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WNDR GRRL PWR: J. Torres Talks “Champion”

by  in Comic News Comment
WNDR GRRL PWR: J. Torres Talks “Champion”

SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for “Amazons Attack.”

“Wonder Girl: Champion” #1

It is of course common for teenagers to experience some amount of friction with their parents, but discovering your father is really the king of the gods and that he and your mother – and Wonder Woman – lied to you about it for years is more than a little disappointing. It’s also kind of a drag when your significant other – who, let’s say, happens to be Superboy — is possessed by the creepiest old man in the world – Lex Luthor – and tries to kill you. It’s perhaps worse still when that significant other, once you’ve forgiven them for trying to kill you, dies in a fight with a psychotic dead-alternate-universe version of themselves, prompting you, in your immense grief, to join a bogus online cult dedicated to raising them from the dead. Compounding it all is an increasingly strained relationship with your beloved Amazonian mentor, who for her own reasons abandons you for an entire year — but not before telling one of your best friends what she was up to and that same best friend keeping it a secret from you.

The Crises are Infinite, time is Counting down, Amazons are Attacking and 52 other things can still go totally wrong. It’s enough to make any teenager go Supernova, but Cassandra Sandsmark is no ordinary teenager – she’s Wonder Girl, and this fall she’s finally starring in her own six-issue DC Comics mini-series, “Wonder Girl: Champion.”
Written by Eisner nominee J. Torres (“Alison Dare,” “Teen Titans Go”) and illustrated by Sanford Greene (“Batman Strikes,” “Justice League Unlimited”), “Champion” bridges the Wonder-specific events of “Amazons Attack” and “Countdown” while offering Wonder Girl fans a uniquely focused look at Cassandra Sandsmark in the aftermath of those decidedly dramatic events in her life. J. Torres spoke with CBR News about Cassie; where she’s been, where she is, and where she’s going.

“So much has happened to the character over the last year or so,” Torres told CBR News, “and in a handful of different titles including ‘Wonder Woman,’ ’52,’ and ‘Teen Titans,’ that pretty much everyone I’m working with on this, from [DC Comics Executive Editor] Dan [DiDio] all the way down to artist Sanford Greene, agrees that Cassandra deserves her own book to bring it all together, better define the character, and give her a direction post-‘Amazons Attack’ as she prepares to take her place alongside Sean McKeever’s ‘Teen Titans.’ On Sean’s team, all the ‘veterans’ have their own books, namely Robin and Supergirl, and so does Blue Beetle, so why not Wonder Girl?”

Torres has two goals to achieve with “Champion.” Firstly, the mini-series will depict Cassie and her mother Helena as they adapt to life in a largely anti-Amazon world following the events of “Amazons Attack,” as well as how Wonder Girl copes with being one of the last of her kindl one of the last Amazons standing. Secondly, Torres wishes to remind readers that Wonder Girl is in fact a demi-god, a fact which the writer feels is often forgotten. “I want to explore how a teenage girl deals with being one of the offspring of Zeus,” explained Torres. “I liked how Geoff Johns played up [in ‘Teen Titans’] the fact that Ares is Cassie’s half-brother, and in our miniseries we involve another ‘sibling,’ namely Hercules.

“I really, really wanted to involve the Olympian gods in the story more but because of other stuff happening in other books, I was unable to, so let’s just say I’m involving some other gods that I got the okay to use.”

A longtime Teen Titans fan, Torres was happy to accept the invitation to, in his words, play in that sandbox. Torres credits the existence of “Wonder Girl: Champion” to his “Batman Strikes” editor Nachie Castro. “We’ve been looking for something DCU-related to work on and when the opportunity for this came up, we jumped on it. We had actually been developing something else to present to Dan Didio, something that was to spin out of ‘Amazons Attack,’ plus I had recently talked to Dan about doing something Titans-related, so I guess he put the two together and said why not just do a Wonder Girl story?”

Wonder Girl is a particularly compelling Titan to Torres, particularly at this stage of the character’s life. Despite her elevated role as a superhero, Cassie has always made decisions very much as a normal teenager would – which is to say, badly. She joined Young Justice because she had a crush on Superboy; she joined an online cult; she considers her fellow heroes more as friends as opposed to partners, and thusly takes things very personally. “Right now, she’s being portrayed as Wonder ‘Grrl,'” Torres said. “And I want to explore where that’s coming from, her anger and her pain and so on. She recently lost her first love, her mentors aren’t exactly accessible to her these days, her own mother has to go into hiding to keep safe, and the people she’s sworn to protect hate her. That’s a lot for a teenage girl to handle.

“Cassie has never been one of those superheroes who’s guarded her private life or secret identity, but what happens when she has to as a matter of life or death, especially for her mother? Plus, she’s one of the last of her kind and that comes with certain responsibilities. How long can you play the rebellious or angry teenager?”

Naturally, and in the great tradition of the Amazons, “Wonder Girl: Champion” is going to feature Cassandra dispersing to evil-doers a healthy amount of ultra-violence. “I want Cassie to kick some butt in this book and remind people she’s not your average teenage superhero,” Torres declared. “She’s got Olympian DNA in her, she’s a demigod.That puts her in the same league as Hercules, Perseus and Alexander the Great, and she is the sister of Helen of Troy, Apollo, Ares, and so on. How cool is that?

“Plus, we’ve seen her stop a plane recently – just how powerful is she now? Let’s pit her against Hercules and some hydras and chimeras and see, shall we? What if she went toe-to-toe with other gods of the DCU? And, hey, who’s got the Sandals of Hermes and Gauntlet of Atlas now?

“I hope to answer these questions and more, in an entertaining fashion, in ‘Champion.'”

Now discuss this story in CBR’s DC Comics forum.

CBR Executive Producer Jonah Weiland contributed to this story.

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