Thursday, May 22, 2014

Sensational News

As you've probably already seen, DC has announced the inception of a digital anthology series for Wonder Woman, titled Sensation Comics after the series in which she debuted.

As I’ve mentioned before, I like DC’s attempt to have a ‘pantheon’ of icons, to consciously choose who’s in it, and to promote the ‘trinity’ within it.  While all of that may seem like a foregone conclusion to younger or newer readers, it’s not.  DC’s history is full of instances where it would try to turn fleetingly popular characters into icons, rather than turning icons into permanently popular characters.  DC’s even tried to force characters into both popularity and iconicality™, such as Firestorm, Captain Atom, Stargirl, Atzek, and even Vixen.

This one's for you, Rico.

While current readers may take Wonder Woman’s iconic status for granted, that too was by no means inevitable.  Batman and Superman have had some rough patches, sure, but not like Wonder Woman.  In some way or other, she’s been ‘in trouble and on the bubble’ for most of her publication history.  She was very popular when she started out, but, once editors figured out why, they were shocked and terrified.  

Eat yer heart out, Jabba.

Squeezing out her bondage-loving creator, they vanilla-fied the Amazon, at which point no one had any idea what to do with her or her stories--particularly once she no longer had the Axis to kick around.

DC turned that around in the ‘80s, and the version of Wonder Woman currently starring in her current eponymous series is valid, coherent, strong, and well-rooted in the character’s essentials.  But it is not the only version possible.
I loved the biker shorts, and don't care what you think.

Batman and Superman are extremely archetypal characters, it’s true, and that is the root cause of their popularity.  But nearly as valuable to their longevity is their adaptability.  They have been presented in various ways and versions, adapted for different times and audiences, stripped down to their bare essentials and build up as the centerpieces of grand mythologies.

As one wise Absorbacommenter once said:
Trying to pin down what Wonder Woman is "about" may be too limiting.One of the great things about Batman and Superman is that they can be "about" all kinds of different things, depending on who's writing them. They are both icons, but they gain richness from the fact that they "mean" different things to different people.
When Wonder Woman has a strong enough mythos to be iconic, yet still open to interpretation, then she'll be part of the trinity.

It’s a bit ironic to think that DC’s most mythical hero may not be as ‘mythic’ as she deserves.  Myths don’t spring from canonical continuity; they spring from the ongoing process of syncretism among variant versions of a story. Myths are stronger and more powerful than mere stories, because myths are the result of evolution, not ‘creationism’, in which one creator casts in stone exactly what a character is for all time.  The more creators who get to put their spin on Wonder Woman, the more mythic she will become.  And the announcement of her new digital anthology, Sensation Comics, should be an Amazon-sized stride in the right direction.


Chad Walters said...

I think the main difference between Wonder Woman and Batman & Superman is that for the latter, no matter how wildly they're interpreted, they still have a core that's always the same: the setting, the supporting characters, the job, etc.

But for Wonder Woman, is she in WWII or the present or an alternate world? Is she born of clay or the daughter of Zeus? Is she one of the first superheroes or one of the most recent ones? Is she a nurse, secretary, ambassador, spy, or something else? Secret identity or no? Does she date Steve Trevor or does Etta Candy? Is Etta Candy even around? Are her antagonists mainly gods or mainly powerful women and weak men? And so forth.

Anonymous said...

Vibe has now been mentioned, twice in the recent past.

For whatever reason, this leads me to imagine a scenario. At some point during Multiversity #1, President Superman must excuse himself from the action because a rocket has just landed from the midwest. And *who* emerges? Not his blonde cousin, of course. Herself, complete with the
'80's makeup and hair style.

As it happens, on that earth, Perry While looks just like Dale Gunn. Merriment ensues.

Dean said...

Wonder Woman is dismayed by Darkseid's vanilla bondage fetish. His personal ad seemed to promise so much more...

Scipio said...

Dean; yeah, who knew he meant 'tending my firepits' literally?

CobraMisfit said...

This makes me ridiculously happy. Looking forward to both the growth of the mythos and some more biker-clad-Diana.

SallyP said...

At least she could bend over in the Biker Shorts, without giving everyone a show.

And I LIKE Wonder Woman. I always have.