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.
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.
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.
Wonder Woman is a free spirit.
Goddesses love to dance, too. Maybe most of all.
This is the second installment of our Wonder Woman Is… series. You can read the first post here.