Diana and the Hero’s Journey Celebrates the Splendor of Stories

Sharing stories with others is a special kind of magic. From the sagas of ancient Greeks passed down for centuries to the modern-day mythology of iconic superheroes like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, there are adventures to be experienced and lessons to be learned from a good story.

Diana and the Hero’s Journey, a new middle grade graphic novel by Grace Ellis and Penelope Rivera Gaylord, celebrates that extraordinary spirit of storytelling. It follows the young Princess Diana on her own journey across Themiscyra to uncover the true story of a beloved Amazonian legend. The all-ages adventure is a fresh take on the precocious future Wonder Woman and recounts how a favorite story of the Amazons shapes the hero she’ll become.

This graphic novel treats readers to a rare characterization of Diana as a child. She’s mischievous, but not mean-spirited. Stubborn, but not disobedient. In short, she’s a kid.

As the story begins, she’s playing pretend and talking to my new favorite DC character, Phyllis. Phyllis is a goat. (And also, a G.O.A.T.) They’re interrupted by Queen Hippolyta, Diana’s mother, who tells her that it’s time to pitch in with the preparations for the festival they’re having that night.

Diana asks if something needs punching, as she’s used to helping by throwing a few. But in another uncommon occurrence for a Wonder Woman story, there’s nothing to fight. Her job for this adventure? Polish the silverware. Diana stalls, but Hippolyta reminds her daughter that Hero’s Feast is an important event that only happens every five years.

The princess agrees to start her chore, but as usually happens with kids, a huge mess ends up as the result. Diana is charged with assisting with the cleanup.

What follows is a pleasantly low stakes adventure that takes the little princess across the island to help out other Amazons as they do their own jobs for the feast. The tale of Hero, the Amazon whom the festival honors, is a favorite among her people. Each Amazon has their own spin on an aspect of Hero’s journey, which both delights and confuses Diana as the story changes. Diana and the Hero’s Journey introduces the librarian Sophia, Chef Xenia, fishers Pallas and Persis and horse caretaker Tal, each a fascinating character who could easily star in their own tales.

The story of Hero unfolds through distinct art styles, including a classic Grecian urn with bold lines and black and white manga-inspired panels. Some of it is even told by the tattoos that adorn Pallas and Persis’ suntanned skin. Each telling of Hero’s legend is a fantastic reminder that every storyteller leaves their own mark on familiar characters and stories. (Especially in comic books.)

What matters most, Hippolyta later tells Diana, are the truths that the different stories teach both the listener and the teller. Lessons in the importance of bravery, resilience and teamwork are often found in the tales of our favorite heroes. (Especially in comic books!)

This graphic novel is a story about a story and how it makes an impression on a young Wonder Woman. She’s shaped just as much by the storytellers as she is the tale, and she goes on to become a legendary heroine herself. Never underestimate the power of a good story—like Diana and the Hero’s Journey. Share and pass on this book to a young reader to inspire them as they embark on journeys of their own.

Diana and the Hero’s Journey by Grace Ellis and Penelope Rivera Gaylord with Jerry Gaylord is now available in bookstores, comic shops, libraries and online retailers.

Kelly Knox writes about all-ages comics and animation for DC.com and her writing can also be seen on IGN, Nerdist and more. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to talk superheroes, comics and pop culture.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Kelly Knox and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros., nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.

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