Wonder Woman by Jill Thompson is the story of Diana’s life before she becomes the superhero we all know and love. Jill Thompson is the recipient of seven Eisner awards and is well-known for her work on Sandman with Neil Gaiman. Her artistic style can vary greatly, and in this comic she uses one that lends the tale the quality of a myth told many times, which suits this graphic novel perfectly since Thompson shows us Wonder Woman’s coming-of-age, and young Diana exists in the first place only because of intervention on the part of Greek Gods and Goddesses.
First, we are told the story of the Amazonians and how they came to live on Themyscira, their secret island full of magic and free of men. This part of the story brings in Zeus, Poseidon, and other gods and goddesses intervening in the lives of the women. After their arrival at the island, their leader, Queen Hippolyta, yearns for only one thing now that they have a home and peace: She longs for a child to call her own. Again, Jill Thompson’s Wonder Woman crosses into myth as Hippolyta, making a child of sand, looks at the child and sings a song fit for the gods. The gods listen, and Diana, the future Wonder Woman, is born of magic.
Apparently, Diana had a lot of growing up to do, since she was not the most selfless of children. And Diana’s immaturity is the central story of Wonder Woman: We see her from birth to her teen years as her every whim is obeyed. The story reaches its peak in her teen years as Diana finds that in a world that revolves around her, there is one person whom she cannot command by any means. Her coming-of-age is a result of this relationship, the story of which is the best part of this graphic novel. Unfortunately for Diana, she, as with many self-centered people, must go through a major disastrous event to get her to take a good look at her habitual actions and treatment of others.
Wonder Woman is going to stay in print a long time, I believe: I read it digitally and already want to buy it in hardback and give copies to my children. As all myth, though, it is a story for all ages, and though some might claim the message borders on the didactic, it fits the morality tale aspects from which Jill Thompson is clearly working. In other words, the didacticism and art style come together to make a well-combined mythic morality tale told for a contemporary audience. Other than a few panels with some inconsistency of facial continuity, this book is perfectly done and would make for an excellent gift. I highly recommend getting the beautifully produced hardback copy.
I’m smitten by the artwork just from what you’ve shown us here.
I actually thought of you specifically when I read this book, Marion. It seemed like the sort art and story you’d really like.