazon customs, and curious about who she is.
Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette envision a very different Paradise Island than the one you might be used to. For me, at least, I always imagine an island with Classical architecture, steeped in mysticism that always made the Amazons seem so mysterious yet legendary. This tale sees Paradise Island as an evolved utopia. Aircraft litter the sky while the island and buildings have a futuristic aesthetic to them. The bright and vibrant colors of Paradise Island surely do make this feel like…paradise! It’s pristine, cultured, and above all else, peaceful. This is a stark contrast to the way they depict the world of man. There are darker colors, more earthly brown colors, and it just gives a grittier, meaner feel to it, and it makes complete sense in the way our world is demonized by the Amazons.
The book starts off with a horrifying scene of the Amazons being subjugated and treated like animals, locked away in cages. This scene really shows you the brutality of the “World of Man” through the eyes of Hippolyta, who is first seen on a chain-leash, held by Hercules. She prays for strength and ultimately, she uses the chains that once bound her to free herself from the oppression of men. It’s a fantastic opening, but it’s very provocative and to some, might find offensive. Morrison is smart in his approach, and wouldn’t put a scene like this in the book unless it meant something to the overall narrative. Which it does. Hippolyta is seen as a loving mother to Diana, yet she resents change. Resents man’s world even though she keeps an eye on it through a magic mirror.
With Morrison’s take on Wonder Woman’s origin, he returned to her roots by utilizing some of the themes presented by her creator, William Moulton Marston, who emphasized bondage as a part of her story. Granted, she often found herself tied up in those earlier tales and while she’s not a damsel in distress in this book, the theme of bondage is still a predominant one. Instead, in this Paradise Island, domination and submission are a natural part of their culture, in fact giving oneself up in an act of submissions is seen almost as honorable. There are many things about this book that some life-long Wonder Woman fans might not be expecting or maybe might not like. Oh I’m going to say SPOILERS here….Wonder Woman’s origin has been changed, so she is no longer made of clay and brought to life. Instead, she is the daughter of Hippolyta and Hercules. I don’t want to give away too much but it’s such a fascinating take on the character that explains what really drives this version of Diana. I’ll admit I’m not a huge Wonder Woman fan, so perhaps I was able to accept it more than others, but I found it completely intriguing.
The story takes an interesting spin as we begin the tale as Wonder Woman is being brought back to Paradise Island in chains. We see she is brought to trial for breaking a rule of the Amazons. Here we meet many of her supporting characters as well who testify about her journey to “The World of Men” and her run in with the American pilot, Steve Trevor. Of course, her mother is furious with her for her curiosity and travels to the world of man. She even shows her the horror of our world by showing war, starvation, and even a leashed, half-naked woman, lapping at a bowl of water. Hippolyta still sees men as cruel and misogynistic as when she was a slave of Hercules. Steve’s story hasn’t changed too much. He’s a soldier who washes along the beaches of Paradise Island, and is found and rescued by Diana. One of the big changes though is changing Steve Trevor’s ethnicity. But that’s to be expected with Earth One books as they’ve changed up several of their characters through these books. Steve is strong in his own right, but is completely taken aback by what he witnesses on Paradise Island, referring to Diana as his guardian angel. I will say though that the relationship between Steve and Diana could have used a little more attention. I felt as if it a little rushed, and I’m not saying romantic relationship either.
This book does seem to stumble a little especially during the third act, where Hippolyta unleashes Medusa upon our world for Diana’s disobedience, and bringing a man to Paradise Island. But maybe that’s what makes it stand out from other books? Instead of relying on the fierce warrior that Diana is, Morrison instead chooses to emphasize her compassion and love, and that’s something that needs to be shown more. It’s something I’ve been wanting to see with the character for a while now. Since the New 52 began, we’ve rarely seen her compassionate side, but we sure see how fierce she is.
While this story was about motherhood, compassion, independence, and sisterhood, it’s also a story about the acceptance of change. To make the world a better place with love and compassion. And that’s what Diana exemplifies. Grant Morrison has given us an origin for Wonder Woman that will be talked about for years, and to me, it’s one of the best ones I’ve ever read. It actually might be the best one. The supporting cast in the book are also amazing, especially Etta Candy who is fantastic. I won’t spoil anything about her, but I think you’ll love her. Yanick Paquette’s gorgeous spreads and renderings make this book shine as well. There isn’t a page in this book that doesn’t look absolutely breathtaking. Like I said earlier, it isn’t a book for everyone, but I highly recommend it for those who were interested in trying it. So let us know what you thought about it!
Overall Score: 9/10