Wonder Girl #1 review

Born in Brazil, raised in Boise, Yara Flow is taking her first trip to the land of her birth since she was brought the the US as a tot. On the plane, she’s dreaming.

In Rio de Janeiro, Yara’s bus tour is interrupted by a road accident, prompting her to leap into action.

The pleasant holiday she hoped for isn’t going as planned. And things look set to get a lot worse, as she’s gained the attention of three very powerful groups.

So far as debut issues go, this is more about flavour than detail. Writer Joelle Jones doesn’t spell out Yara’s background, or show her powers. She does, though, provide plenty of intrigue, via scenes in Themyscira, Olympus and Bana-Mighdall. That’s the original Amazons, their heavenly patrons and their bad girl offshoot, all panicked, apparently, by Yara making contact with her home soil. Whatever could it all mean? I’m certainly intrigued by Eros being told to prepare the Olympian equivalent of the Death Star – with the former cherub in charge, it’s most likely a love bomb.

It’s a safe bet Yara’s dream is a memory; it seems that, as with Donna Troy, being rescued by Diana put her on the path to Wonder Girl-dom. With that ponytail and cute face, Yara even looks like the original Donna Troy as drawn by the great Nick Cardy.

Usually, evoking an artistic titan would be unfair to a younger artist, but Jones is drawing as well as writing and, as she’s proved time and again, she is a superb illustrator. Page after page of sumptuous scenes catch the eye, full of great-looking people, brilliant backgrounds and the odd magical creature. Yara is gorgeous, but not over-sexualised – she’s in charge and take-charge. She seems flighty, with her constant chatting, but the second things get serious, she’s there, diving in to save the day. And something about the way Jones draws her tells us Yara has a rich inner life.

We saw Nubia, Diana’s sister, named Amazon queen in the Infinite Frontier special, and she looks to be settling into the role well; often played as a hothead, here Nubia shows regal assurance. And she look blooming brilliant, with her breastplate over her gown and fabulously rendered braids.

Laying down the colours that give extra life to the illustrations is the great Jordie Bellaire; she helps make the characters distinctive and evokes the heat of Brazil. I’d love her to have another pass at the official costume, which doesn’t appear inside this issue – the red of the outfit is too similar to Yara’s skin, more contrast would be great.

Ace letterer Clayton Cowles lets loose with marvellously ornate classical fonts to set the scene for the Meanwhile moments, as well as having fun with the dialogue and captions. His thoughtful work suits the tone of the book.

The cover by Jones and Bellaire is (big surprise) gorgeous, Yara looks fierce. The logo is a tad underwhelming, mind, too blobby by half.

This comic opens with a scene of chaos, and ends on a quiet cliffhanger. In between it’s pure fun. Give it a go.

14 thoughts on “Wonder Girl #1 review

  1. This was a beautifully illustrated book, and I think it’s going to be a winner.

    PLEASE DC DON’T GO AND STICK A BACKUP STORY IN IT! It’s perfectly nice this way. Isn’t it just plain fresh to read a 22-page book and put it down? It’s satisfying.

    I came to Catwoman out of curiosity, and stayed for Joelle Jones. As an artist, she’s a fantastic story-teller. And I like her approach to writing – at least with Catwoman, she wrote minimal text, letting her art carry the story. (Eventually her tale of Selina in Villa Hermosa dragged on way too long – perhaps the series was not supposed to last as long as it has. There was always the question of where DC was going to take Catwoman and Batman next.) Her Catwoman employed extreme decompression. You’d get one or two scenes, little talk, ZERO EXPOSITION, and the book would be over in 5 minutes. That meant I could spend another 10 or more minutes just running through it a few more times to look more closely at Jones’s work.

    It was nice to look in on Cassie Sandsmark for a moment, and I hope Cassie still shows up from time to time. If there can be a Green Lantern Corps, why not a Wonder Girl Corps?

    Speaking of that montage, any idea who the man smoking the pipe is? There probably aren’t too many pipe-smoking characters hanging out in what appears to be — grasslands? (I hope he doesn’t set fire to the place accidentally.)

    That looks like the red-haired nature-spirit-child-goddess from Future State looking on. Good! She was a good foil, l so I’m glad we’ll be seeing more of her. It makes perfect sense that we would.

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    1. The pipe chap intrigued me too, I hope we meet him soon – perhaps he’ll be the father of Yara’s new taxi driver dad. And yes to Cassie too. It does make me laugh that DC has to put in the Siegel and Shuster credit even when all we get is a one-panel silent cameo.

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  2. So, I haven’t picked this up yet by gosh she is an amazing artist. I am intrigued to learn who the armored men are at the beginning. Ares and/or his followers? The outfitting seems very much Greek godly..

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  3. I think I’ll get this, despite my dislike of an unnecessary new Wonder Girl (The babbling new Wasp hit me that way too but it didn’t skirt true diversity by having Nadia raised in the US and going to be her homeland’s savior). The Nubia bit did it. Nubia’s original debut was awkward but she’s always struck a chord with me. I prefer Wonder Woman as Zeus’s daughter and hope Nubia gets the same treatment. Though maybe she could be the daughter of a different sky god?

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    1. A different sky god would be great – I’ve never been terribly comfortable with the idea that Nubia’s racial characteristics are due to her being made from darker clay. If she has to be a clay baby, I’d rather it have been the same clay – surely the patron goddesses could have chosen to make Nubia Black because, why not? We see Black Amazons all the time.

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  4. “It’s a safe bet Yara’s dream is a memory; it seems that, as with Donna Troy, being rescued by Diana put her on the path to Wonder Girl-dom.”
    I’ve reread the scene you’re talking about a couple of times and I’m confused. Why do you think Yara was rescued by Diana? Which character is Wonder Woman? The one with the triangular headband (who presumably gets killed)? The one with the eye band who runs off with Yara into the jungle? Or the character that steps in front of the sword (and who maybe has a “W” shaped breast plate) who seems to come from nowhere and isn’t seen again… unless this is the same character who ends up on the ground dead. In which case… she isn’t Diana.
    I enjoyed the issue alot, but one of my worries with artist/writers is that they tend to rely on their art telling more of the story than their words, and sometimes (oftentimes?) they need some words to make the pictures to people who aren’t living in head of the artist. I get that this is a dream sequence so it’s not meant to be clear, but it’s an issue I’ve noticed in enough comics by writer/artists that I’m won’t be surprised if I come across other scenes that are less than clear in future issues.
    Anyway… which one is Diana, and what led you to think it’s her?

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    1. I took it that Diana was the headband/tiara woman who saved Yara – and then died. Or seemed to die, that sword seemed to be hitting her metal necklace, perhaps the impact knocked her out and the blood on Yara’s face is from when she pierced a leg, a page or two earlier… mind, that had the same sound effect as when ‘Diana’ was struck, making it more likely she was killed. Who knows, it may be a memory but Diana was later revived, it may be a dreamscape deal…

      … which ties in with your point that writer-artists can presume too much. I agree entirely. I’m sure all will be revealed, though.

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      1. Y’all don’t think that was Yara’s biological mother that was killed? I swear I didn’t get a Diana vibe from the woman who lost her head…

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      2. Steve, I can see a “wonder Woman” type of expression on the face of the character being killed (unless she isn’t killed). And I like the idea of Diana saving another orphan and putting her on the path of being Wonder Girl. But I also think it would have been cool if Donna was the one to rescue the child. In a way, it would have been like she’s paying it forward and then Yara would be a legacy character to both Diana and Donna.

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  5. I thought her mom sacrificed herself, and then either her aunt, the one she’s been living with in Boise, or someone else from the group, led her away.

    I agree that Jones’s typically very lean text can lead to in some cases to overly ambiguous situations. Either Jones doesn’t think it matters, or she does think it’s clear and she’s probably not entirely correct with all readers. It’s the job of an editor, I think, to make sure that it works as intended.

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    1. T.N., I suspect it’s a case that Jones feels that the art is strong enough to tell the story and doesn’t need the words. And if she’s chatted with the editor back and forth about her story, I suspect that the editor feels the scene works, because they’ve already gone over the story beats for this issue and the ones that are upcoming. The editor has a clearer picture of the story. They almost need an editor to the editor. Someone fresh who hasn’t been involved in story discussions… someone who is just going to read the story and say… “Um… what? I don’t understand what’s happening. Is that the response you were hoping for at this point in the story?”

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  6. Yara was the star of my favorite Future State book so I was more than happy to follow her to the prequel. It’s not yet quite as loopy as the FS WW, but I’m sure it’ll get there. I was hoping that Joao would be a series regular after this, and as of #2, he’s still around. I really like him bouncing off Yara.

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