DC Comics Black Label’s Wonder Woman: Dead Earth, written and drawn by Daniel Warren Johnson with colors by Mike Spicer and lettering by Rus Wooton is a four-part 48-page prestige format series aimed at 17+ readers, with horror themes. I love Wonder Woman. I also, love horror. So when this title was announced, it was extremely right up my alley. With the promise to be more than the traditional Wonder Woman story the bar was set high.
We all know Princess Diana of Themyscira’s story before she became Wonder Woman. She left paradise to save Man’s World from itself out of love, even though as her mother said, it was undeserving of it. This point in her history is used throughout Wonder Woman: Dead Earth in order to drive home the destruction that Diana wakes up to. Showing up in a bodysuit featured on the variant cover, Diana is trapped alone in a grim future after a centuries-long sleep.
When she’s awoken she moves through the rubble of where she was held, and what was her life. Donning a tattered version of her Wonder Woman armor, Diana must protect the last human city from titanic monsters all while also fighting the humans themselves and an old friend. Diana moves through the monsters, using brute strength and nothing more than her hands to get through them, hoping to show her love for humanity in saving it, even if it doesn’t love her anymore.
When I read how Johnson described Diana’s upcoming struggles in the series I was wondering how they would make the powerful Diana feel unsure, vulnerable, and alone. In his words on the series, “It feels like a god alone, unsure of her steps, trying to find her way in a new world, which feels like an old myth in some way.”
I expected something inexplicably dark but instead got a Mad Max-style world with Spicer’s vibrantly colored panels and pulpy illustrations. While this isn’t necessarily bad, as Johnson’s art adds the necessary unruliness not often associated with the pristine Diana we know, the words on the page present much darker reality than the vibrancy of Wonder Woman: Dead Earth would lead us to think.
The small tonal dissonance is made worse when words overwhelm the panels that have more than enough detail and story to tell their own story without added speech balloons. Wonder Woman: Dead Earth tells us more about the world than it shows, relying heavily on its exposition instead of trusting the readers to understand what is going on through the art alone. That being said, I’m still in love with this issue.
I haven’t seen this Diana. Alone, scared, and unsure of the world around her, Johnson presents a Diana who has every reason to quit and not fight. When she is taken prisoner, she could just serve her sentence and fight in the pit, but instead, Diana clings to hope. It may be tattered like her costume but its undeniably still there. She loves the Earth, Man’s World, humanity, in all of its forms, even in this post-apocalyptic hellscape that she finds herself in.
Overall, I think that Wonder Woman: Dead Earth will thrive once all four books have been released. While I love the title there are some glaring issues that keep this book from greatness though I have absolute faith in its development which makes me frustrated that the book is coming out every other month, but is to be expected with the 48-page count. If you’re looking for a different kind of Wonder Woman story, pick up Dead Earth.
Wonder Woman: Dead Earth, book one, is available wherever comics are sold.
Wonder Woman: Dead Earth
Overall, I think that Wonder Woman: Dead Earth will thrive once all four books have been released. While I love the title there are some glaring issues that keep this book from greatness…
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.