Wonder Woman means a lot of things to a lot of people. She’s iconic and has permeated the collective consciousness in probably a million different ways depending on the person. So naturally, when Brian Azzarello comes along and changes every damn thing about her save her looks, it is most certainly going to make waves. In the instance of Wonder Woman #7 … he made tidal waves. I am definitely on Team Kelly when it comes to the horrific tradition the Amazons have apparently practiced for centuries, but that wasn’t enough for me to drop the book.
See, when I started buying comics, Wonder Woman was the first and only title on my pull list. I somehow fell into a group of friends who had collections of comics and trades to borrow for YEARS (I still haven’t read all of their libraries), but I wanted to support Wonder Woman. It helped that Gail Simone would be writing the character soon after, but I did it for Diana. Since then, many books have come and gone from my pull list. Wonder Woman is the only title that has been constant. For better or worse (JMS), I have been buying and reading Wonder Woman every month since I jumped down the comic book rabbit hole.
I am also one of many who, as a little girl, watched episodes of the TV series and did my damndest to spin into something more wonderful than my four-year-old little self.
The character and qualities of Wonder Woman inspired me then and has come to mean something very special to me today.
In the last three issues of Azzarello’s Wonder Woman, I find myself less than inspired. What started off strong is now bringing diminished returns in the form of Diana’s intellect, or lack thereof. Diana is repeatedly being tricked or lied to in some monumental way, and she’s falling for it.
I recall a conversation I once had with my grandmother. As matriarchs do, she had questions about the guy I was dating at the time. I answered her questions, but she was skeptical about him. While she would never dictate who I date, she did look me square in the face and say, “You are very smart, Vanessa. Don’t you dare dumb down for him!”
We aren’t together anymore.
Now, everyone isn’t my ex-boyfriend, and I am certainly not Wonder Woman. As Azzarello’s Wonder Woman is selling better than the title has in a very long while, I wonder: Is a naive and easily manipulated Diana more palatable to the masses? Do we like our Wonder Woman better stupid?
I know there are various methods in fiction writing that make the protagonist interesting. One of them is creating conflict and struggle in order to build the character back up, and to give the audience something to root for. But Azzarello’s “deconstruction” of Diana’s personality is irritating the living shit out of me. Diana of Themyscira as a dumbass has got my goat far worse than the vilification of the Amazons. Apparently being one of Zeus’ bastards throws Athena’s wisdom out the door. Perhaps it’s a punishment from Hera.
How do you grow up in a culture and not know the Amazons give away their sons? How do you worship, study and interact with these gods, yet not know how treacherous they can be? How do you go to hell and be duped in such a grand way when you once walked through Hades blind? Why the fuck did you hand Hades Eros’ guns!!!?
At the beginning of Azzarello’s run, I was singing the praises of his Wonder Woman. She seemed capable and self-possessed. Even with the revelation that her birth was not divine magic, I did not feel that was forced or incongruent with the Diana that we know and love. But the barrage of naiveté in Wonder Woman is just plain disappointing.
I look at her counterparts in the DCU. Batman is inherently flawed, so maybe that’s why the masses worship him so. Superman’s easy. Corn-fed white boys are always in style in America, even if they don’t know it. But Wondy’s key persona has been put through the wringer over the past two years in an attempt to sell books or reinvent the character, and I am tired of it.
Let me make it easy for you. Wonder Woman is compassionate. She is skilled at war and diplomacy. Wonder Woman is brave. She is strong – physically and mentally. She is fair. Wonder Woman is determined. She is regal. Wonder Woman is wise.
Azzarello, you may very well be a genius writer. OR … you could be a Blorgon in disguise. I sure as hell don’t know. I don’t know you. But I want you to know what you are dealing with. Yes, Bat-followers are just about every dude in America and Supes fans are far and wide. But Wonder Woman fans are different. She is our leading lady, and there are few in all of fiction as powerful as her. So, we are invested in her future.
Kevin Smith can write Bruce admitting to pissing his pants, and it gets laughed into the ether. We’ve all but forgotten about Superman walking. But I have a feeling what you are doing with Wonder Woman is going to stick. You are moving books for DC on this title for the first time in a long time (save #600), and that means money. Money means power. Power to do what you will with Diana. I know you’ve got the ending planned already, but I hope to see her offered a bit more wisdom and grace along the way.
Please take care of our Amazon Princess. Not for her (because she can take care of herself), but for us.