It may not be set within the DC Universe or have anything to do with this summer’s “Rebirth.” But THE LEGEND OF WONDER WOMAN is equally essential reading. Written by Renae De Liz and drawn by De Liz along with Ray Dillon, the series is a reimagining of Wonder Woman’s origin that’s driven by De Liz’s reputation as a gifted fantasy writer (she’s adapted both Peter Pan and The Last Unicorn as graphic novels) and bolstered by Dillon’s vibrant colors. Since its digital first debut in November, The Legend of Wonder Woman has garnered an extremely passionate fanbase, gone back for second printings with its first three issues and most recently earned an Eisner nomination for Best Digital/Webcomic, while also opening its story to the widest audience available.
It’s that last point which may be the most interesting. In an era where comics are increasingly pushing the edge and kids comics are very clearly defined as such, The Legend of Wonder Woman is a true all ages super hero comic—sophisticated enough for those who follow traditional DC Universe comics, but with the graphic violence commonly seen in those books kept in check. De Liz and Dillon have created a comic book that you can read and then pass on to your child or younger sibling, or that you might consider reading together.
We recently had a chance to talk to The Legend of Wonder Woman creative team about the series and how it came together, why an all ages Wonder Woman origin story was important and where they’d fit within Amazonian society. Here’s what this now “legendary” duo had to say.
This is a very substantial story for your first DC Comics project. Have you had it in mind for a while?
Renae De Liz: I have been thinking about this story for a while, amongst a lot of other story ideas I have for various characters. But Wonder Woman has always been particularly interesting to me. I wanted to tell a Wonder Woman story that is open to everybody, and already I am seeing a lot of parents enjoying the title with their children, along with new comic readers finding and enjoying it. I truly hope this trend continues, and Wonder Woman finds herself the large readership she deserves.
How would you describe this story to people who haven’t been reading it?
Ray Dillon: I’ve always looked at Wonder Woman as an ICON of comics and pop culture, and someone just as powerful and important as Superman, but I also realized I didn't know anything about her origin or cast of characters. I think everyone in the world knows Superman came from Krypton and landed in Smallville. Everyone knows Bruce Wayne's parents were killed in an alley. For me (a lifetime fan of super heroes and a 15-year comic book creator), I didn’t know much about Wonder Woman. And I definitely couldn't have told her story in a quick sentence.
Legend of Wonder Woman takes the time to let us get to know Diana. We see her magical, mysterious birth, her childhood on the island, and the magic of Themyscira. We get to see her legendary mother—and how important Diana is to her—and when Diana and Steve Trevor meet for the first time. Some of my favorite parts of LoWW are leaving Themyscira and being introduced to a cast of characters like Etta Candy (who's amazing) and The Holliday Girls. We go from the fantasy of Themyscira to our cold, hard world during WW2 and see all these new experiences through Diana's eyes.
LoWW is a rich, engaging journey through the early life of Wonder Woman, and it has made me a huge fan.
Why retell Wonder Woman’s origin? What does The Legend of Wonder Woman bring to that story that fans have never seen before?
Renae: Wonder Woman is THE female Super Hero of all time, but I never really read her comic book. This doesn't mean the stories that existed weren't quality; they just didn't speak to me as a reader. I wanted to apply new elements of art and story to Wonder Woman, and try to build her a whole new readership alongside current readers. My approach is so different…in art, story, pacing, so it's important to start at the beginning with her origin. I needed to know where she came from, why she does what she does. I needed to see the base influences in her early life. The origins I found were either too dark, didn't let me into the character enough emotionally (for my tastes) or plunked me down in the middle of action. LoWW is my attempt to create the Wonder Woman I would have wanted to see and present Diana in a new way.
We really get to spend time with Diana at different points in her life. Is it a challenge writing a story that’s set throughout one person’s life?
Renae: Exploring a character from the very beginning is a great way to show the organic growth that occurs with experience, and allows readers to be there with the characters from the beginning and fully invest themselves. I am grateful to have this opportunity to take the time to create a story like this.
How do you approach writing Diana as a child compared to as a teenager and as an adult?
Renae: Child Diana is very pure and determined. There's an extra power around her during childhood, much like the innocence and clarity you see in many children. These traits follow her throughout life, but while so young, that power you feel from her is unfiltered through life experiences and hardships.
Older, teenaged Diana, by the middle of issue #2, is more at ease with life, having found a sense of belonging as Alcippe's pupil, but she is still unsettled and hasn't found where she truly belongs. She starts to wonder about the world beyond the island as part of her feels drawn to the Outside World. A lot of life-changing events occur during this age, so it's a very confusing time for her, as is with many teenagers.
As for Adult Diana, in LoWW we leave off when she's around 20, and just becoming an adult. But we get to see her become more self-assured as she discovers her true place in the world. She starts to take root and begins to flourish. And while she is always dutiful and serious, she also (thanks to Etta) finally allows herself to experience happiness and friendship.
Diana's story still has so much further to go beyond this first arc. I look forward to telling it.
Which of Wonder Woman’s qualities is your personal favorite?
Renae: For me, personally, I admire Wonder Woman’s ability to see straight to the heart of any issue, and act decisively despite what anyone else thinks. She has an unending capability for a deep type of love for the world. She will go to any length to help others, or to further the cause of good.
Ray: Alcippe taught young Diana to look at situations or enemies from more than one side, fully understand your enemy rather than just attack. If you've been reading you probably know the scene I'm talking about with the Mare of Diomedes. It’s a trait I think is really powerful that Diana carries into her adulthood.
We get to know quite a few supporting characters throughout the story. Is there one that’s your favorite?
Renae: Definitely Etta Candy, although Alcippe is a close second. But Etta is the original Wonder Woman sidekick, and a pure force of personality, strength and fun. She is one of the few people capable of changing Diana's stubborn nature to see everything in a different light. Everything Etta does is interesting to me, and I love to see how she reacts to every situation. I already know where her story goes beyond this first arc. So many fun adventures, and I’m excited to tell them.
Ray: ETTAAAAAA CANDYYYYYY!!! I think a lot of fans will be right there with me. She's so awesome and Renae did the perfect version of her. She really made Etta important to the story and to Diana, and just SO much fun.
So which of the Twelve Temples of the Gods do you think you would be called to serve in?
Renae: Hmmm that's a tough one. I love the ocean, so maybe Poseidon, but I also love being a mother, so maybe Hera... or maybe Demeter because I love nature, or Apollo because I love researching the universe. I think the Gods would have a hard time placing me if I were an Amazon, haha. I'm pretty all over the place with my passions.
Ray: None. I would have my own temple and it would be greater than all the others.
Wonder Woman celebrates her 75th Anniversary this year. Why do you think she’s remained so popular for so long?
Ray: Wonder Woman is THE super-heroine and she always will be. She's a symbol of strong women and we'll always need her.
Renae: I think it's because Wonder Woman came from such a heartfelt, pure place of intent to create a good, strong female hero, without many of the aspects that drag down female heroes nowadays. Marston's passion and vision is what keeps people coming back to her, and while much has changed for Wonder Woman over the decades, that original message is still loud and clear.
Which other DC Comics super heroes would you like to write or draw? Are there any others that you have a cool origin story for?
Renae: Besides Wonder Woman, I’ve thought of origin stories for Aquaman, Green Lantern, Superman, Cyborg... I’d be excited and honored to write any of them if the opportunity ever came my way.