Wonder Woman poster art by Michael Myers
Post New 52, an initiative started in September to attract new readers to the DC Universe, several characters remained more or less the same while others were altered drastically. Still more were left rather vague as to what the differences and changes were from the heroes and heroines readers had seen in August. Wonder Woman is one of the more complicated characters of the reboots and with good reason.
Along with Superman and Batman, Wonder Woman is the only superhero to have remained in print since her first appearance back in 1939. Created by the inventor of the lie detector, Dr. William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman was created by the Queen of the Amazons, a society of only women. Longing for a child, Hypolita crafted a baby from clay and prayed to her Gods for the gift of life (this was later changed to twins when another similar child was introduced much later). Born from women in a society solely made up of women, it is no surprise that Wonder Woman became an icon of the women’s movement. She even traded in her eagle-emblazoned bodice for a WW-bearing one in the mid 1970′s to show her support for women’s lib.
Flash forward many years later and DC Comics is struggling to make sense of Wonder Woman. There have been a few reboots, some reto-continuity that drastically changed her history and several high profile creative teams thrown at the character with varied success.
I have limited knowledge of the entire run of the monthly book but the George Perez run in 1985 is exceptionally popular with fans and also served as a major inspiration to the animated movie (that I highly recommend). A blend of mythology, superheroics and post-modern statements on society, the comic was a big hit with readers. Most recently Wonder Woman was given a new start and new costume in a long running story that struck a divide in readers.
Wonder Woman through the ages by Phil Jimenez
Wonder Woman seems to befuddle readers and creators alike. Is she a warrior or an ambassador of peace? An outsider of a caregiver? Read a scattered array of the past ten years and you’ll see a mixture of great and disastrous attempts to unravel the riddle, but a riddle it remains. Despite being one of the most important characters in the DC Universe stable of characters, she has yet to see her time on the silver screen… which speaks volumes. The most recent attempt at a live action depiction is the unaired pilot for a new Wonder Woman series by Allie McBeal creator David E. Kelley is rumored to be an inane self-aware slapstick parody of the character. Compare that to the amazing animated feature film from DC Entertainment and you can see that no one knows quite what to do with her.
Just two months back DC Comics tried again to modernize Wonder Woman with Brian Azzarello (famous for his crime noir series 100 Bullets) and Cliff Chiang (extraordinary artist of Green Arrow). Like the other 52 #1′s, the comic has been popular and generated some discussion of the character… but she remains somewhat vaguely different from her last appearance in print back in August. The series is very well received and is an exciting action comic that firmly establishes WW as a major force to be reckoned with. Her back story, however, is a bit unclear.
The story of the new Wonder Woman centers on a young woman Zola who is on the run from the forces of Ares who wish to murder her unborn child. Unbeknownst to Zola, the father of the baby is none other than Zeus. Unsure of where to go for help, she finds herself at the home of Wonder Woman, a well-armed warrior who takes up the mantle of Zola’s protector. From there, the series has mainly been a slug fest with occasional court intrigue as the Greek pantheon plans their next move.
Wonder Woman cover recreation by Greg Moutafis
This week the latest issue will hit stores with a major twist (it has actually been hinted at in the first two issues so heavily that I’m surprised that it is being treated as a revelation) in that Wonder Woman will be revealed as the daughter of Queen Hypolita and Zeus.
There are some very interesting articles circulating on what this could all mean for the feminist superheroine, such as the one at http://www.superheroesareawesome.com
I honestly think some DC writers, editors, and whoever else, were sitting around talking about how silly they thought Wonder Woman’s 1940’s origin was, or how complicated it was, and were like, “How can we change this stuff, dammit? I mean, she’s made out of clay. Seriously. Clay? That’s ridiculous.” And so, they just changed things up a bit.
They likely thought that making Wonder Woman half human and half god would set up all this dramatic potential and angst and confusion and stuff for the character. Wonder Woman can have all this, “Who am I?” stuff going on and “Why did you lie to me all this time?” stuff going on that she never had before. And plus, now Hera, the vengeful queen of the gods, can try to do all this evil stuff to Wonder Woman like she does to all of Zeus’s love children. These storylines may practically write themselves now.
And besides, it gives audiences a concept that may be easier for them to wrap their brains around. Which of these descriptions sounds like it has more immediate drama and conflict to a person who has no idea what Wonder Woman’s history is? “Hey, you know Wonder Woman, right? That lady with the lasso and the invisible plane and stuff? And those star-spangled daisy dukes? Yeah, her. Remember? She’s half god and half human, and she’s trying to find her place in the world and stuff, coming from two different worlds and all that. Her parents are always fighting. And she fights all these like, mythical monsters and gods and stuff. It’s pretty cool.”
“Hey dude, you know Wonder Woman? That lady in those star-spangled daisy dukes and the invisible plane? Well, like, she was sculpted from clay and made human by some goddesses. And they gave her powers , too. And she’s like, super awesome and fights monsters and bad guys and stuff. She’s human, but she’s from clay, but she’s kind of not really from clay once she comes to life, sorta, and she has these godly powers and stuff, too.”
Those both sound good, but the first one has all this dramatic stuff set up from the gate. And it doesn’t have any clay. I don’t know. DC probably thought it was silly. You may not agree, but I’ll bet that’s what those folks in the DC offices were thinking when they came up with this stuff. They were just thinking simplicity and drama. And they didn’t take away any of Wonder Woman’s feminist awesomeness in the process, not in my opinion. She’s still one of the most famous and popular female superheroes, and one of the top superheroes period, male or female.
I suspect we’ll find out just what DC was thinking and intending though, or the start of it, anyway, in issue #3, which comes out later this month.
It figures that DC would consider modifying their number one superheroine a bit to make sure she stays relevant with the times. They know they’ve got a hot property to take care of for the masses in today’s saturated entertainment world. Ask anyone to name some female superheroes, list them, in fact, and she’ll be on there, at or near the top.
Vintage Wonder Woman by Jose Garcia Lopez
Whatever the story ends up being, it has people talking about Wonder Woman again… and that’s a good thing, right?
Note: To see more artwork by poster artist Michael Meyers, visit his site.
Wonder Woman (2009)
Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Gods and Mortals
Wonder Woman: Paradise Found
Wonder Woman: The Complete History
Wonder Woman: Land of the Dead
Wonder Woman: The Circle