Wonder Girl #1 review: DC’s spectacular expansion of Wonder Woman comics Leave a comment

Wonder Girl #1 owes it existence to a simple question: What if there was an Amazon from the Amazon?

That is, what if there was a Wonder Woman from the actual Amazon basin; from Brazil, a hotbed of growing fandom with an appetite for superhero comics? DC’s answer, a young warrior by the name of Yara Flor, debuted this January, but she was only Wonder Woman in a vision of a potential future.

Today, Yara makes her debut in main DC Comics canon in a vanishingly rare thing for the Wonder Woman title: a spinoff series. Say hello to your new Wonder Girl.

Who is making Wonder Girl?

Yara Flor and Wonder Girl spring fully formed from the mind and pen of Joëlle Jones, veteran of Catwoman, Batman, and the Eisner-nominated Ladykiller, who is both writing and drawing the new series. Coloring and lettering is provided by Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles, each of whom has many, many credits on many, many great books.

What is Wonder Girl #1 about?

A very young girl charges through a flaming forest, brandishing her knife bravely in Wonder Girl #1, DC Comics (2021).

Image: Joëlle Jones/DC Comics

Our new Wonder Girl, though she doesn’t know it yet, is Yara Flor, a young Brazilian-American woman raised by her aunt and uncle in Idaho. Yara is confident, friendly, somewhat self-absorbed, and on her first big adult adventure — visiting her parents’ native Brazil for a “heritage tour” to get in touch with her roots.

And the entire mythical world is watching her progress very closely.

Why is Wonder Girl happening now?

Wonder Girl is the product of an interesting confluence of creative initiative and an idea whose time had really come, underscored best by how The CW tried to develop a television show based around Yara Flor before she’d even gotten on a page.

Very few female creators have worked with Wonder Woman over the years. Today, it would be a surprise if there was a Wonder Woman book or movie without one. Even in that paradigm, Wonder Girl #1 is marking a lot of firsts. Yara is the first Wonder Girl or Wonder Woman created entirely by a woman, and the first Wonder Girl of color.

And in a publishing arena where Wonder Woman’s theoretical equals, Batman and Superman, get anywhere from two to half a dozen books under their character umbrella, Wonder Girl is not just the first ongoing Wonder Girl series. It’s only the second time there has ever been two ongoing titles under the Wonder Woman umbrella.

The first time was 2013’s Superman/Wonder Woman, which was a book that was just about Superman dating Wonder Woman.

Is there any required reading?

Yara Flor, wearing leggings and a crop sweatshirt, walks down a Rio de Janeiro street with her suitcase and bag. Around her, panels of DC superheroes, Amazon basin warriors and gods from around the world all look up in surprise. “It feels like the whole world is looking over my shoulder right now,” she says, in Wonder Girl #1, DC Comics (2021).

Image: Joëlle Jones/DC Comics

If you’d like a quick introduction to Yara’s personality and the blending of DC’s Themyscirans with real Greek and Amazon mythology, you can pick up the two issues of Future State: Wonder Woman.

But you don’t need to. Those stories take place in the future, after the events of Wonder Girl. Wonder Girl #1 offers its own introductions.

Is Wonder Girl #1 good?

Wonder Girl #1 is a breathtakingly beautiful comic. Jones, as an artist, is the whole package: Masterful line-work, clever layouts, strong anatomy, minutely expressive faces, and that intimate understanding of actual human fashion that the American comics industry has been slow to grasp.

If I have a criticism, it’s the near-compliment that I just wanted a little more story out of this first installment. But the real star here is the art and the real story is the foreshadowing. Jones the writer gives us just a tiny bite of Yara’s plot to make room to establish her personality and the scope of the series. Setting the bounds of the story, though we still might not know what that story is, can be enough when the bounds are interesting in themselves.

And these bounds! Jones is pulling in nearly every aspect of the wider Wonder Woman world here, from Themyscira, currently ruled by Queen Nubia (the first character of color to be Wonder Woman) to the Bana-Mighdall (the infamously warlike Amazon splinter group) and even the Greek gods. All these forces seem to have gotten a mystical notification for “Yara Flor stepped foot in Brazil,” and are concerned about it.

To find out why, I guess I’ll have to keep reading the series, but since these are some of my favorite Wonder Woman ideas that will not be a big sacrifice.

One panel that popped

OK, it’s three panels, but look at these beautiful art deco collages Jones crafts to introduce Themyscira, Mount Olympus, and Bana-Mighdall. These are throw-away panels. Scene setting. For the vibe, not the plot. This is an unbelievable flex.

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