Reviewing 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.
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.
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!
One thought on “Is This Feminist? The Legend of Wonder Woman by Renae de Liz”
Good review as always girl, but I gotta disagree with you on the feminist front. To me this is one of the most feminist Wonder Woman retellings because it focuses on themes of mother-daughter relationships, mother-daughter love, and female friendships. Etta Candy and the Holiday Girls are together for the first time since the Golden Age and instead of Diana’s relationship with Steve being the main focus, her friendship with Etta is the heart of the story and Etta is her anchor to the human world in the same way Steve and Julia Kapatelis have been in the past.
I also think Hippolyta’s desire for a child and inability to conceive one will struck a chord with many women who have dealt with similar issues in real life. Since sisterhood seems to be the foundation of the story and each female character has agency, I would definitely consider this feminist, but I do prefer the George Perez run overall and felt that this book did not have enough action for a superhero comic. I adored the story and themes, but I agree that there are better Wonder Woman stories. I still prefer this over the New 52 run and Earth One and this is in my top 10 list of favorite Wonder Woman stories, but it is flawed.
It certainly did a better job at bringing Diana back to her Golden Age roots than Earth One since the Amazons are likable heroes with some rogue members and not complete man haters that reinforce negative feminist stereotypes and since it takes place during WW2 like the Golden Age and includes Etta as a college student and her band of college friends. Quite a few aspects and themes from the Golden age are brought back here, while Earth One was all about the ambiguous bondage aspect of the character. Because all of that, I do think this is the best retelling we have had of the Golden Age version of WW besides Bombshells.
I think the biggest problem with The Legend of Wonder Woman, was Diana herself. While she was kind, intelligent, and a true hero she lacked the charming, extroverted, and vivacious personality that usually sets Diana apart from her more brooding or stoic counterparts. In fact, their version of Diana was pretty dull, but I LOVED Etta! She was amazing and it is my favorite version of Etta Candy so far!