Release: November 2016
Writer: Greg Rucka
Pencils & Inks: Nicola Scott
Diana and Steve are cute together in this Year One comic, I’ll give them that. I can’t imagine a single person in the world of 2016 who actually cares about these two as a relationship, but it’s nice to at least understand why they used to be into each other through this comic. A large part of it is how Nicola Scott draws Diana. Especially in this comic, her expressions are incredible, a giant woman in a world she doesn’t understand, every emotion writ large across her face. This is a Diana that can be scared, shy, curious, and happy all in sudden broad sweeps that speak to a younger, more open Diana that is confronting the larger world for the first time. It’s incredible art, and I could fill this whole blog with just Diana faces.
When they land back in the good old US of A the military immediately collects both of them, and the dead that they carry. The invisible jet basically disintegrates the minute it touches down, much to the consternation of those who wished to study it. Steve is brought to a debriefing room. Diana is held in a jail cell, not quite sure what’s going on but trying her best to do her job to make a good first impression. Everyone seems taken with the Amazon, with photographers trying to get her to pose for the mugshot we’ve seen Steve carry in the present day book, and Etta Candy desperately trying to turn up someone who can translate Diana’s speech. They get an Ancient Greek guy, but Diana just loudly complains that he’s talking nonsense, and they realize that he’s making no progress. They’ll have to fly in a different expert, and it’ll take at least a day, so Diana will have to sit in jail overnight. I particularly love how Diana immediately latches onto Etta as the authority figure here as the first woman she’s really seen since landing.
During that night Steve goes to the wife of his best friend, who was killed in the crash that brought him to Themyscira, to see his godchild and bring her the bad news and commiserate. I wonder if this is going to be presented as Steve’s actual love interest in this book? I can’t imagine they’re going to spin their wheels with Diana and Steve for all that long, it’s exhausted ground as a romantic pairing and there’d be much better material with them as strange close friends who understand each other despite everything. Meanwhile, back in jail, Diana is having a long dark night of the soul when she receives some strange visitors. An array of animals all appear to her in her cell, for as-yet-untold but clearly magical purposes.
The next day we’re introduced to linguist and professor Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva, as she’s running a class only to be interrupted by the sound of a helicopter outside her window. I know that #8 of this comic, not yet out, is about Barbara Ann’s origins; I’m really curious just how they’ll depict her. In the handful of pages she appears in in this book, she’s seen as a teacher people like but there’s something about her design and how she’s written that seems … off? Not in a bad way, but in like a charming ‘this is a weird woman’ sort of way. I imagine her as somewhere between the hammy pre-Poison Ivy Pamela Isley that Uma Thurman played in Batman & Robin and Kate McKinnon’s Holtzmann in the newest Ghostbusters film. Honestly, those are kind of the same character, but I stand buy it. Either way, she seems to be a much more skilled linguist and on-the-fly starts to pick apart what Diana is hurriedly trying to say about her visitors from the night before.
As Barbara Ann struggles to understand this new language, Diana rushes to explain that the animals who visited her in the night were the gods in animal form, all here to offer her gifts to help deal with her struggles in the world of men. Etta gets in an argument with Barbara Ann about getting to the point, ignoring Diana, right up until the point where Diana gets too frustrated and offers to show off her gifts by ripping the door of the jail cell out of the wall in front of the shocked humans.
It’s one of the more subtle points of the Wonder Woman origins but her superpowers, the flight and super strength, all stem from after her being awarded the title of Champion both here and in the Vol 2 origin we’ve already covered. I like that a lot. The Amazons aren’t all a race of superbeings (something I know isn’t true in some of the most infamous incarnations of Wonder Woman we’ll someday cover) but a group of just giant women who happen to be immortal and well studied. I think that says a lot about who Diana is before she becomes Wonder Woman, really. She’s someone who wasn’t always invulnerable. Sure she lived forever, but that still meant farming and getting banged up and having a relatively normal (if probably greatly prolonged) childhood. While understanding the world of men might be a struggle, she understands what it means to be a person, and that’s an important distinction.