SPOILER ALERT: The following contains spoilers from Wonder Woman #1 by Tom King and Daniel Sampere.
Here in the real world, terms like “politically charged” and “polarizing” are often tossed around to describe current events worldwide. What if you added a similar climate into the DC Universe alongside Wonder Woman and a culture comprised only of women—the Amazons? That’s the question Tom King and Daniel Sampere explore as Diana’s latest series begins in the just-released Wonder Woman #1. The explosive first issue is both highly compelling and unsettling as the United States turns against the Amazons in a way that feels sadly believable. It also sets up a new antagonist hiding in the shadows. Is there any better way to kick off a new series?
At a dingy pool hall in the middle of Montana, a mysterious woman leans over the table to hit the cue ball. A man takes advantage of the moment to grope her, and what breaks next isn’t the racked pool balls. She smashes him into the table and the other men in the hall retaliate. They don’t realize they’re attacking an Amazon, however, and she kills all of them swiftly. Only two people in the entire building escape unharmed, both women.
Media coverage of the incident unleashes a tide of anti-Amazonian sentiment. “These Amazons want to push us from our own country,” insists a man interviewed on the street. King and Sempere parallel the man’s rant with his little girl posing and joyfully pretending to be Wonder Woman beside him. The juxtaposition isn’t just unnerving—it’s setting up the coming conflict between Diana and the country she holds dear.
Eventually, in response, Congress passes the Amazon Safety Act ordering all Amazons to leave U.S. soil. The Amazon Extradition Entity (A.X.E.) task force, headed up by the hard-boiled Sarge Steel, begins forcing Amazons to leave—by any means necessary. The creative team amps up the action to make the threat to the typically tough Amazons feel both emotional and very real. Finally, the task force sets their sights on the most recognizable Amazon of all, Wonder Woman.
King and Sampere are obviously well familiar with Wonder Woman and her longtime philosophy of seeking a diplomatic resolution whenever possible. Diana asks her superhero colleagues to speak up among the outrage, she organizes peaceful protests and she gives interviews in the media herself. It’s all to no avail. Diana even disobeys Queen Nubia’s command to return to Themiscyra and instead goes to Montana to find answers. A.X.E. finds her first.
What follows next is a love letter to Wonder Woman written by King and beautifully drawn by Sampere. As she overcomes the task force in one elegant takedown after another, our unseen narrator compares her movements to a flowing dance and an exquisite artistry that’s all her own. In a recent interview with DC.com, King explained that was his approach to this series, and this first issue lives up to that promise.
“Stories that are human and emotional and have huge stakes, but essentially at their core, they’re about why this character is awesome… that’s what this Wonder Woman run is going to be about,” he said. “[She’s] not just the third pillar of the DCU, but its heart.”
As Wonder Woman #1 comes to a close, we find out that the strings of Steel and A.X.E. are being pulled by a dark figure known as the Sovereign. In an earlier panel, a smarmy politician makes fun of a social media conspiracy theory that “the country is run by a secret king or something,” but that’s exactly what the Sovereign seems to be. I see your foreshadowing, you clever creative team.
Who is Wonder Woman as an outlaw? How will she deal with being an enemy of the country she loves so much? And what is the Lasso of Lies the Sovereign holds in his hands? Much like its hero, King and Sampere’s Wonder Woman doesn’t pull any punches and I can’t wait to see where things go from here. The next issue simply can’t get here fast enough.
Wonder Woman #1 by Tom King, Daniel Sampere and Tomeu Morey is now available in print and as a digital comic book.
Kelly Knox writes about all-ages comics and animation for DC.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., nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.