Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Caring For Your Wonder Woman Garden

I'm going to say flat out, this isn't a bad costume. It's not an exceptional costume, but it's not bad. I really do wish they'd at least kept with red and blue as the color scheme. There's no reason to do anything but give her blue, starless pants and the same top. Still, I'm not adverse to leather jackets like many fans seem to be, and I like that the bracelets match the crown, belt and lasso now. I don't like color mismatch. I'll be pretending those pants are dark blue from now on, though. I don't think this is staying, the whole matter has a Superman Blue vibe to it, but as a variant costume Jim Lee did a decent job here. Much better than Deodato did back during the 90s. And the New York Times article promises a movie in return for some messing with the costume, so I think it's a small price to pay. But then, I took the white suit era as a way to prove she was as badass as Batman, so what do I know?

(Disclaimer: I won't be able to read Wonder Woman #600 for a week or two due to shipping, so it may turn out to be the most awesome thing on the face of awesome. If such is the case, these complaints still apply (because it won't make Superman #700 good) but I retract my trepidation.)

I'm still leery of this new writer. I have fond memories of Rising Stars and Midnight Nation. I met a boy in the day room the month after I left basic who had the whole run of both up until that point and spent a pleasant evening reading comics. I kept with both until they ended. I liked his Thor okay, too. I was a bit irked that Sif was sidelined, but he had some decent intrigue and some good exchanges on in there. But his Spider-man was more full of bad ideas than good ("One More Day", for example, was a fucking horrible idea, but not as horrible an idea as the Spider-Totem), and the preview of Superman #700?

The preview for Superman #700 and the stated story idea for the next 13 issues is utterly horrifying. Superman's confronted by a woman for not saving her husband, so he responds by shutting down and moping and therefore not having anyone get saved? How many people died while Superman leaned his ass against that fucking tree waiting for the Flash? Who the fuck is this useless asshole? Where is Superman? Where is the guy who responds to failure by going into Samaritan mode and overworking himself? Where's the guy who fixes this by getting a fucking time machine, going back to help the man, and accidentally screwing up the space time continuum so he can save a life? I mean, we could be dealing with the fallout from using a fucking time machine for the next 13 issues rather than walking across country. All right, that's a little Silver Age (but aren't we in a period of Silver Age Nostalgia, DC, huh? Can you tell us some Silver Age STORIES rather than just killing off all the Asian people for it?), but my point is Superman doesn't react to feeling helpless by doing less, he reacts by doing more. The lessen he has to be reminded of time and time again is that he can't do everything. Superman's danger is supposed to be doing too much, not too little, you dumbasses. Get off your asses and get us a time machine story, you lazy fucks.

If JMS can't get the idea down that Superman is an active character, I don't know how I can expect him to make Wonder Woman an active character, and there are some items in his plan that worry me.

1) Hippolyta is dead, and that is never good.

2) The plot doesn't sound terribly innovative.
She doesn't really remember any of it, because in this timeline, it never happened, so there's nothing to remember. However, she does keep getting brief flashes of images that we will recognize as being from the Wonder Woman timeline that we know.

In a way, the person she's become is searching for the person she was ... and maybe she'll find that person, maybe she won't, and maybe they'll meet somewhere in-between.

As it stands now, Diana was taken from Paradise Island 18 years ago, when she was a child. The island was under a massive assault, and Hippolyta wanted to be sure that her daughter survived. The queen led the final defense of Paradise Island, but in the end was defeated. She and most of the other Amazons were killed, with some taken prisoner while the rest escaped to the four winds.

So Diana's task now is to a) find out where, how and why the timeline was changed, b) who did it, c) if it can be undone, and d) stay ahead of the forces trying to kill her while e) helping as many of the surviving Amazons stay alive as possible, since they too are still being hunted.

She knows her background, having been told about it over the years, but remembers very little of it herself. She knows that they're all relying on her to put it all back the way it was, that one day the Princess will return to restore Paradise Island to its former greatness, and that's a huge responsibility for her. Sometimes she chafes against it.

Also, by virtue of being raised off the Island, and other factors involving the timeline shift, she doesn't have her full range of powers. She's nearly but not entirely invulnerable, can't fly (yet), and the lasso was taken from her mother after her death defending Paradise Island. So one by one, she has to pick up these skills or powers, allowing us to examine them more closely, and give them proper weight, rather than taking them for granted.

The basic story of Diana not knowing who she is, and saving the Pantheon and her world and rediscovering herself along the way so that she can be perceived as more relatable to readers sounds an awful lot like Walt Simonson's story (Wonder Woman Vol 2 #189-194). Walt Simonson is best know for writing a much better run of Thor than JMS did, and actually making use of the kickass warrior woman love interest Sif rather than trapping her in a dying body for most of his run. The difference being that Simonson's story was temporary, and was not a complete reboot of the character which brings me to the last problem:

3. That fucking weed-whacker.
Finally, there's the problem of her being overwhelmed by her mythology and her supporting characters. When writers don't know what to do with a character, they build up the supporting cast and universe to kind of hide that fact. After a while, you can no longer see the character for the underbrush. When that happens, you need to bring out the weed-whacker to clear some of that away so you can focus on the main character.
Yeah, this would be a great point... were it not applied to Wonder Woman.

Because after Crisis on Infinite Earths Wonder Woman was the only one of the major characters who had her pre-crisis mythos leveled by her writer. Her secret identity was thrown away, her weakness was thrown away, her powers were changed, her WWII ties were incinerated. The peaceful, loving, shy Amazons who trained to physical perfection and followed Aphrodite's path of love were done away with and replaced with the reincarnated victims of male violence, who followed five goddesses but primarily the virgin goddess Artemis (later emphasis has moved to the virgin goddess Athena), and left the world of men for Themiscyra are being traumatized by the mass rape of the entire nation by Hercules and his men. Diana was born a mere 19 years before she left for Man's World, and is thus the only one who was never hurt by a man. (Yes, that's right, every Amazon except for Diana herself has rape in her backstory, and is a reincarnated murder victim. Now THAT'S the background we all want for a Symbol of a Female Power.) Diana's love interest, the original reason for her coming to man's world, was aged and turned into a father figure. (Her real father figure Hermes, the only male deity who granted her powers at birth now that Hercules has been turned into a rapist villian, propositioned her later in this run because that's precisely what we want in a story about Men Accepting Women as More Than Just Sex Objects.) He got married off to the comic relief while Diana developed a crush on the unattainable Superman, because he's the Football Captain to her Head Cheerleader status. Rather than leaving the homeland because she fell in love, she put in for Hippolyta's diplomatic mission on Athena's orders--defying her mother's wishes at the time. The love story at the core of her origin was replaced with a muddled mixture of rebellion and obediance to maternal figures. Oh, and her bright and energetic deities (Aphrodite/Venus pre-Crisis had a wickedly naughty sense of humor that came out in Diana's weaknesses, that were of course wiped away because a curse where you can't allow yourself to be bound by a man or to view a man in your super-secret island clubhouse is more harmfully sexist than raping all the Amazons) are replaced by the stiffest, most wooden creations in all of DC Comics. The script just sucked the life out of them, figuratively and literally in the case of poor Hermes (a deity who was allowed to remain dead until Rucka's run, which is fucking irritating because he's supposed to be the most fun and closest to humans of the Big Twelve/Thirteen If You Count Hestia At The Fire Which I Do). By the time they were finished with the machete and the plow, Wonder Woman had traded in the childish, subtle misogynistic themes in favor of new, improved, violent, Not For Kids Anymore misogynistic themes!

Needless to say, I have a lot of problems with the Perez run. But it was a run, it had an origin story, and it sure as hell cleared a lot of brush away and built a new world around Diana.

Which William Messner-Loeb decided to take a weed-whacker to in the 90s, by introducing a new supporting cast and retconing some of what I told you into worse shit (Hippolyta was domestically abused by Hercules and betrayed the rest of the Amazon Nation to him. Oh, and she stripped Diana of her WW title so that she could set some other girl up to die in her place because THAT is how we like our Symbols of Motherly Love).

And then John Byrne decided to take weed-whacker and a FUCKING CHAINSAW to THAT by moving her to a new city, with an all-new supporting cast...

...that was quickly discarded when Eric Luke choose to take a weed-whacker to Wonder Woman again.

Phil Jiminez built on what was there before and tried to reconcile the supporting casts, as did Greg Rucka, but by the time Rucka's really gotten going wouldn't you know it's time to trim the hedges again with Infinite Crisis and Heinberg's Lawnmaster 5000Pro weed-whacker Plus! Next door, Superman has a flourishing patch of grass and Batman's vegetable garden is winning prizes but Wonder Woman's property is a dirt lot with a few patches of green but still... they took the weed-whacker to it. And when Heinberg, who actually planted a few flowers, ran out gas they brought in the Amazons Attack Landscaping Team to get that last patch of green.

And now, after Gail Simone's leaving the garden with more green than she found in it, we hear CHUCHU-CHAAAAAUUUG-CHUGCHUGCHUGCHUG as J Michael Straczynski makes his way to the poor, beleaguered lawn. (Meanwhile, the poisonous tree of Amazon violence and victimhood twists upward in the center of the yard, without having lost so much as a pine needle.)

I appreciate the need for proper lawn care, and there is a lot about Wonder Woman's origin that I would dearly love to see retconned away (the rape backstory to each and every single Amazon, the loss of her central love interest, anything WML did to Hippolyta), but dammit DC, Wonder Woman has seen enough of the fucking weed-whacker already.

I give every Wonder Woman writer a chance and again, there are some things I dearly wish would be retconned out. I'll give JMS a chance here, and I may even like it. But his attitude doesn't really give me hope here. Still, if he brings back Steve or gets rid of the Hercules rape or the reincarnated victims of violence idea, it will be worth another destructive run.


  1. ... Needless to say, I have a lot of problems with the Perez run.

    My gods, thank you for this rant. Especially the point-by-point smackdown of Perez's retcon of Wonder Woman. I know that the Powers That Were at DC at the time thought Wonder Woman had too much baggage and wanted to modernize her - but I honestly think the wholesale firebombing of Wonder Woman's story not only was far more extreme than Byrne's Superman reboot, it was also more damaging. As you illustrate quite handily.

    I would like to point out that you missed the first "pillage through the garden with a weed-whacker" moment, which was when Denny O'Neil decided that Wonder Woman shouldn't be a fantasy princess but instead should be a secret agent and he performed a wholesale fantasy-ectomy on the character (something that he likes to do - strip all the fantasy out of any superhero he touches). It didn't take, but it set the mold for everyone trying to figure out what to do with Wonder Woman after that.

    And JMS's stripmining sounds exactly as bland and unoriginal as many that have come before it. He's basically taken Superman's origin and grafted it onto Wonder Woman - much like Perez turned Wonder Woman's powers into the same as Superman's (and hence always ensured that she'd be the lesser character because Superman is always going to be the best "strong guy who can fly" in comics no matter who else he may share a universe with). Now she's one of a handful of survivors of a shattered people - just like Superman. It's like DC can't understand that if they want to make Wonder Woman relevant and interesting they need to play up the ways that she's different from Superman instead of trying to make her more like Superman.

    So frustrating. But then I don't really expect anything better from DC. Especially these days.

  2. Ever read Supreme Power by JMS? I did, out of a fondness for Babylon 5, but really on the whole wasn't that impressed. The universe he was relaunching had a female headliner, Power Princess/Princess Zarda that I suspect had originally been a Wonder Woman knock off.

    I don't think JMS was intending his relaunch to get at the same appeal as Wonder Woman, for one I'd say she's an anti-hero to the point of being a super-villain. But my dislike of his handling of the heaviest hitting female protagonist in Supreme Power gives me bad vibes towards his handling one of DC's big three. On the other hand, maybe it's completely unfair to compare the two.

  3. As much as I am not a JMS fan (and I am not a fan of his comics much at all), using Supreme Power as a comparison point is unfair. That wasn't supposed to be mainstream superhero at all - that was taking Mark Gruenwald's Squadron Supreme (already a meditation on the "superheroes in the real world" idea) and cranking it up to 11. As a huge fan of Gruenwald's work in general and the Squadron in particular I picked up quite a bit of it despite not being a fan of JMS's comics, and I really strongly doubt that he'd write a mainstream comic the way he wrote Supreme Power.

    I mean, the JMS stylistic tics that I kind of hate will be there. But the over-the-top elements that mark it as a member of the modern "no, really, I'm writing a comic about what it would be like in the real world if people had superpowers" genre won't. Like the fact that in that particular genre everyone - from the superhero himself, every supporting cast member, and down to the most minor member of the case - must prove themselves to be an irredeemable asshole who you'd rather see nuked from the moon than anything else. I imagine he'll avoid stuff like that with Wonder Woman - he tends to avoid it in most of the rest of his work.

  4. I, too, hated Straczynski's story in Superman #700, and the outline going forward sounds dreadful. This on the heels of his disastrous run on Thor, and his otherwise-uninspiring track records in comics. (Midnight Nation was fine, The Twelve was good before it was aborted, but Rising Stars was a big yawn-fest, and his current Brave and the Bold run has been trivial and tedious, and his other Marvel work was pretty dull, too).

    It seems like Straczynski just doesn't get superhero comics. That's fine, but in that case he really shouldn't be writing them.

  5. When I saw the outfit in the book today, I thought it was her casual clothes. Nothing about it says Super Hero, Costumed Crimefighter, etc. Nothing.

    And the retconning of her origin ticks me off no end. This is a slap in the face of all the hard work Gail Simone put into Wonder Woman over the past year.

    As soon as I can gather my thoughts together, I'll be posting about it and why I'll probably be dropping the book.

  6. Jer: I thought that there were some similarities in Rising Stars and Supreme Power, but the stuff I really hated was in Supreme Power. I haven't read that much of his other comic work aside from a good chunk of the Spiderman run back in the day, and come to think of it I don't recall anything similar in run.

    Point conceded. Thanks for engaging me, always helpful to know when I'm wrong.

  7. Greg: I don't want you to think that I'm actually saying that you're "wrong" though. Maybe the stuff you really don't like about Supreme Power are the stylistic tics I mentioned. Supreme Power is just so full of problems, though, that using it as an example is unfair. The ones that plague all of his comics work are hidden by the ones that belong only to the over-the-top crap he was intentionally writing for Supreme Power.

    His Spider-man stuff is probably a better example of his typical mainstream work. It's biggest offense outside of the Gwen Stacy/Norman Osborne idiocy was that his big ideas weren't very good ones and his execution of those ideas was kind of boring. Not egregious sins as far as comics go, but not anything to get excited about either.

    (Not to make this an entirely bashing JMS post - I love some of his TV work. I'm a huge fan of Murder She Wrote. And he's responsible for writing a huge number of "The Real Ghostbusters" episodes, which is a series that I love. Jeremiah is a great show, and Babylon 5, while not being my favorite show ever, is one of the better sci-fi TV shows out there. So it's not that I think he's a talentless hack or anything - just that what he thinks of as "good superhero comics" and what I think of as the same are so different from each other that they might as well be on different planets.)

  8. I haven't read it yet, but I have to say that I'm suddenly filled with trepidation.

    As you say, it isn't a horrible costume, but I really can't see it hanging around for too long...and that's from someone who actually rather liked her in the biker shorts.

    If they kill off Hippolyta, I'll be PISSED!

    Do they HAVE to mess with her history AGAIN?

    If her father turns out to be Norman Osborn, I'll just jump out of a window.

  9. SallyP -

    Actually my biggest fear is that JMS is going to somehow decide that her father is Hercules but not change the fact that DC's Hercules is a rapist.

    Because that's the kind of thing that the current DC editorial might just be thinking is a great, edgy new idea to make Wonder Woman relevant.

    (And prepare to be pissed because JMS confirmed over at an interview at ComicsAlliance that Hippolyta-is-dead is part of her origin now. Though instead of being raised by a pair of farmers in Kansas she's apparently going to be raised by some exiled Amazons, so at least JMS is shaking things up a bit.)

  10. Oh, so another unique aspect of her history, her relationship with her living mother, is being edited away? Why, that's just the perfect way to really make her stand out as something more than just another superhero!

  11. Yes. Apparently, JMS must feel that Diana needs to be more like Bruce and Kal, losing their natural parents early in life.

    WW 600 would have been perfect if not for the prologue for the new JMS era.

  12. I think I'm going to retract my post, because once JMS is finished Wonder Woman will probably need the weed-whacker again.

  13. Y'know what? Let's just nuke the whole mythos... Then we can go to that Olympus where Pre-Crisis Wonder Woman and Steve came from, and have them lose their memories and get implanted in this urban commando story concept. And we can have THAT Wonder Woman slowly recover her memory and the aspects of the mythos.

    Only we'll let Walt Simonson write it again.

  14. Slight defense of Perez: I think it was Greg Potter who came up with the really misogynistic stuff in a very bad attempt at social relevance. Perez came into the post-Crisis series late in its development, and Potter was the original writer. Why Perez, Wein, and DC KEPT this mess of baggage, I have no idea.

  15. I've heard that, I've heard it was Wein, I've heard they were only scripters and it was Perez who did all the plots.

    Doesn't matter, It. Sucks. And the legendary Perez reboot is overrated as a result of it's suckitude, and the horrible lifeless miserably weak handling of the gods, who are portrayed as less capable and wise than their followers are.

  16. Also, virtually every woman I know tends to look at her current costume and say, "How does she fight in that thing without all her parts and pieces flying out?" She needs to look as strong, capable and resourceful as she is. As another female friend put it, "What woman wears the same outfit for sixty years without accessorizing?"

    And those female friends were Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha

    Man I can't belirve they slapped a leather jacket on her. Not only that they dropped her age as well. Does anyone remember when Megan Fox was mouthing off about the Wonder Woman outfit? It's almost as if the character is being reworked for the sole purpose of getting Megan Fox to say yes to the role.

    Costume change to get Megan to take another look eventhough she was sexualized alot more in Jennifers Body and the Transformers movie? Check.

    Age Reduction so Megan's lack of acting chops and gravitas can be explained away? Check

    Gritty Urban enviorment meant to reduce the cost of FX. So we can go wild on the DC movies we actually care about? Check

    Second-tier comic writer who is also a second tier movie writer who will make the transition to film seamless? Check

  17. Meant to say "I can't believe" just consider "belirve" a more street way of saying "believe" :)

  18. I don't mind the new look too much, but one thing that bothers me, and I'll admit this is probably just a weird trick of perception, but is it just me or does the new look somehow make Diana look smaller?

  19. Welp, I guess I'm giving up Wonder Woman. At least until they get a new writer in a few months, and retcon the most recent retcon.

    Oh Comics, I love you and I hate you sometimes.

  20. What the f*ck is DC's problem?

    They are SO below any kind of readable standard this days its Uncanny. Astonishing. Spectacular even.

    But seriously, between Hal "God's gift to women" Jordan, Barry Sue Allen and this "90s 'idea of awesome' revival" Wonder Woman, i am honestly scared of picking up any more comics because i am actually *afraid* that if i do i will read how a stupid editorial ruins another one of my favorite characters forever.

    This is stupid. Wonder Woman can be so awesome. She doesn't need stupid angst and stupid street cred and not even a stupid movie, if this is what we're getting. Just leave her alone, and make Rucka write her forever. Or something.

  21. Uh... I don't see how the JMS origin is a copy of Superman's origin... but then again I thought J'ohns story was more of a clone story of Superman, so maybe my view is skewed.

    I actually thought it was pretty good TEMPORARY rewrite.

  22. - why hate the Perez Origin? As a feminist I think it acknowledges a well known phenomenon; male violance against women. the backstory only seems to make fanboys uncompfortable? I don't get feminists who hate that story. Somehow it disempowers women? Right. Cause vicitimized women who become powerful beings is soooo disempowering.

    - Why hate the Martson origin? It only acknowledges the sexuality that exists in comics. It also acknowledged a missing aspect of the feminine in comics at the time. Creates a powerful female figure for boys and girls. So what if it epitomizes a female feminine ideal, its just as sexist as Hera, Aphrodite etc are. Meaning not really at all.

    - Why hate the JMS retooling? Again now it modernizes Diana's story. Obviously its only temporary. It gives her some clothes (yes!). And now makes her an actual superhero dumping all the junk from before.

    If you think about it, its actually an evolution. WW starts out as a feminine ideal in a comics context. Then moves to the woman warrior ideal. Both origins emphasize Diana as a woman in a man's world. The JMS reboot just makes her a superhero. THE END. No, female ideals on either side.

    FANTASTIC GROWTH of a wonderful character.

  23. Anon -- "Woman is motivated by the experience of sexual violence to become the defender of others" would be a great story... were it not widely considered by writers to be the best motivation for a superheroine. Writers love to emphasize this as the defining experience of a woman's life, show that it continues to be a threat even after you become an invincible fighting machine (the Amazons are reborn to be raped later by Hercules and his men) and the absolute WORST thing that can happen to a female character (not death, not losing a loved one, but rape), without acknowledging that men are ever in danger of sexualized violence.

    And yes, sexual violence is an epidemic in our society, and a major problem on women's minds that men almost never think about but... Wonder Woman is supposed to be a POWER FANTASY. Superheroines are supposed to be a POWER FANTASY. The prevalence of sexual assault in the superhero genre, particularly in the franchise of Wonder Woman--who back from Marston is focused upon creating unity between men and women by acknowledging female power--undercuts that severely. A percentage of superheroines having this story would be one thing. A percentage of Amazons having this backstory would be one thing. THE ENTIRE POPULATION OF THEMISCYRA HAVING BEEN LITERALLY KILLED AND RAPED BY MEN IS ANOTHER ENTIRELY.

    The problem seems to be that the backstory DOESN'T make Fanboys uncomfortable, because they continue to create, revamp, and retcon female characters as being defined by the experience of sexual assault.

  24. Oh, and not to mention that the experience lends to the xenophobia on Diana's home island, leading to tortured plots involving how the only matriarchal society on the planet HATES MEN, and taking us places like AMAZONS ATTACK. Not to mention it ruins the use of Hercules as a heroic character in the DC Universe.

  25. Sorry I still disagree, women get raped and then they disappear in the pages of history as anonymous victims contrasted with raped murdered women saved by Goddesses, who make them women warriors and are victims no more. extremely empowering. Let's contrast that story with Medusa's origin: gets raped by Poseidon and then Athena punishes her for the rape by changing her into Medusa. Here not only are the victims turned into warriors but they having the backing of the Goddesses without the interference of the gods.

    Hercules turned into a villain? So what. Why should old heroes always be considered heroes? Mists of Avalon retold the Camelot story from a female perspective, and while it wasn't the best re-telling it was still an interesting idea. Here the story is what if Hercules wasn't as good as we thought he was? And he is a hero from antiquity, a soldier from that time period. you want me to believe that he never raped a woman on one of his expeditions? Right. Because especially back then they were very sensitive to the needs of women and rape was considered a crime? I think not.

    Yeah I don't like rape as a backstory of all female superheroes either. But I don't think that needs to be changed at all, what needs to be changed is the perspective of fan boys who can't empathize or understand or even try to relate to that.

  26. You... do realize Hercules is a story character, right... he's the way the storytellers think a hero should be. If they think that heroic is raping women, then that is what they write. That's why characters like Hercules and Arthur have changed to reflect the ideals of society, because there's a difference between legend and history and the purpose of such things. There's really no positive when writing a comic book universe to taking a character that writers are generally going to want to use as a good guy and establish him as a rapist, because some writers are going to want to use him as a good guy in the future and it's going to look quite... off-putting. Even more off-putting when this character was one of Diana's patrons pre-Crisis. So no, I don't think Perez's rapist Hercules was groundbreaking, or fascinating, or intriguing. In the long run, it was actually quite shortsighted because later Wonder Woman writers gloss over it if they want to use Hercules as a good guy. Hell, even PEREZ wanted to use him as a good guy because he had to end one of his arcs with some bullshit reconciliation between Hercules and Hippolyta... and Then. They. Dated.

    The prevalence of rape in fiction won't do anything to change the attitudes of fanboys because as you may notice, it always happens to women and never is even threatened at male characters. It is a plot point touched upon because of LACK of empathy, and as shorthand for "Mature Content", not for awareness raising.

    And don't you think they could come up with a better way to address sexual assault in Wonder Woman than by establishing that the perfect matriarchal society had to move to an island in the Bermuda Triangle to avoid being raped en masse. You really think that's overcoming violence to become a powerful being? (Note, the Hercules plot happened AFTER THEY WERE RESURRECTED BY THE GODDESSES AS WARRIORS.) In previous versions it was to avoid war itself, but even leaving it vague wasn't enough for the Perez reboot. Because they were women, they had to be fleeing rape. Because you know, that's the absolute worst thing that can happen to a woman and what she should structure her entire life around avoiding. This is as respectable and effective way to raise awareness as those "How to Protect Yourself From Rape" e-mails.

    You know those emails, right? The ones that don't give you any real surefire advice, just the same stupid checklist over and over again? Those little reminders that women's bodies are under constant threat of assault from every strange man she knows, thus making us afraid of trusting men, of being alone, or doing things that men are able to do without a second thought? That culture of terror designed to restrict the independence of women by making us frightened to leave our houses? Those emails that AREN'T aimed at men?

    Because that's what this sort of empowering story is. It's a reminder that even if you're a badass warrior or a fucking superhero, you still need to live your life in constant fear of strange and familiar (because you never know!) men, their violent whims, and their penises. And yeah, that's sure why I read Wonder Woman. To be reminded that I need to fear men.

  27. Ok. I am still trying to understand your POV and I am not getting it.

    Re Herc: No they should not have tried using him as a good guy anymore. Use him as a villain. The end.

    Re rape: Yes the Herc rape happened after they become warriors. But Herc was bested by Hippy and then he drugged her and raped her... hmm sound familiar. oh I don't know sounds like something that actually HAPPENS IN REAL LIFE. Yes, THIS is what happens. Moral of the story, boys don't be @$$holes like Herc and get women drunk and rape them.

    Should rape be used in comics against men too? YES, sure why not. As long as it is done well and it is part of the story. Just b/c men rape stories have not been written it has not been doesn't does not automatically make the WW origin bad. ESPECIALLY since rape happens more to women then men. [incidentally there have been male rape stories, Apollo in the Authority, and the rape of NightWing]

    Your argument that its a oh no be scared of rapist men is weak; you aren't applying historical analysis. There was a strain of thought in the feminist movement that believed that if women were to create their own society apart from men they would be happier; they could avoid the evils of men. The main evil is war. And you argue that its just cause they are scared of rape. No I don't think so. I think it was a genuine fear of men's love of war and aggression. Such wars, yes lead to rape, but also lead to what from THAT (not all women's perspective) feminine perspective is most valued to a woman, family. And THAT is the real reason for the isolation.

    Also your continued attack on rape as a something that women should not construct their lives around is... odd. I agree no one should live their lives afraid that they are going to be attacked and raped by men. But then to say that rape is NOT a life changing event... what can I say? To me it echos what guys say when women get to live after a war, they may get raped but at least they live. Men they die. Yes that is a true; Dth is the end. But the torture of women as a symbolic way to desecrate what your enemy found sacred... that is what is disgusting. Men in wars kill and rape; the rape they engage isn't even an attack on the women they rape, its another attempt to attack the men that they have killed, a way to show the Other man-enemy, not only have I killed you but I have spoiled your symbol of purity and value. So if the amazons decide to live on their own island and say screw you we don't want to be your symbols anymore, I GET IT.

    What I get out of WW is not fear men, but fear hyper-masculine thought which encourages violence and greed over peace and family.

    Obviously what is being left out of the amazon's narrow vision is that not all men are alike. And more importantly when there is a male hegemony it isn't just women who are affected. It affects children, gay/bi men, and men that do not belong to the majority male religious/racial group.

    But I get it; I understand the anger towards the hegemonic male, and the desire to become powerful, and the desire to have your own world. So no, Perez's origin isn't anti-woman; its a powerful rebellion the status quo.

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  29. Moral of the story, boys don't be @$$holes like Herc and get women drunk and rape them.

    That would be the "moral of the story" if Herc were somehow punished for his crimes. It seems to me that the moral is "if you commit date rape, your victim will run away and never cause you any problems again, and she might even forgive you and date you in the future. Also, you won't be punished in any way, you'll keep your abilities and status, and you'll even get to sponsor a whole family of superheroes with your strength."

    Speaking of which, it seems like there ought to be some tension between Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel...

  30. The problem with that idea is that Wonder Woman's origin isn't meant to be a rebellion against the status quo.

    Wonder Woman, as envisioned by Marston, is the epitome of the powerful potential within women. It's a wish-fulfillment fantasy.

    Yes, rape happens. And there's nothing inherently wrong with Perez's origin story as a story in and of itself.

    The problem is, it's being grafted on a then already forty year old power fantasy. It's not the right place.

    It's like rewriting Superman's origin to include child abuse.

    Meaningful story, sure, but not the right fit for THIS product.

  31. Well I know I am not supposed to do the whole agree-disagree thing (as per the comment section's directions LOL) so this is my last post.

    The Perez origin IS fulfilling a fantasy; its not a fantasy that you might like or get. Its the fantasy where women say screw you men, and screw your way of life (of the hyper masculine violent thought). We are going to lead a better life where feminine ideals of love, mercy, and peace will be practiced. Its a very feminine-centric fantasy.

    The only parallel I can draw is when after years of abuse by the hegemonic racial group the minority racial group decides to try and head off on its own, practicing the values it believes in.


  32. So we can't say "screw you men, and screw your way of life" without suffering at the hands of men first?

    Essentially, what's happening is that what was portrayed as a lifestyle choice by Marston ("We CHOOSE to live apart from men because we feel it's the right way to live.") into a response to victimization. ("We live apart from men because they hurt us.")

    Some fantasy.

  33. Or we can just pretend that women aren't hurt & have never been hurt by men ever and live in a fluff sexual paradise? And if women just wanted to live by themselves why? Just for the fun of it? That sounds pretty selfish. and xenophobic. We want a girls club. Only girls. Why? Because we want to. Guys like meat, girls like fruits and so women secluded themselves to show that fruit taste better? Huh.

    As opposed to, evil men thought they destroyed us they thought their way of life was the way to live. But look at the paradise we created, without evil men and in spite of the violence of men. AND look at the gift we give to the world: Wonder Woman, the epitome of our beliefs and way of our life.

    Really gotta compare the 2 and it seems a pretty easy conclusion to me, sexual bondage fantasies OR Victim overcomes and brings a better way of life to the entire world. Yeah, that is some fantasy.

  34. People keep bringing up Marston's bondage thing like it's some sort of contaminant on the mythos, as opposed to a quirk. It's in the stories, to a varying extent, but is it really harmful?

    I'm willing to see where this new direction does go, because it looks like there's something of an arc involved- time is out of joint, something wrong has happened. It won't be resolved in 6 issues, but it might go somewhere beyond just being the new status quo. I dunno, reading #600 wasn't as unpleasant as I was expecting.

  35. It's selfish and xenophobic for a group of like-minded individuals to choose to live together because they share the same goals and desires?

    That's a very peculiar way to look at the world.

  36. Dammit, I am such a moron. Back in March I did a "Public Announcements" post ranting against the use of rape backstories for female characters (ironically, I included a JMS book). I even mentioned Dreadstar#2 back in the 80's as an example of how unoriginal it was. And yet I DIDN"T REMEMBER TO MENTION WONDER WOMAN. I feel so fucking stupid now.

    When it's announced that there will be no more rape in superhero stories, that popping sound you hear will be me breaking out the champagne.

  37. Right on, Evan. In Marston's stories, Wonder Woman stated again and again that all women could do the things she did, if they just broke free of the chains of male domination.

    Even with Marston's eccentric attitude toward female domination, "let yourself be free, and you will discover the power within you" is vastly more empowering a message than "let yourself be victimized, and outside forces may take pity on you and give you magical superpowers, only to let you get victimized again".

    When you look at the messages involved, it's hard to tell the difference between a Perez Amazon and a Disney Princess.

  38. Random anonymous thoughts:

    JMS's biggest problem is that he's only 70% as clever as he thinks he is. He tends to come up with an angle on a character that has never seen print before, but then doesn't think it through enough to realize why it's going to go awry. Superman deciding to walk across the country is a bad idea for exactly the reasons detailed. And restarting Wonder Woman from scratch is destined to fail, especially after an exemplary run that depicted Diana at her very best.

    The mechanical / fanboy troubles with Wonder Woman costume are easy to fix; I could swear Gail Simone's run had lots of instances where armor or weapons provided additional "cover" while not looking out of place. Wonder Woman looks downright regal when she wears a cape or otherwise builds upon the traditional bathing suit. And even the unadorned bathing suit works if writers decide that it's covering her just a tiny bit better than a Victoria's Secret ad.

    Denny O'Neil is another guy who wasn't clever enough to act on his visions a lot of the time. If a better writer (say, Grant Morrison) had to do the depowerment arc with Diana today, you could expect that Diana would be even more formidable and confident without the powers; but in those early 70s comics, Wonder Woman came across as weak and damaged. I don't think the comics industry had grown up enough to do it right then, so I guess I'm going to fault O'Neil for being a little ahead of his time.

    Power Princess was a pastiche of classic Wonder Woman; she was a skilled fighter and she had the traditional super powers, and also had the traditional Wonder Woman outlook of "love instead of hate, heal instead of wound". There was an issue of "Squadron Supreme" where Joe Ledger (pastiche of Hal Jordan) made her top come off, and she took issue not with being exposed (not a problem where she comes from) but that he was trying to embarrass her. She threatened to take off his clothes and see whether he enjoyed being embarrassed, and he backed down. Good going, Zarda! It's a shame JMS turned you into a psycho.