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Why, exactly, IS there a “Wonder Woman?”

Comic Booked 07/10/2010 Features, Reviews

So after reading this most EXcellent article from Topless Robot: http://www.toplessrobot.com/2008/08/10_reasons_no_one_cares_about_wonder_woman.php

….I began to wonder what would happen if these issues were actually addressed. If that would be a reboot worth seeing.

10) Madame, Please Put on Some Pants

I honestly don’t know what the big deal is here, besides another example of why political correctness is one of the dumbest ideas ever birthed from Hell. Comic books have always been, and still are, a male dominated medium. Female characters are drawn out of our male fantasies of what we wished real women looked like, and given all kinds of impractical costumes to fight in. This is not news. Hot women in scanty outfits in comics will never go away.

The deeper issue is one of all the cries of “sexism.” That somehow women in comics, and in life, shouldn’t be hyper-sexualized.

My response to that is, have you been on the planet long? If the argument that it’s hard to take Diana seriously as a heroine is because she’s in a bustier and has star-spangles panties, then that argument applies to every hero, not just the women, because super hero costumes are innately silly, and all of the people drawn in comics are impossibly ripped or buxom. Duh. And giving Wonder Woman more clothes wouldn’t really change anything. Which has been PROVEN, every time they try and “reboot” her. Most superhero costumes are completely impractical. Everybody realizes that Batman has no peripheral vision with that cowl on, right?

9) There Are No Great Wonder Woman Stories

This is the big one, at least for me. Without compelling stories, and without definitive milestones to give us a clear picture of who and what the character is, or is not, then. So my solutions:

1) A Pinnochio/Hercules Quest

Right now Diana is trying to get back to the right timeline. I’d like to see a story where she realizes that she’s not real. She’s not a real person, she’s a doll, a puppet, come to life. Some of the most compelling and popular characters in Star Trek have become so because of this principle. Spock, the human/Vulcan hybrid, struggling to straddle the two worlds that gave birth to him; Data, the android that wants to be human, and Seven of Nine(*cough*more like Two of Large/see my first point), a human that was Borgified, torn from the collective, and is now not quite human or Borg. We love ‘em. Well, this has always been one of the most neglected aspects of WW’s character, is that she’s literally a dream. She doesn’t exist, which is probably why they’ve never been able to give her a definitive identity. Or motivation. More on that later. I’d love to see a story where Diana freaks out, Britney Spears style, when it finally hits her that she’s basically a fake person. Or, better yet, have her turn back into clay. She loses her humanity, and the gods or some such other convenient plot device tell her that she has to find it, or earn it back, Hercules-style….or remained trapped as an animated clay sculpture for all eternity. If written well, Diana would HAVE to answer all of the necessary questions to give herself identity, definition, and context. Then we’d have a Wonder Woman worth reading about.

2) It’s All a Lie

This one is a little too typical, so we’d have to spice it up…but there needs to be a revelation where Diana finds out that Hippolyta has been lying to her all along. She’s a bastard…and there’s some macabre reason that she had to make that story up about how Diana came into being. Either her father is Zeus, and she was trying to save Diana from Hera’s wrath(but that’s a little too easy, and too common), or something more sinister that has to do with why the Amazons are actually on Paradise Island. Maybe Hippolyta broke the rules many years ago and slept with a man, and caused a great loss, and Diana is the result of that union. If it were me, I would do something totally radical, like reveal that Hippolyta and the wizard Shazam were lovers at some point, which is why Captain Marvel’s powers are so similar to Diana’s. Maybe Themyscira itself is alive(although again, been done to death), and there’s some type of ritual sacrifice that keeps the Amazons beautiful. I’ll keep working on that one to get rid of the cliches. Need more time to think.

8) In Fact, Most Wonder Woman Comics Are Completely Terrible

7) Golden Age Wonder Woman Comics Were Really, Really Terrible

Well, besides the obvious bad writing…the deeper issue is that Diana has become a “anything you can do, I can do better” answer to Superman. Which again, means nothing.

-Trying to prove this gender shit doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t matter how many situations you put badass women in, it will never feel the same as men. And when you’re dealing with hot women, the issue of sex will always be part and parcel of their stories, for the EXACT same reasons that many people are more upset to discover their daughters having sex than they are their sons. So having Diana just be an answer to Superman makes her lame.

What Diana needs is her own motivation. Why does she want to learn “man’s world?” Have the Amazons always secretly wanted to invade, and Diana was just a scout, like Hawkgirl in “StarCrossed” from JLU? Where does Diana get her values from? Because her values and her perspective should be in CONstant conflict with American Society around her…she worships ancient deities, she’s bisexual(which isn’t a conflict but some still struggle with coming out), she doesn’t age..can she get pregnant, have children? In Kingdom Come and The Dark Knight Strikes Again she can, but does she then have a period? And a biological clock? Why? Wouldn’t the Amazons have evolved past that, there’s no male seed to impregnate them. My point here being, the Diana should be just as much an outsider, and an alien, as J’onn.

The main superhero origin vehicles are Birth, Re-Creation, & Revenge. Superman, Diana, J’onn, Hawkman, Aquaman, all by birth. Flash, Green Lantern, Atom, Green Arrow, re-creation. Batman has revenge locked up. But the difference between Diana and her fellow birthers(oh calm down) is that we understand their motivations. Superman’s whole perspective was shaped by his Terran upbringing, and his seldom talked about survivor’s guilt…J’onn has his loneliness and his need to reconnect to something…the Thanagarians have a way of life that’s natural to them, and Diana….? See what I mean? Why exactly would Diana fight for American values? They can’t be the same as Themysciran ones. She has no burning or compelling reason to do what she does…even when she was deemed a “failure” and lost her Princess title for awhile, she kept on fighting…but why? Batman fights because he’s crazy, and he doesn’t want what happened to him to happen to anyone else.  If Diana left the country, then…so?

I say Diana should probably be somewhat of a misandrist based on the way she was raised. They finally made her more violent, because they finally recognized that she’s a friggin’ Amazon, but it was in a “too little, too late” kind of way. Diana. has. no. compelling reason. We can’t relate to an island full of immortal lesbians who train hard just to fight each other and never leave home. And I’ve always wondered why Diana doesn’t get more involved in rescuing runaways. Seems like the last evil that she’d be able to stomach is young girls that have nowhere to go, and end up being pimped.

6) Her Lasso of Bondage

Okay. I get that Wonder Woman’s origins are based on the bondage fetishes of Moulton. We get it already. Her lasso is my favorite frigging weapon. Oh the underused applications of a device that forces people to tell the truth. Maybe it’s happened in some story and I missed it, but I don’t see how every government on the planet is not after Wonder Woman’s magic lasso. It could change everything. And it should definitely be restored to full power, meaning that whoever Diana binds with it has to obey her. Holy crap. That would be the best weapon ever.

The problem with the magic lasso is, who is it designed for? Why, exactly, would Diana even need a weapon that forces mortals to tell the truth? To what end? It only makes sense if she’s a cop, or a government agent. Wonder Woman could clear people without DNA evidence. But again, without a compelling mission, it falls flat. We KNOW why Bruce uses the bat motif; to strike fear in the hearts of criminals. We KNOW that J’onn feels the revulsion we have to his true form, so his shape-shifting ability serves a purpose. We KNOW, at least if we believe Superman:The Movie, that Jor-El was counting on his son’s Kryptonian biology to afford him all the advantages that it does. But Diana’s girdle, lasso, tiara…they make no sense if she’s a peace ambassador. It’s not her job to catch criminals. Again, no real reason for there to be a Wonder Woman.

5) The Invisible Plane

Again, this is something that apparently the rest of the world hates that I personally happen to love. The problem with the Invisible Plane is that it’s always drawn as the transparent plane, which is definitely lame-a-rific. This is easily fixed. First of all, it shouldn’t be invisible all the time. What it should have is the badassiest stealth mode that the world has ever seen. Technology that lets her fly anywhere undetected, and even fire weapons without registering an energy signature. Again, the world would kill to have tech like that. Smart bombs that can’t miss their targets, something wicked like “Medusa Vision,” something that when she switches it on could make people freeze in their tracks. And, more than anything else, Paradise Island should exist in a dimension that can only be accessed by the tech in the plane. I think that they already do this, but it gives a reason for the plane to be what it is…so no one could trace her back to the island, and even if somehow they did, they couldn’t access it.

It also depends on what Wonder Woman’s personal flight speed is..this is another area where the inconsistency in the DCU is just maddening. How fast is Superman, Cap, J’onn, the Flashes, and Diana? Are the measurements relative or absolute? What are their individual top speeds if pushed? If she can fly around the world in the blink of an eye, the plane makes no sense except for missions where weapons are necessary; air strike missions, or situations that involve alien invaders, where Diana could do more damage with her plane weapons than just hand to hand combat.

4) Terrible Villains

Yeah, pretty much. Everything about Cheetah and Giganta is just lame wrapped in fail with a coat of wtf for flavor. But you can’t have a master nemesis when the hero is so undefined. Lex has an insatiable desire for power and believes that he should rule the planet, and the one thing that constantly opposes him isn’t even from this planet. The hatred makes sense. Bruce & Jack are psychotic, and they decided to fall on different sides of the law with their breaks from reality.

And Cheetah…?

How is she even a match for Diana? Isn’t Diana supposed to be as strong as Superman? And Circe’s Wicked Witch of the West act is pretty damn old. She’s Elphaba and Mxyzptlk rolled into one big ball of dumbassery.

I’d love to see a Rogues Gallery for Diana that’s based in Greek mythology. Some character, we discover, that hates Diana because everything that Diana has was stolen from her first. Diana’s beauty, favor, and weapons all belonged to someone else before she got them. Kind of like Black Adam and Cap. But the loss of these items is what fuels the hatred. That would be a clash that makes sense. I’d also like to see a whole race of humunculi…and whole race of people where(if we keep the clay origin) the magic didn’t quite work right. They hate Diana because Hippolyta got it right and created a beautiful daughter…what if there were other people out there that are grotesque and malformed, because they were once clay and the transformation didn’t go so well? Kind of like Ripley finding all of the clones in Alien Resurrection. They’d constantly be hunting and hating her, claiming that she was one of them and resenting her for it all at the same time. This next idea has been done to death too, but it would be really interesting to see a villain that is basically Diana’s waste product. Oh calm down that’s not what I mean. I mean, let’s say that the reason that Diana is so sweet and beautiful is because Hippolyta struck a bargain and has somebody chained up somewhere siphoning off all of Diana’s negative emotions? What if Wonder Woman came face to face with her unfettered Dark Side Dopple? Also, from Greek Mythology, I love harpies. I would love to see some crazed winged female cursed creature that is constantly attacking Diana.

3) Everybody Hates Steve Trevor

If Bella Swan was a guy, she’d be Steve. Okay maybe not. But you get the point, he’s a cypher, a buffoon, a caricature of a real person, and Diana loves him, why? Because he’s the first man she ever saw? Really? If Superman & Lois are the most epic romance in the DCU, then Diana & Steve are the most meh-ish.

Because once again, this element of her character has to serve a greater purpose. Is Diana catty? Jealous? Promiscuous? Is she good in bed? Could mortals actually keep up with her Amazonness? Where does Diana’s need for a relationship factor in her life? Superman needs them to stay grounded, Bruce can’t have lasting ones, because a happy Batman just does not work…Flash, GL, Atom, Hawkman, they’ve all been turned “dark” and “tragic” [insert big-ass eye roll here], but at least we can buy them in relationships. But Steve doesn’t even have a personality, unless “worthless man meat” is now being counted.

The most obvious matches for Diana are Superman, Aquaman, and Captain Marvel. But each one of them have their reasons not to pursue her. Diana needs her bad boy phase. She needs to date Wolverine for a while. Wouldn’t we love to see her with some tatoos? And piercings?

2) No Supporting Cast (Besides Steve Trevor)

Eeyup. So as should be obvious by now, I haven’t read every single piece of literature on Wonder Woman, so if these have already been done, excuse me for being repetitive.

-I’d love to see a hoe friend. Some female so slutty that Diana is appalled yet fascinated by her.

-I”d love to see a version of Thunderbolt Ross. Someone in the military that is obSESSED with Diana’s tech, and stays up all day and night trying to figure out how to get it, or duplicate it.

-I’d love to see a version of Stick. Some crazy old Amazon that secretly trains only the best fighters that lives in some remote part of the world.

-A Judas. I’d love to see Etta Candy be revealed as some type of spy. Again, if it’s been done, sorry I missed it.

….and could we please give her a city? She should be in D.C.

1) We Already Have Superman

Eeyup squared. As I’ve been saying all along. Kara, Mary Marvel, Batgirl….they all have the same problem. They’re just female counterparts, and the representation of a comic nerd’s wet dream. Supergirl is, and has always been, hot blonde tits and ass in a Superman costume. This is indisputable. Kara doesn’t have her own powers, her own rogues gallery, or her own mission. There is no “Truth, Justice, & the American Way” tagline for Kara. Same with Mary Marvel.

So when did Barbara Gordon get interesting, and become something more than this incredibly hot and boneable redhead in a ridiculously colored, high heeled costume? When she friggin’ GOT SHOT, became crippled, and had to redefine herself, her place in the world, and her reason for staying in the game.

Diana doesn’t have any of that definition, as opposed to someone like Rogue; her issues are very clear, and her own. Having to live life without human touch, and the memories of all the lives she’s absorbed constantly banging around in her head.  Ororo. Thief, claustrophobic, worshiped as a goddess, regal and badass. Jean.  Full of latent ability, now forever linked to a power mad cosmic entity that won’t leave her alone. Shayera, basically a cop trapped on a foreign world.

And Diana…..?

Well, that’s my 2.5 cents. Let the [insert comment wars here] begin.

July 10, 2010

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  1. NyneShaydee 07/10/2010 at 1:38 am

    I love this article. I really do.

    Currently trying to catch up on Wonder Woman from the middle of Volume 1, and your points are dead on. She's never been truly defined as a standalone chara, only as someone that is the female answer to Superman. [Marvel, IMHO did Wonder Woman one better when they created Rogue because she's got a history that isn't half as complicated and retconned as WW's and she's not in an 'anything you can do I can do better' contest with any other chara over there.]

    I'm liking Vol. 3, but I hope that someone on their writing team reads this and takes your points to heart, else WW as a series and as a chara will fade into irrelevance. Thanks for writing this. ^_^

  2. Human Scorch 07/10/2010 at 11:45 am

    Thanks! I wish that I could write for WW :D

  3. enidgisella 07/12/2010 at 3:42 am

    This is a fantastic article. I agree with you on basically all of your points, especially the one of Diana lacking a "ultimate purpose". I've never been too fond of female superheroes because (as you said) most of them are just counterparts of their male versions. But this can be fixed. We need to stop looking at trivial story lines and give her a "real" battle, a "real" foe, a "real" perspective on what (and why) she does things. I was recently reading Withcblade and though that maybe a good idea for WW was to link her with some god(ess)'s master plan or even a dark evil's one, just to make her interesting. I think she has potential, but the writing has been too weak. Also, criticism often goes to the superficial or physical aspects instead of exploring the greater flaws within the character (flaws that can ACTUALLY be redeemed). Again, excellent article. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Yogikai 09/04/2010 at 12:17 am

    Diana is a tough character. I think as a young girl growing up it was nice to see a female counterpart to my faves batman and robin. Some books that do a great job with her:

    Trinity, yes it's a long series but the concept of wonderwoman as an eternal and necesary presence is interesting.

    Gail simones run on wonder woman: it addresses a lot of the valid points you have about her character including giving her an interesting romantic partner.

    From what little ive seen of the reboot its horrible apparently there is a point to it but i'm not interested :)

  5. nerdcostume.org 10/06/2012 at 8:46 pm

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