Deep in the Amazon rainforest, Yara Flor stalks her prey. The target is a massive purple hydra with fanged teeth and eight slavering jaws. Normally easy, but this time, her warrior’s sword isn’t making a dent. She calls for help, roaring the name of her noble steed: “JERRY!”
After an undignified landing on her pegasus’ back, some stunt flying, and a few more snickersnacks of her sword, she defeats the hydra. Divine narration tells us that she might not be the perfect bridge between the world of mortals and the world of gods, but this young woman has been chosen for a grand destiny. Yara Flor is the new Wonder Woman of a distant future — but she might be the future of DC Comics itself.
The newly minted hero first appeared in January in the pages of Future State, the ambitious storytelling initiative that pauses the present DC superhero universe to explore its potential future. That’s only the beginning: DC Comics tells Polygon that this May, Yara will become Wonder Girl of the main timeline in a stand-alone Wonder Girl book. If all goes according to plan, she’ll also star in a currently-in-development CW series, and become the first Latina superhero to headline her own live-action TV show.
Yara’s introduction alone is a milestone. The DC Universe has never had an Amazon from the Amazon before. And while multiple characters have worn the mantle of Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl, Yara is the first to be wholly imagined by a female creator, Joëlle Jones. Yara’s upcoming solo book, to be penned and illustrated by Jones, will be Wonder Girl’s first ongoing series in DC history. Already, Yara is an outlier, coming from a legacy of female characters who have been poorly served by the continuity churn of long-running comic book universes. And she’s doing it with a unique voice.
“I think the real difference between her and Diana,” says Dan Watters, who wrote for Yara in Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman, “is that she’s not a princess or a queen. […] She hangs out in weird bars with Amazon gods and she’s running around the streets of Brazil and helping people where she finds them.” Superman/Wonder Woman artist Leila Del Duca describes her as headstrong and “a little bit quick to anger.” Joshua Williamson, who penned Yara’s adventures in Future State: Justice League, can picture the hero in the real world. “Yara would do karaoke after a successful mission, and would not only bring down the house, but be the last one to leave.”
Her love is also a defining feature, says Jones. “She’s excited to step into a hero role — almost too excited, Labrador Retriever excited, to be there.”
How Yara Flor took shape — in the ever-evolving landscape of comics, in the suffocating conditions of COVID-19 lockdown, and in the light of a beaming, vocal Latin American fandom — shows just how the business of superheroes is changing, to one where rope-throwing warrior women slay monsters in Beyonce- and Balenciaga-inspired armor, and a woman shaping the future of Wonder Woman comics is anything but unusual.
Jones began her career writing and illustrating books for Dark Horse Comics, DC, and Oni Press before breaking away from the pack in 2016 with originals Lady Killer and Brides of Helheim, which both earned Eisner nominations. In 2017, she became a member of the vanishingly small club of women who have illustrated multiple issues of Batman, and the next year designed Catwoman’s wedding dress. The work was so evocative, DC handed her writing and artist duties on the Catwoman ongoing series.
Jones says that she has always loved Diana of Themyscira (one of her Batman arcs even featured Diana in a guest role), but that there has always been an element of the character that felt inaccessible to her. “She was this beautiful goddess that I looked up to and wanted to be like, and I wanted to take those emotions of admiration and put them in a character. It would be a woman who had the same powers, but had foibles as a human.” Jones added that her idea was that the reader could “watch the struggles of somebody wanting to be just like Wonder Woman, but who staggered along the way.”
Before there was Yara, there was Donna Troy and Cassie Sandsmark, Wonder Girls each with frightfully inconsistent legacies muddled by repeated retcons. Donna’s origin story was first invalidated by DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot in 1985, and every attempt to close the loophole has tangled the character up in more crisscrossing continuity. It’s a common story for superhero characters forgotten or deprioritized by editorial. But if Wonder Woman is as important as Superman or Batman, then shouldn’t Wonder Girl be as important as Supergirl, Robin, or Batgirl? Yara Flor might be the Wonder Girl corrective.
When Jones began work on Yara, it was with the mandate of creating a new Wonder Woman in a potential future, without the need to explore a time when she and Diana of Themyscira shared a superhero community, much less a mentorship. But Yara was just too powerful to be limited by the borders of the Future State timeline.
“As things went on, and people got more interested, it just sort of happened organically,” Jones says. “[DC editorial was] like, ‘Let’s make her the new Wonder Girl.’”
A new Wonder Girl needs her own series to chronicle her adventures, and May’s Wonder Girl #1, written and drawn by Jones, will chisel Yara’s origins into DC canon. Raised in Jones’ native Boise, Idaho, the hero will travel to Brazil to discover her roots. And in typical superhero fashion, the search will turn into an epic adventure with strange gods and a promise to “change the world of Wonder Woman forever.” Readers will find a short preview story for the new series in DC’s table-setting one-shot Infinite Frontier #0, hitting shelves on March 2.
Yara’s Brazilian heritage spoke to her creator’s fascinations and a greater demand. Jones became interested in the mythologies of the Amazon basin after a trip to Brazil for a convention, São Paulo’s Comic Con Experience. CCXP boasted 280,000 attendees — more than twice that of San Diego Comic Con, North America’s biggest fan convention — in 2019. Those numbers have not been lost on Hollywood. Guests at CCXP 2019 included the casts of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Wonder Woman 1984, and Birds of Prey, as well as American comics luminaries like Frank Miller and Neal Adams. During their visit, former DC Comics co-publisher Dan DiDio suggested that it would be fun to see a woman from the actual Amazon as an Amazon. Jones agreed, and began researching.
Bringing a Brazilian Wonder Woman into DC canon added to a challenge that was already “really fucking daunting,” as Jones puts it. Like some versions of Wonder Woman, Yara is the child of an Amazon (that is, a woman from the island of Themyscira) and a god. But instead of a Greek god, Yara’s father is an Amazon river god. Jones would not divulge which Themysciran or which Amazon river god, but said that she has plans for a dramatic love story at the heart of how Yara came to exist.
For Yara’s origin, Jones says that she relished a new mythos, after growing up obsessed with Greek mythology. “It’s difficult at times, because most of it’s in Portuguese, and I want to treat it right,” says Jones. “So it’s been asking for a lot of help, reading a lot of books, and delving into some strange YouTube channels.”
Image: Joëlle Jones, Jordie Bellaire/DC Comics and Image: Joëlle Jones, Jordie Bellaire/DC Comics
If Yara was inspired by travel and new experiences, she was honed in the much smaller world of COVID-19 lockdowns — and the direct market’s nearly two-month pause caused by the Diamond Comics shutdown. “She has such a big, broad world, and it goes through mythology and different continents and cultures,” Jones says. “And I [was] stuck at home in my PJs, nowhere to go, nothing to do. It gave me an opportunity to block out everything else and hang out in my imagination. After I’d seen all the TV shows and read all the books I wanted to read, there’s nothing left but me and daydreaming. […] I can’t picture her coming out at any other time, for me personally, to have that time with her in the way that I did.”
Image: Joëlle Jones, Jordie Bellaire/DC Comics and Image: Joëlle Jones, Jordie Bellaire/DC Comics
Before pandemic health precautions became the daily norm, Jones shared a studio with artist Leila Del Duca. But the two kept in touch with their studiomates in regular zoom sessions, to simulate the experience of working in the same space, while Jones was working on Yara Flor.
“I got to see my friend Joëlle create this new iconic character, and hear about her worries and victories throughout the process,” says Del Duca. “[I was] super proud and excited that she got to have this chance, and that DC went with her ideas. […] Every time she showed us a new costume, we were like, Oh my god, this is so good! Were you looking at Beyonce with those boots?”
She was. Jones’ approach to the costume and gear of a new Wonder Woman was defined by balance. She wanted Yara’s look to be somewhat revealing, in homage to the history of Wonder Woman costumes, but she also didn’t want to make a Wonder Girl who was too exposed. It would be an understatement to say that the relative skimpiness of superheroine costumes compared to those of their male counterparts has been an occasional topic of heated discussion in the comics community. So Jones looked to female icons in fashion who achieved that harmony, and eventually homed in on Beyonce.
“Her performance costumes, to me, have such power behind the silhouettes,” says Jones. “If there’s sexuality in it, she owns it; it’s hers. I started with that silhouette, and from there, I went to some Balenciaga leggings that are completely made out of metal. It’s shiny, gorgeous gold metal that reminded me of Barbarella.”
Jones designed nearly 30 different outfits for her new Wonder Woman, but wasn’t certain the costume was a success until after Yara was revealed to the world in the first announcements of Future State. Jones immediately began to see cosplayers hard at work replicating Yara’s unitard and golden asymmetrical armor.
“I didn’t think anybody could do it,” Jones says. “I didn’t think it would be possible with the armor and all this stuff. Oh, cosplayers are gonna hate to do this. But they jumped on it so fast that it inspired me to stick with my guns.”
From the girdle of Gaia to the winged sandals of Hermes, Wonder Woman has had her fair share of superheroic accoutrement and supernatural modes of transportation, and Yara Flor is no different. But there’s also her non-sartorial gear:
Jones says that the idea behind giving Yara a sword was simple: Sword fights are just fun to draw. But to give the weapon a link to ancient Brazil, she based its shape on a spear tip found at an Amazonian anthropological site, enlarged, elongated, and given a hilt.
Yara wields a set of golden boleadoras, a bola with three weighted ends. The rope weapon, which is thrown in such a way as to entangle an animal’s legs, has a long history in South America for its use in cattle ranching, much as the lasso does in the American West. And when it comes to Wonder Woman’s rope weapon, there’s only one question to be asked: Are they Boleadoras of Truth?
According to Jones, Yara’s bola is even more powerful than the Lasso of Truth, in some ways. “Her bola acts more as a weapon of control. She could control somebody to speak the truth, or control them in the way they think, or control their actions. It takes the Lasso of Truth and amps it up a bit more.”
Jerry the Pegasus
A bridge between the world of Themyscira and Brazil, Yara does have one creature of Greek myth at her beck and call (when he bothers to listen). That’s her pegasus, Jerry, making the story of Yara Flor bona fide Horse Girl Content.
Why is this magnificent, if recalcitrant, beast named Jerry? Jones thought it was funny.
“I had a real estate agent named Jerry,” she tells Polygon. “I really liked saying his name, and I found myself saying his name to him all the time, like, ‘So how many bathrooms does it have, Jerry? Tell me more about this skylight, Jerry.’”
Creating a new superhero is a monumental effort. A character who can stand up alongside the DC Trinity needs a memorable design, a compelling origin, a winning personality, and a gripping new story to put them in. But in a never-ending comic book universe it’s not enough for your character to galvanize readers. It has to make other comics creators want to pick up the pen and continue where you left off.
Luckily, Yara Flor has a head start. Right off the bat, she earned a spot in two additional Future State books, and DC editorial helped get the other creative teams up to speed on her personality. Jones’ two-issue Future State: Wonder Woman story showcases a younger, more headstrong Yara in an early solo adventure. A more seasoned Yara clashes with Jon Kent — when a Brazilian god clashes with a robotic star — in Dan Watters and Leila Del Duca’s Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman. And in Future State: Justice League, from Joshua Williamson and Robson Rocha, Yara and Jon are veterans of the world’s foremost superhero team, facing a threat the likes of which the Justice League hasn’t seen since their predecessors were in charge.
“I’ve had such a fun time drawing [the costume], personally,” says Del Duca. “I also really love that [Jones] gave her bangs and long hair — it helps showing movement when drawing action scenes.”
“In almost a weird way,” Watters tells Polygon, “she’s an obvious character that didn’t exist yet. Of course, there needed to be a Yara Flor. Why was there never a Yara Flor before?”
Yara’s place in Future State signals a significant editorial investment in a brand-new character, the kind of attention that could have kept Donna Troy and Cassie Sandsmark from becoming continuity relics. An ongoing Wonder Girl book is a further vote of confidence, and one that gave Jones license to dive deeper on the character’s origins. And soon, TV viewers will get their own version of Yara Flor, to stand next to Supergirl, the Flash, and Batwoman.
In November, the CW announced that Dailyn Rodriguez (Queen of the South, Ugly Betty) had joined Berlanti Productions (The Flash, Arrow, etc.) to helm Wonder Girl, based on Jones’ work. “They were like, We’re interested in this character, and we definitely want to have something for a Brazilian audience,” Jones says. “It’s been fun to talk with other people about it, and then hear their ideas — because TV’s going to be a bit more prohibitive than comics, and one of my favorite things is problem-solving those little things.”
One of those little things? A winged horse is an easy sell in a comic, but less so in a television series. Sorry, Jerry.
“It was a really roundabout way to get there,” Jones tells Polygon on inventing Yara Flor. “But ultimately kind of satisfying, because I got to sit with her and who she was for such a long time that when it came to her changing to Wonder Girl, I feel like I had a grasp on who she was.”
DC and Marvel creators invent dozens of superheroes and villains every year, but it’s only a precious few who break out of the pack. It would be folly to try to predict the future (state) for any new superhero. But Yara has a lot going for her. She’s a first for both on-page and behind-the-scenes diversity at DC Comics. She’s got her own television show in development before her solo comic series launches, and multiple creators are already pulling for her success.
Her editorial origin story could not be more of the moment, following a year in which DC Comics was rocked by changes from without and within, but it’s also an acknowledgment of what is certain about the future of superhero storytelling. Yara is a heroine for an increasingly global audience that enjoys their tights and fights across all formats.
In more ways than one, she is the Wonder Woman of Future State but the Wonder Girl of the future.
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