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Hippolyta, bloody-faced, sits astride a rearing black steed adorned with gold and bones, grasping a golden lasso in her left hand in Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #1 (2021). Image: Kelly Sue DeConnick, Phil JImenez/DC Comics

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Every page in Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons is a flex

Drink up and choke on this 64-page opus

By the second page, it’s immediately obvious why Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons took over three years to make. The long-awaited title from DC’s Black Label imprint is a cup that runneth over, a series of page spreads that drop like the BWOMMM of a Hans Zimmer score, a masochistic commitment to decoration turned to decadence on paper.

But is it all too much?

(Spoiler: It isn’t. Or maybe it is, but it doesn’t matter. Or maybe it’s the thing that matters most.)

Who is making Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons?

Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #1 is written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and drawn by Phil Jimenez. Both are synonymous with depictions of feminine power.

Jimenez’s work is characterized by clear lines, impeccable anatomy, stunning detail, and mesmerizing layouts — he also has a long and beloved history with Wonder Woman. For DeConnick, the writer behind Bitch Planet and Captain Marvel, it’s almost shocking to say that this is her first work ever in the world of DC’s Amazons.

The book was colored by Hi-Fi, Arif Prianto, and Romulo Fajardo Jr. The subsequent two issues of the series will be drawn by Gene Ha and Nicola Scott.

What is Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #1 about?

This first issue retells and adapts the creation story of DC’s Amazons, borrowing much from George Pérez’s 1987 Wonder Woman run, in which several Greek goddesses create a new race of female warriors from the souls of women who died violently at the hands of men. The raison d’etre of the book’s mysterious narrator is to tell the Amazons’ own version of their history, contrary to the stories that have been told about them by others.

Of course, by the end of the issue, the full historia is not complete.

Why is Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons happening now?

Aphrodite gives the soon to be reincarnated souls of the Amazons — depicted as a score of intricate golden death visages, each one unique from the others — with her glowing divine tears in Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #1 (2021).

Wonder Woman Historia was among the very first titles DC announced when it revealed the scope and theme of its new Black Label imprint in spring of 2018. The idea behind Black Label was to create a new place for the biggest creators in comics to make canon-optional DC Comics stories at a high production value — and even a (literally) bigger page — a role that the company’s Vertigo imprint had been struggling to perform for the modern market.

There is no corner of the American comics industry that hasn’t suffered from delays since spring of 2020, whether because of the Diamond shutdown, the paper supply chain, or the simple uncertainty of the market. But Jimenez’s usual process and the larger size of of Black Label books are certainly unique factors here. Wonder Woman Historia is over two inches wider (going on an extra five inches for a double page spread) and more than half an inch taller than the standard, staple-bound American floppy.

Over 64 pages? That’s a lot of art.

Is there any required reading?

None at all. After all, the whole point of Wonder Woman Historia is to start at the beginning. Wonder Woman fans will find a lot in here to go gaga over, but so will fans of Hades, or Neil Gaiman, or Greek mythology in general. Anyone who would enjoy a story of gods and mortals that’s been illustrated to within an inch of its life.

Is Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #1 good?

Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #1 looks like Jimenez was worried it would be the last thing he ever drew, and so he had to make it the most thing’s he’s ever drawn. The book overflows.

DeConnick has always combined top notch lyrical text with a knack for bringing out the best in the artists she works with. Here she sits back so that Jimenez can summon an entire symphony from his pencil, and with a slight tip of her conductor’s baton includes lines like: “The first [Amazon] is born to the Goddess of the Harvest. For it is Demeter who ensures that man reaps what he sows.”

The first Amazons, given life by six Greek goddesses are born fully formed, armored, and armed on a double page spread intricately decorated with grecian mosaic patterns, shields, and spartan helmets in Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #1 (2021).

There’s barely an inch of the book isn’t a flex on Jimenez’s part, whether it’s packing about a dozen panels into every page, drawing a few arks worth of animals, 30 distinct character designs based on deep Greek lore for the Amazons alone, pits of writhing snakes a double page spread wide, dresses made from a hundred individually depicted birds, panel borders crenelated with rococo flair, or the casually imperious way Zeus sits so you can’t ignore the bulge of his rapist crotch.

Is it too much? I wish the team had held back on some of the digital textures in the coloring. Jimenez’s art is so intricate, his lines so black and four-color clear, it clashes with overly mechanical gradients, glows, and patterns. But I also think “too much” is exactly how DeConnick and Jimenez have advertised the book — I think too much is exactly the point. Once Historia comes down out of Olympus, so to speak, detail recedes, color cools. It’s as if the gods and god-touched beings are supposed to be hard to hold in your mind all in one go. I have the largest iPad on the market and I still feel like I can’t quite get a grip on the pages here. This is a book I need to hold in my hands.

One panel that popped

DeConnick and Jimenez treat us to a regimented page spread of 10 Grecian urns depicting the crimes of patriarchy on people considered less than men. Then you turn the page...

More than a hundred urns hang suspended eerily in a marble hall, each depicting acts of “the subjugations and abuses of not-men by men” in Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #1 (2021).

Makes your breathing skip a beat.

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