ALL OF MY IRE can’t undo decisions that were made. The upcoming Wonder Woman movie will be set during World War I—Hollywood again declaring its love for jodhpurs—and the Amazonian princess Diana will stare, all romantic-faced, into the eyes a man (barf). But in the film’s accompanying wave of merchandising material and books, I have found one shining, silver lining: Jill Thompson’s Wonder Woman: The True Amazon.
Thompson is better known as an illustrator than an author—she illustrated the Sandman: Brief Lives story arc as well as copious other Vertigo/DC titles. When Thompson does write, it’s only for books she intends to illustrate—as she did with The True Amazon. This is doubtless to save some poor illustrator from having to live up to her expressive, colorful style. Thompson’s art is a true jewel of the comics industry and The True Amazon is a real pleasure, because it takes place on the magical island of Themyscira—a location comics readers have often wanted to visit but few artists have been able to imagine. Thompson is more than up to the challenge, and fills the mythical, women-only island with muscles, monsters, and Amazonians of color (although it would have been nice to see a main or supporting character of color).
On the other hand, I’ll warn you that Thompson’s writing, while good, is aimed at a young audience. I liked her award-winning Scary Godmother series for the art, but I would put her recommended reader age in the “child to tween” category. I suspect that The True Amazon is aimed at the same demographic, because at the beginning of the book, the narration edges around rape threats that male soldiers (and Zeus!) are making towards Wonder Woman’s mother, Queen Hippolyta, and her all-female Amazonian army. Thompson deftly gets to the heart of why the soldiers want to harm the Amazonians without addressing how. She does this without looking away from the violence, but with compassion for the sensitivities of her young fans.
Since Wonder Woman’s character creation in the 1940s, she has borne an unfortunate curse: Though often beautifully depicted, Wonder Woman is consistently poorly written. A couple exceptions are Christopher Moeller’s A League of One (where Wonder Woman fights a DRAGON) and her brief but haunting appearance in Planetary’s Terra Occulta series. I’m adding The True Amazon to the list.