Our preview of DC's superheroine graphic novel from this year's Comic-Con

By Geoff Boucher
July 12, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT

Life isn’t easy for Wonder Woman — how many feminist icons go to work in Betsy Ross hot pants and cherry go-go boots? With the arrival of Grant Morrison’s Wonder Woman: Earth One, due next year, we’ll begin to understand some of the Amazon warrior’s deeper secrets. In the 120-page graphic novel, the beloved Scottish comic-book writer behind Arkham Asylum and All-Star Superman pulls back the bedsheets to reveal the sordid backstory of the heroine’s homeland.

The comic opens with the trauma of Wonder Woman’s Amazon ancestors, who isolated themselves on Paradise Island after enduring imprisonment and rape at the hands of the lascivious Hercules and his army. Led by our heroine’s mother, Queen Hippolyta, the immortal Amazons then embark on a series of revenge killings. ”For me, the exciting thing is creating a new sexuality here,” says Morrison. ”That’s my sci-fi job, figuring out what women would do after thousands of years without men.”

As longtime fans know, Wonder Woman’s creator was just as envelope-pushing. When William Moulton Marston introduced the character in the 1940s, the Harvard-trained psychologist said he wanted his lasso-twirling heroine to whip up youngsters’ interest in, ahem, sexual bondage. (”The only hope for peace is to teach people who are full of pep and unbound force to enjoy being bound,” he explained in a letter to his DC Comics bosses.)

Some fans may be turned off by the new book’s even more sexualized content, but Morrison insists his comic is about connection, not titillation. ”This is a story for mothers and girls in their teens,” he says, ”because it’s about the way men and women treat each other and feel about each other.”

And Wonder Woman: Earth One may represent just the first wave in the superheroine’s mainstream resurgence. She’s a key member of the Justice League movie franchise currently in development, and Warner Bros. sources say a solo Wonder Woman movie could be released in time for the character’s 75th anniversary in 2016. There’s also talk of a prequel TV series in the Smallville mold that would follow her teenage alter ego, Diana Prince. ”The time is absolutely now for Wonder Woman,” says Morrison, ”but that’s been the case always.”