In “Wonder Woman: The True Amazon,” writer/artist Jill Thompson takes a very different approach to the DC Comics icon’s origins. The story follows Diana in her formative years on Paradise Island, a mystical and wonderfully unexplored place which is teeming with mythological creatures, magical treasures, and terrifying monsters. We’ve always seen Wonder Woman as the girl who leaves the island – but here, we get to see her in her element, and in her home.
That’s where Thompson’s twist on the character starts to come into play. You see, as the book reasons in fascinating fashion – here, we have a young girl who grows up surrounded by doting women who spoil her and treat her like a princess. With that sort of attention and warmth around her all the time, wouldn’t it only be natural for her to become… a little bit spoiled?
CBR: How do you approach a story like this? How does something like “Wonder Woman: The True Amazon” first form for you?
Jill Thompson: Once I have an idea which pops in my head – usually while I’m working on something else – I find I can’t let it go until I reach a resolution for it. And this was popping in my head a lot whilst I was working on some other projects.
The impetus for me was, if I were writing “Wonder Woman” when it originated, rather than William Moulton Marsden, what would I have done with it?
The more I thought about it, the more stuff came. So I sat with it and broke it down, and so when I came to DC with it there was already a fully-formed idea there. Once I had their go-ahead, it was a case of figuring out the format and how to build it up. We were all agreed that it would have nothing to do with current continuity, which I prefer – I like to have my stories be by themselves.
And the original title was called “The Very Selfish Princess,” which speaks to that.
That titles brings a fairytale-style element, which was something I wanted to add to the character. And that’s how I pitched it, although I knew that wouldn’t always be the title.
So what motivates this version of Diana? Would you say she is selfish?
The question is: what happens when a beautiful, special, talented and unique baby shows up on an island filled with doting aunties and moms? They haven’t seen a baby in years and here comes this beautiful thing – so of course they’re just like “let’s spoil her and spoil her”! So she grows up being exceptional at everything she does, but she doesn’t have any humility. Whilst the other Amazons have the same strength and skill she does, they had to fight to get where they were. But she just showed up.
For her, it’s almost a matter-of-fact situation – she can do these things, so why can’t anyone else? She becomes a little arrogant, a bit conceited, and she doesn’t know what “no” means. I wanted to explore what would happen to her character if those were the circumstances in which she were brought up.
How does Paradise Island – which you describe as being a giant adventure playground – work into that story?
I wanted to create a place where… you know in a fairytale where the characters will state a fact, and you can just accept it as canon? It goes “well once upon a time there was an elf who made shoes” – and you just think oh of course, okay then. You don’t question why. So with this island, I figured it was a magical island, and not everyone can find it.
I wanted to make sure that if I were going to drop this whole boatload of women on it, it would have to be a place where I knew they could survive. I wanted it to be a place where you might find anything. Fruit, growing, and natural resources that would help them build a society without having to trade with anybody or have to contact the rest of the world.
The other layer I added to it was that, if this were a video game world, there’d be creepy caverns which hide treasures of the gods; giant monsters and scary things; mythological beings. It’s this place where, because the gods are so forgetful, sometimes when they create these tremendous, terrifying things – mash-ups of man and beast, they lose them. And it’s like, “Hey, Zeus… didn’t you make a horrible Gorgon thing the other day?” and Zeus has just misplaced it.
And those things always end up on Paradise Island.
You’ve worked on “Wonder Woman” before, with George Perez – so what made you want to return to the character?
I believe everything happens by accident. I always have conversations with people about who my favorite characters are, and because I worked on “Wonder Woman” with George, it was automatically assumed that this would be my dream job – because I’m a girl. “You’re a woman in comics, drawing the most famous woman in comics, that must’ve been the thing you always wanted to do.” But no – really, I wanted to draw the X-Men! Oops, shouldn’t say that…
I really just wanted to draw comics in general, and then especially characters who appealed to me. I knew of Wonder Woman from television, but it wasn’t until I worked on the book with George that I read all of the old stories. And I liked his version the best.
When I was reading other versions of her, one thing I tended to find was that each one was… too perfect. And that didn’t interest me as much as the characters who have a struggle with their powers, or had to struggle with the fact that they’re different. I wanted to be able to bring an element of that battle to a character I could love.
“Wonder Woman: The True Amazon,” by Jill Thompson, is on sale now.
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