Review: Wonder Girl 2022 Annual #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Joelle Jones with Douglas Marques
Art: Emi Lenox, Adriana Melo, Sweeney Boo, Ben Dewey
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
The Esquecida have a hidden past rife with stories and legends. Wonder Girl Annual 2022 brings the legendary past to Yara Floor’s present!
Back when Wonder Girl was cancelled quite surprisingly, there were a lot of questions not only as to why it happened, but readers wanted to know more about Yara Floor and the Esquecida. Wonder Girl Annual 2022 attempts to answer some of those in-story questions, and the end credits and title space seem to indicate that there will be more to come. What about the actual content? Let’s take a look….
One of the strongest elements at the outset of Yara Floor’s solo series that launched back in May of 2021 was the inclusion of Brazilian folklore and myth. What we got was intriguing and exciting. For this reader it felt fresh and different and provided a look at a culture with which I’m familiar on only the most superficial level. Wonder Girl 2022 Annual continues to add to the picture with more folklore/ myth elements. It’s easy to see that it would be the draw for this series had it continued (or will continue) as both the reader and Yara learn more about her Brazilian heritage together. It’s not simply about the Amazons there, but how the Amazons are integrated with the indigenous folklore and myth.
Additionally, we get a follow up on the Joao subplot that ran in the earliest issues of Wonder Girl and wasn’t touched on again. As this and other elements make another appearance, like Andira it seems that this issue is mostly made up of parts that were intended for the continuing ongoing series that was cancelled. This seems especially true when looking at Adriana Melo’s art in Wonder Girl 2022 Annual. Visually it fits right in with the look of the series.
The issue begins with Yara’s Pegasus as we learn Jerry’s origin. It’s a cute endearing tale that doesn’t quite set the reader up for the rest of the book. It’s set firmly in the world of Greek Myth which contrasts a bit with the rest of the issue which relies on Brazilian culture and folklore. However, it’s a story we NEEDED.
Despite the score I’m giving Wonder Girl 2022 Annual, there are some aspects which detract from the overall experience. Firstly, outside of Jerry’s origin, the multiple artists make it challenging to follow the story that takes up most of the issue. Each of these artists does a fine job, and maybe even more than fine, but the styles don’t fit together, nor do the variations work as a method of storytelling by separating aspects of the story. There are instances when this works, but unfortunately this isn’t one of them. However, each artist does deliver some nice stuff, even if it doesn’t necessarily work well as a whole.
A second criticism, which is probably a larger over arching concern instead of something with this issue in particular, yet seems highlighted in this issue. Does attaching Brazilian folklore and myths onto Amazons which are from Greek Mythology dilute the Brazilian cultural heritage portrayed in the series? I know it may seem like an odd criticism, but I’m feeling like these characters, who are drawing so excitingly from Brazilian folklore, feel quite distanced from the Amazons and Greek Myth.
I wonder if we wouldn’t have stronger characters, and a stronger concept, if they were their own thing and not simply grafted onto the Wonder Woman’s mythos. It’s this connection to the culture of Brazil that really brings something fresh to the series and makes it feel unique. They don’t really need Wonder Woman or the Amazons, and it’s probably this aspect which allows Yara to stand on her own.
At this point, I can’t help but think of the short-lived DC comic from the 70’s- Rima the Jungle Girl. Based on the novel, Green Mansions by William Henry Hudson. Rima at first appears to be a female Tarzan knockoff, but as it turns out she’s actually a character based on Venezuelan folklore, the Daughter of the Didi. Illustrated by the great Nestor Redondo, Rima was cancelled much too soon, as a continuing story beyond the adaptation of the novel would’ve been quite interesting and different.
Yara Flor’s character and heritage bring some of the same feel (Venezuela is north of and adjacent to Brazil). The indigenous folklore and people of South America don’t need Greek Mythology to be interesting, so why make this connection? The forthcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe appearance of Namor the Sub-Mariner seems to be making a similar mistake.
Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures are interesting and unique on their own and don’t need to be connected to a concept that is entirely unrelated. It’s not necessary to graft cultures and folklore onto existing properties, it tends to dilute them and suggest that they are not worthy of standing on their own. Additionally, the existing property distracts from what is fresh and unique about these cultures. Clearly, the least interesting aspect of Yara and the Esquecida is the connection to the Greek Myth of the Amazons. They should be their own thing representing the culture and peoples of South America.
Despite all of that, Wonder Girl 2022 Annual is a great issue that adds to the slowly growing history of Yara Flor and the Esquecida. The connections to Brazilian folklore and myth are brilliant and exciting, exciting enough to stand on their own as concepts. Additionally, the issue follows up on some of the dangling elements form the cancelled Wonder Girl series. This issue is an argument for putting Yara Flor’s series back on the monthly schedule.