Children's & Middle Grade · Comics

Is This Feminist? The Legend of Wonder Woman by Renae de Liz

Legend of Wonder Woman coverReviewing Wonder Woman comics for feminism is something of a tradition around here, (Grant Morrison, George Perez, the Bombshells version), so I wanted to make sure and talk about the latest trendy rendition, The Legend of Wonder Woman by Renae de Liz. The short version is it’s a cute book but there’s not much to talk about re: feminism.

Most people talk about the art, and it is indeed adorable. I especially love Etta Candy’s design. The plot is similar to the movie plot, but the specifics are all different, so this is certainly good for movie fans who want to try comics. And it’s suitable for younger readers, so it’s a great option if you’re wondering where your kid can start reading. I also noticed some creative worldbuilding choices — Themyscira feels big and open, full of fantastic animals and more than five Amazons. There’s a divide between mortal and immortal Amazons that adds a kind of class distinction, and a strong “amnesia when humans leave the island” element. I also really liked the “Amazons have been softened by peace” theme, because I’ve always wondered why they’d maintain a warrior society with no one to fight.

The Legend of Wonder Woman 011 #1 (2016) - Page 6
Etta Candy and the Holliday Girls

All that’s interesting, but this is a post about feminism, and there’s just not much material to go on. It’s not anti-feminist, and there’s an exchange in which Diana & Co. are shocked that she can’t enlist in the military because she’s a woman. Diana seeing Steve for the first time is no big deal, and there’s no man-hating from the Amazons, just uncertainty. I also liked that instead of reacting to human women with horror, seeing Etta with her friends reminds Diana of Amazonian camaraderie. But one of the foundational tensions in the book is that Hippolyta is openly being punished for having and wanting sex with a man (because she wanted a child). These are mostly minor parts, so all together it gives me the impression of a generalized modern feminism, but no strong point of view or feminism-on-purpose.

Legend of Wonder Woman - Hippolyta
“Ages passed, and while the Amazons flourished, Hippolyta’s sorrow festered. That is why, during the raid of Hercules and Theseus, she felt a moment of weakness… for could not the mighty Theseus deliver her to a mortal life, and to children? Thus began the downfall of the Amazons.”

Regarding intersectionality, I have a problem with Alcippe, the only dark-skinned Amazon, being referred to as a “brute” in her introduction. There’s also no overt queerness, even less than there was in Perez, but Hippolyta calls Alcippe “My true… friend” in what I find to be a very suggestive way, and later on Diana mentions attending marriage ceremonies in her youth, so you can assume it’s there if you want (and I do).

I’d heard great things about this comic, and some of them are quite true. There’s nothing super wrong with it, just not much feminism-related content at all. I must say though, having read a lot of Wonder Woman versions and seen the movie, this one just didn’t have enough different things in it to grab me. For me, it’s not a case of “great book with no feminism,” it was just a mostly unremarkable experience all around. That shouldn’t stop you from picking it up if it’s speaking to you though, especially if you’re choosing for a young reader!

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