Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Flashpoint: Is This Event Over Yet?

So I hadn't seen this before.

Okay, we've been through the whole Flashpoint rant a few times already. I do not like this angle for the Amazons, and I think it undercuts Diana's character. With Amazons Attack, it was stupid but I was open to the "mystically manipulated" idea and figured it wouldn't hurt the franchise.

I guess I was wrong, because it seems someone liked that idea and decided they should try it again in an alternate timeline. And now someone will like the idea and decide they should try it again. Because they don't get Wonder Woman. They don't understand how women can withdraw from men and not spend all of their time thinking about men, holding a grudge against men, and plotting to come out and hurt/maim/kill men. They don't get that women might spend their lives away from men and be perfectly happy and not obsessed with men in some way.

They don't get that the point of Wonder Woman is that sexism in our society was holding women back, and that Diana is what a woman who had never suffered institutionalized sexism can be. Instead, Wonder Woman only makes sense if she's lopping off heads and ranting about how terrible men are. For franchise purity, she has to have the moral high ground in her own book but when it comes to crossovers all bets seem to be off.

I know that this is an alternate universe and it won't really immediately affect how she's portrayed in her own book.

I know that the whole point of this timeline is that everything has gone horribly wrong and the heroes (which, coincidentally, don't seem to include Wonder Woman) will have to set it right.

I know that this cover is just there to get us riled up and they probably have an explanation inside that will make Diana sympathetic.

That doesn't make this crossover and everything released about Wonder Woman in it sound any less stupid.

Here's the thing, the best alternate universe storylines are the ones that show us the true measure of the characters. They're the ones that show us that the characters will remain true to their core characteristics in different circumstances.

There's a quote running around somewhere that Batman wasn't changed much because the audience wouldn't accept it. I can pretty much guarantee that Superman will be the same sort of person he always has been. Same for Hal, because they are building up the Green Lantern franchise around him. And of course, Barry will remain Barry because he's the centerpiece here.

For some reason, Diana is getting remade to be much more violent, though. And that suggests to me that they feel the core characteristics of Wonder Woman are her warrior characteristics, and that her kinder nature is only due to circumstances.

To me, that's bullshit. The very first act that this character performed in publication history is an act of mercy. The very first thing that Diana does in All-Star Comics #8 is to save someone from a plane crash. It is an action repeated in every retcon of her origin up until this idiotic JMS reboot. She has a friend with her usually, but it's always Diana's idea to go help the guy. It is an essential part of her origin and the first character trait that was established in her very first appearance. She is merciful.

And not only that, that someone is a man. She's heard nothing about men except that they were violent, enslaved her people, and that they retreated to the island to live in peace from them. She's raised to think that this person will try to hurt her even after she helps him, but she still does. Her instinct to be heroic and merciful is overwhelming. If she does not have that, if that is not a prominent trait, then that is not Wonder Woman.

Really, every depiction at odds with that as her true nature muddies the waters of a character that a lot of people don't seem to know/understand to begin with. People complain that WW is a cipher, a physical presence, a cardboard character and that's because anytime she's outside her own book the writers seem to ignore that she has very specific character traits that were laid out in her appearance. They ignore that her warrior aspects are tempered by mercy and reason. They do this because it's kewler to have her collecting heads than demonstrating a clear head.

A few minutes before I saw this I had been answering a comment on the other day's Steve Trevor post. I was explaining how Steve was more important to the mythos than Batman's first love interest, and this whole Flashpoint thing came to mind. Because with Steve around, we have a reminder that Diana's first act was an act of mercy. We have the basis for her opinion on men standing right by her. We have a guy around that is there because not only did she save him, she actually nursed him back to health and hid him from the rest of her people so he'd be safe.

Steve Trevor is a walking talking example of how good a person Wonder Woman is at heart. And that, more than a desire to see romantic stories around Wonder Woman, more than an affection of the character, is why I feel it's so important they bring him back.

Because this may be another big fakeout, but they are slowly moving towards it crossover by crossover. They are losing Wonder Woman in this, as each event they make her just a little more like the Punisher.


  1. I'm not a big Wonder Woman fan, and don't claim to me, outside Rucka's writing, I've read very little Wonder Woman stuff.

    The reason I took umbrage with this cover is that it's not a garden variety act of violence that is being dealt with. *spoiler alert for anyone that hasn't seen the cover in question* Beheading someone is a borderline psychotic act, and while covers are often a swerve, to even use it at all is fucked up. Leaving out the fact that Wonder Woman killing Mera could be Arthur's motivation to do anything (which is another can of worms), cutting of someone's head is just madness. Holding it up like a trophy is far worse. Considering we know the company wide reboot is coming, is this really one of the last WW stories they should be telling?

    Everything about the cover, excluding the fact its hideous, is troublesome to me. Were you to show that to anyone, they'd swear that Wonder Woman was pure evil and in no way the heroic character she's supposed to be. I mean, they made fewer changes to Batman and he's *spoiler alert* an entirely different person.

  2. This sickens me. Why oh why can't we have an alternate universe where our good heroes are facing a crazy Milleresque Punisher Batman and stop him and show that hope can win vs. cynicism. No Batman-like ciphers such as Jason Todd, Hush and Prometheus count. They are not Batman as Bruce Wayne with the same background and origin with a diversion.

    We've seen evil or morally questionable Captain Marvel and Superman, we've seen Hal Jordan be evil, we've seen a guy who thinks he's Barry Allen in every way snap and do evil (Professor Zoom), we saw the defamation of Zatanna's character in the name of Batman legitimately having prejudice against metas.

    All we get for Batman is imposter's trying to defame his good name. No matter what even in Miller's universe Batman is always in the right and is always being wronged then vindicated for it.

  3. Not mention that Barry was also villified for his retconed role in helping Zatanna wrong Bruce. That is until he was viable as a character. An even better example than a guy with his memories deluding himself snapping into crazy mode.

    In short DC must really find Wonder Woman and unviable character. Maybe you this is an extreme position to take, but I often say to my friends "DC comics hate Superman right now, they really hate Captain Marvel in comparison to him, but they hate Wonder Woman even more."

  4. Ragnell,

    From the many, many posts about WW, this post finally clicked for me (I hope). Even though I didn't read any WW comics (well, most comics in general....I was a poor kid), I always knew she was/is a badass. So, I'm looking at your many, many posts about WW and I'm like "What is she complaining about? This is a badass chick owning just about everyone she sees". But the more I read from here and other places, I think I get it...

    It's not that she's a badass that is wrong, it's the fact that she has compassion and mercy and understanding. She is not a brute, she is a warrior and warriors uses their brain as well as their brawn to handle tough situations. From I guessing the 90s on, the editors play more on the "warrior" aspect and not the caring nature that was, as you said, the base of her character.

    Simply put......she in Flashpoint is Red Hulk. And if I got it wrong, feel free to rip me a new one.

  5. I really want to read Secret Seven. Peter Milligan writing Shade again with George Perez drawing? Sold. Aside from that, no thanks.

  6. Nice writing. I am really overwhelmed with this post. And hope for your another release soon.

  7. "They don't get that the point of Wonder Woman is that sexism in our society was holding women back, and that Diana is what a woman who had never suffered institutionalized sexism can be."

    Whoa! I haven't read a lot of Wonder Woman but I like the character. And I've shared people's annoyance about the way she's been portrayed in Odyssey and now Flashpoint. But until I read that sentence, I don't think I fully grasped just how incredibly, fundamentally WRONG that vision of Wonder Woman and an angry vengeful woman was. I disliked it, but I didn't really get how it goes right to the core of what Wonder Woman represents.

    It's such a simple yet profound idea, and I'd never seen it expressed so succinctly and eloquently into a single sentence.

    Thank you!