Monday, June 30, 2014
The Testimony of Wonder Woman
"I call to the stand, Princess D--I'm sorry, ma'am, but...are you trussed up with a rope?"
"YES, that is true, I am trussed up with a lasso!"
"Doesn't...doesn't that sort of thing usually wait until a little later in the story? Never mind, I need you out of that so I can swear you in."
"The Lasso of Truth compels me to tell the truth!"
"Sigh. Fine; that works, too. Ms. Woman, please tell us how you feel you are faring, as a character, in the New52, particularly as compared to the previous DC universe or universes?"
"There's currently no alternate, ma'am."
"I'm not very happy."
"Whyever not? Hasn't your origin been fixed so that you're a demigod daughter of Zeus, rather than just some clay statue brought to life, thus elevating you from a mere Galatea ripoff to a mythic status according only to Western civilization's most revered and enduring heroic figures, including the likes of Herakles, Aeneas, and Percy Jackson?"
"Yes. that is true."
"Have the creative leaders and marketers of DC not made a priority of establishing you firmly as the third pillar of their heroic trinity of characters, along with Batman and Superman, affording you a level of importance and priority unprecedented in your character's history since the days of your strange creator, William Moulton Marston?"
"Yes, that is true."
"As evidence of this, are you not featured in the forthcoming Superman versus Batman film, and being given your own second digital-native anthology title, Sensation Comics'?
"Yes, that, too, is true."
"So, tell us, how can you not consider yourself better off?"
"I spend all my time hanging out with gods and no real people. This makes me hard to identify with. Plus the gods are a bunch of snarky PEOI. I used to have a job, and a home, and human friends and family. Now my family are all snakes and the most 'normal human' person I socialize with is Superman, because (I'm told) fans demanded it."
"And this disappoints?"
"When I should be dating Orion? Yes. I used to have FUN. I used to march and dance and march and sing and march and hang out with college sorority girls and march. I used to fight women in cat suits and kick midgets around and battle giant sentient eggs. Now all I do is fight monsters. Monsters have very bad breath, you know. My current author's casting of my world is strong, but idiosyncratic and not well suited to long-term developments. And while my adventures may be 'badass' as they say, they just seem to isolate me from the mainstream of DC continuity, unlike Aquaman, whose newly epic adventures position him more squarely in its mainstream. Awkwardly, with the disparity between my portrayal in my own books versus joint books like Justice League, I almost seem to be two different people."
"I empathize. So, if the theory is correct that DC is going to reboot its universe next year, this would not be a disappointment to you?"
"A re-boot? Who would love 're-booting' more than Wonder Woman? I think it might be a relief. Like a bath in milk."
"You may hop down from the stand now. No more questions. Other than why you're still dressed that way."
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Wait...FUN in the NewDCU?!
SHUN THE NON-BELIEVER!
Seriously, I wouldn't mind a little campy BWAHAHA to return to DC.
Yes, I miss "fun" too. And she IS being written as two totally different people.
Diana and Superman bores me to tears. But Orion on the other hand...would be just fabulous. Mainly because he looks and acts like Guy Gardner, and this is therefore a little bit of Beau Smith Wish Fullfillment for me.
Joshua, I think the point where I stopped seriously reading comics was when I saw an interview with Didio, where he made the comment that, in his experience, DC readers aren't interested in fun.
I mean, I always assumed the point of entertainment was fun, myself. Oh, well.
Anyway, Wonder Woman's another one, like Aquaman, where I feel like DC wants the character to work purely because of her origin. If sales drop, retell the story of her going to Man's World and tinker with family relationships.
Like the decades of anchoring Artie to Atlantis, they keep hogtying Diana to the Greek myths, which...the Percy Jackson reference was dead-on. I love my Edith Hamilton as much as the next geek, but the mythology has become so commoditized that it's far more trite than they were in the '40s. And, like you said, it just pulls her out of the universe at large.
Plus, I think she's always going to suffer from Non-National-Superman-clone-itis, no matter how much DC claims there's a Trinity. Or maybe, going with the Superman theme, after a Silver Age of origin-obsessiveness, maybe Wonder Woman needs a Bronze Age of figuring out her place in the DCU regardless of her origins. Not so much Dr. Domino (though I'm down for that) as DC Comics Presents.
Also, Ms. Woman. Simple, but elegant.
I don't care how many re-re-re-reboots they put Wonder Woman through. As long as they keep her in that 1940's star-spangled chorus girl costume, I know I'll never take her seriously.
If they won't ditch the costume, then put all Greek Myth references strictly in her rearview mirror. She's a new immigrant to the US of A and chooses the costume to honour her new land. She's so Yankee Doodle, Captain America winces a bit. I probably couldn't stomach an issue of that, but at least the character would have a sort of logical integrity.
You make a good point that there's only so long Diana can fight Greek monsters, and the longer she does, the less well-integrated she is in the DC Universe. I don't necessarily have a good answer to that except that, if she is doing so damn well in her current role, perhaps that role is where she belongs? Maybe her "home" is among Greek weirdos, and she mostly "visits" the DC Universe proper.
I think a little of Hercules over at Marvel -- no matter how long he hangs out with the Avengers, he's still "the actual guy from Greek mythology", and not just another strongman who blends in smoothly with our world.
I think the whole blend-into-the-DC-universe argument is a red herring. Honestly, Batman's fixation on Gotham City and his inability to stop organized crime in one single city doesn't at all square with the uber tactician in the Justice League. Batman makes no more sense in a shared universe than the X-Men do; it's about fan service and cash.
For Wonder Woman, the problem is that the character was constructed as a fairy tale - a princess from a magical land goes to fight the evil Nazis and teach everyone to be kinder and love one another. But as we've seen from lots of attempts in different mediums, it is very hard to translate a fairy tale to a grown up story form. The simplicity that is essential to make a fairy tale work falls apart in other kinds of fiction. There are all kinds of "why" questions associated with Wonder Woman that need to be answered to make the character work. Azarello's come closer to doing it in that he's attempting to build her a world and create a set of motivations that make sense. The only reason the character seems incompatible is that DC editorial was pushing a different version of the character. I don't think their Xena-lite version is any more inherently superheroic. If you look at Didio's comments about Wonder Woman over the years, it's pretty clear that he sees the character as a female superman - that she needs glasses, a secret identity and a boyfriend.
I think Anonymous #2 has a point. (So does Anonymous #1, but that's just me again, so of course I agree.) Sometimes I get to thinking about the Avengers vs. the Justice League, and a crucial difference has dawned on me: all the members of the Justice League are from the world of superheroes, while Avengers has a member from the world of Norse gods, a member from the world of high tech industry, a member from World War II, and so forth (plus several from the world of superheroes). It's not an absolute distinction of course, but I think it goes a long way to explaining the difference in feel between the two teams. The Avengers have never felt "unified" the way that a well-written Justice League does, but to flip it around, the Avengers can support the mixing of a number of different genres in ways the Justice League does not.
So maybe DC needs to think about finding ways to let Diana be Diana the Greek Goddess, who also spends time in the modern world. Embrace that as her nature, not something that has to be smoothed over. If there are other heroes or heroines who would comparably benefit, consider doing the same with them too. (I don't think it would work with Captain Marvel, who is going to remain a bad fit tone-wise. Might work with Hawkman, though, if he is properly recast as a warrior who is not in step with the modern age.)
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