Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Wonderful Wednesday

Sometimes we forget what we're dealing with when we read about the Amazons. They're a family, right? Diana's island full of good-natured kick-ass Aunts? Sure, when we look at them through Diana's eyes.

Through a stranger's eyes, things look different.

These are not a peaceful people. The Themiscryans are a warrior race patroned by a war-goddess, a hunting-goddess, a love goddess who is not the nicest of love goddesses, and a mother goddess who didn't mind letting the entire world starve to death over her daughter. They're also the reincarnated souls of women who were violently killed by men, and who have characteristically distrusted the male gender since Perez was writing. They had peace because they were on an isolated island. The Bana-Migdall tribe, which is now intermingling with the Themiscyran tribe, was not nearly so peaceful when we met them. They are also, by tradition, a Monarchy.

As far as they know, they have just been grievously wronged as a people again, through the treatment of a member of their Royal Family.

There've been complaints about Amazons Attack. On this one point, I must respectfully disagree (and insist those complaining learn continuity and context). The Amazons are not a sweet, peaceful people. They like quiet afternoons and intellectual pursuits, but they will not hesitate to kick ass when wronged.

After Wonder Woman #8, it makes perfect sense and is in character. Granted, that first scene made me cringe, but I'm suspecting another divine enemy's hand in all of this, someone last seen very close to the primary villain here. Beyond that, it is perfectly logical they'd attack the USA, given the events in Infinite Crisis and the end of Wonder Woman #7, and especially given the development in Wonder Woman #8.

Remember, an ongoing theme in Wonder Woman since the 80s has been that Diana carries the olive branch to both groups. She preaches peace at home and abroad. Without her, the island would not be open to talking to the other countries.

There's also a really obvious and traditional resolution ahead of us. I hope Pfeiffer plans on it, because it takes this mess and ends it with something other than "Feminism is a bad thing." I can see why so many people are annoyed, because the implication is there, but as long as I can see a few options past that I'm with Pfeifer.

If the moral does end up being "Feminism is a bad thing" I very much doubt I'll be persuaded to read anything by that writer again.

There's really nothing that can prevent mass Amazon casualties, though. Unnamed Amazons are the Red Shirts of the DC Universe, even more so than non-human Green Lanterns.

That is the problem I see developing.

Pfeifer treating the Amazons as an allegory of All Feminism? Not such a workable analysis at this point. We have to see how Diana factors into this first, and how her viewpoint is treated. She's clearly marked as a peacemaker, but how's she going to approach it? Is Diana going to be allowed to represent Feminism here, rather than the Amazons? Too many options yet, and I figure the writer deserves the benefit of the doubt on this one. He hasn't actually made a mistake so far, its the First Act, and this day's reading started with a wonderful revelation.

Too bad about the fourth page, though. I do hope there's an external influence to explain that. But we are dealing with a raid from a three-thousand year-old warrior civilization here. They didn't have the Geneva Conventions three thousand years ago. Its nasty as hell and Diana certainly won't approve, but its still in character.

35 comments:

  1. Polly's back...and very very cranky! I have to admit that I'm enjoying this, and fortunately I DID read Wonder Woman #8 first, so it all makes sense.

    Don't mess with Amazons.

    Goodness, they brought back Arisia, Hyppolita, maybe Katma Tui can't be too far behind!

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  2. Obviously, we're going to have to agree to disagree for the next five months of so.

    The part that always bugged me about the Amazons, actually, were that they weren't war-like enough -- too willing to forgive. I mean, heck, in the first set of stories in WW v.2, Hippolyta decides to forgive her rapist Hercules, and they become good friends. That part always got under my skin. I mean, okay, I've never had thousands of years to forgive and forget, but you'd think that would be a particularly tough one.

    So, now we go from implications of a Luke-and-Laura post-rape romance to, "Men suck. Let's kill a pre-pubescent boy."

    Maybe I'm particular and ideosyncratic, but I draw a pretty bright line at killing kids. I was pretty excited when the new "Battlestar Galactica" series started. I got maybe 20 minutes into the Pilot, a bad-guy killed a baby in her stroller, and I just turned it off. Haven't watched it at all since.

    In my mind, there's a difference between war-like and evil, and there's a difference between "unfortunate casualties of war" and intentionally killing a little boy. This issue cross the line for me.

    But, you know, I accidentally closed a door on my three-year-old finger on Tuesday, it swelled all up, and I cried about it longer than she did, so I guess maybe I'm overly attuned to kids in pain.

    I respect your eternal optimism, but -- you know -- I am still waiting for Obsidian to "show up and do something cool" in JSA.

    http://kalinara.blogspot.com/2007/02/jsa-my-thought.html

    As far as I can tell, he's still on "wallpaper duty" (Manhunter 30).

    Maybe the moral won't be "Feminism sees killing boys as just as acceptable as a 25th trimester abortion," but my hopes are low.

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  3. Oh, I see only two comments in someone made the requisite PMS joke. *sigh*

    Anyway, I agree totally (although I think the "He's just another man" comment hints the writers might take this element to too much of an extreme; yes, the Amazons have an ideological distrust of men, but that doesn't mean they have to be a society of Valerie Solanases). I just think it's cool that DC is doing a story that takes advantage of its wild and varied universe. I've noticed that both Marvel and DC (although Marvel to a greater extent) have tended to shy away from their universes' more fantastic geopolitical elements in recent years, so it's nice to see a major story that goes against the grain.

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  4. I don't think Amazons ARE or ever were "feminists", at least as I understand the word.

    Feminists believe women and men are equals, and should be treated as such in a civil society.

    DC's Amazons are a monarchy led by a warrior queen. They believe that men are not merely beneath them, but should be banished from their island! They are Spartans, and Hera's daughters to the last of them.

    So once they've decided to go to war, they would show absolutely no mercy and take no captives. And considering that it was Circe who brought Hippolyta back (and I'm guessing that's Ares disguised as Sarge Steel she's in cahoots with), outside influence is sitting RIGHT THERE.

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  5. I hate to double post, but you DID notice that the didn't show the child murdering scene in the official previews, right?

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  6. I agree that the Amazons have retaliated when they are attacked but this felt more than a little out of line. Especially with the killing of a random man and his son. They just seem like overblown Angry Women Stereotypes right now.

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  7. Okay, yeah, it's probably Everyman. That makes a lot more sense.

    I'm sure Ares is there somewhere, though.

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  8. Amazons being violent I have no problem with. Amazons killing helpless children kills any interest I have in the series. I don't actually care if they retcon it as Evil Influence or Amazon Zombies or whatever. I have no interest in reading that shit.

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  9. Maybe I'm particular and ideosyncratic, but I draw a pretty bright line at killing kids. I was pretty excited when the new "Battlestar Galactica" series started. I got maybe 20 minutes into the Pilot, a bad-guy killed a baby in her stroller, and I just turned it off. Haven't watched it at all since.

    To be fair to Number Six in the BSG pilot, a popular fan theory is that she killed the baby quickly to spare it from the nuclear holocaust that she knew was going to follow shortly. In that sense, it can be seen as a twisted act of compassion.

    Also, I'm always aware of a line from one of the unofficial X-Files companions (paraphrasing): I'm willing to be forgiving of a pilot because it's a pitch that's made 6 months (or in the case of BSG, a year) before the rest of the series and the writers are still working things out. Infanticide quickly became out of character for Six.

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  10. Infanticide quickly became out of character for Six.

    Good to know, but -- you know -- I'm busy and am very picky about how I spend my entertainment budget, and there are lots of purchases in the queue. (Currently on Season 5 of Northern Exposure. Best show ever. I want to set up a separate blog for each episode.)

    Most pilots need to be given slack because they are generally innocuous and a little dull. Infanticide is a pretty big turn-off for a very different reason.

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  11. Everyman. You forgot Everyman.

    On the one hand, that makes complete sense from Manhunter. On the other hand, you'd have to think WW was pretty stupid to fall for the exact same trick twice.

    On the third hand, do Amazons have DNA?

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  12. Here's the thing, my problem isn't with peopel calling it "sensationalistic" and "pover the line" and "Evil.

    My problem is with "It's out of character!"

    I'm sorry, the Banas were introduced as slavers. Does anyone remember the first storyline with them? Some of them are evil.

    Yes, its sickening and offputting, but that's how I'd imagine the Amazons would behave if they went to war. In Ancient Greece, they did kill civilians, even children, during an invasion. The white-washing of the Themiscyrans (who I don't think should be nice either) aside, its still perfectly in character for the Bana Migdall amazons not to value the lives of half of the human race and the Banas are entirely integrated. Hippolyta set the Amazons loose and said "Go to war!"

    This is what war is.

    There's a reason Ares the God of War is the biggest villain in the series, and that's because war is nasty and brutal and destroys even innocent lives, and warriors such as the nameless one in the scans are the ones who do that. And he has as much power among the Amazons (even known as "The Deceiver" to them -- as a metaphor for stuff like this, of course) as he does in the rest of the world.

    If your problem is that you think those scenes are beyond the level of good taste, that's one thing. If you think its taking the Amazons out of character, I can't understand where you're getting that idea.

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  13. Oh, I meant I think Everyman is Sarge Steel. I'm certain that's a) really Hippolyta, b) she's under Circe's spell (her eyes glow purple), and c) Ares is a right bastard.

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  14. No. There is a difference between war and slaughtering helpless children that are in no way a threat to you, for fun. That is not "what war is."

    Amazons not holding back from an airstrike just because there will be children killed? Sure. Amazons on a stealth mission killing a child lest he warn someone? Brutal, but believable.

    This was neither. DC's perfectly free to retcon the Amazons into man-hating child-murdering evil bitch cliches. I'm perfectly free to exercise my right not to buy it, and to say why it's crap.

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  15. Maybe I've been spending too much time with the Archives, but I thought the Amazons were all about love? Maybe that's changed Post- one of the two Crises-es, but they werent' originally female Spartans from 300.

    And I didn't read the last two issues of Wonder Woman because the six before that were mediocre to unbearably bad, but what could possibly have happend in it that necessitated this attack?

    Wonder Woman was arrested and in and out of courtrooms a year ago. The OMACs attacked a year ago. The whole battleships-on-the-coast-Paradise-Island was a year ago.

    Why now?

    Outside of the art, I hated everything about this issue (Good thing the JLA's not on the moon or in Rhode Island...it took them multiple innocent civillians' deaths to walk across the mall)

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  16. I just don't want to see the up-close slaughter of innocent people in a mainstream superhero comic. It's not fun.

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  17. It's not even that this is war. The Banas did after all, back when they were a seperate, mortal society who had to survive by reproduction, systematically kill all their own male children.

    I don't like it at all but I haven't liked the Amazons at all since they intergrated with the Bana half. Pfeifer hasn't just pulled this characterisation out of thin air.

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  18. In my mind, there's a difference between war-like and evil

    Actually, there isn't. It's why every man and woman who go to war [and I count myself as one of them] always come home with some serious conflicts. 0_0. War is not easy, and the innocent often get caught in the crossfire. Now these two Amazon we first encounter are, in essence, grunts. I looked at them as nothing more than foot soldiers. They draw first blood, and are always the first to die--not every Amazon is going to be 'officer material' part of which, is making the distinction between civilian and enemy. Would their commanding officer have walked onto the promenade and killed the child? Likely no...she would have let him run off screaming to his mother, that his dad was dead, because, there's more power in scaring your foe senseless, than there is in just killing him. Grunts don't make that distinction. They kill first, they die first. Its war and they’re good at it.

    As for all the thoughts on feminism, I won’t go there. I like action comics, I like comics about war, and I love Amazons. You know, if this were Aquaman’s all male troops attacking Georgetown, I wonder if there would be so much talk about the ruthlessness of these ‘warriors’.

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  19. As for all the thoughts on feminism, I won’t go there. I like action comics, I like comics about war, and I love Amazons. You know, if this were Aquaman’s all male troops attacking Georgetown, I wonder if there would be so much talk about the ruthlessness of these ‘warriors’.

    If their first two victims were an unarmed woman and a helpless girl-child? FUCK YES I would. And I'd want to see every one of them dead. Bloodily, nastily dead.

    Which is about how I'm feeling about the Amazons right now.

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  20. The mythological Amazons killed their own sons. I know the DC Amazons are quite a bit different, but still, the outrage over this seems a little overblown.

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  21. We get that there's precedent. It's just that it makes for glum, serious, not-fun comics. The DCU right now is about as whimsical as a slasher movie.

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  22. There is a difference between war and slaughtering helpless children that are in no way a threat to you, for fun. That is not "what war is."

    You've never read an actual account of a real war, have you?

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  23. I don't see where this has anything to do with feminism at all. Black Adam just pretty much pulled this exact same stunt recently and people complained about that.

    My problem with the book is that if you hadn't read WW recently you'd have no idea what was going on, and the fact that it's so painfully obvious they're being manipulated that you get the feeling the Amazons will magically be let off the hook for the slaughter they've just committed.

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  24. If their first two victims were an unarmed woman and a helpless girl-child? FUCK YES I would. And I'd want to see every one of them dead. Bloodily, nastily dead.

    Which is about how I'm feeling about the Amazons right now.


    The the writer's done his job.

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  25. It's not like this was necessarily my favourite book of all time or anything, but the reaction to it is maddening. The typical kneejerk reactions of Internet discussions are coming out full force on this one, to the point where people are just making crap up to be enraged by.

    I just saw a post on WFA that said it was sexist that the Amazons had bare legs. They're obviously wearing pseudo Greco-Roman style armour, which (as far as I know) left the legs bare. What were they supposed to wear, modern camouflaged army pants?

    There are a lot of legitimate complaints about this. I could have done without the kid being killed too (although some people seem to be acting like an actual kid was slaughtered). But a lot of the complaints are reaching at best.

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  26. I don't pretend to be an expert on the Amazons, but this take on them seems a lot more openly misandrist than the ones I've seen. I can't imagine that Pfeifer is going for an "All Feminism is bad" moral, simply because the Amazons are behaving so extremely. It's Diana who usually sets the tone for feminism in the DCU; and like you say, she'll obviously be the peacemaker in all this.

    You make an interesting point about historical context, but IMHO it's less important how "real" Amazons would've waged war thousands of years ago than how they've generally been portrayed in the DCU and whether this take on them is consistent. Like I said, I'm not an expert, but the Amazon response here seems a trifle extreme: they could've mounted a rescue attempt for Diana without launching a full-scale invasion, let alone start massacring civilians. It's not like anyone reads comic books for their historical accuracy, so pointing out that the ancient Greeks butchered their enemies is kind of a weak defense of the Amazons here, IMHO. [Though I imagine it'll turn out that Circe is exerting some sort of mind-control on Hippolyta to manipulate and the real enemy is someone else pulling the strings and blah blah blah.]

    -FB

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  27. yeah, my problem is not at all that i think hippolyta should be leading knitting circles and tsking at the excesses of menfolk. i'm just angry at dc in general for all the disemboweling and punching through heads and killing children these days.

    my problem is that i can just see someone at DC saying, "and then she can skewer the little twerp like a pig! that'll be AWESOME!"

    and you know what? it's not awesome. rampaging cyclopses are awesome. but this business of throwing in a little "totally extreme" child murder to show how high the stakes are is a disturbing trend at DC at the moment and really has to stop.

    to me this is the most salient comment in the linked discussion:
    I'm totally loving this new lighthearted post-crisis DC.

    to me, it's beside the point whether the amazons are in character here. it may be "in character" for the joker to cut robin's head off and have sex with his neck, but i don't want to see that in my superhero comics either. it may be true, but it doesn't make it any more defensible.

    the only saving grace here is that stabbitha o'kidkiller didn't do it with a catchphrase like, "maternal instinct THIS!" because honestly, i wouldn't put that past DC, not anymore.

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  28. The the writer's done his job.

    No, if the writer had done his job, I'd be interested in picking up the series, or even this issue.

    Instead I said "Great. Reimagining the Amazons as childmurdering feminazis. Yeah, I'll be skipping this."

    Poor Gail, left with this escalating series of blunders to clean up.

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  29. I'm really stuck on continuity to someone please explain to me where the hell are these Amazons coming from if they're island was shipped off to Olympus or whatever during IC. I can forgive if a story from six or seven years ago is forgotten when writing a story, but DC is making mistakes on stories that came out last year.

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  30. Uh, I assume that's going to be explained. The thought that it wouldn't didn't even cross my mind.

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  31. I'm really stuck on continuity to someone please explain to me where the hell are these Amazons coming from ...

    I may be wrong, but I'm thinking that the massive "BOOM!" upon arrival is a clue.

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  32. The moment they put the kid to the sword I decided it doesn't matter who's pulling the strings, in this case the Amazons are the enemy and a lot of them are going to have to die.

    DC can't just end this with a "Whoops! All a big misunderstanding we'll just pack up and go home now" either. There isn't a whole lot of difference between what Black Adam did and what the Amazons are currently doing.

    They both felt justified in their actions and they're both wrong.

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  33. I'm sorry, ragnell, but you're grasping at straws trying to argue that the Amazons depicted in AA are somehow "in-character."

    Your basic argument seems to be "They're reincarnated souls of women killed by men, they're a warrior society, so of course they're going to be violent." If that were the case, then the Amazons would be no better than the men who so violently mistreated them.

    From the very beginning, the Amazons have been depicted as a loving and compassionate people. That's why they sent WW to man's world in the first place. The Amazons depicted in AA would've been insulting to every WW writer who had previously written them as enlightened women.

    And it's irrelevant what the ancient Greeks may have done. Do 3000 years of progress mean nothing? Hasn't DC gone to great lengths (before AA, that is) to distance their Amazons from the historical, more barbaric Amazons?

    I am grossly insulted that you would defend the Amazon's behavior in AA. You may say you don't approve of it, but arguing it's in character is still offensive all the same, because these are NOT the Amazons people like Moulton or Perez intended. Couldn't be farther from them, in fact.

    Anyone who somehow thinks the Amazons in AA are acting "in-character" is either unfamiliar with their history in the DCU or is willfully blinding themselves.

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  34. What an odd thing to be "offended" by. I mean I didn't agree with her on this either, but it was over a year ago. Other than using OMGBEES thing still, who the heck cares anymore?

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