The third member of DC’s Trinity, Wonder Woman, had a spotlight panel today during [email protected] This year is the character’s 80th anniversary, and DC is celebrating with a slew of new titles and relaunched/revamped characters. Moderated by Wonder Woman editor Brittany Holzherr, the panelists on-hand included Wonder Woman writers Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad, and the Nubia and the Amazons creative team of writers Vita Ayala and Stephanie Williams and artist Alitha Martinez.
After panelist introductions, Holzherr asked the group about their projects and what they think readers will enjoy about them. Conrad said that Wonder Woman has been following Diana travelling through different afterlifes, trying to find her way to where she belongs. “We’ve been surprised a lot by the things we’re learning about Diana and the things that she’s done,” Cloonan said, which has made writing the series fun. Conrad stressed that the series is new-reader-friendly while Diana has had to re-learn about herself during this journey. Holzherr asked if they had a favorite place that Diana has visited so far, and Cloonan named Elfheim, “the land of fairy,” in an issue painted by Jill Thompson. Both writers gushed over having Thompson on the series, with Conrad calling her one of the most vital creators in the industry.
Ayala noted that Nubia and the Amazons is the first solo series for the character. They said half-jokingly they’re really only here to work with Williams and Martinez, and praised both of their work on the series. Williams called the experience working on the series “mind-blowing,” and that the devoted fanbase for the character despite very few prior appearances is a testament to the strength of Nubia. “It’s an amazing undertaking but one that I’m happy to be doing,” she said, and said she’s excited to add to the character’s canon. Ayala also mentioned how special it is to have two Black women in Williams and Martinez working on Nubia’s first solo series.
Martinez, who has been working in the industry for a long time, said she had felt almost ‘unworthy’ to work on characters like Superman and Batman in the past. She said that Nubia came along at the right time, and was thrilled to read the Future State scripts and to redesign the character. In redesigning her, Martinez said big hair was an important element to include, and that she wanted to make Nubia both powerful and sexy. She said she hasn’t read any of the scripts for the new Nubia series yet, but Ayala promised the character won’t be sitting around at all during the series.
With the celebration of Wonder Woman’s 80th anniversary, Holzherr asked what each panelist’s favorite memory of the character is in any medium. Ayala chimed in first, saying Wonder Woman is their third favorite character of all time. As a huge fan of the Lynda Carter series, Ayala mentioned Wonder Woman’s smile in the first episode of the series that struck them as being core to the character of Diana. Conrad said his was in Darwyn Cooke’s The New Frontier, specifically the scene in which Diana has taken a group of militarized women in Cambodia under her wing. He described Diana and all of the Amazons’ moral compass as “self-defined,” in contrast to other heroes who are driven by quests for vengeance or because they were told to be good by others.
Cloonan echoed Cooke’s iteration of Wonder Woman as a favorite, as well as George Pérez’s and Cliff Chiang’s. Williams mentioned the animated version of Wonder Woman from Justice League/Justice League Unlimited, specifically the “Maid of Honor” two-parter that focused on Wonder Woman. “You see how [Wonder Woman] is stuck between two worlds, but that it doesn’t matter, because it’s Diana,” she said. “She’s someone who could mess you up but also is a really great friend,” Williams added. She also noted the queer-coding in the episode, which followed Diana living with the princess of an Eastern nation as ‘gal pals.’ Holzherr praised the animated DC series for bringing new readers to the comics, and as big influences on how creators approach the characters.
Martinez also mentioned the Lynda Carter version of Wonder Woman, which she watched as a child in Curaçao. She also mentioned Terry and Rachel Dodson’s version of Wonder Woman, and the impact of the 2016 Patty Jenkins-directed movie, particularly the scene in which Diana walks across the battlefield in costume for the first time. “As a hispanic woman, you’re constantly hidden,” Martinez said. “Your job is to blend and to fit where other people think you should fit,” she continued, and said how grateful she is to have Wonder Woman as a role model and to “feel like I’m part of something.” Ayala chimed in to say they hope Nubia appears in the movies with Martinez’s designs, and Holzherr said she’s excited to see people cosplaying as Nubia at conventions. Williams also mentioned having Nubia as the background on her computer, and explaining the character to her five-year-old son.
Specifically talking about the different series, Holzherr asked Cloonan and Conrad what’s coming up in Wonder Woman. With Diana returning from the sphere of the gods in October, Conrad said Wonder Woman would be “reborn into man’s world” on her 80th birthday. “We’re gonna bring the noise,” he added, saying they’re going to give readers what they want while still making things challenging. Cloonan said, even dead, Diana didnt get any sort of a break, and that upon her return to Earth “it’d be nice if someone threw her a party.” Conrad continued that Diana would be returning to a world that has “moved on” in her absence, with Yara Flor, Nubia, and Hippolyta having stepped up, which will leave her having to find a place for herself, and Ayala joked that Diana should go hang out with the Bana Mighdall because they know how to party. Cloonan noted that what’s coming will be very different from the “Afterworlds” storyline.
Asked if Diana’s new Asgardian friend Siegfried would be returning post-”Afterworlds,” Cloonan said they wrote the character as “a hunk” and that Travis Moore drew him as a thirst trap that everyone has fallen into. Both Cloonan and Conrad said they were surprised at how quickly readers were drawn to him, and that they’re happy to bring him back. Siegfried is traditionally portrayed as a big white guy with blonde hair, and Conrad said they “didn’t necessarily want just another white dude running around.” Through research into the Vikings they discovered that the historical Siegfried may have had a Persian background, so they decided to make their character Persian as well. “He’s a much more dynamic character than he seems currently,” Conrad said, and that readers could expect to see more of that in the series. Cloonan and Conrad both praised Moore and colorist Tamra Bonvillain for bringing Siegfried to life so beautifully.
On the subject of bringing Nubia back, in a new role and into the current DCU continuity, Martinez said it was interesting to work with a character who has been around for a while but who doesn’t have that much history, and for whom some of the history is questionable. Martinez said the new series makes it feel like Nubia is “going to get to be a real Amazon this time.” She said as an artist she’s not used to having so much input as she does on Nubia and the Amazons, and that she feels a lot of pressure to fight for what she wants people to see in the series. “This is my chance to finally have that little girl see that reflection,” she added, stressing the importance of having the character available for people of color to look up to and to claim as their own.
Ayala added that this is the creative team’s opportunity to definitively say who Nubia is, and that they see the passion from Martinez in her artwork. Williams said her goal is to have Nubia stand on her own outside of being just ‘Wonder Woman’s black sister.’ “It’s not Player 2 colors,” Ayala added, saying that elevating the non-Diana Amazons is “the secret agenda” of everyone on the panel. Conrad said he’s excited to see how Nubia’s rise shakes up the rest of the Amazons, and that it will change the way readers view Diana as well.
Holzherr mentioned that this will be the first time in 80 years that there have been so many Wonder Woman-related series, between Wonder Woman, Nubia and the Amazons, and Joëlle Jones’s Wonder Girl. Jones then appeared in a pre-recorded message thanking fans for the response to Yara Flor, particularly the Brazilian fans and artists who have reached out. She said her goal with Yara was to create a modern Wonder Woman, and that she’s fallen in love with the character since working on her. Jones also wished Diana a happy 80th birthday.
In closing the panel, Holzherr mentioned the upcoming Wonder Woman Day on October 21st, and the numerous other elements as part of DC’s “Believe in Wonder” campaign for this year.