G. Willow Wilson‘s run on WONDER WOMAN is the kind of story that feels new and fresh in ways you can hardly describe. Diana is a character that many of us have loved and read for years, but Wilson somehow found a way to make her look completely new while preserving the heart of the character.

The first collected volume of her run — THE JUST WAR — will make readers think, cry, gasp in awe, and smile widely. It includes a lot of social commentary that Wilson handles with finesse and empathy to astounding effect. It truly is heartwarming and gut-wrenching at the same time.

Wilson took the time to chat with ComicsVerse about the volume. Check out the full discussion below.

G. Willow Wilson Tackles the Concept of “Justice”

ComicsVerse: This story explores the nuance of justice and what it means to different people. What was your approach there?

G. Willow Wilson: With the first arc, I really wanted to put Wonder Woman in a situation where there was no obvious solution that she could get to using her superpowers. I think it’s easy to make a character like Diana almost too perfect because she’s everything we’re not. She’s not only strong and fast and has these amazing mythical weapons and is incredibly intelligent, but she also has this sense of justice that comes from this idyllic matriarchal society. And so it’s very difficult to put her in a situation that challenges her because she has so many tools at her disposal.

So, I kind of wanted to put her in a situation where the solution was not clear, and also where it was very obvious that the problem could not be solved by a single person, which means that she couldn’t simply fly in and fix everything. She had to create relationships with specific groups of people and be more of a facilitator than a smacker of bad guys. It works in the sense that it was very challenging to get her through that, but it was also extremely challenging for me as a writer, so I think that it was an instance of me biting off exactly as much as I could chew, and maybe even a little bit more.

G. Willow Wilson
WONDER WOMAN #58 interiors. Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

CV: There’s a powerful moment towards the end of this refugee story with Cadmus, Damon, and Eirene. We see that some people can move through this situation relatively unnoticed, but they can’t because of the way they look. That definitely reflects our society today. Can you speak to that?

GWW: I thought it would be an interesting thing to grapple with in a Wonder Woman story, because of course Wonder Woman, when we start out, cannot return to her home. She’s very much stuck here, but fortunately for her she can blend in to our society. She looks very much like we do. She can, day to day, blend into American society and sort of walk the streets and not be thought of as somebody who doesn’t belong and who obviously looks like an outsider. And I thought, you know, that’s not always true of someone who has to leave their home and travel somewhere they’ve never been, and it’s ultimately not such a neat, tidy ending for that story, especially now.

So, it seemed like an interesting way to pull both of her worlds together — her more Greco-Roman mythological world and her world here on earth — and tell a story with mythological characters and characters that are more reminiscent of the real world, and with those two sets of characters tell a story that resonates here and now with some of the most urgent issues of our time. So, it just seemed like a good way to get into Diana’s story in a way that paid homage to her history, but at the same time was hopefully accessible to people who may be familiar with Wonder Woman as a character but may not have read a Wonder Woman comic before.

The Lore and Supporting Characters

CV: How do you balance the lore of both mythology and the DC Universe?

GWW: I had to do a lot of reading, mostly to get a handle on how these mythological characters play out into the DC Universe, because if you go back far enough into Wonder Woman’s backstory depending on what timeline you’re looking at, a lot of gods and goddesses and demigods show up in her story. You’ve got Gaia if you go back far enough, Ares is obviously a character that pops up often in various forms, you have the Amazons, of course, Aphrodite has popped up now and again. I wanted to make sure that if I was going to use these characters that I was using the version that exist in the DC Universe. And it wasn’t always clear.

G. Willow Wilson
WONDER WOMAN #58 interiors. Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

You know, when you have a story that’s been around for 75 years, not even experts can always agree about what exists in what timeline … you need almost and encyclopedic knowledge of the character’s history to get everything exactly right. So I found myself not only going back and reading previous issues of WONDER WOMAN, you know from previous runs, but also doing deep dives into some of the fan sites and cross-referencing some of the articles when they were in disagreements about something. So getting the continuity right almost became a sort of part-time job because there’s so much story for these characters. She’s been around for so long, she’s one of the original superheroes. When you have a character who has been around that long, you get a tremendous backlog of material and some of it is contradictory. You kind of have to decide which version you’re using.

CV: The character of Nemesis is so interesting. What drove you to use her?

GWW: I thought Nemesis was a really fascinating character to kind of re-interpret for this story, because in her original incarnation … she was this very high-fantasy character. She has this very unique look, obviously. I wanted to do a more psychological take on the character that melded the original comic book version of the character with the more traditional Greek version of Nemesis. To do that, I made her not just scary to look at and scary to deal with, but her superpowers are primarily psychological. She literally gets inside the heads of her enemies and tweaks their way of thinking so they become obsessed with this conflict.

So it seemed appropriate to kind of pair her with Veronica Cale, who is kind of, in a sense, the Lex Luthor to Diana’s Superman … Veronica’s grudge against Diana seemed so appropriate for that character.

CV: What makes Steve and Diana such a functional couple?

GWW: I think it’s that Steve is supportive of her, does not feel threatened by her, even though he is in his own right a strong, well-trained soldier who can handle weapons and is really buff. He’s quite masculine in a very traditional sense, and yet, he’s not threatened by the fact that he loves this woman who could get up and kick his butt — kick literally the butt of anybody in the room. She’s incredibly strong, she’s — depending on what the interpretation of her power is — she’s semi-invulnerable, and I think it takes someone with tremendous self-confidence to not be threatened by that and love her as she is and be that supportive.

I wanted to show that in their relationship very early on — he’s quite comfortable with the fact that she could beat him in an arm wrestling match. He’s not threatened by that. He doesn’t feel like that diminishes his masculinity. I think he has a very healthy perspective on their relationship.

G. Willow Wilson
WONDER WOMAN #58 interiors. Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

And I don’t think that’s something that a woman like Diana can take for granted. I think pop culture, and real life, is full of strong women who — whether it’s physical strength or intelligence, or any other aspect of their personality — who have trouble finding men who are their equals and who are not threatened by them … So Steve, I think, is really a unique character because he is comfortable with that power dynamic.

Early on, she’s about to fly off and do something, and she almost leaves behind, I think, her bracelets and her armor and he comes up and he’s like, “Here, you almost forgot these!” So, you sort of get a sense of how their relationship works. He is okay with the fact that she is always going to have things that require her to drop everything and take care of some kind of problem.

I think Steve is unique among male, non-superpowered significant others in superhero comics in that he is so comfortable being with a woman who could beat him armwrestling.

CV: Can you tell me about the art on WONDER WOMAN?

GWW: I was super excited to work with Cary Nord. His pencil work is just so incredible. I think it melds plastic fantasy art with a very modern sensibility, which I think is so appropriate for WONDER WOMAN in particular. So, I was very, very excited when Chris Conroy — who was the editor for this arc of WONDER WOMAN — mentioned his name. I think he really has a delicate, but sharp line that works wonderfully well for a character like Wonder Woman. It gives her definition and lightness at the same time. So yeah, it was really, really fun to work with him on this.

I tried to give him fun stuff to play with, but it was only like halfway through the arc when I was like, “Oh crap, there’s so many horses!” All of the artists that I’ve ever spoken to are like, “Horses are the bane of my existence. How do they work? How do they stand up?” So, I had not only given him multiple equine/bovine characters, but I made them talk, as well. I just wanted to send him a note of apology … but he made it work.

G. Willow Wilson
WONDER WOMAN #58 interiors. Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

What’s Coming Up for G. Willow Wilson

CV: Tell me about writing THE DREAMING! Are you amped to work in that world? What do you have planned?

GWW: I am beyond amped. I cannot even tell you. I tried not to chew Si’s ear off at New York Comic-Con because I was so excited. I’m very excited to work with Nick Robles, as well. I’ve been following him on Twitter for a long time and I love his style, so I can’t wait to work with him.

For me, this is really — I’d call it, no pun intended, a dream job, but quite honestly this is a sandbox I never thought I would get to play in. I didn’t think it was a sandbox that was going to become available to play in. So it really is an absolute bucket list project for me. SANDMAN was something that was very meaningful to be as a ’90s goth, as it was for so many ’90s goths. It really does feel like coming home. This is a universe that I’ve loved for a long time that I low-key wrote fanfic about when I was a teenager.

I’m just so excited and I’m going to have to bite my tongue for the next six months so that I don’t let the cat out of the bag too prematurely.

WONDER WOMAN VOL. 1: THE JUST WAR collects WONDER WOMAN issues 58-65, and is available now. 

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