FOR ALL that he’s contributed to the DC Comics universe, including his defining storylines for Superman and Batman, Grant Morrison had never created a major Wonder Woman story. And for that, he blames how the character was handled in his narratively impressionable youth.
Growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, Morrison encountered tales in which DC Comics’s most famous heroine was often chasing not baddies, but rather pilot Steve Trevor’s hand in marriage.
Fortunately, Wonder Woman would evolve. And when DC called Morrison to offer a shot at a new Wonder Woman tale using the publisher’s Earth One format (which unshackles creators from years of continuity and allows for new origins of well-known characters), the Scottish-born Morrison was naturally intrigued.
“I’ve written the character a few times in different DC books, and then I was offered the chance to do” this, Morrison told The Post’s Comic Riffs of his new release, Wonder Woman: Earth One. “It was much more like being given the assignment and then doing the research.
“I went back to the early William Moulton Marston stuff,” continued Morrison, citing the man who created Wonder Woman in the ’40s, “which is quite bizarre and quite alternative.”
After poring over those early years, Morrison decided to adapt one of the character’s most well-known tales, in which Wonder Woman falls in love with an Air Force pilot (Trevor) after he crash-lands on Paradise Island; that leads her to leave home and fight in World War II.
Morrison, however, wanted a more modern take.
‘There was a version of [her] that Marston created that hadn’t been explored in a long time,” the bestselling writer said, “and it seemed that by going back to [her] roots, I could maybe make something a little bit fresh.”
Morrison’s Wonder Woman is spurred by curiosity. Her hidden island paradise, with its all-female population, can feel like something of a high-class prison. Wonder Woman wants to know more about what lies beyond its borders, but as Princess Diana, her royal standing and her queen mother prevent her explorations.
“We positioned [her] as much more of a princess — a young woman trying to escape an overprotective mother,” Morrison said. “I thought that made it a little more contemporary, so we changed the origin to reflect that — using the crashed Air Force pilot as an excuse to get [her] off the island.”
“It’s all about her choices and how she kind of manipulates everyone around her,” the writer added, “using their rules and rituals to get what she wants.”
Morrison also chose, in a twist upon convention, to make his Steve Trevor black. Morrison said he wanted to diversify a storyline whose 1940s origins were “pretty white.”
Morrison also keeps any sparks between Diana and Trevor backgrounded, at least for now. The writer didn’t want love to be a defining emotion of Diana’s actions in the first part of this series, which he said will be a trilogy; he is working on the second book.
“These characters get developed in a much greater detail, and there could be the possibility of romance between them at some point,” he said, “but I think there’s more to the relationship than that.”
Another twist in Morrison’s Earth One tale is the revelation that Wonder Woman already has an Amazonian lover — a fact she’s open about. Morrison views that turn as logical after, in his story, a barbaric act by Hercules plays a part in isolating Paradise Island from men.
“Women living on an island for 3,000 years together — you don’t give up sex just because you gave up men,” Morrison said. “And [sexuality] certainly is part of this culture. I’m sure they would explore sexuality, so all we did was we made a little bit more explicit. We talk about it.
“The sex in this one is actually quite cerebral.”
Morrison added that living for thousands of years without men would result in women turning their paradise island as an evolved technological haven.
“I think for the last couple of decades, [Paradise Island] has been kind of a Grecian-style community where nothing much has changed in the last 3,000 years, and that wasn’t the story we wanted to tell,” Morrison said of recent comic-book history. “We tried to create a sense of technology and culture and achievement.
“If you stick women on an island for 3,000 years together and give them immortality, they’re not just going to sit there building Greek temples,” he continued. “We figured they’d make a lot of stuff and they’d create an actual alternative to masculine culture in a lot of ways.”
As for the book’s style, Morrison calls the work of artist Yanick Paquette nothing short of “amazing.”
Paquette spent years on Wonder Woman: Earth One, Morrison recounted. He cites “the level of detail and effort that’s gone into everything — not just the beautiful scenes and the designs of Paradise Island and the technology, but just the [outside] real world.”
“Yannick just made a point of trying to contrast the outrageous supermodel physiques of the Amazons,” Morrison said, “with the very normal and very different shapes and sizes and ethnicities in the real world.”
As to why DC’s greatest woman superhero continues to have her origin revisited, more than seven decades after her creative birth, Morrison said that it boils down to one word: adaptability.
“We’re doing a version that is different from the movie that is coming out [next year], and different from [’70s TV’s] Lynda Carter, but the character has so many facets,” Morrison said. “Wonder Woman has been around because she’s adaptable, and she’s adapted to a lot of different ideas and approaches.
“I think that’s what keeps her fresh.”