In 2017 DC Comics launched its DC Icons series of young adult novels featuring new stories about some of the franchise’s most notable characters as teenagers before they took on their alter egos. Written by notable YA authors, these books were ostensibly aimed towards younger readers who might like the Batman or Wonder Woman but not be interested in catching up on years of comics backstory or even comics at all. Now some of these novels are being adapted to graphic novel format to bring the characters full circle to the medium they started in with Marie Lu’s Batman: Nightwalker released last fall and now again with Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman: Warbringer.
Adapted by Louise Simonson and illustrated by Kit Seaton with colors by Sara Woolley and letters by Deron Bennett, Wonder Woman: Warbringer (The Graphic Novel) tells a story of the first time Diana left Themiscyra. As a teenager, struggling to fit in on an island full of grown women who’ve lived full lives, Diana sees a shipwreck and never able to ignore her hero instincts, jumps in and saves a girl, Alia. In doing so Diana discovers that Alia is a Warbringer, a descendant of Helen of Troy whose very presence incites irrationality and anger and whose destiny is to keep the world fighting. In order to break this curse on the family line and save her own life, Alia must bathe in a spring in Greece at a determined time. So Diana takes her first steps off the island and goes on a whirlwind journey from Themiscyra, to New York, to Greece, meeting new friends and saving the world.
The mythology and history in Wonder Woman: Warbringer is fun but the characters are where this story really shines. A whole host of lively New York teenagers to challenge and excite Diana and teach her how to live a life outside training. Smart, no-nonsense Alia who just wants to live a normal life, her stern over-protective brother Jason, her flamboyant best friend Nim and her crush and hacker extraordinaire Theo all draw Diana into their fold and give her a taste of life and friendship she’s never known before. Diana is brash and single-minded in her determination to both save Alia and stop the world from being plunged into war and watching her journey through the novel as she opens up to her new friends is a delight.
The adaptation does suffer a little from not allowing us to get deep into the characters’ heads in the way the novel does. We do get some insight into the characters. Although sometimes it can be hard to tell which character is thinking due to the nature of the medium there’s a lot that had to be left on the table. Still their personalities and motivations come through and one of the biggest strengths of the artwork is the faces. Seaton puts so much expression into every face and in each characters’ body language so even when we don’t know a characters exact thoughts the audience can tell how they’re feeling. There’s a bit of a Grown-ish feel to the book where the characters don’t shy away from talking about their experiences as brown and black or their sexuality and are unapologetically who they are. Except instead of navigating college they’re navigating avoiding assassins while traveling around the world.
Honestly the biggest disappointment with Wonder Woman: Warbringer is that after this we don’t get to spend more time with the characters introduced. Diana’s destiny is to grow into the Wonder Woman of DC fame and in doing so that means she must return to Themysicira in order to leave again on her adult journey. It feels like a bit of a tease giving us these great diverse characters and then taking them away but it’s worth it to have this time with them.
Wonder Woman: Warbringer is available now everywhere comic books are sold and online through ComiXology using our affiliate link.
Rating: 4/5 golden lassos as fashion accessories