Since her creation in 1942 by William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman has gone through many dramatic changes. In the beginning, the Amazonian Princess Diana was a representation of her feminist creator’s ideal woman. She lived in a scientifically advanced and thriving culture of powerful and intelligent women, a culture void of any male influence. Even her origin was void of a man: She was born of clay and given life by Gaea the goddess of the earth. Wonder Woman came to earth to protect mankind with truth and justice and to bring peace. This original incarnation of Diana was slow to anger despite her great ability as a warrior.
In her more recent versions, especially the New 52 series written by Brian Azzarello, Diana lost the pillars she originally stood for. She no longer was slow to anger but instead carried an unsheathed sword and was always ready for a fight. Her origin changed to make her a descendant of Zeus. She was raised as an outcast instead of in the loving and nurturing home of her original story. She was still powerful and noble but not for the same reasons as Marston intended. This great symbol of the feminist movement was turned into a modern misconception of what feminism is: angry, aggressive, and ready for a fight.
Instead of picking a side, writer Greg Rucka, used Wonder Woman Rebirth #1 ($2.99) as a format to directly address the conflict of Diana’s character. The comic opens similarly to a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Diana begins to narrate her origin story, but for every bit of information there is a contradiction. These contradictions slowly pile up, and the mighty Wonder Woman, along with the reader, becomes extremely frustrated and exhausted. She is left confused and lost. She doesn’t know who she is anymore. When she comes out of her haze of memories, she is in a small apartment in Paris. She decided to “retrace her steps” and return to the source of her identity crisis, the source of herself, Mount Olympus.
The art for the comic matches up well with the narrative. It is divided between the team of Matthew Clark (pencils) and Sean Parsons (inks) for the first 14 pages, followed by Liam Sharp’s work for the last six. Clark and Parsons’s portion of the art effectively uses light and shadow, whether it is light flares off Diana’s armor or the glow of her lasso. This use of light works perfectly with the dreamlike and confused state that Diana is in for this section of the comic. It has an almost ethereal feel to it.
As the mood of the story shifts, so does the artwork. Sharp takes over. Where Clark and Parsons used light, Sharp utilizes dark cross-hatching, shading and saturated jewel tones to create a darker and almost gritty atmosphere. The intensity and heat of the colors Sharp uses correlates with the escalating emotion of the narrative. His use of dark shading and shadow creates a pinhole effect that adds a slight disorientation to the art. This blends effectively with the emotions of Rucka’s writing.
The work as a whole entraps the reader and brings them on this emotional journey of self-discovery with Diana Prince. But still the question remains: Which Diana will Rucka chose? Will he create his own version of the legendary Wonder Woman?
The real question Rucka might ask is, ‘Does it matter?’ Does it matter where Wonder Woman comes from, is where she is all that counts? Does it matter what weapons she wields, or does how she uses them matter more? Does it matter how Diana was raised, or is what she stand for in the present paramount? In general, ‘Does your past define you, or do you define your past?’