Hugo Reading Progress

2024 Hugo Awards Progress
30 / 57 items read/watched (52.63%)
3375 / 7751 pages read (43.54%)
495 / 1360 minutes watched (36.40%)

16 April 2024

Hugos 2024: Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Phil Jimenez, Gene Ha, and Nicola Scott

Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons

Collection published: 2023
Contents originally published: 2022-23
Acquired and read: April 2024

Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artists: Phil Jimenez, Gene Ha, Nicola Scott
Colorists: Arif Prianto, Romulo Fajardo Jr., Wesley Wong, Annette Kwok
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

This is a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story—my first, and indeed, my first Hugo finalist this year full stop. (I usually start with a Best Novel finalist, but none made it into my first batch of arrivals.)

It's branded as a Wonder Woman comic, but Wonder Woman does not appear here. It goes back to the origins of the Amazons, exploring how the tribe of warrior women that ultimately gave birth to Wonder Woman came into existence. Skimming a timeline of DC history, I can see this ties together and dramatizes some preexisting material, but it totally stands on its own, and doesn't feel like a continuity patch or origin story. Indeed, the greatest thing you can say about it (and I speak this as someone who reads a lot of tie-in and franchise fiction) is that it transcends its origins as a tie-in comic. I would feel comfortable handing this to someone who doesn't enjoy superhero comics but does like graphic novels and wants to read a bold, dynamic take on Greek mythology, because that's what this is. It's not a rewriting of George Pérez (or whomever), it's a new myth designed to take its place among old ones.

The story starts with the Greek goddesses, who reach their breaking point with the ways men treat women, but find the gods unwilling to do anything about it, and so take things into their own hands. It then follows the doings of the gods, especially Hera, who refuses to overtly move against her husband's will, in parallel with the rise of the Amazon tribes, and a would-be human midwife who ends up encountering the Amazons as they travel across the world slaughtering men who hurt women, and then into a war where the gods attempt to eliminate the Amazons. It's an epic story, but the presence of Hippolyta, the midwife, keeps it grounded; I enjoyed her trajectory very much.

More importantly, though, writer Kelly Sue DeConnick has three top-notch artistic collaborators here. Phil Jimenez's work I honestly don't know that well (aside from event comics like Infinite Crisis and Dark Cybertron, which rarely showcase an artist at their best), but he had a well-regarded run as a writer and artist on Wonder Woman; here, he turns in some brilliant and beautiful two-page spreads, one of jars(!), but in particular, a few depicting Hippolyta's desperate pursuit of a lost infant. Gorgeous, heartbreaking stuff. Gene Ha I've liked since his Top Ten days, but this is probably career best work for him, his attention to character really capturing the struggle and emotions of Hippolyta as she seeks to become an Amazon. And Nicola Scott I've thought a solid artist since her debut on Birds of Prey; here, she knocks it out of the park with the war between the Amazons and the gods. For all three artists, the art is beautifully colored, and the deluxe hardcover collection really shows it off to its utmost; I don't always buy Hugo finalists outside of the category of Best Novel, but I am so glad I'm not reading this comic on my Kindle Fire.

If I had a complaint, it would be that I found the parameters of Hippolyta's key choice in the last issue kind of confusing and rushed, but I'm sure on a reread (this is a tough book to read, but not in a bad way; sometimes it's just nice to read a comic that makes you work a little harder than normal) it would hold up fine. The backmatter tease two more sets of three chapters, but even if we don't get a trilogy of trilogies for Wonder Woman Historia, this will hold up as a tremendous work about what men do to women, and what women do to get away from it.

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