Writer J. Michael Straczynski's Wonder Woman run has received mixed reviews since it's launch with issue #601. With a new costume and a whole new identity, the famous heroine was virtually changed overnight. Now, equipped with JMS's Wonder Woman script, Phil Hester has taken on the writing responsibilities for the Amazon Princess's ongoing book. The big question is, where will Phil Hester take the Wonder Woman story? Will he bring back the famous costume? Will we see a love interest? And most importantly, will Wonder Woman re-discover her true identity? We caught up with the writer (who happens to be one of my personal favorites) to pick his brain about his plans for the Wonder Woman story.
Comic Vine: What is it like taking on JMS's Wonder Woman script?
Phil Hester: It's a thrill, of course. Wonder Woman is one of those icons I always daydreamed about writing, but never thought it possible. I feel lucky, to be honest. I also have a really tough act to follow. What JMS has planned for Diana is very ambitious. I'm not sure I have the chops to pull off what he would have, but I'm giving it my full effort.
CV: How much of his outline are you using to tell the story, and how much of the story is your idea? How will you transition the current story/script into your own?
PH: It's very fluid. There are some elements of JMS' outline that are very detailed and long range in nature, while others are more spontaneous and fun. JMS left me notes which spell out very specific goals and benchmarks for the story, but leave me a lot of discretion in how we reach them. I've been able to introduce characters, revamp old ones, even kill a few. As long as I get to the climax JMS sketched out I'm allowed to improvise... and I am!
Some issues are 80/20 JMS/ Hester, others the opposite. Maybe we can make it a contest to guess which ones. The prize? A hearty handshake.
CV: Where do you see yourself taking the character?
PH: That's up to the readers. If they like my take, I may get to stick around a while. If so, I plan on making more Wonder Woman stories that are just straight up adventure stories. I think stories often eat their own tail and become too insular. Look at the Superman movies. You know why the first Superman movie worked so well? Because we got to see Superman lift that school bus up over the edge of the bridge, help that kitty, and catch that helicopter. We got to see Superman being Superman, not just in conflict with a villain, so when that conflict came we really cared.
I'd like to do stories that show what Wonder Woman means to the world at large, not just her fellow heroes and villains. I want to reinforce her heroism, her nobility. Of course, I hope to shepherd her through some growth as a character, but first and foremost, I want to tell cool stories. Cool stories become canon by default. Do a good job, write a memorable story, and that becomes what readers remember.
CV: JMS introduced a new Wonder Woman to readers in issue #601, so how long will the re-imagining of this character last?== TEASER ==
PH: That's almost impossible to answer without tipping my hand. The new Wonder Woman will change both very soon... and never.
CV: What is it like to write Wonder Woman in her ongoing series? Is it difficult or easy to write an iconic character?
PH: I thought it would be hard. I thought I would freeze. Thankfully, my excitement overrode my stage fright and I began to dream about Diana. That's always a good sign I'm on the right track. When I can't keep a character out of my head, writing them becomes easy.
I do feel a certain sense of responsibility to Diana's long time readers. I want to show them I respect her past while also taking her into the future. That isn't always easy. These changes can sometimes seem capricious, but I'm going to do my best to do the legwork necessary to make whatever changes I execute seem credible and, most importantly, in the best interest of the book. We can't just stand still and become a nostalgia service. We have to break new ground, and I think Wonder Woman is going to make a fantastic pioneer into that undiscovered country.
CV: Of all of Wonder Woman's biggest moments in her character's history, which is your favorite and why?
PH: I think her old school origin story is just fantastic. The pace is so breakneck, and the concepts so unabashedly peculiar, that I challenge anyone not to fall in love with it. Watching her combination of naiveté and resolve run headfirst into the absurdity of modern world is delightful. I'd love to portray her as that kind of alien again, not to mock her, but as a commentary on the mess we've made of civilization. Her perspective should always be startling to our messed up sensibilities.
Plus the George Perez run. Love all that stuff.
CV: Do you see yourself delving into Wonder Woman's love life?
PH: If I'm here long enough, most definitely.
CV: Who do you see as her primary nemesis?
PH: For this run... I can't say. For any future stories; I'd love to go on a romp through her rogue's gallery. I mean I'd be compared to Grant Morrison if I could make a villain like The Blue Snowman genuinely menacing.
Not to get too pretentious, but her biggest nemesis will always be herself. She has great power at her fingertips, and a great thirst to administer justice. Tempering that destructive capability with her innate sense of mercy will be a constant conflict for her. How she overcomes that, or at least deals with it, will be the crux more than a few stories.
CV: And I have to ask, will she be keeping the new outfit?
PH: And I have to not answer. Sorry. That's above my pay grade.