Interview: The Legend of Wonder Woman Writer Renae De Liz — Plus, Exclusive Art From Chapter Three!

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The Mary Sue spoke to Renae De Liz, writer and penciller for The Legend of Wonder Woman, about her creative process in crafting a coming-of-age story about Diana of Themyscira. Here’s what De Liz had to say about her work on this series, for which Ray Dillon also provided ink and colors. Before the interview, feast your eyes on four exclusive pages from the series’ third chapter, out this week!

THE LEGEND OF WOMAN WOMAN – CHAPTER 3
Will Alcippe, an Amazon warrior of great renown, trust her instincts and take on a new pupil?

Writer & Penciller: Renae De Liz
Inker & Colorist: Ray Dillon
Cover Artists: De Liz and Dillon

The chapter will become available for download this Thursday via the DC Comics App, Readdcentertainment.com, iBooks, comiXology.com, Google Play, Kindle Store, Nook Store, and iVerse ComicsPlus.

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Maddy Myers (TMS): This is a “coming-of-age” story — does that mean we’ll be dealing exclusively with a young Diana? What age(s) will she be? And where do you plan to take that concept beyond the typical “origin” story?

Renae De Liz: The 270-page series follows Diana’s story from birth through her rise as Wonder Woman. The first 3 issues (90 pages) are set on Themyscira, and the other 6 issues are placed elsewhere. I wished to create a Wonder Woman who is rooted in her mythological home, but grows onwards to a more universal hero for the world.

As for where to take the concept beyond her Origin, my hope is to take this much further. I’ve already plotted Part 2, and have years of stories beyond this and multiple other series in mind that branch from this. For example, a more in depth look at Hippolyta and her early days as the Golden Warrior who formed the Amazons, or some further adventures of Etta, as her story has much to be told.

I also have further visions of other DC characters becoming established in the same universe as this one. (Aquaman,  Superman, and Cyborg would be next in my mind). Of course, this is all dependent on how well this series does. This series could stand alone as a Wonder Woman origin, or potentially be the beginning for a whole DC Universe that portrays everything in a fun, adventurous, (most) ages way. If it does happen, it makes sense to me that Wonder Woman’s story would be the beginning of it all.

TMS: What is the world of Themyscira like in this story, compared to how the island has changed in the current DC arc (e.g. the conflicts about whether men should be allowed on the island)?

De Liz: I wanted a Themyscira that was magical, and filled with the unknown. Where anything could happen, for good or bad.

So therefore in this story it’s an island formed by the Gods to seal themselves and their creations away from the rest of world. The entire island is infused with ancient power, even shifting landscape at times, and mythical creatures of all kinds call it home. I wanted the Amazons to always find the island to be a mystery despite centuries of living there, as truly only part of the Island belongs to them.  Outsiders of any kind are generally not allowed on Themyscira, as the Gods do not want any to disrupt their self-contained world.

TMS: We’ve seen a lot of different interpretations of Themyscira, in general — what’s your vision of that place? What would it look like and be like to grow up in?

De Liz: To understand the basis for growing up on Themyscira, you’d need to first understand the Amazons in this story. By the time they’re established on Themyscira (things started much differently for them), there is a core group of Immortals who help Hippolyta rule, and the rest are mortal women. I felt this important, as I do not think a true Utopia could exist without citizens who know the completeness of life, including childhood, old age, death, and having children. So in my story, mortal women are gifted by souls of daughters every ten years by the Gods to help their people flourish, which completes their freedom from man. Immortals cannot have children (which is the basis for Hippolyta’s inner torment, especially as she must watch generations of her people have the one joy she would give anything for).

To grow up a normal Amazon on Themyscira means a life of happiness, peace, and duty. The Gods watch over and guide them.  But to travel outside the City means to wander out from under the watchful eye of the Gods, and the island can be incredibly dangerous. So as an unofficial rule, the Amazons keep within their borders. When our story begins, many generations have come and gone, so man had become nothing more than a dark tale of destructive, war-mongering beings used to frighten children, and the Outside World thought long destroyed.

For Diana, things are quite different. She goes along with her Amazon upbringing, but does not really agree with core aspects of it. While the Gods offer the Amazons eternal peace, she feels smothered by it, and feels her people are not truly free as long as the Gods direct their lives. So instead of joyfully leaping into the life set before her, she prefers spending a lot of time by herself, thinking on what lies beyond the boundaries of Themyscira. She also feels a strange kinship with the island, which leads her to realize Themyscira has a growing threat her people do not see. This, in turn, sets her on a path to find a way to protect her home, even if no one will help her.

TMS: Is every character in this story going to be a woman, given the location and Diana’s history?

De Liz: No, there will be males as well throughout the series.

TMS: Will Diana’s father Zeus play a role? Or will Hippolyta be the main parental influence in Diana’s life? Does this story take place before Diana learns of her father?

De Liz: In my mind Diana has no father, and so Zeus is not involved here, and the series is out of the current continuity. Hippolyta, as an Immortal, struggles with Diana’s mortality and parenting conflicts ensue, but there are influences other than her mother for the Amazon Princess.

TMS: What sorts of conflicts might a young Diana have to worry about? Since Themyscira is so idealized in our minds, we could imagine that her childhood would be free of strife — but her warrior training might offer its own stresses.

De Liz: While Diana is utterly devoted her people and is well loved in return, she feels set apart from them for many reasons (some of which are mentioned in the previous question). She is the only child of an immortal, and the only one born outside of the 10 year mark, so she doesn’t quite belong to other age groups. She’s also a Princess with more responsibilities, which makes her far too dutiful instead of carefree like other girls. Her mother is going through her own difficulties as a parent, making her cold and dictating at times, which confuses Diana and lends to a feeling of pressure and isolation. One of Diana’s biggest conflicts growing up (in fact, one which follows her throughout the entire series) is finding a way to not let her overwhelming sense of duty completely overtake the person within, and how to balance her wishes with what she knows she must do.

TMS: Are there any other familiar faces that we might expect to see in this story – as younger versions of themselves, of course?

De Liz: You’ll see a couple familiar characters amongst the Amazons, even if their names are different to begin with. A more-to-the-original Etta Candy and her own supporting cast returns, as well as cameos of many other characters across the DC Universe. The main villain of the series is also from Wonder Woman’s classic roster, though I changed him quite a bit. Other classic villains are also sprinkled here and there, setting them up for (hopeful) further stories.

I feel this story has the potential to go far when it comes to portrayal of women in comics, so I am hoping people enjoy and support this series, and I can possibly do much more!

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Author
Maddy Myers
Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).