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DC Comics’ new Wonder Woman epic has gods hidden in the pages

This page from Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons describe two trees? Or the face of a goddess? Whatever your answer is, that’s exactly what Gene Ha wants you to see.

Ha is the second artist to collaborate with writer Kelly Sue DeConnick on HistoryThree issues – retelling the origins of DC’s Amazons – follow the legendary Wonder Woman artist Phil Jimenezwho filled every inch of a 62-page book with Extremely detailed rendering Character design is well researched. It was an act that seemed impossible to follow, until Ha’s issue came down this week, revealing his technique for depicting the Amazons’ patron goddesses on mortal planes.

Artemis observes Hippolyta - Hippolyta rides on an armored Amazon horse.  Readers learn of Artemis' presence through the way the moon and trees in the background shape her face and horns, in Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #2 (2022).

In these, the mortal woman Hippolyta comes face to face with the goddess of the hunt as she herself hunts down the Amazons. “I want Artemis to be clear there, and clear Not there,” Ha wrote in the back issue of the issue. “Both a small number, and a larger human being, both are absolutely right at the same time.”

Ha turned to the subcategory of optical illusions called “vague images”. You almost certainly know some of the more famous examples: a vase, or two sides? A duck or a rabbit? An old woman or a small child? It’s a trick of our brain’s ability to understand patterns used in Crafts, cartoon and Featured magazinebut Ha’s inspirational point is Ari Aster’s MidsommarUse the shapes of trees and leaves to create worrisome sublimated faces.

“It works well in moving pictures,” Ha writes, “but I know it will work much better in are not-moving image.” Nor does he use it as a trick for a moment, but as a continuum of hazy reality.

A fearsome armored horse approached the goddess Artemis, and gnawed the berries in her hair - also the branches of a tree.  Artemis' panels alternately portray her as a coherent character, and a shape created by the arrangement of branches and leaves in Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #2 (2022).

“Is Artemis on this page?” Ha wrote. “Is the horse returning to its godly mistress, or is it simply munching on some berries? Was Hippolyta defeated by madness or raised by the gods? Yes.”

And not just Artemis. In addition to using this technique to bring out the real Hippolyta’s moment of deification, Ha also uses the technique to convey the events of the story. See if you can find the goddesses Hera and Artemis as they watch over the Amazons they don’t see.

Hippolyta roams the wilderness, watched over by Artemis and Hera, who are shown in the form of clouds, branches, and birds in flight in Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #2 (2022).

Hippolyta called for Amazon Antiope to appear, as the goddesses Artemis and Hera watched.  They are depicted as clouds and branches in Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #2 (2022).

In one panel, Amazons ready to camp, and as observed by Artemis, are shown as a nearby deer and the rock jutting out casually forming the figure of a seated, deer head.  A panel later the deer is gone and the rock is just a rock in Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #2 (2022).

Honestly, I have to say a small word. I don’t think anyone can watch Phil Jimenez’s opening act, but considering these goddesses, I should have a little more faith.

Is that a bad pun, or an honest statement? Yes.

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