I thought I knew everything there was to know about the Amazons of Themyscira—they were women slain by violent men in their first lives and reborn as magnificent fighters by the will of goddesses. But that’s just the beginning of the story.
Want to know the rest, like I did? That’s where the celebrated creative team of Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Jimenez come in with DC Black Label’s Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #1. (If you’ve experienced their incredible work before, you know you can stop reading right now and just pick up the book immediately.) To be clear, this isn’t a story of sunshine and carefree days on Paradise Island. This is a stunning retelling of the Amazons’ origins for the ages.
Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons is a three-book DC Black Label series that shows us the first days of the Amazons like nothing before it. Spanning thousands of years, the book begins with the righteous rage of the goddesses and the passion of its pages never lets up from there.
Hestia. Artemis. Demeter. Hecate. Aphrodite. Athena. Hera. Their names are familiar and comforting, but you’ve never seen these mythological figures like this. Hera isn’t merely a jealous wife, as some of the stories of old would have you believe. The Goddess of Women, gifted with foresight, sees all and knows all. After witnessing the unending pain inflicted on woman after woman at the hands of men, the wife of Zeus burns with a fury brighter than any sun.
Hera takes the grievances of thousands of women and the injustices of thousands of years to her husband and the gods of Olympus. The other goddesses stand at her side as she says plainly, “We have had enough of men.”
Zeus and the gods dismiss them with condescension. In the depths of Hades, at the Well of the Lost, the goddesses put their own plan into motion—one that will ultimately rock the very heavens themselves. As these powerful women create the Amazons from the souls of those lost to violence and massacre, their gifts are stunning in their generosity and power.
The first Amazons are as unique as the goddesses who create them. Their names can be found in both books of myths and comics: Penthesilea, Io, Pythia and Antiope. Each goddess, except Hera, calls forth a tribe of five. These first Amazons aren’t “warrior women”—they are warriors. As the book comes to a close, we meet Hippolyta and the fateful decision she makes that will eventually lead her path to cross with theirs.
Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons is a book of contrasts, with beauty and anger, power and powerlessness, death and rebirth. It emphasizes just how incredible it is that the DC Universe’s greatest champion of peace was descended from ferocious wrath and an earth-shattering war. Wonder Woman could have been an unyielding force of vengeance in the world, but instead she embodies love and justice. How the Amazons’ violent journey culminated in her creation is a story that DeConnick and Jimenez (as well as future artists Gene Ha and Nicola Scott) are telling with an unflinching honesty. Wonder Woman Historia is a gorgeous read, but it’s not an easy one. It’s bloody and bleak at times, another stark contrast with Jimenez’ lovely art in the book.
And I do mean lovely. Colors bloom across every page like creeping vines of jewel-toned flowers. Each panel is a feast for the eyes. The goddesses come to life in wonderfully detailed artwork that you could spend days poring over and never be tired of. (I know because that’s what I did.)
Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #1 is now available and is a must-own for DC fans and certainly Wonder Woman fans worldwide. Best of all, it’s only just beginning. We have two more installments that promise to collectively assemble the story of the Amazons of Themyscira in its entirety for the first time. If you’re like me, once you see them in these pages, you’ll never think of them as simply “warrior women” again.
Kelly Knox writes about all-ages comics and animation for DCComics.com and her writing can also be seen on IGN, Nerdist and more. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to talk superheroes, comics and pop culture.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Kelly Knox and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.