Interview: Bringing teenage Wonder Woman to life with James Tynion IV and Noelle Stevenson

Whenever DC Comics wants to tell a Wonder Woman story but it doesn”t fit in any of the established universes, they turn to their Digital First series, Sensation Comics. Since October of 2014, this series has explored aspects of Diana”s personality and relationships with her family, but without the hang-ups that come with continuity.

Ahead of Chapter 23, which begins an arc involving the Princess of the Amazons and a arcade game challenge, HitFix talked to Batman writer James Tynion IV and artist Noelle Stevenson (of “Lumberjanes” fame) about their inaugural experiences bringing Wonder Woman to life.

HitFix: Sensation Comics is outside of the New 52 (or any other) timeline. Does that freedom make coming up with off-the-wall arcs more fun or more intimidating?

James Tynion IV: I think when you”re free from the binds of continuity, you have an incredible opportunity to cut right to the core of a character. It”s a lot more fun, because you can build the world you feel best suits the story you want to go out and tell. WONDER WORLD came to me more or less fully formed… I knew I wanted to tell a slice of life story featuring a teenage Diana out loose on in “Man”s World,” experiencing the kind of life an ordinary teenage girl might face, and see the wonder in that world in a way that we can”t. Not having to worry about “but wait, Diana didn”t leave Paradise Island until she was Wonder Woman” was totally freeing. It let me tell the core Wonder Woman story I”d wanted to tell from the start.

HF: Chapter 23 opens up a new story for Wonder Woman. Why set it on the boardwalk?

JT: Honestly, one of the first images that came to mind for me was Diana playing DDR, and the fact that she”s coming from Paradise Island means she needed to land near a coastline. The rest was just a simple connect-the-dots to get the setting I wanted for this particular story. She needed to be in a place of wonder, a place totally unlike anything she”d ever experienced back at home… What”s more different from a pre-modern Grecian utopia than a grungy boardwalk arcade? Flashing lights, strange noises and machines… It”s an assault on the senses that I could see delighting Diana.

HF: First of all Noelle, I”ve loved your art since you were doing Hulk-Eye on Tumblr! What”s it like to get to draw for Wonder Woman?

Noelle Stevenson: Well, I pretty much always figured that no one would ever let me come anywhere near Wonder Woman in any official capacity, so when James asked me to draw this story there was no way I was gonna say no. It felt like getting away with something somehow! And of course it didn”t hurt that James”s story was everything I wanted to draw.

HF: With “Lumberjanes,” part of your goal was to show girls as a variety of people, not just the token character. That seems to have bled over into your depiction of women in Wonder Woman. Was it a conscious choice?

NS: It”s less that Lumberjanes inspired that choice than that I think it should be the standard to show diverse characters, especially girls. I know we can do better when it comes to “same body” syndrome and over-sexualization of female character designs. It helps a lot to have a LOT of female characters in the cast, and James gave me a lot to play with! 

HF: Readers are seeing a much younger Diana than they might be used to. How different was she as a teenager compared to now?

JT: I see teenage Diana as being much less defined, and much more defiant. We”re talking about a young woman who has been raised knowing there”s a whole world out there that she can”t access, and she wants so desperately to get out there and experience it for herself. She”s definitely more restless, and furthermore, once she gets to our world, she doesn”t have any real knowledge of the world or how it works. All she”s had her entire life is the propaganda about the horrors of Man”s World, and now she needs to find out for herself how much of that is true, and what else there might be for her to learn.

HF: Do I see a shout-out to Hark! A Vagrant's “Strong Female Characters” on the side of that arcade?

NS: Ahaha, you know it!

Chapter 23 of Sensation Comics' Wonder Woman will be available for download on Thursday, February 5 via the DC Comics app and wherever digital comics are sold!