Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I haven't bashed the Perez Reboot in a while...

You know, I don't always agree with Scipio when it comes to women in comics. (I actually tend to rub my hands together wickedly in anticipation when I see him post specifically about feminism because I am a bad bad person who likes to watch people fight.)

This time he hit the nail on the head:
But writers seems intent on using Hercules as a bad guy. Maybe that's because, as much as she needs friends, WW needs enemies even more. Personally, I blame George Perez, who needed a cheap and easy Overbearing Male Bad Guy from myth to use in the version of the Amazons' origin he wanted to tell. Instead of using the traditional version of Amazons (the one used by both the Ancients and Marston) -- buttkicking women warriors who founded a society that didn't need men -- Perez chose to make them victims.

Why? Because in Perez's mind and time, the only people with virtue are victims, and all villains are victimizers. If you remember, Perez's Amazons were formed from the souls of women who'd been the victims of male aggression and violence. Because, you know, gods forbid women should decide to do anything except as a reaction to or consequence of men!

So he made Hercules an Evil Male, who deceived Hippolyta (et al.) with promises of love, then drugged, enslaved, and raped her. So that the gods could criticize the Amazons for being soft-hearted, trusting, and open to love; women's weaknesses! So the gods could punish them for being equally open to both war and love; so the gods could punish them for being well-rounded people instead of axe-wielding mankillers (so blame Perez the Scythian for that, not Pfeiffer). Once again, Perez paints the Amazons not as exemplars, but as victims.
Putting rape into the backstory of the entire population of Themiscyra is just one of a long list of WW reboot sins. (That list also includes sucking the life out of the Gods, making Wonder Woman a newbie after Crisis when the other franchise leaders were kept as experienced heroes, and removing the love interest.)

To be fair, I believe it was Greg Potter and Len Wein who plotted and scripted the first storyarc of the reboot, the retrofitted origin story, while Perez did art. Perez took over writing chores with issue 5 or 6. Still, the Bana-Mighdall nightmare parody of feminism is Perez's fault.


  1. To also be fair, if Hercules were a modern superhero instead of an ancient Greek one, he might very well be a supervillain. He had some severe rage control issues - especially with women. While I don't recall him raping Hipollyta to obtain the Girdle in the myths, I do recall that in the myth he killed her in a blind rage when he thought she had betrayed him (she didn't). I can certainly see why Perez, Wein, et. al. might want to use Hercules as a bad guy - and I've always liked the interpretation of him as a barbaric lout when compared to Marvel's Hercules (who is also a barbaric lout, come to think of it, but a loveably scruffy one instead of a historical throwback like DC's is).

    That said, the 80's Lifetime Movie Syndrome with DC's Amazons ticked me off and continues to tick me off today. they vassilate between being a culture of victims and being Sparta. I've just chalked it up to the fact that they're always written by men, and most male writers can barely write one female character, let alone an entire female-based culture...

  2. I always thought Perez had more of a hand in the plotting from the beginning. From what I remember, Greg Potter scripted the first two issues and had a hand in the plotting, and then Len Wein came on board for the next year or so. Perez's first issue writing and pencilling was the start of the Circe arc, around #17, I think. Karen Berger was the editor throughout.

  3. Hmmm...I thought Superman was pretty much started from scratch with the Man of Steel, which seemed to suggest that he had only been Superman for a few short years at the start of the Byrne Superman #1.

  4. I believe the Byrne Superman #1 was set a number of years after Man Of Steel.

    And believe me, I have a number of issues with Post-COIE revamps in general!

  5. In this 1994 Wizard interview, Perez says the domestic-violence angle was part of Potter's pitch:

    "The women on staff viewed Greg's original concepts as one in which Wonder Woman was either a victim of or an enemy to men, and they thought it was sending out a misogynist message. Many of them didn't like the idea that every Amazon was reincarnated from a murdered woman and carried the memories of that murder with them."

    How that varies from what got published, I don't know. I can never find anything on Greg Potter -- it seems like the only comics work he did was Jemm, Son Of Saturn and the two issues of WW.

  6. Er, wasn't Hercules a bad guy in the original 1940s origin of Wonder Woman? The scans on this page indicate that this is so: He deceived Queen Hippolyte and enslaved her and the Amazons, which set in motion their departure for Paradise Island.

    While there's no rape shown or implied in the 1940s origin, I don't think you can lay the basic use of Hercules as "a cheap and easy Overbearing Male Bad Guy" at the feet of Pérez and Potter; they were, in fact, going back to the original source material in that regard.

    (Bad guys in the golden age WW stories were nothing if not cheap, easy, and overbearing - regardless of their gender, really.)

  7. Wow, Greg Potter kind of missed the mark, and shot 500 miles in the opposite direction there, didn't he?

    I wonder why they didn't just throw all that out and start from scratch, though.

  8. People like characters that DO stuff, not have stuff done TO them (Batman leaps off ledges and DOES stuff, things don't happen TO Batman).

    Passive characters are uninteresting, and female characters are usually portrayed as passive, ergo, female characters are primarily uninteresting.

  9. Anon -- Supported by how so many people love the Golden Age Wonder Woman, love Power Girl, and are generally annoyed and disgusted with modern Wonder Woman.

    Solution: Writing classes.

  10. Question:

    Was the WW portrayed in Manhunter portrayed differently then WW usually is? I did like the portrayal of WW in Manhunter.

    I don't follow WW but wonder if I should rec it yet to a girl who likes comics that I know...

  11. A. Marston's very first WW story made Hercules & Mars heavies. Potter & Perez were following that precedent.

    B. The gods saving Hippolyta after she prays to be saved from Hercules? Also in Marston. One difference: the Potter/Perez Amazons fought back instead of just running away from the first.

    I really don't think original Marston WW has a very good origin either. But some of the Potter/Perez stuff is flawed in its conservative approach: following what was already there.

    And I think Bana-Mighdall pretty much had to be done. It's a logical reinterpretation of the Amazon concept, ideas like it had been floating around science fiction, & by both acknowledging & externalizing it, Perez was able to confront it, & avoided its man-hating ethics being implicitly attached to Themyscira.