WRITER: Greg Rucka
ARTIST: Nicola Scott
COLORS: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
LETTERS: Jodi Wynne
Release Date: 13 July 2016
“I can see the beauty of the Heavens, I can see the poetry in their motion. But all we do is bear witness. All of you remember before, Kasia. You can recall the world you left, even if the memories of it bring you pain. I’ve never seen what lies beyond our shores.”
(Diana Prince, Wonder Woman Vol. 5 #2 “Year One, Part One”)
Superhero comics from the Big 2 (DC and Marvel) are notorious for many things, including the difficulty of creating a story that’s interesting to long-time readers while still being accessible to new comics fans. This becomes even more complicated when the character is one of the earlier members of the superhero pantheon and has decades of contradictory story continuity. The current run of Wonder Woman is attempting to address this challenge by telling two stories simultaneously, in alternating issues: “The Lies” (an arc that started in the previous issue) depicts a current storyline and “Year One” (an arc that starts in this week’s issue) depicts an origin story.
Diana Prince, the superhero who will later be known as Wonder Woman, has lived her whole life on Themyscira with her sisters and, in the tradition of epic fantasy heroes and teenagers, wants to see the world beyond her home. Instructed to study the heavens, she instead looks to the horizon. Though we, as readers, know that she must eventually leave the island, the creative team effectively draws the reader into this place and makes it clear that this is Diana’s home and the other Amazons her family. Well-chosen passages of interaction between Diana and a few of the other Amazons establish her relationships with them. In the span of an issue, the creative team conveys the feeling of the home that Diana will be leaving, and as much as the reader wants her to be Wonder Woman, we also get a sense of what she will have to give up to see the rest of the world.
In the ongoing discussions about diversity in comics and other media, Wonder Woman holds a special place as being the few women among the earlier superheroes whose stories are still in publication today. That she lives on an island with other women has resulted in analysis regarding gender and LGBTQ themes in her story and, with a fanbase as old as she is, there have been years of speculation on when some creative team might make explicit the subtext that some fans have been reading into the story. With a story universe that passes from one generation to the next, from one creative team to the next, the characters change with the times. The retcon does magic above and beyond the powers of superheroes. No story can be all things to all people, but with the passages between Diana and the other women that have been included so far, there seems hope for some acknowledgement at least.
Interspersed with Diana’s story are the passages of two other characters: Steve Trevor (who also appears in the parallel current-day storyline) and Nick. The story develops a friendship between these two soldiers before their plane crashes on Themyscira. Other fans might have previously known who Steve is, but I certainly didn’t, and this issue provided some clarification on that point. The fact that the story apparently kills off Nick is upsetting (as it should be), and the story was effective (if archetypal) in generating sympathy for his character. I had been hoping to read more about him and his family. The supporting characters can shape the story in significant ways, and I’m hoping it’ll be fascinating to see how the other characters (in this issue and the previous two) influence Diana’s story and how she influences theirs.
I admit I’m a devotee of and evangelist for good origin stories; when done well, they can make the difference between becoming invested in a character’s story arc and considering there to be no discernible substance behind their adventures. Especially for fans like myself, who have always known of Wonder Woman but knew very little about Wonder Woman, her first story can have a big impact on our impression and decision of whether to continue reading about the character. Dedicating full issues to this origin story, rather than a few flashback panels, gives more room to show what motivates this character’s actions. It shows the reasons why Diana left her home in the first place alongside the mirror image story of her current journey to find her past, with both stories shown as having equal importance. Rather than erasing the past by restarting the story or dismissing the past by telling a story disconnected from it, the story effectively integrates the past into the current narrative. It’s two stories in one, but really, it reads like one story.
Ultimately, what I found in this issue is a comic worth reading, one that welcomes the reader to an old mythology and retells is slant. The dialogue between the characters is meaningful and memorable while seeming natural and the artwork is lovely and paced well, drawing the reader forward. The issues in this series so far acknowledge the contradictory continuity of superhero comics and use that fact to their advantage to build up the suspense. Our battle-worn Golden Age hero is a young woman again, and we see in her the face of the teenaged superheroes who, inspired by their predecessors, joined their ranks – but of course, she is their predecessor.
Dear reader, if you are (like me) a long-time superhero fan and new comics fan who often wonders where in the world (or superhero multiverse) to start reading the stories of classic characters like Wonder Woman: This series seems promising.
 Rucka G, Scott N, Fajardo Jr. R, Wynne J. Wonder Woman Vol. 3 #2 “Year One, Part One”. DC, 13 July 2016.