I love the Earth One series.
DC combines great authors with great artists in fresh settings. This often involves rewriting old stories with a more modern bent. Each book in the series I love for different reasons, but I do love them all... all except for the newest one, that is.
Which seems counterintuitive; Wonder Woman is popular right now -- easily the greatest part of BvS -- and has had a series of great comics over the course of DCYou. Wonder Woman Earth One checks so many of the boxes that would normally have the long time reader cheering (there are Kanga after all), but either bad dialogue, poor writing decisions, or ignorant historiography leaves a bad taste in my mouth. This I lay completely at the feet of the writer Grant Morrison.
More on that later.
The books starts with Hippolyta killing Hercules and freeing her followers from slavery with the blessing of Aphrodite. Three thousand years later we see a gorgeous "Paradise Island" where a civilization of immortal Amazons live in hedonistic lesbian tropical manless utopia. It is a life of tradition and repetition something Hippolya's daughter Diana has grown tired of.
The familiar story is repeated with some twists: Steve Trevor is now an African American military pilot (we never find out which branch), sent on a mission to pinpoint some mysterious signals in the Bermuda Triangle (where Themyscira is apparently located). Diana saves Steve and becomes an outlaw of the Amazons. She meets some sorority chicks on a philanthropic spring break in the USA. Hippolyta sends her daughter's lover and Medusa to bring Diana back. Diana surrenders and goes back to paradise island for a trial and ends up convincing the Fates that all the Amazons should play a greater role in the wider world... and maybe wear makeup.
The art in this book is a study of contrasts. For the most part, Yanick Paquette's pencils are brilliant other than the miss-proportioned cover. The backgrounds are vibrant, the characters are distinguished, and the designs pay homage to the past. The layout, however, gives me headaches. This is due in large part to the flashback nature of the narrative. The storyboarding is not always clear and often rather messy, This isn't a deal killer, but I often read the dialogue in the wrong order because it was never made clear in presentation.
Now on to the writing. I mentioned earlier I had problems with it. Some of these problems are minor and some of them are more insidious. Let's explore these.
A couple of stupid nerd problems I have (we are the Court of Nerds after all) deals with the Greek language - namely ancient Greek. I happened to take three years of it in undergrad and spent some time in Greece contributing to my archaeology major. I'm sure Morrison thought he was being clever when he had "πόρνη" graffiti behind a decapitated statue of Aphrodite. Unfortunately, this is all in lower-case modern Greek letters. Ionic Greek had no lower case letters, breathing marks, accents, or even spaces. The ancient Greek word for "prostitute" would instead be "ΠΌΡΝΗ." This bugs me, but not as much as every author who refers to the famous Greek demigod as "Hercules" when all other members of the Greek pantheon have Greek names.
IT'S "HERACLES" DAMMIT!
But those are only stupid, nerdy problems. There are others that are more dire. Morrison tries to emulate the Homeric Epic poem language for his Amazonian characters. I do applaud the effort. Some authors, like Dan Abnett, can pull off what would be considered overly flowery language as parody.
Morrison is not Abnett. This can be completely jarring when it is purposefully juxtaposed next to what Morrison considers to be modern American English. I'm not saying Morrison is a bad writer - he just can be a bit tone deaf at times. Take, for instance, a gussied up Diana trying to blatantly have straight sex with Steve Trevor, though she has only had intimate relations with the female sex. What was supposed to come off as funny/awkward moment becomes a misunderstanding between two cultures, resulting in tension.
This is the problem not only to me, but others as well. There are a lot of positive messages in this comic book. There is a great interplay between 2nd wave and 3rd wave feminist ideologies that exposes both of their weaknesses and strengths. This is an important conversation to have in a world where many of our most popular celebrities shy away from the label "feminist." The overall story is intelligent but just lacks nuance and suffers in execution due to outmoded tropes.
To use a trope of my own, it's a "death by a thousand cuts."
Should you buy it? If you own the other Earth One books or are a Wonder Woman fan, then yes. But $22.99 is a lot for a book, and if you aren't either of the two mentioned I will say a tepid, "maybe." It's not bad if you ignore all the little things wrong with it.