This was a one shot graphic novel that was part of the “Earth One” series that re-imagined character’s origins with a modern interpretation. Wonder Woman Earth One was a long time in gestation however versus the other Earth One novels.
As is typical of maverick writer Grant Morrison, his take on Wonder Woman was quite controversial and polarised opinion amongst fans. As he openly admitted, when it was announced he would be writing it, he intended to encompass the vision of her original creator, William Moulton Marston, while including the exploration of some of the bondage and submission related themes that were present in the Golden Age version of the character.
Interestingly, Greg Rucka was originally mooted to write Earth One but Morrison’s “star power” and more unique approach may have persuaded DC to go with him instead. Rucka however eventually got the opportunity to publish his Earth One take on Diana as part of the Rebirth relaunch.
Queen Hippolyta is being subdued by Hercules, who has chained her and wants to make her an example for the other Amazons, which are prisoners in a cage. Hippolyta prays to Aphrodite for help, who talks to her and lets her know that, by taking a stolen girdle Hercules has on his waist, he will be unprotected.
She takes the girdle as Hercules insists in demanding Hippolyta to tell him what she has learned from him. She answers by attacking him and breaking his neck and her chains. Hippolyta frees the Amazons and leads them to battle against the arriving Greek army. After the battle, Hippolyta asks Aphrodite to allow the Amazons to retire from the world of Men and prosper in peace.
Three-thousand years later, Paradise Island is a booming civilisation. Queen Hippolyta stands on a terrace as an invisible air plane lands on a heavily guarded square below. From the air plane steps down Princess Diana, that is immediately put under arrest by order of the Queen. Diana does not resist the restraints and informs the guard that she comes of her own will. Nubia informs the Queen that the Trial Arena awaits and that the Fates have been summoned. Nubia approaches Diana and criticises Diana’s lipstick and actions.
The Amazons gather in the Trial Arena as charges on Princess Diana of Amazonia are exposed by Nubia. The Fates, Atropos, Clotho and Lachesis, are called by the defence. The Truth’s Lasso is presented to Diana who holds it as she starts retelling the events…
On the eve of the Huntress Moon, and the Festival of Diana (the Goddess), Diana (the Princess) brings an injured deer, Dindra, to Althea’s workshop. Althea allows Diana to use the Ray Projector to heal the deer as Diana understands the ray better than anyone else. After the deer is healed and on her way to her family, Althea asks Diana if she will participate in the games. Diana tells her that her mother forbids her to compete due to her strength and endurance being an unfair advantage over the other wonder women of Amazonia.
Hippolyta is watching a screen (the Magic Sphere) delivering news about the “Man’s World”. As she abhors Man, Diana enters and asks about the foreign language on the screen but Hippolyta just tells Diana that Man’s World is in continuous conflict and as Diana is interested on how the Magic Sphere works, Hippolyta tells her that someday she will learn, as it is as much a curse as a blessing. Hippolyta muses over Diana’s origin, telling her she came from clay modelled from a dream she had. Diana complains and accuses her mother of limiting her by forbidding her participation on the games.
The games begin and, as the Amazons are competing and celebrating, Diana appears to them wearing Hercules’s Lion Headdress, challenging them to follow her and disappearing into the forest. The Amazons follow Diana but they cannot find her. After some time, Diana reaches the beach and notices a wreckage of an air plane and a pilot walking to the shore with a parachute on his back. The pilot faints.
In the present, as the trial continues, Althea is called as witness. Althea explains that Diana took the Healing Ray.
In the past, Diana reaches a cave where she is keeping the pilot, who is identified as Flight Lieutenant Steven Trevor of the United States Air Force. She identifies herself as Diana and checks Steven to verify he is a man. Diana tries to heal Steven with the Healing Ray with no effect. Steven tells her that he needs to call his Government.
As the games continue, women from New Athena’s sister city New Sparta arrive to face Mala, Amazonia’s undefeated champion. Diana arrives again and challenge Mala to face herself on the Kanga, a spear fight-like tournament on kangaroos. As Diana wins, she demands Mala’s swan plane as tribute. To everyone’s astonishment, Diana is crowned winner. Diana is summoned by her mother who scolds her for her behaviour. She also gets a strange smell on Diana. Diana don’t want to listen any reason and leaves her mother’s presence. Hippolyta finally understands there must be a man on the island and orders a manhunt. As Diana places Steven in the air plane, Mala arrives and demands Diana to surrender Steven.
In the present, Mala is called to witness on the trial. She accuses Diana of breaking the tradition.
In the past, Diana departs under heavy pursuit by the Amazonian skycycles led by Mala. She manages to escape. Hippolyta is informed and she calms down Mala and promises to consult the goddesses and act accordingly. Diana arrives to the USA coasts and takes Steven to a hospital. Back in Paradise Island, Hippolyta and Nubia visits the underground and summons the Queen of Gorgons and asks her to show Diana how difficult and brief man’s world can be. Diana is already discovering that by herself as she finds many ill and dying women in the hospital. She faces the military and is impressed by how weak and small they are.
In the present, Diana tells her mother how sickened she was and wanted to return but Hippolyta stops her and calls Elizabeth Candy to witness…
In the past, Beth and her sisters from the Beta Lambda sorority are travelling by bus when it’s strike by lightning and falls from a bridge. Diana saves them from certain death and tow them with her swan plane.
As Beth retells the story, Hippolyta acknowledges that she unleashed the Gorgon Medusa and a hurricane all to bring Diana back. Beth yells at her and shouts her defence on Diana’s worth. Back in the past, military officers inquire Steven Trevor about his “mission”. He explains that he flew through a hurricane and arrived to an uncharted island located in the Bermuda Triangle. He adds that a “swimsuit model” saved him. At that moment, there is a commotion in the hospital as Diana arrives with Beth. Steven calls her “Wonder Woman”; Diana compels the military to submit to the authority of Wonder Women of Amazonia. The military orders Steven Trevor to find out the location of “Paradise Island”.
Diana and Steve are in a room of the Ellis Hotel. In the present, Beth recalls how she and her sorority members created Diana’s outfit, about the attack of the Gorgon and how Diana found a soldier and Steven turned into stone.
In the present, Diana runs towards the escaping Gorgon and funds a party of Amazonians waiting for her. After pondering the situation, Diana surrenders to the party and submits herself asking for a trial by truth. She is then taken prisoner. At this moment she produces Steven Trevor turned into stone. She then uses the Healing Ray, having it re-calibrated to the frequency of Man’s World, restoring him to life. He is then given the Lasso and is interrogated by Hippolyta.
Steven explains that he was following old intelligence from Germany about a “ghost signal’ and gives his speech about humanity’s desire of power and tells the Amazonians he is now on their side. Hippolyta then calls the trial off but Diana call the trial a sham unless Hippolyta is also called as witness. As she is asked by Diana of what substance is she made, Hippolyta reluctantly reveals that she created Diana from an egg from her womb and seed from Hercules. After sometime, mother and daughter embrace. Hippolyta then tries to abdicate her throne in favour of Diana in a move to make her stay in Paradise Island but the Amazonian laws forbids that and then she submit to her destiny. Diana hears the final from the Fates and declares that she won’t be “a weapon or a warrior.”
Later on, Diana finally arrives to the “Man’s World”.