1) For people who think I'm giving Playboy too much credit, Greg Rucka gives them more:
And, for those of you who consider such things, take a look at the banner on the Ms. cover. "Wonder Woman for President."(ETA: But that's not the main point of this post. I'm not sure I can give Playboy so much credit for forethought. Still, another coincidence for the list has me trying to shake the crazy thoughts out of my head: the article is "Sex in America" and has a poll on voter sex lives and the upcoming election.)
Do you really think it's a coincidence that Playboy chose this year, the issue for the month containing "Tsunami Tuesday," to run this particular pictorial? Do you really?
2) DC has long complained that Wonder Woman just doesn't sell as well as it should.
Well, the original target audience for Wonder Woman was little girls. And here I'm about to have some commenter who has never read the Golden Age Wonder Woman stories pop up and tell me that she was created as kink material. Well, I've read the archives. I've read the interviews. Marston was kind of a nut (he was clearly turned on by female supremacy), but made her to draw in female readers. Check out the archives, guys. Read some of that old Marston stuff before you condemn him as nothing more than a creepy fetishist. He didn't have his bondage kink interfere with the ability of the reader to see her as inspiring, heroic, or strong. It wasn't humiliation and degradation. He wrote fun goofy adventure stories and rope tricks. He uses getting tied up a lot, but her main weapon was a lasso not a gun or a sword. It doesn't stop readers from seeing Wonder Woman as someone they want to be. He wrote a hero first.
The current target audience for Wonder Woman is not little girls. It's not even women. It's so hard to convince a lot of female readers to pick her up because a lot of people just think the character is nothing but kink material (I know a lot of feminists who question her credentials as a feminist character, and go back to that), and always has been. And stuff like this cover perpetuate that myth.
Problem with that is that the character's iconic traits demand that she be more than fetish material, so writing her that way just doesn't work. So people who go to her book for fetish material very likely put it back down too.
Basically what she has is a small core of highly dedicated fans who have loved her forever and were introduced through the television show, or their mother, or accident, or through a highly dedicated fan who went out of their way to show she wasn't just fetish material. While people outside of that small group of fans just write her off and resist reading her.
I have to wonder, does DC have any idea that this (stuff like that cover) is why they have trouble getting people to take her seriously? Why they have trouble getting women to read Wonder Woman, a character made for them?
If they're smart, they'll put their foot down and try and reclaim that image. Pink Raygun (NSFW) asked if we'd see a model as Batman in the same sort of thing. The answer's no. You won't see Batman in paint on the cover of Playgirl because DC protects their copyright to Batman, and goes out of their way to stop sexualized images of Batman. The character is money to them, they want to control how the public receives him.
Well, Playboy is considerably higher profile than the linked watercolor artist. But we don't see thing one from DC Comics about this cover.
If Warner Bros had any brains they'd realize they had the iconic female superhero in their company, and do something to prevent the public from randomly writing her off as someone's fetish.
Is it okay this time because Playboy is "Tasteful" (which could mean a) it's okay when it's done to women, b) it's okay because it's heterosexual, or c) it's okay because they have lots of money and have been around a while) do they just not give a damn about Wonder Woman?
ETA: More from Rucka
They won't. Playboy had to have permission to use the character, which means that, at the least, it was approved by Warner Bros., and at the worst, it was approved by WB and DC.
In that case:
Paul Levitz, Publisher
New York, NY 10019