Monday, October 10, 2011

Coming Soon: Daddy Issues

I read Wonder Woman #1 and thought it was a lovely dark take on the character, and Brian Azzarello's gods have such incredibly potential. Apollo has never been so interesting in this franchise, Hera is foreboding, Zeus sounds clever, and Hermes is... well, poor Hermes gets beat up a lot in this franchise, doesn't he?

Either way, it showed a lot of promise and I was looking forward to the next installment.

Until I saw (Caution: Spoiler in the article TITLE, and from this point on in the post) this.

Bastards can't let me be happy.

Okay, two things:

1) Wonder Woman had a dad in the Silver Age. It was an unnamed Prince Hippolyta had been married to. He's referenced like, twice, and mostly for Hippolyta's angst.

2) This is a terrible idea.

Even if Azzarello does it brilliant, in the end it is a terrible idea.

Not as terrible an idea as Hercules, mind you (this was the rumor for the Crisis reboot), unless they decide Zeus also raped Hippolyta. But on the whole, it is probably a mucg worse idea than Hades as her dad in that damned animated movie. And a considerably worse idea than Hermes, a character who could technically be argued to be her father from the Perez reboot.

Really, any of them suck. I'll give you, Azzarello's a good writer and can pull this off, but it opens a couple nasty doors. It leaves Diana's story open to being able Daddy issues, thus letting a male character become the central focus of Wonder Woman for a while, and it sends a message that doesn't suit Wonder Woman.

And I don't mean the icky message that Diana a product of sexual assault, though that is a terrible message and I hope Azzarello does not go there. He was doing so well with a first issue that didn't have all the Amazons being raped.

It sends the message that Wonder Woman, the embodiment of female hope and strength did not get her strength from her mother or the cooperative all-female culture that produced her, or the goddesses. It came from her ultra-powerful male parent, the very god of the patriarchy himself.

And while there's ways of turning that on itself, making it symbolic of the Patriarchy creating it's own downfall... in the end, it's just too far from how she started, and the core of what Wonder Woman is.


  1. I think it could be great if they use the Perez origin (goddesses working together) but they somehow trick Zeus into taking part.

    Maybe because he's the god of fatherhood or something.

    Anyway, if they pull something like Cronos swallowing the rock, or Metis giving birth in Zeus's head after he ate her, I could get into it. :-)

    A little trickery makes Ancient Greece go round. :-)

  2. And Azzarello seems into the old Greek stuff, all the craziness. Maybe he's got something really creative planned.

    Or he has, after the prophecy Apollo got, the most glaringly obvious twist possible.

  3. I entirely agree. I can't imagine a bigger snore than a Wonder Woman book focusing on her daddy issues.

  4. Quite right.

    My speculative interpretation is that this makes Diana an Achilles-type character, part god and part mortal, which positions her between the two worlds and makes the mythological aspects of her stories seem more fluid (as if that were necessary); it also puts Diana, at least, on the same level as the gods instead of subservient to them (though we hardly ever see Diana kowtowing to the gods when they're wrong).

    However, it does seem a rather tone-deaf plot turn for all the reasons you state; hopefully Azzarello can indeed pull it off brilliantly.

  5. "It sends the message that Wonder Woman, the embodiment of female hope and strength did not get her strength from her mother or the cooperative all-female culture that produced her, or the goddesses. It came from her ultra-powerful male parent, the very god of the patriarchy himself."

    Yes, exactly that. There's really no way getting around that, unless Azzarello has some really spectacular twist up his sleeve that we don't know about.

    I loved the first issue and absolutely adore Cliff Chiang's art, so I'm going to keep reading and wait and see, but this is definitely ringing alarm bells.

  6. Agreed with you. I'm hoping it somehow works out ok, but my initial reaction was uh-oh.

  7. I'm a bit taken aback. I do trust Azzarello, he's an excellent writer, but dang...Daddy issues? How cliched. And why does it HAVE to be Zeus? I want Hermes, dang it!

    Still, I'll wait and see what they are actually going to do with it. Maybe we'll all be surprised.

  8. I laid out the potential pluses and red flags here, including a potential rape issue you may not have considered. (Although I totally overlooked the point you made in your second-last paragraph.)

    I'm putting some HUGE faith in Azzarello here. Hope he delivers!

  9. Dionysus as her dad instead of Zeus would have been much cooler.

  10. I don't approve of this.

    Now Wonder Woman is just like every other Greek Hero. She is now female Hercules. She's yet another bastard offspring of Zeus. Her Clay Origin was more interesting and it's mostly been a staple for most of her comic publishing history.

    People claim they can't relate to her because she's a 'golem.' She isn't. A golem is still made of rock even with life animating it. Diana was given flesh and blood. The goddesses breathed life or 'soul' into her. She is as human as any human. Even still in fiction there's no reason to not make give her 'human' feelings. It worked for Human Torch, Vision and Red Tornado for years. People are hung up over nothing.

    I never cared for this being Cassie's origin either as it made her more powerful than Diana. Now Cassie has Wonder Woman's Golden Age status of magic weapons augmenting her powers. So we got two characters switching power sources. That is counter productive. Why not try to make synergy between the characters mythology?

    Superboy gets two dad's and no mom, but Diana has to have a biological doner? Why? There is tons of examples in Greek myth where life isn't made from normal means. Some credit Prometheus as making men out of clay, why wouldn't Hippolyta been able to do so?

    Sorry for overtaking this conversation. These are all the objections that are running through my mind.

  11. I like the idea of Wonder Woman as Galatea, and Hippolyta as Pygmalion (and I don't think their relationship has ever been explored in that light, but it seems obvious, and I haven't read too much WW, so I dunno), so I'm sad that thats gonna be out of continuity for a few more years.

    Also, if this is another modern Greek myth story about someone succeeding Zeus' throne, I'm gonna have to shoot myself.

  12. "I like the idea of Wonder Woman as Galatea, and Hippolyta as Pygmalion"

    The Golden Age origin explicitly references Galatea, so that works. I loved Gail Simone's expansion on the origin story the best.

    Prometheus can create humans from the Earth, Yahweh can mold Adam from the same - why can't a goddess create a woman from clay?

    Basically it comes down to this: Wonder Woman is too threatening to men when they have no part in her origin. Her concept is so darned subversive that Azzarello just had to give her the ur-patriarch to put her back in her place. But if you take that core concept away from Wonder Woman, there's no point to the character.

    Guess the all-women society was just too offensive for the DCnU, even though it's never been nearly as subversive as it could have been - no overt lesbianism, no parthenogenesis, no women behaving and dressing like women actually would after, oh, a couple decades out of patriarchy. Joanna Russ's society of "Whileaway" is great example of how to do this right, and it would scare the shit out of DC and its fanboys.

  13. It doesn't bother me that Diana now has Zeus for a dad, for the same reason I don't mind that real-world women pick up attributes from their dads: I don't see that it detracts at all from their capabilities or natures as women. Actually I like the idea of a demigoddess of comparable lineage to Hercules, but with greater achievements to her name.

    There are so many ways to view Wonder Woman because of all the conflicting / unrelated aspects to her. Is she a latter-day Greek heroine, a symbol of all that is female, an American patriot, or what? Having a male dad may detract from "symbol of all that is female", but personally I don't mind going with "latter-day Greek heroine".