Steve Orlando returns to Wonder Woman this week for a one-shot issue that fits into the title’s current story by G. Willow Wilson, but has a peek at continuities of the past in a flashback to Diana’s youth.
Featuring art by Aaron Lopresti, Wonder Woman #73 takes place on Dimension Chi, a pocket dimension where Hippolyta can double-check her decisions, meaning readers may notice some familiar alternate outcomes.
The story stars as young Diana, giving Orlando a chance to spotlight the development of the character’s compassionate strength while also exploring the alternate version of Queen Hippolyta - Empress Hippolyta, who forsook motherhood in favor of conquest.
Orlando, who’s also currently writing the 12-issue series Martian Manhunter, talked to Newsarama about writing Diana again and what readers can expect from his one-shot story in Wonder Woman.
Newsarama: Steve, how did the opportunity come about to contribute to the storyline being created by G. Willow Wilson in Wonder Woman?
Steve Orlando: After working on Wonder Woman #51 - #55 last year, when it looked like the main team was going to need some help staying on track and keeping you folks in fresh, timely comics, DC asked if I'd be willing to return for what is essentially a one-shot story that could be folded into Willow's main narrative. And I jumped at the chance.
Diana is one of my favorite DC characters, along with Martian Manhunter, so whatever the chance to work with her more, and be part of her extensive and wonderful legacy – I'd jump.
Nrama: As you mentioned, you’re returning to the character after having written her for a while last year. Are you following up on any concepts readers saw during your previous run?
Orlando: This will definitely be a standalone story, but what it does pick up is Diana's unique and unrelenting compassion, a type of strength that refuses guile, and precludes seeing even her enemies as truly evil undeserving of her ear, her hand, and her respect. We touched on that in “The Enemy of Both Sides” (the collection of which will be released in July), and it's certainly a big concept for this issue as well.
Nrama: Can you describe the story you’re telling and how it highlights her character? Any parts of her mythos in general that are getting the spotlight?
Orlando: This is a Young Diana story, taking place in Dimension Chi, a pocket dimension that's essentially a virtual reality created to test Hippolyta's decisions.
As Queen, her obligation to to her people, and Dimension Chi is her way of checking her decisions, such as motherhood, to be sure they were not made out of selfishness. It's a dimension she created so she could have checks and balances.
And because it's an alternate reality, we get a fun chance to reflect depictions of the Amazons from times and continuities past, all while reinforcing that strength and heroism is not so simple a concept as we ever think – and that, I think is the most important part of Diana's mythos one can highlight.
And we've got Kangas. I should say that too.
Nrama: Yeah, you don’t want to forget to mention the Kangas. You also talked about Queen Hippolyta. So is she part of this issue? Can you talk about any of the other characters who play an important role in your story?
Orlando: This is very focused on Young Diana, the Queen Hippolyta (the “real” one), and her dark mirror, the Empress Hippolyta, who forsook motherhood in favor of conquest.
The key here is the Empress is everything the Queen is not – she is vain, she is boastful, she is always looking to expand her power. But as well, she is not truly a villain. She has simply taken a different path than the Queen, and she has created stability for her people and made them strong, but is it what the Queen, and we in the real world, know to be the best way?
With Young Diana, we want to remember the core of who she is. That's there and will never change. It'll grow and become more complex, but she is at her center a being of compassion and love, even subversively so, even radically so.
Nrama: I know that last time you wrote Wonder Woman, you also wrote a one-issue story to kick it off. As a writer, is it a challenge to write a story in one issue, or are you enjoying that challenge?
Orlando: It's certainly a challenge, but yes it's absolutely one I enjoy. It's like a bottle episode in TV – you pick a powerful idea about your lead, and you have to prove that idea in the most elegant, concise, yet moving way possible. Every issue is a challenge, but oners have always been a fun structure to work in. When you have to think your way out of a box, that's when you innovate!
Nrama: What’s it been like working with Aaron Lopresti on the issue?
Orlando: Aaron is great! We worked together on Martian Manhunter/Marvin the Martian, and he is an amazing artist to work with on Wonder Woman. His run with Gail Simone is iconic, and to welcome him back to the title is a pleasure for me. Aaron took the ideas in this one-shot and just knocked them way into the stratosphere.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell readers about Wonder Woman #73?
Orlando: This is an issue for people who've never met Diana, because in twenty pages it shows you exactly why she's so unique. And if you're a longtime Wonder Woman fan, the setting is going to give you moments and concepts from past eras in a way that's exciting and fresh. Aaron's work is gorgeous, and that last page...there's big things coming up when Willow returns in issue #74.