Wonder Woman: Warbringer is an original graphic novel adapted by writer Louise Simonson and artist Kit Seaton from the excellent prose novel Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo.
The novel was one of my favorites of last year and with the talent behind the adaptation, I had high expectations.
Those expectations weren’t quite met, mainly because I can’t help comparing and contrasting the graphic story to the print version, and finding a few things that I loved somewhat missing. But that’s not a fair evaluation of the graphic novel because there’s so much wonderful stuff that the adaptation brings to the story.
And that story remains an excellent one, an untold tale of Diana growing from girl to woman and coming into her own power. The tale centers around Alia, a teenage girl who Diana saves from a shipwreck and secretly brings to Paradise Island. That part of the story may seem familiar (hello, Steve Trevor) but that’s where similarities end.
For Alia is a “Warbringer,” a descendant of Helen of Troy, the latest of a long line of young women who, by their very nature, has brought strife to the world. Diana’s determined to end the curse for Alia by bringing her to the area of Greece where the curse of the Warbringer first began.
Opposing Alia and Diana are a whole host of enemies, some who want to destroy Alia, some who want to use her. Helping Alia is her brother Jason, her best friend Nim, and her friend Theo. And Alia, being an heiress, has financial resources of her own, turning the story into a quest from Paradise Island to New York City to, finally, the confrontation in Greece.
What I miss most is the depth of emotional connection between Alia, Nim, and Theo, and especially more time with Nim, who is a fabulous character on her own. Those bonds are easily explored in a novel where character thoughts and feelings are explored. But with sequential art, it’s not so easy to dive that deeply into someone’s head.
But the graphic story has its own strengths, especially with Seaton’s art. For most of the story, the art is in whites, grays, blues, with other occasional flashes of color, such as the fire of the burning boat, an event that strands Alia on Paradise Island. Seaton’s underwater rescue sequence with Diana and Alia is gripping and yet moves into a close-up that allows the reader to see just how disconcerted young Diana about her forbidden rescue.
The most fun sequences are when Diana enters New York City. The first glimpse of the city in Wonder Woman: Warbringer is from the perspective of Diana and Alia on a small raft, with the Statue of Liberty looming above them, much as the new world looms above Diana, almost overwhelming her. Once in New York City, Diana has to adapt and Kesel and Seaton have fun with the fish-out-of-water sequences, particularly in a convenience story. I also love how Diana is drawn as the literal Amazon that she is, taller than those around her. Her height and strong physical presence is something that some artists miss.
To give away more of the plot would be spoiling it but, at heart, this is a coming-of-age story for Diana and Alia, as they discover who they can trust and what they want from their lives. Alia wants to break the curse and forge her own path, something Diana empathizes with because the future Wonder Woman knows that she’ll have to eventually leave her family altogether one day to achieve her destiny.
Diana even has a hint of romantic love, though it’s only a hint.
The story is suitable for those ages eight and up, though there are some sequences (such as depictions of war) that may be a little too much for the younger readers. The graphic novel, like the original book, is geared to a young adult audience (tweens and above) but it’s also great for adult fans of Wonder Woman as well. It makes for a terrific reading companion with Diana, Princess of the Amazons.
Disclaimer: GeekMom received a print copy for review purposes.