Monday 31 October 2016

Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary: The Legend of Wonder Woman #9 Review

Title: The Legend of Wonder Woman #9
Story: The Legend of Wonder Woman Chapters 25-27
Characters: Diana Prince (Wonder Woman), Etta Candy, Steve Trevor, Queen Hippolyta, Gaea
Creators: Renae De Liz (writer/artist), Ray Dillon (artist)
Publication Date: August 2016
Available In: Print | Digital

Summary: The Titan has awoken and Diana must race against the clock to stop it from wreaking the deadly havoc she heard about in the stories of Themyscira. The Allied airforce pilots do their best to keep the Titan at bay, but their weapons are no match for the powerful giant.

During her state of unconsciousness, Diana learns the truth of her origins. She was well aware of the fact that she was sculpted from clay and brought to life by will of the gods, but she didn't know the full story of her birth. It turns out, it was through the will of Gaea--mother Earth--that Diana came to life. Not only did Gaea answer her mother's prayer for a child, but she also saw strong potential in Diana to do good on planet Earth.

Despite having created the universe and all of the intelligent life within it, Gaea also acknowledges that the life she created came with a destructive force--one that she hoped Diana would contrast. Being her best creation, Gaea blessed Diana with her own gifts and left it up to her to decide what to do with those gifts. Deciding that love, the Earth, and all the life residing within it was worth protecting, Diana makes the choice to use her gifts to that effect. Having said that, Gaea returns her to the Earth where Diana uses her newly awakened powers to take down the Titan by destroying its heart.

Having defeated the Titan, Diana thanks her friends, Etta Candy and Steve Trevor, for their assistance and for being there for her until the end of the line. However, she now feels that she must make the rest of her journey alone as there are more people in the world for her to protect. Not feeling content with her best friend leaving her like that, Etta Candy takes it upon herself to reunite with Diana by following the trail of all of her adventures--from her solo missions to her team-ups with the Justice Society of America. Finally locating her on a remote island, Etta catches her up on what she's been up to and proposes that the two make a trip to Gateway City.

Review: Wow! To say that this final issue brought the first chapter of Diana's journey to a satisfying conclusion is an understatement. In fact, it does more than just wrap up the first chapter. It actually sets up for the next exciting chapter of Diana journey! There are so many wonderful easter eggs and story beats in this final issue, I once again, have no bloody clue where to begin. So I guess I'll start in the right order of events: first, Diana's origin.

When Charles Moulton Marston first created the character of Wonder Woman in 1941, he always intended for her story to be feminine in every respect, and this included giving her a virgin birth of sorts by omitting the presence of a father. Originally, Marston accomplished this by writing Queen Hippolyta as sculpting a baby out of clay, and it was originally the goddess Aphrodite who gave life to that baby, effectively giving Diana two female parents. Writer and artist Renae De Liz continues that tradition in Legend of Wonder Woman, but steps it up a notch. Instead of having Aphrodite or any god from the Greek pantheon be her second parent, she made Gaea--mother nature herself--Diana's second mother.

It's a pretty ingenious take on Diana's classic origin, in my opinion, because it kind of parallels the origins of many mythological heroes, and even religious ones like Jesus of Nazareth who also had a divine birth of this magnitude. But instead of turning Diana into a female Jesus with an obligation to her divine parent, De Liz takes a different approach with Diana's character: she writes Gaea as giving Diana the choice of how to use her gifts.

The ability for one to make their own decisions has been a major recurring theme in De Liz' story that is brought full circle in the pages where Diana meets and interacts with her second mother. It even provides a significant contrast to the way Zeus wanted Diana to use his gifts. Whereas Zeus demanded loyalty and servitude as conditions for his gifts, Gaea proposed no such conditions to Diana, effectively demonstrating trust and unconditional love. Whereas Zeus demonstrates a lack of trust by requiring a transaction of sorts for his "services," Gaea by contrast leaves it to the individual to decide their own path and whether or not to use their gifts responsibly.

How Diana ultimately uses those gifts will either result in the universe rewarding Diana in some capacity, or she'll simply face the consequence of her actions. That's actually the philosophy of the Wiccan Law of Three-fold Return, which basically states that any energy you send out--negative or positive--will come back to you threefold. We actually kind of see this theme play out in the remainder of the issue with both Diana and the Duke of Deception.

Though the Duke learnt that he was being manipulated by Ares, it didn't change the fact that he did terrible things to accomplish his goals. So by the time he realised what he had done and sought redemption, he found himself alone on Mars and unable to atone for what he had done. Diana by contrast consistently felt a need to protect the good that existed in the world and actively fought to protect all that she loved with and without her powers. While she made the choice to self-sacrifice and purge all selfish desire as a way of achieving that goal, the universe still "rewarded" her with loyal friends who decided to accompany her in every step of her journey. They made that choice on their own because she inspired them to be their very best. It really all does go back to the overarching feminist message of Wonder Woman.

The rest of this issue sets up for the next chapter in Diana's journey. Amongst the easter eggs dropped in this issue is Diana's future encounter with Priscilla Rich as the Cheetah, which is hinted at when we see Priscilla's eyes become more cat-like. De Liz also mentions the Justice Society again in this issue, only this time Wonder Woman is acknowledged as an active member. Not only is this a throwback to Wonder Woman's membership into the Justice Society during the Golden Age, but it even foreshadows a future appearance of the team itself. (And of course, knowing me, I'll well over the moon to see that). Lastly, De Liz ends the issue with Etta mentioning Gateway City as a place worth checking out, effectively foreshadowing Diana's future residence there, and even fellow Justice Society member, Terry Sloane!

On the whole, this is the best Halloween treat to end this month with. And can we all agree that Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon created some gorgeous pages throughout this issue? I couldn't decide which ones to use for this review. THEY'RE ALL PRETTY!


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