The new Diana Prince origin story and latest DC YA graphic novel, Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed, is a story of a young woman separated from everything she's ever known and tossed into a modern world that seems horrifying and strange. (She's not wrong!)
Written by Laurie Halse Anderson and illustrated by Leila del Duca, the book tells the story of a newly 16-year-old Diana—who isn't yet Wonder Woman but can't help herself from being a hero. Relocated to Queens by two aid workers after appearing at a refugee camp in Greece, Diana quickly realizes that the world outside of her idyllic home island of Themyscira is one full of hardships and wrongs that need correcting.
Let’s break it down!
Every incarnation of Diana is stunning, and for good reason. She might not be a full-blooded Amazon, but she's descended from gods, and her beauty always shows her ancestry. The Diana on the cover of Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed is no exception. She's familiar—dark hair, piercing eyes and strong cheekbones—but fresh. The Amazonian feel of her clothing and headpiece are different than we know, but reminiscent of Wonder Woman's "standard" uniform all the same.
I particularly love the wave superimposed over her face and the way the color of the water is picked up in her eyes. On the outside, she's all calm strength, but on the inside, the seas are not calm.
Tell Me a Story:
On her sixteenth "born day," Diana wakes on Themyscira excited to see what the new year will bring. But something's amiss with the barrier that surrounds the island, and refugees find themselves washed up on the mysterious island's shores. The Amazons want to help, but their beliefs that they aren't to show themselves to the outside world until the Great Evil of the Universe returns and they are summoned by the Five Mothers—Athena, Aphrodite, Demeter, Artemis and Hestia—stops them from doing so. Diana can't stand to see innocents suffer, however, and goes on a rescue mission...only to find herself stuck on the outside of the barrier and a refugee herself.
At the refugee camp in Greece, Diana meets United Nations inspectors Steve Chang and his husband Trevor (*wink, wink, nudge, nudge*) who realize there's something more to Diana than meets the eye. They get her a visa to America and place her in Queens, New York. with a family friend, Henke, and Henke's granddaughter Raissa. Raissa wants little to do with Diana at first, but soon Diana's need to help those less fortunate than her ingratiates her into Raissa's good graces, and the two go about feeding and caring for underprivileged neighborhood children—and trying to find those who've gone missing under suspect circumstances.
Let’s Talk Art:
Leila del Duca does an excellent job of depicting the diversity of both the Amazons and the people of Queens, but what I love most are her depictions of the Five Mothers. Instead of them all looking mostly the same or like "standard" goddesses (i.e., willowy beauties with golden hair), each have different skin colors and body types. It's easy to see where the many differences in the Amazonians come from with Mothers like these.
Additionally, del Duca shifts almost seamlessly through the settings in the book, from Themyscira to the Greek refugee camp to Queens. They're all very different locales, and she draws each one differently but doesn't make them seem alien to each other. It adds to the element of "we are all one humanity" that's an underlying theme of the book.
Diana's a smart young woman who's thrown into a strange world filled with things that can only be learned through living with and through them, and Laurie Halse Anderson does an excellent job of portraying Diana as both worldly and sweetly naive, specifically through the way she speaks. As an Amazonian, Diana can understand and speak every language on Earth, but that doesn't mean that she knows all the nuances of them—at one point, she comments that she's struggling to learn all of the slang people use in Queens. (I don't envy her! English is the weirdest.)
And although you can't hear Diana's accent while reading her words on the page, the form of her phrases and the way she puts sentences together feels just foreign enough to help you imagine that she has one. It's a really nice addition to the story that could easily be overlooked but is obviously a sign of true talent and attention to detail.
Most Embarrassing Moment:
For 16 years, Diana's lived amongst the most powerful and most beautiful women in the world. It's enough to make anyone a little self-conscious, and for Diana—who, for the past year, has been experiencing some very not Amazonian bodily changes—it's a constant reminder that she's not quite up to Themysciran standards. She hoped that everything would go back to "normal" on her 16th birthday, but when she trips and falls face-first (*shudder*) into a pile of horse manure in her excitement over a present, I couldn't help but wince. Especially when people around her barely manage to hide their snickering.
Perfect Food Pairing:
This might seem like a surprising pairing for a book that takes place partly in the Mediterannean, but the food I think best goes with this story is the classic PB&J. The main focus of the book is the kids Diana and Raissa help in Queens, and they make them lunch each day, including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And, I feel like PB&Js are such a quintessential American kid food that Diana definitely didn't eat growing up. It's a perfect thing to introduce her to while she's learning about the country and its many cultures.
What Would You Most Like to Ask?:
Diana has a lot of questions for her new American friends and I can't blame her. (Culture shock, anyone?) But if I had the opportunity to ask her a question, I'd want to know what one non-sentient thing she missed most from home. Her answer would likely give some more insight into who she is as a person—rather than who she is a hero—and I'd love to know more about that side of the woman who eventually becomes Wonder Woman.
When Mandy Curtis isn’t reading books by Leigh Bardugo or Sarah J. Maas, she’s dreaming of busting bad guys with Wonder Woman—if Steve Trevor’s there, too, she won’t complain—and writing about YA fiction and pop culture at Forever Young Adult. Follow her on Twitter at @mandyannecurtis.
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