Comics / Spotlight

Wondering About Wonder Woman

By Koppy McFad
Sep 17, 2012 - 6:44

If there is one DC character who has benefitted from the big FLASHPOINT event, it is Wonder Woman, Once her title was barely staying afloat, perpetually in danger of cancellation. Now, it is selling well and getting rave reviews and winning the character more respect than she has had in years.

   So I guess I might as well be the spoilsport who complains that this new Wonder Woman isn't all that entertaining and may ultimately have limited appeal.

    It has its good points-- a lot of good points actually: a strong, confident protagonist, clever dialogue, interesting plot twists and an Olympic pantheon depicted in a totally unique way.

   But as many have said, it is basically a horror story with Wonder Woman as a major character. There is no grandeur, no glory and (dare I say it?) no sense of wonder.

   Perhaps that is to be expected in this grim and gritty new DC where everyone is damaged and ruthless but in WONDER WOMAN, they really pushed it.

   Except for Wonder Woman, there are almost no good guys: the Olympian Gods are evil, manipulative, cruel and selfish. Comic books have often depicted old-school gods like Odin and Zeus to be capricious and often irrational. But they tried to balance this with a concern for humanity or the survival of the universe. In this book, they are just plain mean with little more than contempt for mortals.

   It is the Amazons who have suffered the most. Now, they are murderous barbarians who should be treated as among the worst villains in history. It is like someone re-writting continuity to make Krypton a Nazi-like planet or Uncle Ben a child pornographer. It is a mystery why Wonder Woman would have any positive qualities after being raised by these amoral monsters.

   Aside from that, the story seems so limited, with Wonder Woman concerned only for a few people rather than fighting off alien invasions or saving the world. Diana herself also seems grim and humourless. The art matches the story: stark and austere, devoid of light or happiness.

   But if this version of Wonder Woman wins so much praise, it is partly because the creative team has been freed from all the limitations that have shackled Wonder Woman for years.

   The character and her book had to serve as some symbol about female empowerment with a perfect, flawless heroine who could not be made to look bad or it would reflect on all womankind. She had to teach the world, which often meant being preachy and turning off readers. She had to be sexy but also untouchable-- because no man, except possibly the big, red "S" was worthy of her.

   There were also the contradictions inherent in the Wonder Woman mythos: she was a warriour for peace, a superhuman  who tried to teach ordinary mortals to rise above their limitations, a woman who was suppose to teach us all to live with one another, even if she originated from a homogenous society that had separated itself from the rest of the world for centuries.

   It was a paradox and one that forced writers like Kanigher, Conway, Thomas, Rucka, Simone to try to reconcile all these elements... with mixed success. They revamped and rebooted her, killed off her boyfriends and her fellow Amazons, all to make her more interesting.

 But the new creative team, unravelled this Gordian Knot the way Alexander did-- by cutting through it. No more symbol of womanhood, of peace, of enlightenment. Now, she is just another superhero, raised by warriors to be a warrior, to cut through people like Wolverine. Yes, they put in this scene where she declares that "I love everybody" but did anyone really believe that? She has been pretty much a typical comicbook badass from issue no. 1.

 It is amazing that DC Comics finally decided that all these things that defined Wonder Woman were also holding her back. So they did away with them. It should be interesting to see what her future creative teams do with her. It will likely be dark and violent, in line with the rest of the new DC universe. Hopefully, it will be profitable because after all they have done, it is going to be really hard to go back to the old Wonder Woman now.

Last Updated: Jun 26, 2018 - 9:28

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