Meet Your Next Great Heroine: Wynonna Earp

Wynonna Earp, image via Syfy

Wynonna Earp has been fighting demons for two decades now in the comics, but it’s taken that long for her to come into the public consciousness. And even her television show didn’t penetrate into most corners of geekdom the first season, though the excellent season 2 is changing that.

So it’s time for an introduction. Where do you get started to find out more about our snarky, donut-loving, demon-hunting Earp heir?

Origins

image via IDW

Wynonna Earp started life in 1996 as an Image bad girl, but creator Beau Smith explained in one of my first (and one of my favorite) interviews that this wasn’t at all what he envisioned for the character.

“When I first created Wynonna Earp in the mid-1990s, it was right in the middle of the “Good Girl/Bad Girl” trend in comics. At Image Comics, where Wynonna Earp was being published, this trend was running rampant. I created Wynonna Earp to be much like her ancestor, Wyatt Earp, who was known for his cool composure, suffer no fools attitude. She was to have a sense of humor, but when it comes to doing her job, she was dead serious. (When you hunt down redneck vampires and zombie postal workers you have to be, mostly because they’re dead to start with.)

The editorial powers that be along with those bankrolling my paycheck wanted me to ‘get on board’ with the heroine that could fight like Stallone and look like Pamela Anderson craze that was going on at the time. Needless to say, we argued a lot on that. In the first four issue mini-series, the editorial and payroll office got their way with Wynonna’s outfits. Don’t get me wrong, I like sexy as much or more than the next guy with a heartbeat, but there’s all kinds of sexy without looking like a stripper in need of more hairspray.

I wanted to exhibit a more real and strong sexiness through personality, actions, and deeds. Hooker with a badge was not the path I wanted to take. Anybody can write overt sexy, I wanted to write covert sexy. I got to do that in the second Wynonna Earp series at IDW Publishing and even more so with The Yeti Wars, by working with artist and long-time friend, Enrique Villagran.”

So how do you find Beau Smith’s original stories? You have to either do some Googling or have a good-size wallet. IDW collected all the Wynonna Earp stories in The Complete Wynonna Earp, but a check of Amazon showed that collection has become a collector’s item, ranging in price from $95 to $250. You can, however, buy Wynonna Earp: The Yeti Wars for approximately $10 at Amazon. I also spotted some single issues collections on eBay for various prices under $30.

Smith’s Wynonna is older and more experienced than the one on the television show. But the comics have much of the same wry, fun tone of the show, along with a terrific and off-beat cast, and, of course, there’s the monster-fighting. These stories are a blast.

Wynonna Earp: The Television Show

Last year, when the GeekDads and GeekMoms broke up coverage for Comic-Con International in San Diego, I insisted on grabbing only one property: Wynonna Earp. At the time, the first season of the show had just ended and, though it created a vocal group of fans, it was unclear if that would be enough to fuel a renewal for a season 2. Since I was the only one among us who’d watched the show, the others easily agreed to cede the Earp field to me.  (Though, yes, I also wanted to know about everything Wonder Woman related.)

Which turned out to be glorious, especially since I ended up in a press room, scoring an interview with all the cast members, and also an interview with Beau Smith, who I’d corresponded with but never met in person.

The show has a simple premise: The Earp family was cursed by a demon, forcing each heir, in turn, to use Wyatt’s Peacemaker Colt to send the demons/revenants back to hell. Wynonna returns to her hometown of Purgatory after much time roaming the world, still haunted by her elder sister Willa’s kidnapping and supposed murder by the revenants and the fact that she accidentally shot and killed her father when trying to save him.

It’s a tragic backstory. Wynonna deals with the revenants using sarcasm, alcohol, and Peacemaker as weapons of equal value. On Wynonna’s side is her brainy sister Waverly, along with the mysterious (and sexy) Black Badge Marshal Dolls who teaches her the way of the lawmen, and Henry “Doc” Holliday, who was cursed with immortality by a witch but makes his way out of the well where he’d been dumped to join Wynonna’s fight. Mostly. He’s a bit obsessed with getting revenge on the witch in season 1. He also possesses the sexiest mustache on television since Tom Selleck.

And there was WayHaught, the couple that is Officer Nicole Haught and Waverly Earp. Their sweet romance was a subplot in season 1 and continues in season 2, though all the monsters running around Purgatory do put a damper on things, especially when they start possessing people. Still, series creator and showrunner Emily Andras values the LGBTQ fans of WayHaught, so much so that she publicly reassured fans of the couple that, no, neither one of them would die, as had been the case with half of several prominent television lesbian couples, notably on The 100.


Season 1 showcased a turning point for the Earp sisters, as they bonded and dealt with all the mess of the past, but it ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger. Thus, the intense cheers at the Comic-Con panel in reaction to the news of a season 2.  (Seriously cool to be in that panel when the announcement was made.)

Season 1 is now on Netflix. Season 2 is playing on Syfy Friday nights at 10 p.m.

Season 2 has raised the storytelling bar, with one crisis after another, as Waverly deals with the problems of the demonic goo she touched at the end of season 1, as well as the revelations about her family, while Wynonna struggles to rescue Dolls, and, well, there is a bunch of snark, violence, and family bonding. In tone, it reminds me of the best season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, though possibly 100 percent gayer. (A good thing.) Showrunner Emily Andras has kept the spirit of the comic Wynonna Earp and created a terrific new world for her.

Also, the development last week concerning Wynonna’s last minute revelation? That could turn out to be seriously cool. But I won’t spoil it for you.

Wynonna Earp: Season Zero and Other Comic Tie-Ins

With the appearance of the television show, Smith began writing a younger Wynonna in comic stories that tie-in with the show, sometimes with cast members from the show, such as Wynonna herself, Melanie Scrofano, and Tim Rozon (Doc Holliday).

The reading order: Wynonna Earp: Homecoming, Wynonna Earp: Legends, and Wynonna Earp Season Zero #1, co-authored with Rozon and drawn by Angel Hernandez, which was released this week. The stories fill in the bits and pieces around seasons one and two of the show, though they avoid spoilers for the show (for the most part). Legends, co-written with Scrofano and Rozon, also features the first comic appearance of Waverly. They’re fun reads, of course, bringing in villains Wynonna faced during her training with Black Badge, but they don’t step on the show’s plots.

But what we also need? A Wynonna Earp season 3 show. Get on that, Syfy!

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Writer, Mom, Geek and Superhero. though usually not all four on the same day. Author of the award-winning Phoenix Institute Superhero series and the steampunk novel, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract.