In Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed, writer Laurie Halse Anderson strips away the strength and confidence synonymous with the titular character and delivers a timely, powerful reimagining of the iconic warrior’s origins.
As she approaches her 16th birthday, Princess Diana is still not quite an Amazonian. She is a ‘changeling’; a week and clumsy teenage misfit. But when the Amazonians turn a blind eye to the plight of desperate refugees spotted off the coast of Paradise Island, Diana defies the rules and explodes with trademark compassion, choosing instead to try and save lives, and in doing so sacrifices her identity and home on the island.
From here you may be expecting a coming-of-age story where our heroine matures into the gracefully powerful Wonder Woman we are all familiar with. But this is where Tempest Tossed takes a refreshingly clean break from the traditional origin story.
What unfolds instead is a story of the immigrant experience; not just an American tale but an unflinching look at the global scale of the world’s many injustices and the human toll they take.
The book tackles countless important and timely themes head on and despite being pitched for young adults, Laurie Halse Anderson never shies away or compromises on the delivery.
Leila del Duca’s art is the perfect pairing – sharp, clean lines help to reflect the historical and mythological roots of the character, while the smooth flow of uncluttered panels helps to carry the pace of the story. Also, keep an eye out for tasteful background subtleties on character T-shirts and posters helping to reinforce moods and atmosphere.
The use of splash panels is pleasingly restricted so when they do appear, the impact of their composition holds the page and gives the reader much-needed pause for thought and time for reflection on the weighty topics.
Tempest Tossed is a perfect title – Diana is battered by never-ending waves of social injustices, fighting powerlessly against an ocean of greed and indifference. While the book is unlikely to have the same level of cultural impact as G. Willow Wilson’s work on Ms Marvel back in 2014, it can stand proudly alongside it, providing representation and diversity without prejudice or sanitisation.
Diana, devoid of all her superpowers is left with nothing but her compassion to save the day. Anderson has crafted a modern heroine and role model without ever changing the character from her core, highlighting that it’s what makes us different that creates real strength.
Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed is out now.