Thursday, April 5, 2018

Superhero Origin Stories: DC Icons #1 and 2

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo and Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu 

Published 2017 and 2018 by Random House Children's Books

364 and 277 pages, fantasy (superhero).

Leigh Bardugo will always have a sizable chunk of my heart for having written the Six of Crows Duology. Even though I didn't particularly care for Shadow and Bone, and even though I haven't seen Wonder Woman (other than the occasional episode of the Linda Carter show back in the day), I wanted to check out her version of the WW origin story. Plus, it was on the Cybils YA spec fic short list, so I kind of had to read it. I liked it less than Six of Crows but more than I'd expect from a superhero retelling, so I when I saw Marie Lu's Batman available at the library, I picked it up too. I haven't read a bunch of Lu, but again, I've liked her work, and I'm rather more familiar with Batman, having seen a couple of Michael Keaton movies and at least one of the Christian Bale ones, plus I'm very familiar with the Jingle Bells song, as well as this delightful meme:

I'm not NOT the target audience--I don't disdain superhero reboots, I love fantasy and retellings in general, and I like both writers' style. But I'm not the EXACT target audience either--the only reason I know these are DC stories is because it says so on Goodreads, and I had to stop and Google a few times as I read to find out if side characters were canon or new inventions. 

4/5 stars
I really didn't have any preconceptions about the Wonder Woman backstory. I loved the heady mix of mythology and BS, and felt that Diana was very believable as a sheltered young woman trying to find her own path. I really appreciate that the main relationship arc in this book is between friends. Diana and Alia have their own strengths and struggles, their own baggage and courage. Watching trust and respect develop between them gave me quite a few of the feels.

3/5 stars
This one was more uneven. Batman's backstory is assumed--the wealth, the dead parents, Alfred. His transition to superhero remains slightly over the horizon. None of his storied enemies show themselves, unless you count an exceedingly bland Harvey Dent (one of the names I Googled, because it sounded vaguely familiar, but I couldn't remember his role). Despite rushing into action a number of times, Bruce still seems to be passive and waiting. I did like the Nightwalker (confusingly, it's not Bruce) who begins the book with blood under her nails, and the scenes in the basement of the asylum were suitably disturbing.

Next up we have some ****SPOILERS**** so I will throw a few more memes at you to keep you from seeing them accidentally.


In Wonder Woman, when you first hear about Alia's brother, he sounds like a controlling jerk. Then you start to think maybe he's just an adoring older brother. Eventually it becomes clear that this is actually a comment on abusers and how they justify their abuse, blaming the victim for how they treat them. Then Batman comes along and meets a girl...who has a messed up, controlling brother. I have no idea if the two authors communicated at all while writing, but it just seemed interesting that both books had an asshole brother as the villain.

I'm not a Sarah Mass fan, so I probably won't read the Catwoman one. But I do like Catwoman, and now that I think of it, I wonder if Batman's story was left open so the Catwoman book could continue it from a new point of view. In other words, I'm not ruling it out entirely. But if you're only going to read one, I'd recommend Wonder Woman.

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