DC, under their DC Zoom label, has some younger-reader graphic novels planned for 2020, and seem particularly interested in cultivating the growing market of female readers. Unsurprisingly, then, they started the year by releasing a Wonder Tween tale.
What would it be like to be the only little girl on the Paradise Islands?
Title: Diana: Princess of the Amazons
Writers: Shannon and Dean Hale
Artist: Victoria Ying
First published Jan. 7 2020
A lonely young Diana, “too old or too young for everything,” makes a friend from clay, the way her mother shaped her. She is quite startled when her sculpture turns up in real life, and they have fun for awhile. All, of course, is not as it appears to be, and soon, the nascent superhero faces a genuine challenge.
The Hales do a great job of connecting Diana’s unique position with the loneliness and identity struggles that we often encounter in the tween years, and then turning it into a fun little story about making choices and shaping one’s identity.
Even for a story aimed at kids, this one feels just a little too predictable. Diana is eleven here, but I don’t know that anyone much older would embrace this comic the way, say, my friend’s then tween-age daughters completely fell for This One Summer a few years back.
Originality: 2/6 The story presents few surprises and misses few of the expected beats. It’s a well-done story for younger readers involving the future Wonder Woman. DC has visited the Amazing Amazon’s childhood before, but those stories don’t play quite like this version.
Artwork: 5/6 Ying illustrates the story with a slightly cartoony but effective style.
A different style awaits readers at the end, which features a preview of a forthcoming graphic novel starring the young Zatanna.
Characterization: 5/6 The story captures the essence of the character, as she might have existed at age eleven.
Emotional response: 5/6 I would like to thank the Hales for not rewriting Diana’s origin yet again. Her mother made her from clay. The gods invested her with various gifts. She grows up to be a superhero. That’s a perfectly serviceable origin in a fantasy. You don’t need to mess with that origin.
Overall: 5/6 I grant it might not appeal to a lot of older readers—it even skews a bit young for its intended audience— but Diana: Princes of the Amazons works very well on its own terms.
In total, Diana: Princess of the Amazons 33/42.