Superhero origin stories are in abundance. From the comic book source material to cinematic interpretations, I’m sure that you know all about Wonder Woman and Batman’s beginnings by now. What the DC Icons Series attempts to do, however, is to fill in the gaps of the teenage years before the heroes (and villains) took on their infamous monikers. The first book of the series, Wonder Woman: Warbringer, is about DC’s biggest star at the moment and written by bestselling young adult novelist Leigh Bardugo.
Considering that Bardugo is known for her YA fantasy-adventure series Grisha, she’s the perfect candidate to write about Diana and her pre-Wonder Woman adventures – and she doesn’t disappoint here. From the first page, Bardugo sinks her teeth into the Amazon world and displays an affinity for the Patty Jenkins-directed movie. The prose and imagery take you back to Themyscira, with all the beloved characters and some new ones, too. Naturally, there are some liberties taken that deviate from the film’s narrative, but hey, that’s the movie world and this is different.
Without drifting too far into the arena of spoilers, the story follows Diana as she attempts to prove herself to the Amazon warriors. However, she almost throws it all away – and risks exile – to save a mortal girl named Alia Keralis. What Diana doesn’t know about her new friend is that she’s a descendant of Helen of Troy and is set to bring about bloodshed and misery. Obviously, this isn’t a good thing for anyone.
There are three elements to Wonder Woman: Warbringer that make it difficult to put down. One, it’s immensely fun. Even in moments of exposition, the characters are moving and not standing idle, while telling each other the plot. Two, the dialogue is strong. Tied in with the first point, the interaction between the characters feels genuine and funny. This is the same fish-out-of-water Diana whom we love and adore, and she’s no different here in her conversations with someone from outside Themyscira. And three, it sets her on the right course to becoming Wonder Woman. She still has her doubts about herself and her place amongst the Amazons, but it’s a powerful coming-of-age story that lays the foundation for her becoming the almighty heroine of DC Comics.
Even with some of the narrative liberties taken, Wonder Woman: Warbringer stays relatively true to the source material and adds to the mythos rather than take away from it. This isn’t like the TV series Gotham that confuses us more than it entertains with its baffling storylines and zero respect for canon. While it appears that Bardugo is only contracted for this one book, I’d certainly love to read more of her Diana adventures. The DC Icons series is off to a good start. Bring on the next book!