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Looking at “A League of One”

I have a confession to make.

I didn’t know anything about Wonder Woman for a long time into my time reading comics. I knew her by sight, sure. It’s hard not to; she’s one of the most iconic and referenced characters in pop culture. Eventually, there came a point where I felt like it was a huge gap in my comics knowledge to not know anything about one of DC’s big three, and so the search began to learn what there was to know about this timeless character.

Paying a visit to my friendly neighborhood comics shop, I was directed to Justice League: A League of One. It turned out to be the perfect introduction to the character.

During the 14th Century, there was a dragon that was fought back by knights, and it retreated to its cave. The entrance was destroyed, and the dragon was lost to time and myth. Fast forward to present day, where gnomes, who served the dragons in the days of old, find the dragon and wake it up.

Cut to Wonder Woman, who is at the moment off on a personal day from the Justice League. She gets a warning from a wood nymph and a water sprite of a prophecy that foretells the doom of the Justice League at the hands of the dragon. And so, guided by her love of her friends, Wonder Woman begins taking out the Justice League one by one in order to spare them the fate foretold by the prophecy, so that she would bear its weight alone and face the dragon and certain death.

So there’s a lot to this story that is uniquely Wonder Woman. The first thing I want to draw attention to is how the entire story is steeped in myth and legend. Wonder Woman draws her origin from the annals of Greek mythology, which is one of the most well-known mythologies in the world. These are some of the world’s earliest recorded superhero stories, and it’s interesting that they are further added to with the addition of a contemporary character. But it makes perfect sense. The Greek gods and goddesses feature strong, independent women, with some of them revered as much if not more so than the male gods. Throw in a nymph or two, and the Fates of the same ancient Greek mythology, and the line dividing past myth and current fiction disappears.

Secondly, through this story we get a true measure of Wonder Woman’s abilities. As in she took down the entire Justice League. The. Whole. Justice. League. And it wasn’t through strength alone. Without giving anything away, she defeats the greatest heroes of Earth with wit, cunning, and brute force. Even Batman couldn’t manage to take out some of the League head on.

Third, why she took out the League is quite distinctly Wonder Woman. In the recent universe- spanning event, “Blackest Night,” Wonder Woman was deemed worthy to wield the violet ring of love. In “League of One,” it was tough love, but great love nonetheless. To spare her friends, she was willing to sacrifice herself. She gladly stepped into an arena promising certain death and made sure that her friends couldn’t follow.

One thing I have to mention about this story is the art. The entire story is hand-painted by Christopher Moeller, and it is gorgeous. Each panel is gorgeously rendered, and Moeller’s style has a vaguely impressionistic touch to it. Colors are defined against each other at close inspection, but when looked at as a whole, everything blends together beautifully.

If you’re looking for a crash course on Wonder Woman as a hero, you’ll find everything you need here. It is an epic story steeped in ancient mythos, and a character strong enough to stand against an ancient evil with love enough to do what it takes to keep her friends safe.

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