DC Comics has made an effort in the very recent past to improve their representation and celebration of diversity within the superhero universe, especially after being called out for their tone deaf past and fundamentally objectifying portrayal of women in the past. Characters such as Wonder Woman have solidified themselves within DC history, and Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed provides a welcome and thoughtful revision and 21st century reboot of this iconic hero.
As a Classics student, I’ve grown rather used to pop culture borrowing from and contorting Greek mythology, but as fictional adaptations go, Themyscira was a both artistically and culturally refreshing pseudo-Greek society. Anderson and del Duca, the author and illustrator of the novel respectively, create an engaging albeit slightly extended exposition on the island, using a uniformly contrasting color palette of greens and oranges and a symbolic background story on the island and Amazon culture itself. Wonder Woman is introduced not as a full-fledged superhero, but a “Changeling”, or in our words, teenager. In the slightly idyllic Amazon culture, her main worries consist of the unprecedented physical changes she undergoes and a fear of constantly being pushed to the background in times of danger or threat to their border. However, when a band of refugees washes up through a hole in the Themyscira barrier, Diana finds herself at odds with the general attitude and action of the Amazons, and in an act of irreversible courage, she dives out of Themyscira through the hole.
When Diana travels with the refugees and ends up in a Greek refugee camp, she experiences and then begins to question the treatment that fellow human beings seem to be exerting upon each other. Diana’s skills and particularly, her ability to fluently communicate in all languages, bring her attention from Steve and Trevor, a diplomat and doctor respectively from the United Nations. When Diana explains the dire circumstances within the refugee camps, they realize her potential and proceed to offer her a position at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
As Diana meets Henke and Raissa, she becomes involved and works hands on with Raissa’s project to serve lunches to kids in the local playground. There, she becomes aware of the suspicious activities the children inform her of. Diana learns about the reality of the “mortal” world, but her heart and conscience drive her to take action, and she eventually realizes the for all the danger, destruction, and deceit, there is beauty and love within the altruism and kindness that people can show for each other.
From the benign volunteers at massive refugee camps to seventeen-year olds bringing sandwiches to children in a New York playground, Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed sends a subliminal but clear message about the importance of civilian impact and responsibility for our communities. It inspires a dialogue not only about the dismissive attitude we must refuse to pass down, but also the crucial role of young people in advocating for their communities and fighting systemic injustices that still manifest on a local level. The disappointment Diana feels about Themyscira’s lack of involvement in global affairs clearly parallels the situation of youth activists who are met with nonchalance and dismissal when speaking their mind. But where Anderson and del Duca work their magic is in showing how youth must persevere and remain involved, aware, and optimistic. All in all, Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed is a novel that doesn’t shy from addressing major global issues that plague modern society, but instead, pairs this honesty with impenetrable optimism and a relatable hero for today’s youth. So even if I’m not the biggest Wonder Woman fan just yet, I can definitely stand behind Diana Prince.
Princess Diana of Themyscira believes that her 16th birthday will be one of new beginnings—namely, acceptance into the warrior tribe of the Amazons. But her birthday celebrations are cut short when rafts carrying refugees break through the barrier that separates her island home from the outside world. When Diana defies the Amazons to try to bring the outsiders to safety, she finds herself swept away by the stormy sea. Cut off from everything she’s ever known, Diana herself becomes a refugee in an unfamiliar land.
Now Diana must survive in the world beyond Themyscira for the first time—a world that is filled with danger and injustice unlike anything she’s ever experienced. With new battles to be fought and new friends to be made, she must redefine what it means to belong, to be an Amazon, and to make a difference.
Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed is a story about growing into your strength, fighting for justice, and finding home.
WONDER WOMAN: TEMPEST TOSSED is Available Now.