DIANA: PRINCESS OF THE AMAZONS (2020) review

Diana: Princess of the Amazons (DC Comics)

Diana: Princess of the Amazons is available now where all good books are sold!

Eleven-year-old Diana leads an idyllic life on the island of Themyscira. Cut off from the rest of the world, she’s beginning to feel a little alone. Though she has a loving mother and many “aunties,” she is an only child. In fact, she’s the only child on the entire island!

 After an escapade goes wrong, Diana gets in trouble for not living up to the Amazonian standard. She just can’t seem to measure up no matter what she does. Every other person on the island is an adult proficient in their trade and mighty in body, while she is gangly, sometimes clumsy, and not particularly good at anything. She’s not Wonder Woman…yet, anyway. What Diana needs is a friend; someone her own age whom she can talk to. But when she decides to take matters into her own hands, she encounters the unexpected!

Review

After being sent the awesome The Oracle Code by DC Comics (reviewed here) I felt it was time to dive in on plenty more of what DC had to offer to younger readers. My first stop had to be Diana: Princess of the Amazons.

The idea that DC can go outside of its pool of writers to bring in authors like the New York Times Bestselling Shannon and Dean Hale, handing over the reigns of some of their top tier characters is intriguing. One the one hand it offers a fresh perspective on characters who have 80+ years of history to contend with, but its also a brave move to bring in those not familiar with the struct of comic book content.

As with Marieke Nijkamp and The Oracle Code, DC need not have worried in trusting husband and wife team Shannon and Dean Hale. The two are able to capture the essence of a young Diana and craft a story around her which has an inordinate amount of appeal for its young audience.

There are two specific streams to DC’s young content: graphic novels aimed at a YA audience (such as Oracle Code and Batman: Nightwalker) and others aimed squarely at a middle graders (ages 8-12) such as this.

Diana: Princess of the Amazons is a perfect entry point for young readers. It presents a nicely simplified version of how Diana was brought to life (sand baby) which doesn’t overcomplicate the story with Greek gods and invisible jets. Instead the story narrows down its focus to key points which are relevant to its overall story.

The Hale’s clearly immediately spotted an in-road with the character which speaks perfectly to its audience: the isolation of young-adulthood. I’m sure we can all identify with that feeling of being too young to join the adults and too old to join the kids. Of course for Diana there are no other kids to play with.

They focus in on how being the only child on Themyscira effects Diana and it plays are a great analogy for feelings that I’m sure plenty of the books target audience will be feeling as they read it. She’s not the typical outcast but her situation forces her to be an outcast amongst the Amazonian people.

Older readers, particularly any parents reading the book to their children, will instantly recognise Diana’s trademark fire and strength-of-character. All the traits which will eventually make her in to one of the world finest heroes are present in the story, albeit in a less developed state which is more befitting of an eleven year-old girl. But by no means is it hard to imagine this representation of Diana growing up to become Wonder Woman.

The idea that Diana would take her own origin story and use it to try and create herself a friend is, again, perfect for the target it audience. It takes an important part of Diana’s history – being crafted out of sand by Hippolyta – and cements that story in the readers minds by having Diana do the same for Mona.

Without ruining the ending for anyone, because it’s rewarding when you get there no matter what the age, the story circles around to aspects of the Wonder Woman mythology which are far more integral to the grown-up version of the character, but presents them in a satisfyingly palatable way for the target audience.

The story is complemented incredibly well by Victoria Ying’s illustrations. Ying’s artistic style is perfect for the world of Themyscira, the landscapes are bright and colourful, highlighting only the most important details in the frame rather than losing the audience in sweeping landscapes and heavy detailing.

Character designs are nothing short of delightful, aside from Diana the monsters held within Tartarus are wonderfully rendered on the page. A bright stream of weird and wonderful looking creatures, not at all scary but still imposing enough to take on the Amazons.

Verdict

Diana: Princess of the Amazons features a delightfully fairytale aesthetic befitting of its lead character. A wonderfully simple yet effective introduction for younger readers to one of the DC Universe’s most loved characters.

9/10

Diana: Princess of the Amazons is written by Shannon & Dean Hale with illustrations by Victoria King. The book is published by DC Comics as part of their DC Comics Kids line.


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By Neil Vagg

Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & TV and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG