Brooklyn artist reinvents Wonder Woman

Brooklyn artist reinvents Wonder Woman
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Wonder Woman was born on Paradise Island, but her life as a comic book heroine has been hell.

Her unlikely origin story began with polygraph pioneer William Moulton Marston, a feminist theorist and psychologist with an apparent bondage fetish, who invented the Amazon warrior princess with the blue eyes and ample — ahem — ringlets of hair. And for eight decades since her creation, she has been wrestled into submission and tied up by one-too-many alterations, leaving her with a dearth of fans, despite the way she turns fanboys’ heads when she snaps a villain’s neck.

But Prospect Heights artist Cliff Chiang, has come to her rescue with a fresh reboot.

In this past Wednesday’s release of the “0” issue, Diana of Themyscira finally gets an origin story that is cogent and concise, has a bold 1960s Marvel art style, and presents a clear theme: when a coming-of-age hero is taken under the wing of Ares, she must decide if death is necessary for justice.

“It’s not a standard origin story where we show how she left Paradise Island, but it is about her character and a specific moment of how she grows into a hero,” Chiang said. “The ‘0’ issue deals with Wonder Woman’s childhood. We hint at it not being as rosy as one might think. She’s a princess in a culture that prizes skill and achievement, so she’s always had to prove herself worthy of the title.”

Chiang and writer Brian Azzarello’s work is a part of DC’s attempt to relaunch its entire line of comics, branding them “The New 52” and starting each character with a clean slate. This has given the duo the opportunity to craft a new narrative for the femme fighter, showing her slug it out with Apollo, wrestle with Poseiden’s tentacled minions, and nearly marry Hades.

“Our job for ‘The New 52’ was explicitly to reinterpret the classic Wonder Woman story in a way that would be accessible for new readers and exciting for long-time fans,” Chiang said. “We’ve made some people angry, but we’ve also gained a different audience that had never picked up a Wonder Woman comic before, and I think that speaks to the strength of what we’re doing.”

And in reintroducing the woman warrior to new audiences, Chiang didn’t feel as though he was tasked with redeeming the character — just doing what it took to get her right.

“We’ve been given a fair amount of artistic license in interpreting the designs, and for me, it was about simplifying and streamlining, and making her feel distinct and believable as an Amazon warrior. Her height and build, her big Mediterranean hair, the cut of her shorts, those were all things I had to consider carefully. She couldn’t look like a runway model, or a swimsuit model. You have to believe this woman can take down a monster,” he said.

“Love it or hate it, people are talking about Wonder Woman, and that hasn’t happened for a while.”

“Wonder Woman” issue No. 0 is will be available Sept. 19, and can be found at Bergen Street Comics [470 Bergen St. between Flatbush and Fifth avenues in Park Slope, (718) 230–5600]; Desert Island [540 Metropolitan Ave. near Union Street in Williamsburg, (718) 388–5087]; Galaxy Comics [429 Fifth Ave. between Eighth and Ninth streets in Park Slope, (718) 499–3222, and 6823 Fifth Ave. near 68th Street in Bay Ridge, (718) 921–1236]; St. Mark’s Comics [148 Montague St. between Henry and Clinton streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 935–0911].