Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed – Laurie Halse Anderson, Writer; Leila del Duca, Artist; Kelly Fitzpatrick, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: Wonder Woman is quickly catching up on Batman when it comes to multiple alternate versions in DC’s young reader and young adult graphic novels line. So far we’ve seen her as a child unwittingly wreaking havoc on Themyscira in Diana: Princess of the Amazons, and as a young warrior on the cusp of adulthood becoming enmeshed in a global conspiracy in Wonder Woman: Warbringer. But in Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed, acclaimed novelist Laurie Halse Anderson and Image Comics art talent Leila del Duca give us a completely new take that feels like the freshest look at Wonder Woman in a long time – and it’s easily the best of the three.
The story begins a little like the others, but with some clever twists. It similarly focuses on Diana’s unique experience growing up as the only child of the Amazons. Now 15 going on 16, Diana’s body has been going through odd changes, with her being stronger than usual sometimes and weaker other times. The Amazons have taken to calling her a “Changeling,” because I guess they don’t know much about puberty. Themyscira is gorgeous as always here, and there are some clever touches – like how the Amazons keep their island safe not with violence but with unique medicines. We spend the least time on the island of any of the three OGNs, with only Diana’s trainer Antiope making any real impression. But this story isn’t about Themyscira – it’s about Diana’s journey to the mainland in a new light.
The main story begins when a boatload of refugees arrives on Themyscira in the middle of a storm, with many drowning in the sea. Diana disobeys her mother and swims out to help them – a parallel to her rescue of Steve Trevor in most versions – but instead she gets swept out herself, beyond the magic barrier that shields the island from sight, and she winds up alongside the refugees when they arrive in Greece and are taken into custody by the authorities and placed in a refugee camp. It’s a rougher introduction to humanity than Diana usually gets, as she sees the abuse and neglect that the desperate refugees experience. Her inherent courage and refusal to abide injustice are intact, though, and this soon gets her the attention of a UN observer.
The decision to make Steve Trevor not one but two characters – human rights lawyer Steve Chang and his soldier husband Trevor – is one of those in-name-only changes that often annoy me in these books, but it works much better here than it did in Gotham High. Obviously a teenage Diana isn’t going to have the same relationship with Steve, and Steve and Trevor are more original characters here to help Diana transition from her time as a refugee to a more hopeful existence as an immigrant student. They play relatively small roles, but they lead to introducing Diana to the most important characters in her new life – Henke, a Polish grandmother who becomes Diana’s foster mother, and her mysterious and mercurial granddaughter Raissa.
Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed is at its best when it shows Diana being something close to an ordinary girl assimilating to a new world and a new way of life. The little moments in this book are fantastic, from Diana and Raissa engaging in charity work, Diana discovering Raissa’s secret parkour squad, and Henke roping the girls into attending a traditional Polka class. But while there’s a lot of joy in this book, there’s also a good deal of darkness lurking under the surface. Henke and Raissa’s neighborhood has a lot of poor and struggling families, and the situation becomes worse with the intervention of a corrupt developer who wants to force them out.
Diana continues to push against corrupt authority, but she quickly finds out that the system is often rigged against the good guys. The main villain of the book is much darker than I expected, with the last thirty pages or so raising the stakes to an almost uncomfortable level at times. But despite that, this is ultimately one of the most hopeful books in the entire line. It’s a great coming-of-age story for Diana, with Halse Anderson capturing the pain and excitement of being a stranger in a strange land and del Duca giving her Diana a unique look that makes her fit perfectly in this modern world. Her powers are almost irrelevant to this story (save for some great moments near the end) because this Diana’s greatest weapon is her indomitable will. It’s easily one of the best modern Wonder Woman stories, and another must-buy from the line that’s transforming DC Comics for the better.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.