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Tom King talks 'Wonder Woman' #9 and the future of Trinity

Comic Books

Tom King talks ‘Wonder Woman’ #9 and the future of Trinity

Wonder Woman’s next chapter debuts May 21.

If you asked me, the ongoing Wonder Woman title has been one of the best examples of elevating superhero comics to something truly symbolic, thought-provoking, and empowering. A hero can achieve justice in various ways, but as writer Tom King and artist Daniel Sampere have shown us, Wonder Woman’s pursuit comes from a place that inspires us all. She’s even gotten a new catchphrase that aligns with their approach, “No thank you.”

In the latest story arc, “Sacrifice,” King and Sampere have pitted Wonder Woman against the all-new supervillain Sovereign in a total battle of the mind. Diana finds herself captured and can’t escape while Sovereign attempts to break her completely. In the three-issue story arc, she’s already battled against the lasso of lies, and in Wonder Woman #9 (out May 21), she is now enduring total isolation.

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!

I spoke to King recently about Wonder Woman #9 and his approach to the series at-large. Read on to get insights into this latest story arc and details on the series’ future, including when we’ll get more information on Trinity.

Then, be sure to tune into the AIPT Comics podcast this Sunday for an extended, unedited version of this conversation! We dig even deeper into King’s approach to Wonder Woman and also discuss his role in the Absolute Power summer event.

Tom King talks 'Wonder Woman' #9 and the future of Trinity

Main cover by Daniel Sampere and Tomeu Morey. Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: You’ve mentioned Diana’s a warrior for peace, and thus, every fight is a lost one. And now she’s Sovereign’s captive and not fighting at all. How have you taken this warrior of peace to a different level with this setup?

Tom King: Diane obviously has a plan here. She’s executing a plan that Sovereign doesn’t know about. And you’ll see it’s very purposely and that the sovereign captions are on pages where he knows what’s going on. And then there are pages, the Wonder Girl pages, where he doesn’t know what’s going on, and the captions suddenly disappear. The Wonder Girls are executing Diane’s plan, and part of her plan is to be captured by Sovereign. This is a three-issue arc, so it’s gonna be revealed in the next one. You don’t have to wait for the big twist for 12 issues. It’s called “Sacrifice.” And it’s basically three trials. It’s Sovereign trying in three different ways to break her.

In the first one, he used the Lasso of Lies. In the second one, he used isolation. It takes a very social person, a person who is raised by a village and leaves them alone, to just sort of let that be her torture because she can endure pain. Can she endure just loneliness? The third one’s already been announced. Cheetah plays a big role in how he tries to break her.

Tom King talks 'Wonder Woman' #9 and the future of Trinity

An unlettered page from Wonder Woman #9. Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: Just three issues, why not a 24-issue arc where she loses every time.

TK: Yeah. She just keeps losing. <laughs> I did that in Batman, you know. I famously did issues #50 through #75 as Batman, just losing. I learned my lesson.

She’s triumphant at the end of eight and and at the end of nine she’s also triumphant. The great theme of this book is a very simple direct theme. And that is Wonder Woman is awesome. I’m trying to sort of count down for you for many issues in many years, all the ways that Wonder Woman is the essential superhero.

AIPT: I think you’re pulling it off with Daniel Sampere wonderfully so far.

TK: Yeah. Well, Daniel’s killing it. I mean, it helps that everything you write turns beautiful <laugh>. That makes your job a lot easier.

As you pointed out, Diana doesn’t solve problems directly through violence. She’s not Batman, who I love to write. And even Superman, who I love to write even more, she does her best to instill her values. And yes, she’s often found in violent situations, and every time she’s in that, she’s losing a little bit. I think you’re seeing in this arc, how to portray a character in a superhero genre, which is essentially a violent genre. We’re, we’re, we’re essentially all about violence. Most of our comics are solved through punching. I love superheroes because of that.

Tom King talks 'Wonder Woman' #9 and the future of Trinity

An unlettered page from Wonder Woman #9. Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: What drew you to the line? “No, thank you.” I think it is amazing catchphrase that I would’ve never thought of being so empowering and cool.

TK: I was trying to give her a catchphrase. ‘Cause all she had was like, “By the bolt of Jove” and all these kind of things, or “Jumping Jupiter” and all that. I think sometimes the most radical act anyone can do is just to say “No.” To quote Taylor Swift, I wanna opt out of this narrative. What you think I am, what you think I should do, the story you are writing for me is not my story. I’m writing my own story.

And to add sort of the thank you to it is, is part of who Diana was. That she is saying no, but she has respect for everyone. She has love for everyone from a cockroach to a God. It’s an act of radical kindness. No, thank you.

AIPT: Issue #9 has a few interesting locations. One is clearly Barcelona, and another’s like a Great Gatsby party. How much thought went into each one of these locations?

TK: Diana is isolated. And to fight back against the isolation, she escapes into her mind. And she starts imagining herself with Steve Trevor. And she has sort of this ongoing conversation with Steve Trevor about whether she can survive this isolation. What you’re seeing is her solution to the problem, her solution to being locked up alone. And the easiest way to write that would’ve been to write one or two pages where she’s in her mind and another page where she’s back in the prison struggling, and then a page. And I decided to cut out all the struggling in the prison pages and just do the whole thing in her mind to not show the world that’s being enforced on her, but to only show the world she’s creating.

Each page is a jump forward. You’re going from a few days to a few weeks to a few months of her being isolated and struggling to maintain her own sanity. And that meant I had a lot of locations. So I was gonna explore all of Diana’s past. The first thing I did was, was contact Daniel and be like, what do you wanna draw, man? ’cause we can go anywhere. The wheels are off. What, what do you love?

It’s funny ’cause you named the pages. Daniel is very proud. He’s from Barcelona and is very proud of the city. So he wanted to do a Barcelona scene that showed it off. He wanted to do a great Gatsby scene that he asked. He’s like, I love the Great Gatsby aesthetic. I’ll do a splash there.

Tom King talks 'Wonder Woman' #9 and the future of Trinity

An unlettered page from Wonder Woman #9. Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: It brought me back to Barcelona. Daniel has so many “wow” moments. Is there a specific wow moment that you hold near and dear to your heart? A favorite?

TK: The big battle, her throwing the Washington Monument. I live here. I’m asking him to draw my backyard <laugh>. That image I just think is so brilliant and powerful.

AIPT: In issue #9, there’s also some talk of Westerns. I was curious: What is it about the Western that you think Diana loves, particularly?

TK: The origin of that is Daniel. When I was talking with Daniel about this comic, it came up that Daniel’s father was an illustrator, and he is a Western illustrator. Daniel was telling me, staring at his father’s illustrations and thinking that’s what America was and all of that stuff.

There’s a speech I gave to Diana. I stole it from Daniel. He talks about a Spanish artist who’s Daniel’s father. The West is much more complicated, obviously, than any of the sort of myth of it. But the myth is like that happy ending of two people riding off into the sunset of justice finally being done, of the soldier resting from war. I think that has a great appeal, to Diana.

Tom King talks 'Wonder Woman' #9 and the future of Trinity

An unlettered page from Wonder Woman #9. Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: Wonder Woman’s daughter Trinity has obviously slowly grown up in these backup stories. Will you be continuing the backup format in the foreseeable future? How much longer until we get to know her fully and how she got here?

TK: There is this three-issue arc called “Sacrifice” that ends with the next issue 10. Then, #11, #12, and #13 are the crossover issues, the Absolute Power issues.

Then in 14 is our huge issue that will go right to the Trinity story. Those three middle issues are being drawn by Tony Daniel, not bad. A-list Tony Daniel.

And then Daniel Sampere is returning for a huge Trinity issue, which I’m actually currently writing. It’s a huge 30-pager.

The backups will continue for as long as I will write them. ’cause they are so much fun. I love them. It’s my tribute to, you know, Calvin and Hobbes and Peanuts.

AIPT: You’ve got nine issues under your belt as of May 21. Has your run stayed the course from your original pitch? Or have you taken any surprising turns or tweaks?

TK: It stayed the course in some ways. I had a document where it was like, the rules, like the things we’re just gonna do and we’re not gonna do. No sword. I want this to be a lasso/tiara book. Like I want this to be the traditional weapons that have always sort of been associated with Wonder Woman. No gods. I was tired of Wonder Woman living in the clouds and being sort of ethereal, I wanted her to be on the ground. One of them was no Wonder Girls. I want this to be the Diana book. There are so many great characters in the Wonder Woman universe that I think she stops giving the protagonists of her own book very quickly.

I want this to be focused on, again, as I said in the beginning, why Wonder Woman is awesome.

Then the fans were like, let’s get some Wonder Girls out there. Let’s get some Wonder Girls. And they were making arguments to me at conventions, online, anywhere they could being like, “They’re important to this book.” And to be frank, I was convinced I was wrong and I was convinced that I had made a mistake. I like making strong arguments. I like being an arrogant writer, but I also like the fact that people can change my mind. And they changed my mind. And so I was like, okay, we’re gonna add Wonder Girls content to this. So bringing in those three and having them be a big part of the plot going forward. That was more fan-driven than me-driven.

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