Monday, August 25, 2008

Defending Wonder Woman

It seems to be in vogue to attack Wonder Woman lately. But I’m not talking about Cheetah or Dr. Psycho. I’m talking about bloggers.

And as much as I dig Wonder Woman, I’m okay with that. As long as the critics can clearly state reasons for their dislike. I mean, Lord knows there’s plenty broken with Wonder Woman comics, but I see way too many posts that start from the assumption that Wonder Woman sucks and that anyone who disagrees is – I don’t know – a mindless, Gail Simone devotee or something. That’s not helpful. But then those bloggers aren’t really trying to be helpful, are they?

Dominik B. over at The Independent Comics Site hasn’t been reading any Wonder Woman comics, but he sure doesn’t like the character. He casts all Wonder Woman fans as immature dorks who just want to sleep with a cartoon character. And Wonder Woman, in Dominik’s world, is some kind of wide-eyed innocent who talks “her usual hubbub about how this world is odd and hers is not” and complains about “how everything dominated by a man sucks.” And she apparently does this “in every panel she appears in,” all the while “going on about how she’s the epitome of a woman.” I’d refute all this except that it doesn’t need refuting because Dominik pulled it all out of his butt. None of it even remotely describes Wonder Woman as she’s currently written. He hates the character not because he’s frustrated with something he’s read, but because he doesn’t like this made-up idea he has about who she is.

It’s the laziest kind of writing. He asks the question, “How do we fix this mess?” then admits that he doesn’t know and offers that as proof that it’s too messed up to fix. He thinks that maybe “the guys who are responsible for Power Girl’s most recent origin” (he apparently doesn’t know their names and can’t be bothered to look them up) might be able to help, but then decides that “on second thought, that might not be the best idea, after all. I don’t really know why, but it just strikes me as something that would not work.” Nice thinking there, Dominik.

Topless Robot’s “10 Reasons No One Cares About Wonder Woman” has been getting a lot more attention, mostly because it’s Topless Robot and is – as usual – very funny. And writer Alicia Ashby has obviously read plenty of Wonder Woman before diving into the discussion. She's at least thought this through.

Most of her list is really subjective though. She doesn’t like the lasso, the invisible plane, or how whacked out the Golden Age stories were. Personally, I dig all that stuff, but I can certainly understand if it’s not your thing.

Reason number nine (there are no great Wonder Woman stories) made me pause, but I think she’s wrong there too. I’d offer Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia as one example. Wonder Woman #170 (where she spends the day being interviewed by Lois Lane) is another. I wish I could remember issue numbers for the stories about how Wonder Woman has inspired regular women to stand up for themselves. Those may not be as immediately recognizable as The Dark Knight Returns, but what is?

I really disagree with her number one reason: we already have Superman. Ashby says that Wonder Woman’s “modern overhauls have just made her powers and personality more like Superman’s,” but that’s not true at all. If anything, Rucka’s time writing Wonder Woman and Superman just before Infinite Crisis and Kurt Busiek’s current Trinity series highlight exactly how different Wonder Woman and Superman’s personalities really are. Superman is all truth and justice and apple pie. Wonder Woman has much more of an edge to her.

And saying that the two are equal in their powers is just ridiculous. They’re both super strong, and that’s where the similarity ends. Maybe Wonder Woman can still fly, but if she can, it’s being deemphasized. I admit that having her fly was a bad idea, but I don’t see a whole lot of that out of her any more.

I also disagree with Ashby’s premise behind the article. She says that because the monthly Wonder Woman book is good right now, and because Wonder Woman appears in Trinity, and because there’s an animated, direct-to-DVD movie coming out, that there ought to be this huge Wonder Woman frenzy going on like there was for Superman and Batman before Superman Returns and The Dark Knight. And since there’s not, it must mean that people just don’t like the character.

Really, though? I’m going to discount the quality of the comic and a co-starring appearance in Trinity as reasons people ought to be excited about Wonder Woman. Superman’s also in Trinity and has James Robinson writing his comic, but there’s no extraordinary mainstream craving for his merchandise either.

And are we really supposed to believe that an animated direct-to-DVD movie is supposed to generate the same kind of excitement as Superman Returns and The Dark Knight? Let’s get a major, live-action Wonder Woman feature coming to theaters and then see if nobody cares. I don’t know, maybe they won’t. But until we have that for comparison, it’s not even apples and oranges. It’s more like apples and raisins.

The Wonder Woman illustration is at the top is by Scott Hepburn.


Anonymous said...

I hate to break it to you, but the article was satirical... Dom had posted an earlier article about Aquaman, and I requested that he write something in a similar vein about Wonder Woman.

It was all in good fun!

Michael May said...

That's cool. I couldn't tell it was satire from just reading it, but I didn't exactly go digging for more information either.

Anonymous said...

This guy just doesn't know when to quit. Seriously. First he bashes WW, satire or not, and now he bashes her movie too:


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