Saturday, December 17, 2005

Favorite Women of DC Comics Part III: Wonder Women

Queen Hippolyta (Wonder Woman, JLA, JSA)
--"Wonder Woman, do you have any advice for post-menopausal women?" (JLA #16)
-- As much as I disliked John Byrne's run, the best thing to come out of it was his Hippolyta. She'd been through a low period of over-protectiveness, rigid formality, isolationism, and untrustworthy scheming. She emerged from this under Byrne's pen as a fun-loving adventuress who enjoyed the nickname "Polly" and hanging out with the guys in the JSA Headquarters.
When her daughter died, she got her resurrected through prayer. She took over as Wonder Woman while Diana was being a goddess. She took some guy's arm off on her first day. She joined the JLA and half of the new members on the team couldn't tell she wasn't her own daughter.

She went back in time and joined the JSA. There, she established herself as a powerful addition to the team, fulfilled the role of secretary (And before you bash this, the JSA was set up like a Board of Directors with specific positions like a Chairman to preside at meetings, and a Secretary to take notes at meetings -- not to answer phones and make coffee -- I only have Vol 1 & 9 of All-Star Comics Archives, but I never saw pre-Crisis Wonder Woman sitting on the sidelines) fought Nazis, spread the Amazonian message to an earlier, more traditional America, posed for pinups for GIs, and, of course, bagged Wildcat (MROW!). Not a bad run at all.

If Hippolyta were still alive during Infinite Crisis she'd have called Diana to the palace for some hot tea, sat with her on the patio and assured her beloved daughter that she was absolutely right to snap that man's neck like a twig, and that the rest of the world was just being silly and unrealistic.

It'd read like a flavored instant coffee commercial from Hell.

I know some fans thought it was ridiculous that an Queen would consent to a nickname like "Polly" and living in America like a commoner, but I think John Byrne hit on a more logical incarnation. Hippolyta was no pampered Princess from Buckingham Palace. She was the Three Thousand Year Old Warrior Queen of the Amazons.

Hippolyta may have been royalty, but she was salt-of-the-earth royalty. Old Tyme Royalty from back when Kings were Generals, Generals were front-line fighters, and Queens (Excepting Amazons Queens who were Generals) were baby-factories who helped patch up the wounded. She was created during that rough period that people expected their Monarchs to be leaders and protect them. She was the sort of person you would find at the beginning of a Dynasty. The one who actually divinely chosen, or the one earned her position. Basically, the one who was leader for a reason.

This is a Pagan Amazon Queen who worships the often childish, but always more real than ideal, Greek Pantheon. The sort of person created by goddesses like Athena, Demeter, Aphrodite, Hestia, and Artemis as a leader. These were not sanitized goddesses. These were worldly goddesses. A strategist/warrior, a Mother/farmer, a sex goddess, a Hearth-tender, and a Wild Woman of the Woods. They would create a wordly Queen. When Hippolyta essentially became the Pre-Crisis Wonder Woman, she became the Queen these goddesses would have created. She knew paradise, luxury, and leadership on Themiscyra but before that she knew that sex and blood and mud and sweat were the foundations of life. This was a woman brought alive from the Earth herself, never afraid to get her hands dirty, to laugh and joke and live and have a belching contest at Friday Night Poker with the JSA.

I miss her so much sometimes.

Phillipus (Wonder Woman)
Phillipus was Hippolyta's General, Right-Hand Amazon, and possibly her lover, though the specifics are ambiguous (But do you seriously believe that Hippolyta would go without for three thousand firkin' years? Right...). She taught Diana everything she knows about fighting. She now holds one of the top political offices on Themiscyra.

She doesn't get anywhere near enough panel time.

Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman, JLA)
-- I've always had a soft spot for Diana herself, no matter how badly she comes off. I think every writer writes her wonderfully, until I see the next writer and compare. She just seems to get stronger and more centered with each incarnation.

Plus, there's just something inherently good in her concept. It may be the Greek connection, the military background, the history, or maybe that she has so many aspects to her personality that you can see yourself in her no matter what she's doing. Maybe it's that she's unashamed of her body, but not slutty.
Or that she could be a total bitch and kick everyone's ass but loves everyone and is nice to them instead.

I suspect, thought, that the simplest explanation is the best:
She's the Fairy-Tale Princess who gets to be the Hero of the story.

She's the First Lady of Comicdom.

She's Wonder Woman, for Athena's sake! Who doesn't like her?


  1. Very nice post, Ragnell, and I'm not just saying that 'cause I think Diana is the shizzle. (Oh, maybe I am, but only just a little.) Your entry reminded me just how much I miss Polly, too.

  2. ::chuckle::

    Hi. My name is Michelle. I was looking for some role playing hints for a story I'm playing through right now as Donna Troy and Google sent me this way when I looked for information on Polly.

    John Byrne. Bless the man, but everytime he writes someone I do (Simon Williams, Namor, anything Titans, and so on) it's like the crew of "Trading Spaces," came into my kitchen, started working, ran out of time, and then left me the blueprints of what it thought it should look like. Then again, I'm doing RP fanfic, so what bitching rights do I have?

    Since it seems you have a different angle of insight than I do, I'd like to share an idea I had and see if it would work in the scheme of things. Crisis on Infinate Earths had Diana appear for the first time after it happened. Meanwhile Donna had been running around for years. It always made me wonder then who was keeping an eye on this 13 year old girl who's hanging out all the time with 4 teenage boys. I'm running with the theory that the heroes collectively kept an eye out, but that people like Barry Allen, Jay Garrick, and Ted Grant would do most of the watching.

    And yes, I know, the Titans of Myth were watching her before that point. Never a concept I felt was well done.

    Otherwise, just thank you for the insight. I bookmarked the page for reference. The scene I needed it for is the link below in case you're curious. Thanks again.