Ricky Church chats with Wonder Woman: Warbringer author Leigh Bardugo…
One of DC’s latest initiatives to broaden its audience, characters and stories is to bring them to the Young Adult sphere with the DC Icons line of books. The first of the DC Icons was Wonder Woman: Warbringer, a new tale featuring a young Diana of Themyscira entering man’s world in order to protect a young girl named Alia. They discover that Alia is a descendent of Helen of Troy and her bloodline makes her a Warbringer, someone destined to bring conflict and war wherever they go. Diana and Alia must reach Greece in order to break the curse before others find a way to kill or use Alia to their gain.
Written by Leigh Bardugo, Warbringer was an exciting and intriguing read of Diana and a good introduction to DC Icons (you can read my full review here). Flickering Myth got a chance to ask Bardugo a few questions regarding the novel’s themes, her take on Diana and the appeal of Wonder Woman to audiences across the world.
Ricky Church: What attracted you to the idea of writing a Wonder Woman novel as opposed to a graphic novel?
Leigh Bardugo: I’m not sure it was a question of attraction. Random House called with a proposal for a series of young adult novels based around these characters and the chance to write Diana at seventeen was one I couldn’t pass up. I’m definitely more used to building worlds and characters in prose alone, but I read a lot of graphic novels and I’d be thrilled to see Warbringer adapted that way.
RC: Wonder Woman: Warbringer kind of delves into Greek mythology with Alia being a descendant of Helen of Troy. Where did you find the inspiration to tie her lineage into Helen?
LB: Helen’s story is just so much more than the one that is familiar to most of us. She had a life before and after she became Helen of Troy. I learned there was a cult built around her in Ancient Sparta, and in one version of her birth, Leda isn’t her mother—it’s Nemesis, goddess of divine retribution. So what if Helen’s power had nothing to do with beauty but with the power to incite conflict—a power she couldn’t control and passed on to her descendants? Just a little bit of digging and my wheels started turning.
RC: This story is as much about Diana and Alia discovering their identities as it about Diana saving Alia’s life. Its interesting how their individual journeys play out, with Diana trying to affirm her place as an Amazon and Alia running away from being a Warbringer. What can you tell us about their search for identities?
LB: Diana has grown up with some very specific ideas about heroism and power, and those notions are challenged by her friendship with Alia who shows strength and courage in different ways. Alia has been raised with a deep caution that’s been reinforced by her experience of the world, but in Diana she discovers someone who lives fearlessly. They’re both deciding who they want to be—regardless of what they’ve been taught. I wanted the story to focus on their friendship and the way it shapes them both.
RC: Family also plays a large role in this story, from Diana’s relationship with her mother and the other Amazons to Alia’s complicated relationship with her brother. Why is the theme of family so important, especially to a character like Wonder Woman?
LB: Diana’s story has always been about the strength and values she derives from her people, but also about her need to step away from them and into our world. And that’s really true for all of us growing up. Sometimes it means rejecting where we came from, sometimes embracing it. But we don’t really know who we are and what our families mean to us until we break away.
RC: Wonder Woman: Warbringer is the first in the DC Icons line of YA novels. What is the goal of DC Icons and how is to be the first author to usher in these novels?
LB: I assume the goal is to draw existing fans of these characters to the novels, and to introduce young adult readers to characters they may only know a bit about from films or cartoons. I don’t mind being the Icons guinea pig. These are all characters I love and it’s exciting to think of them entering the YA sphere.
RC: Its sometimes easy for people to forget, but Wonder Woman has been around just as long as Batman and Superman. What do you think Wonder Woman’s appeal has been to the mainstream audience for so many decades?
LB: Isn’t that funny? Someone tweeted me the other day to ask if there were Wonder Woman comics! And yet, people who have never picked up a comic or even seen the film know who she is and what she represents—not just strength, but compassion. That combination is so powerful, and I think it’s that deep kindness (along with plenty of quality butt-kicking) that brings us back to her again and again.
RC: Did you see Wonder Woman’s feature film and, if so, what was your favourite aspect of it?
LB: Probably the No Man’s Land sequence. It’s a great set piece and it’s also a thrill to see a woman at the center of those slow motion hero shots. I also hope we get to go back to Themyscira in the next film. I’d love to see more of Philippus and the other Amazons, and I’ve heard rumors Antiope will somehow return.
Thank you yo Leigh Bardugo for taking the time to answer our questions.