As is well documented, I’m still a relative neophyte when it comes to the comic scene. There is one character, though, who I’ve been a fan of and followed since I was a small child: Wonder Woman. Not only was the fact that there was a female (!) fighting alongside Batman and Superman mind blowing to me at the time, the fact that she was connected to Greek mythology AND focused on using her powers in a more cerebral and less violent way than was traditional for superheroes at the time, and I was hooked. There was no LCS near me then, but our local library did have two Wonder Woman trades that I happily checked out at least every other month to re-read. To this day, in spite of the countless reboots and character change, re-imaginings and outright abuses Diana has suffered, she has always managed to climb back up and reclaim her place at the head of the DC pantheon, and in my own heart.
For this article Minhquan Nguyen (MQ) and I (Hawk) will be sharing our thoughts on the character, her history and her place in the DCnU. Speaking of all that history MQ…what has your personal experience with the Wonder Woman character been like, and what is your favorite incarnation of her?
Well, Hawk, I consider myself just as much a neophyte as you. For a good long chunk of my life, I read mostly anything popular enough to be collected into a trade and sold in bookstores, and there weren’t nearly as many of those back then as there are now. One title that always managed to make it into my hands was Grant Morrison’s JLA, which to this date I still think of as the most iconic version of the League. And of course, included among this godlike pantheon of heroes was its sole (for a good long time) lady, Wonder Woman. Even when I was barely more than a kid, and my primary fascination with her mostly involved her intriguingly revealing costume, this distinction wasn’t lost on me.
But after reading Darwyn Cooke’s portrayal of her in The New Frontier, I developed a wholly new, dare I say, evolved idea of her as a character and icon. Amidst the gamut of fictional princesses whose existence seems to depend on a disturbing amount of gauzy fabrics and pastel hues, here is a princess who boasts the boldest of primary colors, who handles a sword like an extension of her arm, who not only dismisses villains but uplifts their victims, and who has no qualm about standing up to Superman—indeed, in the book her stature is such that she stands over him, truly larger than life. So it was with great empathy and enthusiasm when I read Jimmy Olsen’s vision of her: “I see it all. The power, the beauty…the wonder.”
I defy any other female character in comics to live up to that tagline. Can you think of any, Brit?
I can’t think of any female characters that come close to her, so absolutely not. The only character I think has a shot at MAYBE someday APPROACHING the level of Wonder Woman is Kate Kane’s Batwoman, but seeing as the official #1 hasn’t even launched yet, there is a long way to go before that can even be discussed. I could see an argument maybe being made for Barbara Gordon as a female icon, both as Batgirl then later as Oracle (…and now, I guess, as Batgirl again), but again, as cool as Barbara has been, she has neither the history nor the symbolic significance that Diana has always embodied.
I LOVE Morrison’s JLA! His take on Wonder Woman specifically isn’t my very favorite, but it did no harm, and he certainly did *the* best job meshing her (and the rest of the cast) together into a cohesive unit. I’ve been trying to think of my own favorite take on her, and I can’t decide–it’s either Greg Rucka (who captured the empathic, beautiful side of her very well) or Gail Simone (who made Diana very much the warrior, without losing that essential love and compassion that the character embodies.)
Now, here’s my question to you: Wonder Woman wasn’t the first female character in comics, but she was (is) certainly the most enduring. What do you think it is about her that has kept her around and in the public consciousness, even when (like now) her book isn’t selling particularly well?
Filed under: DC Comics | Tagged: DC reboot, Gail Simone, Greg Rucka, Weekly Comic Book Review, Wonder Woman | 5 Comments »