Just in Time: Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons

[See repost: Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons…arrives just in time]

The oversized format and stunning cover by Phil Jimenez and Romulo Fajardo Jr. suggest something special from DC Black Label, but the black text-only first page signals Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons has arrived just in time:

Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons (2021-) #1 - Comics by comiXology

Available December 1, 2021, Historia Book One on its first page speaks into a darkness begun in the waning days of the Trump administration, a ham-fisted attack on the 1619 Project that has escalated into state-level legislation by Republicans across the U.S. banning books and canceling the teaching of history.

The “Some say…” reply of “Some are liars, fabulists” can be read as a critique of the Trump-poisoned Right today. But the most powerful lines speak to the exact source of why conservatives in 2021 are seeking to control what children are taught and how, echoing the essence of Critical Race Theory and vilified historians such as Howard Zinn:

History, young one, is written by the victors. In the bitter battle between the Amazons and the Gods of Men…

The Amazons lost.

There is no objective version. Neither this one, nor that.

But this…this is our story.

Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons (Book One)

The creative team of DeConnick (writer); Jimenez (artist); Hi-Fi, Arif Prianto, and Fajardo (colorists); and Clayton Cowles (letterer) remind me of J.H. Williams III and Kelly Thompson’s run on Black Widow—although in many ways, Historia proves to be dramatically unique.

Occasionally calling a work a feminist read on a topic can seem reductive, or insubstantial—how many feminist reads [1] has there been of Wonder Woman?—but in a world darkened by censorship and the looming threat of overturning women’s reproductive rights nearly 50 years after Roe v. Wade, a feminist manifesto is not just in time, but essential.

“For the Institutions of Men Care Not for the Weal of Women“: Just in Time?

After a beautifully rendered introduction of Goddesses, the narrator admits, “The subjugations and abuses of not-men by men are too numerous to catalog in a library…let alone a book.”

This powerful refrain not only sets the focus of Historia, but carries an eerie weight in a time of book censorship—books ripped from classrooms and libraries, school board members calling for book burnings—as well as the threat of of the State denying women reproductive rights, “the subjugations and abuses of not-men by men” and the women who do men’s bidding.

Next, an admission more sober: “For the institutions of men care not for the weal of women. You don’t have to be the Queen of Gods to recognize injustice.”

Book One moves from introduction to an exchange between Hera and Zeus, where Hera requests the elimination of not humankind but all men.

“The history of men is a chronicle of crimes against women,” Hera proclaims to protestations that history too includes “tales of love and beauty,” followed by:

“Herodotus 1.93. Every daughter of Lydia will work as a prostitute until she has raised sufficient money for a dowry and can secure a husband.”

Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons (Book One)

To which, Aphrodite counters:

The indignity lies not in the commerce of love, goat…

…but in the irony of whoring yourself to many to earn the privilege of whoring yourself to one.

Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons (Book One)

The arguments are an excellent dramatization of concepts such as justice as well as privilege. Hera, indignant, asks, “Do you mean to suggest that women have done something to deserve this station?” Zeus concedes, condescendingly, “You’ve made your point, girls. Women do suffer—historically and undeniably—at the hands of men. But their world is not justice.”

Finally, the main narrative of Book One focuses on childbirth and vividly portrays Hera’s protestations—in short, “Hell is a state of being,” and we can add for women.

An unwanted girl is birthed, an excessively bloody event confirming:

In every birth, there is risk and pain. This is true of creatures, ideas, and tragedies.

Mortal births are particularly gruesome. They enter the world unprotected, screaming, suited for inevitable suffering.

Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons (Book One)

But the birth itself is not the only “pain”; Hippolyta is tasked with discarding the unwanted baby girl.

DC First Look: Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons • AIPT

After leaving the baby in the river—”‘The Gods will decide, as they decide the fates of us all. They will choose wisely. Yes.'”—Hippolyta balks on that faith and runs until collapsing in hopes of saving the child.

This tale of the burden of women and the inescapable fate of women as self-sacrificing builds to her being saved by the Amazons, setting up Book Two in a dramatic final page:

Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons review: Every page of DC's comic is epic  - Polygon

Historia is beautiful and compelling as another contribution to the long history of Wonder Woman, but this is a work that speaks to “not-men” and “men” in the U.S. during the final month of 2021. It is a call to confront the “the institutions of men [that] care not for the weal of women.”

Just in time?

[1] Thomas, P.L. (2018). Wonder Woman: Reading and teaching feminism with an Amazonian princess in an era of Jessica Jones. In S. Eckard (ed.), Comic connections: Reflecting on women in popular culture (pp. 21-37). New York, NY: Rowman and Littlefield.