'The Legend Of Wonder Woman' Is A Brand New Take On The Superheroine's Iconic Origin Story
It's not easy to tell a good origin story, especially when you're taking on one of the most recognizable superheroes in this universe. But Renae De Liz's The Legend of Wonder Woman is a masterful retelling, blending comic book history, real world mythology, and gorgeous artwork to create a standalone story for all ages. Here's Renae De Liz on her inventive new origin story for the one and only Wonder Woman.
Artist and writer Renae De Liz would not be out of place on Themyscira, Wonder Woman's home island of the Amazons. She's the creator of the highly acclaimed Womanthology project, and of the series Lady Powerpunch! so it's safe to say that De Liz understands powerful women. As an artist, she's also worked on New York Times Best-Seller The Last Unicorn, Jennifer Love Hewitt's Music Box, and Anne Rice's Servant of the Bones, among others. She also just happens to be one of the first women to both write and draw a Wonder Woman series.
With The Legend of Wonder Woman, De Liz brings us back to ancient Greece, following a young Diana from her birth through her childhood and first efforts as a young heroine in our world (and you won't find a more adorable depiction of baby Diana anywhere).
Renae De Liz let Bustle in on the process of writing and illustrating The Legend of Wonder Woman:
It will surprise no one to learn that Wonder Woman is one of the most popular superheroes of all time—not just female superheroes, but superheroes at large. So, naturally, Diana means a lot of different things to different people, which De Liz took into account. "When it comes to creating Wonder Woman’s stories, I feel there are a lot of sensitivities to keep in mind because she embodies feminism itself, an incredibly important topic that can be easily mishandled and misrepresented," she says. "It can be a difficult balancing act to portray her in a way that’s true to her strong feminist stance, while also reaching out to promote change in those that may be opposed to feminism, or don't understand it."
It's a tall order, to do justice to Wonder Woman's character and everything she stands for, but The Legend of Wonder Woman is up to the task. "In order to ensure Diana’s personality wasn’t diminished, I tried to put her character first, but balancing everything was the most difficult task," says De Liz. "On top of that, being one of the first women to write and draw a series for Wonder Woman is mega pressure!"
Over seventy-five years of comic book history adds quite a bit of pressure, too. As any comic book fan can tell you, Wonder Woman and co. have been reinvented many a time over the years, but De Liz turned to the very first Wonder Woman comics to inform her brand new story. "As far as which stories factored into mine, Wonder Woman’s original stories inspired me the most because I think it’s where that spark of purpose and creativity began," she says. "I did cherry pick a few things out of other eras I felt complemented her legacy too, but my focus has always been the Golden Age stories Marston first created, and trying to promote that original feeling of Wonder Woman in an updated way."
Comic books weren't the only inspiration for De Liz, either. The Legend of Wonder Woman draws from Greek mythology as well, weaving myths and ancient history into the fabric of this Wonder Woman story. "For Hippolyta and the Amazons I spent a good amount of time researching how to create a backstory that was viable in many real myths surrounding them. This is why you see Hippolyta's marriage to Theseus, the death of Penthisilea, and hints at other events such as the Trojan War. I wanted Diana to be born and raised in that time long lost, where Gods and mythological beasts were real," she says.
For all the mythology nerds out there, I'll just say that there are some pretty great mythological cameos. What little Amazon doesn't dream of meeting Pegasus, after all?
Beyond the Greco-Roman backdrop, De Liz also ties in classic DC mythology as Diana finds her super-powered footing. "But for the rest of the series beyond Themyscira, I wanted to mix mythology, DC lore, and real life in a way that allows Diana’s roots in Greek myth to shine, she's also not defined by it," she says. "You'll see this most with her final ascent into power. The story behind it is based on mythological creation, but also spun together in a way so Wonder Woman can have adventures anywhere and have it make sense. This is important in order to give her an even better standing amongst all the other Super Heroes in the DC Universe." Diana gets her start in a world of myth and magic, but she could be headed anywhere.
Diana does venture into our world (or DC's version of it, anyway) in the second half of the book. She continues to fight monsters and forge strong female friendships, even in the real world. And no matter how many Wonder Woman comics you've read, it's hard not to get chills when she first dons her iconic outfit to go serve some justice.
So why has Wonder Woman stayed culturally relevant for the better part of a century? According to De Liz, "Wonder Woman’s strength, bravery, and sense of justice are all characteristics we aspire to have. But what makes her even more special is that for 75 years, she’s stood up amongst her male counterparts as an equal, never wavering in her fight for what’s right in the world."
"Wonder Woman’s history, and the meaning behind her existence, is something extraordinarily special and important to many of us," says De Liz.
But of course, besides being an incredibly meaningful cultural figure and an icon for powerful women, Wonder Woman is just a ton of fun. "I created the series with a lot of passion to share the adventure, fun and positivity of superheroes with readers of all ages, and I hope people will pick it up for themselves, as well as that important young one in their lives," says De Liz. This might not be the last hero to get the De Liz treatment, either. "If it does well, perhaps I can branch out to other characters, and further explore all the amazing Super Heroes in the DC Universe," she says.
The Legend of Wonder Woman is pretty much everything you could want out of a superhero origin story: beautiful artwork, compelling characters, unapologetic feminism, flying horses, and pure fun. Or, as De Liz puts it, "to all those who have already read it, thank you so much for coming along on the adventure! Woo Woo!"
The Legend of Wonder Woman Vol. 1, $22.74, Amazon
Images: DC Entertainment