As part of its “Rebirth” event, DC Comics is welcoming back a number of familiar faces. But while Wonder Woman sees the return of writer Greg Rucka, he’s teaming up with Liam Sharp, Matthew Clark and Nicola Scott to deliver a very different take from his previous run with the Amazon Princess.
Rucka’s story aims to reconcile the New 52 version of the character with her more classic origin story in more ways than one. The run kicks off June 8 with a “Wonder Woman: Rebirth” one-shot drawn by Liam Sharp and Matthew Clark before the regular series begins with a new #1 on June 22. From there, the series ships twice monthly with twist: odd number issues will be drawn by Sharp and take place in the modern era, while even numbered issues team Rucka with Nicola Scott for a “Year One” story of Princess Diana’s origins.
In a conversation with Rucka, Sharp and Scott about Rebirth’s “Wonder Woman,” the trio explain that a big part of redefining the hero for her 75th anniversary involves making her world more mysterious and mythic. Beyond that, the three plan to turn Diana into a more accessible, inspiring hero, taking full advantage of the character’s current pop culture spotlight, which is proving to be her biggest in decades.
CBR News: Greg, your initial “Wonder Woman” run was marked by a “real world” focus on the gods in the book, dressing them in modern clothes and with modern attitudes. I feel like that the New 52 version of book shares some DNA with that approach, particularly Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s work. Have you been looking back to your past run and thinking about what it shares in common with Wonder Woman today, and will you lean into or away from it in Rebirth?
Greg Rucka: One of the things that Liam and Nic and I and Mark Doyle, who’s editing the book with his terrific team, discussed early on is that having played with the gods significantly, and seeing how Brian had done so in his run, we kind of wanted to dial that back. I think we were all in agreement that we wanted the gods to be mysterious and powerful. And Liam — he can probably talk about this better than I — is even more interested in mythology of the globe and from different cultures than even I am.
I’d been looking back at some of the classic Greek myths, and when people meet gods in those stories, it does not go well for them. It’s never good to actually look on the face of a god. There were really only one or two stories I can think of from back then where looking directly at a god does not immediately result in your dying. And in the one that I am thinking of, which is the story of Psyche, she doesn’t die when she meets a god, but she does suffer for it before she finally wins her guy. So we wanted to re-imbue the sense of power and majesty of the divine in this book somewhat.
I’ve read everything [in “Wonder Woman”] since I left, so the goal of this is not to be “This is a continuation of Greg’s run.” The goal is that this is a continuation of Wonder Woman’s story. Since it’s cast in the light of “Rebirth,” one of the things we’re all working really hard at doing is reconciling some of the incredible inconsistencies that have arisen in the 75-year history of the character.
How do each of you view Diana as a character considering that mandate? She’s always been portrayed as the barrier between the world of the gods and the world of man, and those tensions have been cranked up in recent years. What did you want to say with her as she functions right now in the DCU?
Nicola Scott: I feel like the focus on Diana as a warrior for the last ten years has been a little bit too defining. It’s as though that’s viewed as her most interesting trait, but I feel like it’s just something that she can do. She can do it really, really well — probably as good as anyone else in the universe — but really, when you look at her history, she comes from a race of very skilled warriors who chose to escape an era of war thousands of years ago and are not active warriors. They’re keeping their skills up, and she’s incredibly gifted and skilled and powered. But I just don’t find that in any way her most interesting trait. It’s just something that’s in her arsenal.
What we’re focusing on in “Year One” is more of her personality in every other way. It’s that she has an innocence and a compassion and a belief in people. We want her to be challenged, but sometimes when someone as awesome as Diana is believes in you, it’s hard not to live up to it. I feel like that’s the aspect of the story that is important for the audience to really understand about Diana. It’s something that the readers will see as this progresses. People can’t help but be their best selves when faced with her belief in them.
Liam Sharp: Yeah, she sort of embodies what’s best in humanity. She’s got the wisdom of ages, and she’s got the audience of the gods, but she’s also got the pragmatism of a scientist. I think that’s one of the things that makes this series so compelling for any readers, really. She embodies the best of everybody. But like with everybody else, shit happens. [Laughs] Things happen in her life, and she has to deal with that. There’s a human side too. By the time we get to “Year Ten,” her world has really been rocked, and she’s on shifting sands a bit. She has some bit questions. There’s an element of quest about my story, which is really intriguing. There are a lot of questions, and while I know some of the answers, I know Greg has got a few up his sleeve, which are fun to wait for.
Tell me about the collaborative process between the three of you in both this accelerated shipping schedule and the dueling storylines. How often do the three of you talk about the book as a whole, and how much are the “Year One” story and the “Year Ten” story talk to each other in a narrative sense?
Sharp: We’re actually in contact all the time. Do you want to speak to that, Greg?
Rucka: No, I want you guys to. [Laughter] It’s the benefit of having us all here!
Scott: We’ve talked a lot about the way these stories will relate to each other and the themes of the two stories — the big concept relationships. How that plays out page-to-page, panel-to-panel is part of the excitement of getting the scripts. It’s the fun of the collaborative process. We do a lot of talking, but then Greg does the writing. He does his job, and it’s a thrill for us to see what happens. We get all the scripts, so I always know what’s happening in Liam’s story, and he knows mine. And then I get to see how Liam’s pages come to fruition, as does Greg.
Sharp: It’s really thrilling. It’s nice to have the passing of the baton from issue to issue. Honestly, the first few pages of Nic’s first issue are just to die for. It’s completely complimentary to the tone of the two stories. What she’s bringing to “Year One” matches the feeling of innocence and this near perfect society. It’s palpable in the art. It’s really profound how well that comes across. And I think that what I’m trying to give to my work is a gritty and real world feel. In that sense, it has got something of a similarity to Brian’s run, and the art has something of a European heritage to it. But I’m going in a much more realistic way, and so is Nic. It’s much more real world — definitely not stylized. But the one-two, flashback structure of this is perfect, really.
From what we’ve seen of the book so far, the word that came to mind in terms of how it looks is “texture.” Greg, what can you say about the story in terms of the kind of feel you want to create knowing their art has that quality?
Rucka: That’s a good question. With Liam, there is a really Barry Windsor Smith-esque feel at work, and it doesn’t so much feel like “fantasy.” That’s not a word I want to use, but it embraces a really broad imagination so that while Liam talks about it being very tactile and real, it’s also very fantastic — and plausibly so.
With Nic, it’s sort of ironic given the two art styles because that half is almost hyper-realistic in terms of storytelling. The nature of the “Year One” story is so grounded in where Diana starts on Themyscira. That’s her whole reality. And needing to create all of that in a very plausible, real way is tough. We’ve only got so much time to do it in. We’ve only got so many pages. There’s so much we want to present about the culture and the world in which she’s living in. So the script in that sense runs to give probably far more information than Nicola will ever need from me.
Conversely, with Liam we start out in that fantastic place that’s a non-traditional setting. It’s not a location that you see a lot of books spend a lot of time in — not the way we’re using it. And there are elements to it that are, frankly, magical. But it’s not Olympus or anything I’ve ever personally written before.
As I’m sure you’re all very aware, there’s a “Wonder Woman” movie coming out in the next year which will be shining the biggest mainstream spotlight on the character that we’ve seen in probably 40 years. I doubt you’re looking to that as a direct influence on your story, but does that broad attention to the character affect your approach to the character that’s different than what’s been done in the past?
Scott: And it’s her 75th anniversary, which I think is equally important.
Sharp: And that [pop culture attention has] already happened with “Batman v Superman” where the big standout character for everyone seemed to be Wonder Woman. With her anniversary and “Rebirth” and that film coming up as well, it does feel like there’s a lot of potential on the book. But I have to say from my point of view, I think it’s just long overdue for the character — full stop. I think what’s lovely is that we have an editorial team that’s been associated with Batman and Superman but who can focus on the book individually because they cast such long shadows. And I think the fact that for Wonder Woman, so much has changed in the way the world is now. I don’t think gender-specific books exist in the way that they did. A lot more people are likely to pick up this book that might not have before. I personally know a bunch of big, hairy bikers who are going to be reading “Wonder Woman” for the first time. [Laughter]
Rucka: I think that’s a really good point. When I was on “Wonder Woman” the first time, it was an uphill battle to convince some people to try it. There were guys who just said, “Well, it’s ‘Wonder Woman’ so I don’t pick it up.” I do think that it’s not that it’s gender-specific, but that it wasn’t always viewed as accessible. We want Diana to be accessible.
Scott: Yeah. For the longest time, DC has put Diana on the pedestal, but because of the audience interest she hasn’t really been supported. She hasn’t been portrayed in a way that fought that status. But certainly in the last couple of years and this year in particular because of the film, because of Grant Morrison’s “Earth One” and because of Renae De Liz’s “Legend of Wonder Woman,” it feels like the audience is really waking up to the fact that this character is really important. And they’re showing up. I feel like that’s really fantastic and that we’re really lucky because we get to do something of significance with this character at a significant time.
Sharp: I want to be clear: I’m not trying to say that our book should skew towards a male audience. I believe this is a book for absolutely everybody, and I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to drag it away the people who have been loyal to it for a very long time. I think, as a team, we’re very sensitive to that.
Rucka: And that’s in keeping with Diana. What you have is a hero who the most overtly inclusive. She has room for everyone. Everyone is welcome.
Sharp: The one thing I found drawing this and getting into the character is that of all the books I’ve ever drawn, this book has more for everyone than any book I’ve done — hands down. The richness of the content is quite extraordinary.
“Wonder Woman: Rebirth” arrives on June 8 with “Wonder Woman” #1 following on June 22 from DC Comics.
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