Continuing with the policy of dual revolving tales in Wonder Woman, the second installment of Year One almost puts the first to shame. Part One was a solid enough tale which showed the parallel lives of the Amazon princess Diana and career military man Steve Trevor, but in Wonder Woman #4: Year One Part Two their lives finally converge.
With Steve Trevor being the only survivor from his doomed flight, the inhabitants of Themyscira help nurse him back to health. It’s also an opportunity for them to study the status of the outside world, from investigating his plane and uniform to taking note of the weaponry he’s brought with him. What they find is the disturbing truth that “Man’s World” is still a violent and barbaric place, and Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, receives conflicting advice from her council on what to do with Trevor.
Is the arrival of a man on Themyscira a message from the gods, or a problem to be gotten rid of? As Diana attempts to help Steve overcome the loss of his friends and understand the nature of his feelings, Hippolyta concludes that this man is no enemy and endeavours to return him to his own society. However, it’s also decided that an Amazon must accompany him, forsaking their gift of immortality and suffering exile. And so a contest must be held to determine who amongst the Amazons is their best and most noble…
For fans, the origin of Wonder Woman is instantly familiar. From Steve Trevor’s arrival on Themyscira to the contest of champions and the bullets-and-bracelets grand finale, it’s all here and presented in a logical way. So what’s the big deal? Don’t we know all of this story by now? Only here’s the trick: it IS familiar, although it’s hard to say why.
Unlike Batman’s origin which seems to be covered in every film, TV show and game (not to mention a majority of his comic books), or Superman’s origin which is covered regularly too, Wonder Woman’s origin isn’t shown very often at all. Sure, it’s been in the comic books but how many people have actually read it before? It was shown in the TV show too, but that was in the seventies and how many current readers saw that? It was even in the animated film, but for all that film’s brilliance it’s often overlooked.
The point here is that many fans may know the origin, but few have actually ever seen it or read it. The most recognizable heroine in comic books is still one of the least-known. And Wonder Woman #4: Year One Part Two trades on that fact perfectly, giving many readers an origin story that they’ve often imagined but never witnessed. Greg Rucka strikes a balance between politics and emotion, explaining everything which has been nitpicked over for years succinctly and with intelligence.
As for the art, Nicola Scott’s work speak for itself. From Hippolyta’s grace and beauty to Diana’s empathetic nature, the characters are captured perfectly and their facial expressions convey real emotion. Themyscira looks alive and vibrant too, and it’s a treat to see this a legendary tale done justice with such elegant art.
While the merits of having revolving storylines are still questionable, it’s good to know that they’re both equally impressive. It’s another winner for Team WW and DC. You may know Wonder Woman’s origin, but it’s even better reading it here.