Wonder Girl #1 is in this odd place where it’s reintroducing a character readers just met for the the first time recently in Future State: Wonder Woman #1 and haven’t learned too much significant information about. It has to both satisfy the needs of a first issue, a basic introduction, and a second issue, and must move the plot forward to convince readers to stay. Excitingly though, the most effective thing about this debut issue might be its multiple reasons in which to come back. Joelle Jones’ overarching story threads feel like big promises every DC reader is going to want to be keeping up with.
Wonder Girl: An Amazon from the Amazon (OH, I get it now)
There’s a certain success Jones has in this first issue which cannot be ignored. It’s simply effective in establishing an origin for our character, a growing mystery, a connection to the larger world and prevalent themes. This is a clear mission statement for the trajectory of the series, and it’s a gripping one.
Wonder Girl is set firmly within the Wonder Woman mythology, and ties a little more directly to it in this first issue than readers might expect. In fact, the series’ larger mystery stems from larger players in the Wonder Woman mythology, which is why readers will likely find themselves curious and enthralled with what might be going on here.
This is seemingly meant to play into Yara Flor’s search for identity, and discovery of origin, which she’s seeking. It’s an interesting choice, but a timeless and simple one, to have Flor actively seeking the answers to her natural origin as a catalyst for discovering her supernatural one.
Jones also effectively lays the groundwork to pit two mythologies against each other here. It’s clear this will come to represent Flor’s contrasting identities as a Brazilian and a citizen of the United States, and it’s encouraging to see the groundwork being confidently and effectively laid from the very start.
Jones’ biggest flaw here as a writer is that in spending so much time building narrative and thematic structures, she robs readers of a really effective amount of time with Flor. While elements of her personality are present, and her desires and struggle can be quite clear, there just aren’t enough unique character moments to endear readers to her yet. Moments of heroism or personality here are often based in archetypal tropes, in a very similar way as to how they were in Future State: Wonder Woman.
Even in smaller details, such as her age, Flor’s characterization doesn’t quite seem to be on sure footing yet. The thing is, if this is the biggest problem in a first issue, it’s a pretty strong success. Readers should just hope to see some of the personality Flor displayed in Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman to trickle over here.
Artistically, Jones is a master of her craft. Certain things she pulls off here are impressive feats among every artist working at the company. Specifically, readers will be blown away by how quickly and concisely she’s able to establish separate and distinct visual identities for each Amazonian tribe present in the book. She draws from each tribe’s real world regions, previous portrayals and the time period each came up in to deliver sleek and impressive depictions.
This attention to detail carries over to her depiction of the world these characters are living in. Rio de Jainero is clearly not New York, London or any other western city. Architecture, signage and Jordie Bellaire’s sunbaked coloring make sure readers won’t have any problems differentiating it. Similarly, Jones pays a special amount of attention to the clothes characters wear, and what their real world counterparts would. Flor is the picture of what a young woman here age would likely look like, and details like that make the book feel infinitely more immersive.
Additionally, Jones is a master of working with character posture. Throughout the book it seems as if she’s drawn from a real world source, positioning characters in an almost photo-real way. The whole book is beautiful.
Lastly, Wonder Girl #1 is in a somewhat interesting position, as there are two other comics which might immediately leap to readers’ minds in comparison. The first is the aforementioned Future State: Wonder Woman #1, and the second is 2014’s Ms. Marvel #1, which also introduced a new teenage hero into one of their companies most prominent female legacies.
In comparison to the former, Wonder Girl is simply different. It eschews the established world and supporting cast, for world building. Flor isn’t fully formed here in the way she might’ve seemed in her debut, and the focus isn’t nearly as narrow on her here as in that debut. This feels much more like the framework for a long-lasting character and series then that ever did.
The latter comparison seems apropos considering the way in which both characters seem anointed with, or burdened with, success before they’ve even fully debuted. Each company was running with their respective character no matter the series quality, and that’s an odd place to be in. Here, Jones and DC seem much more concerned with getting Flor immediately into the wider DC narrative than Wilson and Marvel did. There isn’t the same quiet opening which gives readers the opportunity to sit with the protagonists supporting cast and relate to their reality here.
It’s also apparent the two companies don’t see the same type of character fitting the “relatable teenager” trope. Flor and Khan have very little in common, and it will be interesting to see if one finds more success over time.
Wonder Girl #1 is built from the ground up as a reason to come back and learn more about this character. It’s almost clinical, and maybe falters for it, but any reader even remotely interested in this character will almost certainly have their fancy tickled. It’s an exciting first issue that seems to promise a huge impact on the DC world at large. It’s tough to deny that Jones and Bellaire brought their A-game.
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