Desperately Seeking Wonder Woman

THIS is the Amazon I'm looking for.

Where the hell is the Amazon Princess? The real one, I mean. Because this chick ain’t it.

I’ve been trying to identify exactly why, after some inspiring moments, the Wonder Woman reboot is beginning to get on my last nerve — why it feels so inauthentic and flimsy. The mythology is there. Her warrior pose and heroism are intact. I’m (mostly) over the costume change, and as someone who loved Mark Waid’s Superman: Birthright series, I’m not averse to radical overhauls of iconic characters. If it’s done well and truly game-changing, bring it on.

And yet, as I read Wonder Woman #603, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Diana deserves better than this. My favorite heroine has been reduced to a scowling teen who happens to have extraordinary strength and deity-given gifts. Notice I said “happens to have,” because those things are overshadowed by an off-putting persona and bitchy “Gossip Girl” lines like “Great. Wonderful. Love it. Isn’t anything ever easy?” It’s like Avril Lavigne circa 2003, without the catchy material.

Story-wise, issue #603 is serviceable, if somewhat familiar. Diana is escorting some rogue Amazons through the desert, where paranormal peril awaits. She has to fight some nasty creatures, The Keres, and then lands in Hades’ realm. For some reason, she’s barefoot and dressed in a white slip in the underworld. I do like scrappy, fighter Diana who (Hello, Maxwell Lord) will snap a fool’s neck if she has to. This certainly isn’t the first time Wonder Woman has been put through a trial that involves duking it out with mythological beasts.

The art, a group effort in this issue, is a mixed bag. Diana never looks bad, but in the first half of this comic, her breasts are so enormous that she’s in danger of tipping over. She looks like the recipient of some aggressive plastic surgery.

By the time this issue came to an end, all I could think was, “They took a blowtorch to the previous continuity for this?” I understand that the Wonder Woman comic has a wildly inconsistent track record and that few writers have really known what to do with her. In many cases, she’s been a hard character to get close to. I also realize that sales were low, and you gotta do what you gotta do to get readers’ attention — and that unfortunately includes readers who have problems with a strong, noble female character who doesn’t pander to their sexual fantasies, even while wearing a bathing suit. (At least, not since her early bondage days.)

Diabolu Frank at The New Wonder Woman blog offered a brilliant, concise summation of the character’s situation:

Batman and Superman have appeared in some of the greatest super-hero comic stories ever told, because DC has treated them as their most important properties for three-quarters of a century. There are few comic book heroes who have a ‘Killing Joke’ under their belt. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman has been treated like three day old fish for most of her publishing history, and is still a national treasure recognized the world over.

It’s obvious that this alternate timeline is temporary, and that Diana ultimately will emerge as an approximation of the character I’ve grown to love. We’re only a couple of issues in, but I have a sinking feeling that the reboot phase is a colossal waste of time and will do little to convert the indifferent.

10 thoughts on “Desperately Seeking Wonder Woman

  1. I tossed through the new issue while passing through a shop the other day. My interpretation of what I saw was some generic bad girl type fighting random jerks. Then at the end, some naked bald old guy was playing with Wonder Woman’s lasso. I just don’t feel threatened by an undead David Carradine, and the rest of it reminded me why I never bought much Shi or CHAOS! Comics. I’m looking at the J.H. Williams III cover, and I’m like “They invented a Batwoman for him, while Wonder Woman gets Don Kramer?”

    One problem is that we only ever get half of a good creative team (weak writing on strong art or good scripts handed to low rent pencillers,) and the other is that every other era involves a wacky misguided reboot like this. Could we maybe get a Geoff Johns-flavored deboot with a side of pretty pictures for once? Do Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter really deserve it more?

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  2. Amen to all of that. As you pointed out, it’s amazing that Wonder Woman enjoys the status she has, given the sketchy history of her comic. I don’t understand why DC doesn’t put the resources into Wondy that it puts into her so-called equals, Superman and Batman. Everything about this reboot screams “short-term gimmick” to me. And then what? Bring back the Silver Swan!

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  3. Actually, it’s less what happens in their comic (though, of course, Bats and Supes usually have at least 2-3 comics focused on them, to one, maybe, for WW), but their position in the rest of the DCU. Superman and Batman are guest stars in probably 50% of the comics coming out in any given month; Wonder Woman, when she appears, is rarely there as part of the intrinsic background of the DCU, but as a stunt.

    Wonder Woman is treated very differently from the other two members of the Trinity.

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  4. Honestly, though I hate this new Buffy version of Wonder Woman, I haven’t been a huge fan of Diana Warrior Princess either. I miss the days when Wonder Woman didn’t need to constantly run around with a massive sword/axe and chop off heads. I liked the Wonder Woman who could solve problems without resorting to bashing heads. I miss the Wonder Woman with a secret ID that WORKED (not just her in a different spandex suit acting just like she does as Wonder Woman, just w/o powers). I miss the Wonder Woman that had a love interest that didn’t involve her throwing trinkets at men and grunting, “Me like you. Me court you now.” Hell, I miss Wonder Woman acting like a compassionate, caring woman, not a cold, Goddess of Truth that looks down on everyone else.

    I know some people don’t see it this way, but honestly.. it’s just really what they’ve been doing to Wonder Woman for YEARS. She’s got one of the smallest rogue’s galleries of ANY major DC hero. Period. Zatanna just started her title and has come up against more major baddies for her than Wonder Woman has in YEARS (exaggeration, yes.. but still).

    I just.. I haven’t truly enjoyed a Post-Crisis Wonder Woman story the way I did the Pre-Crisis ones. I mean, Perez’s run is amazing work, but Diana always seemed distant even from her closest friends. There is just something missing for me. This Buffy Wonder Woman will end and we’ll get back the Xena version eventually, we all know it. I’d just like to see her be even a tiny less Xena and a little more Wonder Woman.

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  5. Here’s what I have enjoyed about various Wonder Woman incarnations:
    1. Her idealism. Some call it hokey; I call it inspiring.
    2. Her willingness to kick butt if she has to. She’s from an island of warrior women. Using force when warranted works for me — but she’s also wise enough to know when to keep her fists to herself.
    3. An air of haughtiness. She’s royalty! Her persona in the Justice League cartoon series was just right, IMHO.
    4. An awareness of her beauty and the limitations of its value. She’s not stupid; she knows she’s insanely pretty and the effect that has on people, but she doesn’t seem particularly interested in it, either. It is what it is.

    She could definitely use a stronger gallery of villains, but depending on the writer, Cheetah and Circe have been pretty formidable. I also like the idea of her going on a real date from time to time.

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  6. Pingback: Pull List Assessment Time « Girls Gone Geek

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