DC's digital-first The Legend of Wonder Woman limited series is being expanded to a second volume, giving writer/artist Renae De Liz the opportunity to expand her diverse and accessible version of the Wonder Woman universe. And if the book continues to do well, she's hoping DC will let her not only continue her story of the Legend of Wonder Woman, but to add other classic-but-accessible DC superheroes to the universe.
Working with her husband Ray Dillon on inks, colors and letters, De Liz won critical praise after the book was launched in late 2015, and sales apparently indicated to DC that readers also appreciated the approach.
Previous to Legend, De Liz was best known in comic books for spearheading Womanthology, the anthology series that that featured female creators and was funded through a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign. The creator successfully pre-funded another Kickstarter project with her Peter Pan graphic novel, and also won acclaim for Lady Powerpunch!, as well as adapting Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn, Jennifer Love Hewitt's Music Box, and Anne Rice's Servant of the Bones.
As the writer/artist finishes up the first volume of Legend of Wonder Woman and begins planning the next one, Newsarama talked with De Liz to find out more about how the sequel came about, what her goals were coming into the project, and her hopes for expanding the universe.
Newsarama: Renae, you tweeted in April that a second volume of Legend of Wonder Woman "didn't seem likely." But that appears to have changed. What do you think brought about the change?
Renae De Liz: I am not entirely certain what brought the change, but I am thrilled that it has. I'd like to think our amazing fans have something to do with it, but most of all, I'm just so happy DC supports the title and green-lit the project. I can't wait to get started on Volume 2.
Nrama: I know you had specific ideas about the approach you were taking when you launched Volume 1, and how it would be different from other recent stories about Wonder Woman. How would you describe the goals you had at the time you came up with the idea for the series?
De Liz: I grew up, like almost all girls, loving Wonder Woman. However, even though I collected vast amounts of comics of all types in my day, Wonder Woman was never one of them. As I look back, I realize it was because I never found a Wonder Woman comic that really spoke to me as a reader. I knew exactly how I would have liked to see Wonder Woman portrayed, and that has shaped much of how I approached Legend of Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman is one of the most powerful and popular superheroes of all time and I wanted to create a book that appealed to every age and all readerships.
Another major goal was to promote equality in ways I felt were powerful, specifically in the areas of gender equality, and diversity of all kinds. It was important for me to do this in a way that didn't talk down to anyone, but rather lead by example.
For instance, people always talk about how Diana promotes gender expectations for women, but Steve Trevor is a critical character as well. I know first-hand many issues that face women, but I also have three sons, and I see what they face as boys. They are taught to be this vision of a "strong male." They must always be tough and brawny. They must never show emotion other than anger, because it is perceived as "weak." I wanted Steve to fight this in Legend of Wonder Woman. He's not the 'best of the best' tough-guy, with a chiseled jaw and a six-pack. His strength resides in his heart, and his will to always do whatever it takes to do the right thing. Diana being taller and stronger than him doesn't emasculate him, and he is not afraid to show his emotions.
Nrama: We've seen some of the responses from fans, and also some sales figures, but how would you describe the reaction the series has received?
De Liz: Overall, way more positive than I expected. My goal was to build something timeless, intended to last and be a continuous generator of new readers for a very long time. I would love to branch out and apply this to other DC characters. I want there to always be an easy-to-find, open door to new readers in the DC Universe.
Nrama: Were you expecting this type of welcome for your vision from fans?
De Liz: I hoped for all the positivity and acceptance, but I didn't expect it. I was running off pure intuition that this was what should be done, and honestly it was a frightening endeavor! Not only did I dare enter the "Wonder Woman arena" (which, as a creator, is pretty intimidating in terms of the heightened expectations and sensitivities unique to the character), but I also was given complete freedom to present something that was quite different than done before.
My biggest fear was to have it written off as a "children's book" because the tone was lighter and the art was not uber-realistic like most other DC books. But I felt these things were important to appeal to wider audiences, so I just went for it. Happily it seems to be mostly accepted, and I look forward to more and more people finding Wonder Woman and enjoying her stories through this series.
Nrama: Looking back at what you've accomplished in the first volume, what have been your favorite parts of telling this story? Anything emerge as a surprise favorite as you were creating it?
De Liz: I extremely enjoyed Etta Candy, who basically barged into the story from the Golden Age and wrote herself because she's that dynamic and awesome. She's another important character in terms of diversity concerning body type. In my personal experience, I always found average/plus-sized women are not taken seriously as a character, or are written around their size. Etta proves that you don't have to be built a certain way to be witty, clever, smart, brave, attractive, and especially, worthy. And that weight does not need to be a focal point all the time.
I also loved slipping in all the DC Universe Easter eggs. There's quite a few of them — a couple from Superman, Batman, Cyborg and Green Lantern, as a few examples.
Nrama: Since we're on that subject… it feels like this approach would work for more than just Wonder Woman, and the universe is already hinting at their existence. You told Newsarama last time we talked (and mentioned again on Twitter recently) that you were hoping to spotlight other Justice League characters — maybe in conjunction with the second volume? Is that still your hope, to spotlight other characters?
De Liz: I would love the opportunity to spotlight other Justice League characters. I already have a few stories mapped out in my mind and would jump at the offer if it ever came my way.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about Legend of Wonder Woman?
De Liz: Just to thank everyone for reading and continuing to support the series, and that I hope they continue to spread the word. To those that haven't read it yet, I hope they give it a shot. I am so honored by the fantastic fan response to Legend of Wonder Woman and am incredibly grateful to be able to tell a story that empowers women, promotes equality and diversity and also appeals to all types of readers.