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Wonder Woman: Temptest Tossed hits book stores and digital platforms from June 2, 2020.
Princess Diana of Themyscira believes that her 16th birthday will be one of new beginnings—namely, acceptance into the warrior tribe of the Amazons. But her birthday celebrations are cut short when rafts carrying refugees break through the barrier that separates her island home from the outside world. When Diana defies the Amazons to try to bring the outsiders to safety, she finds herself swept away by the stormy sea. Cut off from everything she’s ever known, Diana herself becomes a refugee in an unfamiliar land.
Now Diana must survive in the world beyond Themyscira for the first time—a world that is filled with danger and injustice unlike anything she’s ever experienced. With new battles to be fought and new friends to be made, she must redefine what it means to belong, to be an Amazon, and to make a difference.
In recent months I’ve spoken at length about DC Comics forays in to the world of YA publishing and how it has made characters more accessible to an audience less familiar with decade of comic book history.
Then along comes Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed. A book which is not only able to portray Wonder Woman with pitch perfect style whilst opening her up to younger readers, but also tells a story which has never been more needed.
It’s an important time to tell the story of Tempest Tossed. With Wonder Woman never more popular than she is today and with another big screen outing (hopefully) in the near future, all eyes will be on the release of this book.
I have to say I misjudged Tempest Tossed based on it’s opening gamut. Having recently read the young readers book Diana: Princess of the Amazons (reviewed here) I initially felt like I was retreading some of the story from that book, just pitched at a slightly older audience. But I was wrong and I’m happy to admit that fact.
Writer Laurie Halse Anderson sets out the world of Themyscira in a very familiar fashion. Diana is the youngest on the island, a fact which makes her feel like an outcast, searching for her place in her community as she approaches her sixteenth birthday. It’s all very familiar territory and, when taken at face value, is the perfect way to acclimatise the reader.
It’s only when familiar events are presented in a different way that Tempest Tossed begins to veer away from what we know of Wonder Woman from DC Comics history. But this was also the moment that Tempest Tossed really grabbed me.
It is not Steve Trevor, army pilot, who washes up on the shores of Themyscira fresh from fighting the Nazi’s in WW2. Instead it is a male refugee, thrown from a capsizing boat of men, women and children escaping war in their home country.
It immediately poses a huge moral dilemma for Diana and the Amazons. Themyscira is not the land of man and yet this person is desperately in need of help for his people and whilst the Amazons turn their back on the man it is Diana who steps up to help.
Though the story of Diana leaving Themyscira is presented differently, at its emotional core it remains exactly the same. Her longing to help and her desire to find her place in the world leads her to help a man in need and leads her to enter man’s world.
Tempest Tossed doesn’t only question our beliefs in helping others, it also challenges the level of inclusion in pop culture. When Diana reaches land with the rescued refugees she meets Steve and his husband Trevor (get it?). A doctor and a UN aid worker.
Halse Anderson cleverly challenges perceptions of readers with a working knowledge of Wonder Woman’s legacy whilst ensuring that the world of her story is inhabited by characters of all races, genders and characteristics. Crucially though, changes to classic characters, locations and setups never feel forced in Tempest Tossed, everything feels natural to the story and the message that Halse Anderson is trying to portray.
None of these changes come at the behest of classic Wonder Woman tropes either. The bullet bracelets and the lasso of truth still exist and are still important aspects of her character as the story progresses. But they are simply tools that she uses to help amplify her strength of character.
Instead Tempest Tossed uses its platform to tell a story which will speak to readers of all genders. It speaks to our core morality and inner strength in ways which are completely unexpected and joy to experience as a reader.
No doubt some comic book stalwarts will cry foul at the lack of a strongly defined supervillain in Tempest Tossed as the story chooses instead to focus on a people smuggling gang. But honestly, bringing in Cheetah or any other Wonder Woman rogue would only detract from the moral of the story.
Leila Del Duca’s illustrations are an excellent companion to Halse Anderson’s script. When we think of Wonder Woman we think red and gold, we think Stars and Stripes and brightly coloured, high gloss action. Del Duca’s artwork is much more muted and Earthy, reflecting Diana’s connection to the Amazon way of live and urban settings of man’s world.
There’s an simple innocence to the artwork which takes some of the edge off the hard hitting story but I say that positively. It allows difficult subjects to become palatable for its audience and only serves to better deliver the message of hope.
What I had initially maligned as another origin story was in fact a brave and bold new direction for Diana of Themyscira.
Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed is a beautifully moralistic take on the character. Pure of heart and (quite literally) strong like an Amazon, this is a story which NEEDS to be told.
Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed is written by Laurie Halse Anderson with illustration by Leila Del Duca.
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