Wonder Woman: The True Amazon
Wonder Woman: The True Amazon is a beautifully illustrated book that doesn’t need to exist. It’s yet another retelling of the heroine’s origin, but that’s not my biggest complaint, since it does a lovely job of actually establishing a believable society for the Amazons.
My biggest objection is that this book by Jill Thompson is yet another example of a story that shows how a hero became a hero by doing a bad thing first and seeing how rotten it made them feel. I have severe objections to the idea, to take another example, that Superman has to learn that killing is bad by murdering someone.
A large number of people know that stealing or killing or any number of other bad things are bad without having to first do them and regret it. “I won’t do this because I felt horrible last time” is toddler logic. It’s much more heroic to have a moral creed that you hold to because you know it’s right, not because experience showed you otherwise, but that seems to be an outdated idea.
Now, my fundamental objections to the book’s premise aside, it is an attractive work. Thompson’s painted work is always a pleasure to see, and as I mentioned, she shows us a lot of good background for this unique culture. Her storytelling is mythic toned, more fantasy-influenced than your usual superhero book.
Thompson’s insightful observation is that young Diana, growing up the only child on the island, and given her abilities and beauty, would be the most spoiled brat possible. That’s more psychological realism than is typical of the two-dimensional “perfect woman” view of Wonder Woman, and I liked it. But when Thompson takes it so far as to having Diana’s actions cause the maiming and killing of others, I thought that was too much. She cheats, and in such a way that her vaunted intelligence must have left her, because anyone could have predicted that it wouldn’t go well.
Most differently, Wonder Woman comes to our world because she’s been kicked out of her perfect home. Instead of the self-sacrifice of leaving Paradise to help others, now, she’s serving out a punishment. That doesn’t make sense for the character to me, and so, I can’t recommend this book, pretty as it is.