Wonder Woman Is …

Enduring DC’s lackadaisical treatment of the first lady of comics has been something of a challenge for me critically, and if I am being completely honest, emotionally as well. When I get all fired up, I say things like, DC Ruined Wonder Woman Twice in One Day. Sure, it’s alarmist… only in the sense that I was genuinely alarmed. I pissed a few folks off with that write-up.

It is true that I rather enjoy raising the fanboy cackle, but I did read some of the criticisms of my rant. One thing stood out as fair – I had not read Superman/Wonder Woman. While I was only commenting on the strangeness and absurdity of a variant cover, I figure if I am going to continue to malign DC’s current treatment of the character – I could consider more than just Azzarello’s run. (Again, if I am being completely honest, two of my best good friends also told me I might like. It did take two of them.)

I have now read all seven issues of Superman/Wonder Woman, and I liked it. Mostly.

Superman/Wonder Woman is no Eyes of the Gorgon, but it is enjoyable as a straightforward superhero comic. Surprisingly so because the thought of Clark and Diana in a relationship wasn’t a thing that I cared about at all. (Did you hear that DC? I am a comic reader with a vagina and romantic relationships hoisted on my superheroines IS NOT a thing that I am particularly interested in.) I had the same issues as many other feminist fanpeople, why must she be in a relationship to have another title? Batman has how many books and none of them require him to be heteronormatively boo’d up in order to qualify. And since the book must exist, why not call it Wonder Woman/Superman?

Despite the obvious inequity in its set-up, once I gave the run a good read I discovered it had some redeeming features. Writer Charles Soule explores more than just the developing relationship between Clark and Diana. The story presents the impossible face of intimacy when you are the superhero of superheroes. The infinite stress and broad scope of the roles that Wonder Woman and Superman play in the DCU is magnified by their high-stakes union. The premise creates a potential for definitive character nuance and an exploration of ethics. Now, I don’t think this comic will go there, but I like that it could. Anyway, Batman is working out eventualities from the sidelines while being esoteric and jealous. As am I while shipping BatWondy (or WondyBat).

The real question is how does Supes/Wondy hold up to the spirit of the Wonder Woman character?

Soule does a decent job with our Princess Diana and has created some redeeming moments for her throughout the series. I think he might actually like the character. Of course, Soule is beholden to New 52 dogma and Azzarello’s elements of the character’s world, but his care for Wondy shines when he writes moments like her visiting Themyscira. Her mother is a statue and her sisters are serpents, and she walks the shore barefoot and alone as she contemplates why she hasn’t visited before then. It’s a solemn and sincere moment and I was there with the character. It’s refreshing compared to the feeling of disinterest and distance I get so often from Azzarello’s writing. So it seems not only does Soule like the character, but as any writer worth their ilk should, he makes the story, when it calls for it, very much about who Wonder Woman is.

I’ve plucked a few panels from the series so far that I think set a good example of this.

Wonder Woman is inspiring.
Hessia is one of the only Amazons not cursed into snakehood because she lives off-island where she runs fight training school for girls. Diana visits her often and their moments are earnest. During a visit, Wonder Woman talks to the young girls in the class.

Wondy inspires

Wonder Woman knows her value.
As the relationship with Superman grows, so do her feelings for him. She’s pensive about being so concerned for him and about him. She wonders if he is truly worthy of her affection and energy.

Wondy knows her value

Wonder Woman has got this.
What would this book be without a few epic tag-team fight sequences, and who better to take on a couple of Kryptonians than Supes and Wondy? Clark being a Midwest mama’s boy is inclined to worry about Diana during the fight. Um. She’s a trained warrior who is in her element and Clark’s concern is totally a burden. She quickly reminds him where his head needs to be.

Wondy has got this

Wonder Woman sees the truth in things.
There’s nothing like a near-death brawl to give a man perspective. Of course, she knew before he did. Also, how could you not?
Supes loves her

Wondy sees the truth

Wonder Woman is a free spirit.
Goddesses love to dance, too. Maybe most of all.

Wondy dances

This is the second installment of our Wonder Woman Is… series. You can read the first post here.

26 thoughts on “Wonder Woman Is …

  1. Interesting post Vanessa. I have not read this book and I do not think I will because I really do not care for a second WW book based on the premise that she is seeing the Man of Steel, and I gave up on the dire dank that is Azzarello, I tried that book for a whole year before I just could not take it anymore.
    I would love for Diana to have her OWN second book just like Bats and Supes, but sadly I do not see that happening for they cannot give her own lead in a big screen production like Batman, Superman and even Green Lantern Hal let alone a tv show like Arrow., and she as a character and an icon of the Superhero world should have that and more. Glimmers of what Diana is and could be if done well in this comic are not enough for me at this juncture.
    Thanks for your point of view as always as a big WW/Diana fan I appreciate it. : )

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    • And I totally understand. It took me six months and the insistence of two people in order for me to read it. I had made peace with my dislike of her main title book, but seeing glimmers of a Diana that I know and love reminded me how very enjoyable it is to see her … being HER. I want a Diana book very much. Here’s to hoping Morrison’s graphic novel will be worth a damn.

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  2. Thank you for this! I have been reading this book for these very reasons. It’s far from perfect (the moments that annoy me are the relationship bits) but Charles Soule writes the best Wonder Woman compared to WW and JL. It seems as though he actually cares to show who Wonder Woman is rather than simply what she can do with a sword. I long for the day that Azzarello is off the main title but for now I’m sticking with SM/WW.

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  3. I have held up on buying this book until now. I look forward to getting it collected in trade and reading with your comments in mind. Thank you.

    Also, if you don’t mind my saying, “heteronormatively boo’d up” is an inspired description!

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  4. With all the concerns you have you like Diana acting like a teenage girl pining over Batman to date her but who thinks his mission is more important? There was very little of Diana adhering to the spirit of Diana in her shenanigans with Batman be it in the cartoon or comics. A proud Amazon wouldn’t act like that. Much less fret over a man who has zero time for her. I think Diana has more self esteem than to be crushing over someone like Batman. Batman is the poster boy for male fantasy and wish-fulfillment. Seems to me Wonderbat falls into every cliche so have to scratch because I find that contradiction of you shipping her with him.

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    • There are a lot of assumptions in your comment.

      I never said anything about Diana “pining” over Batman. Nor did I suggest she “fret” over him. I also didn’t suggest that Diana be “crushing” on Bats. I don’t think she would do any of those things and I wouldn’t want her to. As a matter of fact, I didn’t outline any of the reasons why I ship the two of them together. I also didn’t mention a single word of what I think a relationship between the two of them would look like.

      The point I make about Bats being jealous is from a panel in Superman/Wonder Woman where the news of the Supes/Wondy coupling goes viral and Bats batarangs a billboard or something. It’s never explicitly stated, but it could have been that he’s envious of their relationship. At no point did he display this behavior to her … and I certainly wouldn’t enjoy a show like that. I am certain Diana wouldn’t either. But him brooding on his own … is pretty standard.

      Lastly, I find the Batman Wonder Woman pairing an intriguing prospect because she is physically MUCH more powerful than him. And there are versions of the Bat, the intricately intelligent Bruce, that would revere that power. I could see him meeting her with high regard and intellectual equity. In my mind, a Bruce and Diana relationship would be very cerebral and utilitarian, and I think the two of them would be able to keep it between the two of them. It would look very different than Supes Wondy. Also, I don’t think it would be permanent or in a place of stasis. More like a shared reverence but their sense of duty to the world would always come first – that being the common thread.

      In that regard, no, my notion of Bruce and Diana together is not a contradiction to the spirit of the Wonder Woman I choose to celebrate. I’d be glad to explore it further if you still disagree.

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      • Nicely said Vanessa. I also think that they would respect each other as warriors (though they may approach conflict differently) and neither would be afraid to state their opinion or POV to the other.

        I think that the poster is referring to the JL/JLU cartoon and showing a very biased interpretation of the chemistry and flirtation between Batman and Wonder Woman. One yes they flirted but it was mutual. The crushing was in one episode where they were kids and supposed to be funny. I also showed Diana being mature enough to take charge. Diana is never shown to be sitting on the sidelines hoping Bruce will make a move. She is clearly more focused on her Justice League and Amazon duties but enjoys having a little fun with a man she is attracted to. And Bruce, in the series, openly admits to having feelings for her even if he doesn’t act on them because again he is also focused on justice and his mission.

        And this is certainly better than the story in the old DCU where Diana dreams of being with Superman while the man is happily married to another woman. That in my opinion is far less respectful to the character of Wonder Woman.

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      • ” I could see him meeting her with high regard and intellectual equity. In my mind, a Bruce and Diana relationship would be very cerebral and utilitarian, and I think the two of them would be able to keep it between the two of them. It would look very different than Supes Wondy. Also, I don’t think it would be permanent or in a place of stasis. More like a shared reverence but their sense of duty to the world would always come first – that being the common thread.”

        Every single thing you say here also applies to Clark and Diana. You either have zero knowledge of Superman lore or you are letting your shipping bias color your oppinion of the character. Even with the dumbing down the character suffered post crisis, even after almost 3 decades of being Batman’s punching bag by the most base Batman fratboy writers, I still expected better knowledge from someone writing about comic books.

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        • Liking the idea of a pairing has no relevance to my Superman knowledge and does not necessarily create bias. Also, I did not say those bits couldn’t apply to Superman and Wonder Woman. Although, one of the many things that remains about Batman’s character through its many iterations is that he is wildly cerebral. While Clark may be intelligent, he is not known for it the way that Bruce is. Also, I didn’t specify which version of Diana and Bruce I ship – only some of the qualities that would be interesting if there were a relationship.

          Perhaps I will take some time to write it out in a separate post, if I feel so inclined, to disperse the assumptions and confusion that my sentence in the above article has inspired.

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          • I would love to read that post. And, for what it’s worth, I agree with you. Diana would never, should never truly pine over Bruce, or any man, for that matter. I just think the two of them have so much more chemistry and spark than Clark and Diana. Best friends, I can see with no problem. More than that and it somehow just becomes a bad, juvenile joke.

            My favorite depiction of Bruce and Diana working together was the Gods of Gotham arc way back when. She is strong, and independent and just fabulous! There is this subtle tone to Bruce’s dialogue that thrills my soul – as if he adores her and just can’t bring himself to do anything about it.

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  5. Vanessa I completely respect where you are coming from and your open-mindedness to this book but I cannot join you in support of it. It feels like pickling through DC’s garbage to find some scraps of decently written Wonder Woman. My overall impression of the book makes me feel like the title should be Superman and his Girlfriend Wonder Woman. He seems like the main character and so far it has revolved around his rouges and he was able to take out one of her Gods with a punch (yeah I know he was supercharged with solar energy but I makes her rouges/world seem insignificant compared to his). Also with the exception of the Zod/Faora fight he has been rescuing her most of the time. This just rubs my WW sensibilities the wrong way. And the romance is just flat and more stated than shown. He says he loves her but doesn’t quite get her warrior mind and she has no use for Clark Kent even though that is a big part of who he is. So it all seems so shallow to me. Honestly the best parts are when they are fighting side by side but why do we need the shallow romance for that to happen.

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    • “It feels like pickling through DC’s garbage to find some scraps of decently written Wonder Woman.”

      That made me laugh, and I see your perspective.

      Someone on Twitter also pointed out that her characterization comes off as the Damsel in Supes/WW. Frankly, I either missed it entirely or didn’t see it that way.

      I may give it a second read for the sake of being thorough.

      And just to be clear, I do not think the title is without flaw – only that it possesses some moments where Wonder Woman shines.

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      • Yeah I get that you don’t think it was flawless but I tried to read it and I just rubbed me the wrong way. I much prefer to read WW in some of the AU DC series. I loved her arc in Smallville Season 11–Olympus. Bryan Q. Miller writes the Diana I know and love even though her origin story is different from the classic ones she is every bit Diana and Wonder Woman, he truly gets the character. So much so that I wish he was writing her main book.

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  6. Also that last picture of Diana (where she is dancing in the club) reminds me so much more of Donna which makes me said because I really miss her in the Nu52

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  7. Personally, I can’t read the comic anymore. I find unbearably misogynistic.

    Maybe in a few years I will try again. But I must admit I love the comic you just posted. :)

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  8. Pingback: Wonder Woman Is … | Girls Gone Geek

  9. SMWW? the best moments of WW in this book aren’t even close to the best moments in Azzarello run.
    the love exchange was ridiculous, WW that I know would say I love you instead of going with a Star Wars knock off. bendis did much better stuff with Jessica jones and Luke cage.
    She is too violent in this book, only 3 moments in 7 issues? LOL

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