In Earth One, the team of Yanick Paquette and Grant Morrison create a world that echoes the spirit of the Amazon warrior. The book opens with the Amazons fighting a Nazi superwoman and her military invasion force. The battle scenes that kick off the book show a Utopian vision of fighting women. The Amazons brave warriors with astounding fighting skills and superior weapons who continually argue for peace and mercy even as they crush the troops under their boot heels. In fact, the evil fräulein is shown the evil of her ways when she puts on the Venus Girdle and is given a chance to redeem herself. But these women aren’t soft. They are warriors who will not back down from defending their homeland, and that grit shines even through their mercy.
That opening battle sets the tone for this graphic novel, which smartly alternates between major set-piece action scenes and equally powerful moments that build character.
Character is very much at the center of this book, or more precisely humanity. This is a book where people look each other in the eye, give each other sincere smiles, and have long and thoughtful conversations which sincerely illuminate their inner thoughts. It’s refreshing to read a graphic novel where people smile without gritting their teeth. It’s even more refreshing for one of our heroine’s most important moral dilemmas to be how she can fight the hegemonic hypocrisy of the modern world.
Though Wonder Woman Earth One Book Two takes its time starting its main story, eventually Morrison and Paquette show Diana’s adversary in a clever way. The man’s name is Dr. Psycho and the amazon rescues him in a spectacular set-piece where Diana wears the perhaps most boldest burka ever created.
That action scene is spectacularly rendered by Paquette, but what makes this sequence so interesting is the moments after the rescue. Wonder Woman and Dr. Psycho sit down for drinks and soon find themselves debating ideas like loving submission, the boldness of judging other societies and the importance of love.
Dr. Psycho is shown as the intellectual and emotional equal of Wonder Woman. Their seemingly sincere connection makes his eventual conversion into evil more compelling. The conversations do a wonderful job of setting up the Nick Cave lookalike as a strong adversary for her.
As with the first volume of this series, Morrison and Paquette set up a stunning and unique world for the heroine. Paquette’s art is ornate and gorgeous, with a bold eye for both detail. His characters look as if they can step off the lushly detailed pages at any time because they are bursting with live and because he includes small, telling details that illuminate the inner lives of even the most minor supporting characters.
Morrison creates the world from which these characters can step, a place as confusing and weird and inexplicable as our own world. It’s a world of tradition and of family and that is continually striving to become its best self. It’s a world that needs a strong heroine. Preferably one who is not afraid to smile.