It’s been two years since Wonder Woman: Earth One Volume One came out. Amid mixed reactions, Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette’s risky take took the character closer to her creator William Moulton Marston’s earliest visions, including the bondage-obsessed bits, contemporizing it. Initially, writer Morrison didn’t know if he’d have a second volume, much less a trilogy, but both volumes have been greenlit, with the first sequel coming out October 9.
During a press event last week, Grant Morrison spoke about the upcoming volumes of his Wonder Woman: Earth One trilogy, especially the theme of mind control.
“You put [Marston’s ideas] in the context of today's politics and gender politics, the whole thing that we're dealing with, they become quite provocative, quite extreme and strange,” Morrison explained. “To follow his lead and show the Amazons the way he showed them, which was, here's a separatist race of technologically advanced super-women, but they're quite happy to use mind control on their enemies.”
“That's their idea of weapons of peace: ‘We'll just control you, and tell you what's right.’ To see a society like that, which has no qualms about doing that, which is very powerful in its own sense of self, come up against a world which looks fairly contemporary and has some roots in current politics and current affairs. It is insane, to a certain degree.”
This of course builds on the idea of Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth. Marston was also the inventor of the lie detector, and since this was a theme of the second volume, the hypnotist Dr. Psycho was re-imagined as a supervillain pickup artist.
“I was looking towards the NLP [neuro-linguistic programming], mind control, MK Ultra [the top-secret CIA project to assess the potential use of LSD and other drugs for mind control], and Neil Strauss's book The Game. A good friend of mine, Arden Leigh, studied under Neil Strauss to learn all those techniques so she could detect them when they were used against her. She became the world's foremost female pickup artist, so we really went deep.”
A sequence between Dr. Psycho and Diana (Wonder Woman) is based on the script used by pickup artists. “Even the movements he makes, he mirrors all the gestures, he makes these casting-off gestures every time he talks about something that he wants her to perceive as negative. So it was really tightly worked out to follow those, because they use scripts.”
Morrison uses Diana’s culture and her acceptance of mind control to potentially not be aware when it’s being used against her, like a weak spot in her defenses. He compared Dr. Psycho to real-life narcissistic and sociopath types who are skilled in this kind of manipulation, but to Wonder Woman’s scale, and Volume Two investigates how she handles that.
Interestingly, Morrison brought back Maxwell Lord into the Earth One world to set up the third volume, expected in 2019. Longtime DCU readers may recall Lord had his neck snapped by Wonder Woman as a part of 2005 DCU storyline Infinite Crisis.
“I wanted to set up a certain expectation of how she's going to deal with Maxwell Lord this time, but as an avatar of Ares, and so you're starting to see the first intrusions of the war god's return, and how. He would come back very subtly and look normal, but he has this agenda and these powers. So I want to set up book three to bring us to that moment where she has the opportunity to snap his neck again, and we'll see what happens this time.”
When asked if his vision of the final volume has changed, whether from reactions to Volume One or in laying out its sequel, Morrison revealed this:
“It goes back to one of the earliest Wonder Woman stories and takes an idea from there that hasn't really been explored for a long time. We're able to set that up with things that maybe don't seem so important in the second one that will obviously blossom into the third. But, yeah, it really is about the conclusion of man's world.”