Friday, April 27, 2007

Wonder Woman

OK Amazons Attack just came out – and Thor just pointed out DC is starting to become very exclusive – you need to know the history before jumping in. So lets look back and to hell with my deadlines.

I admit… I started reading Wonder Woman last year because of guilt. I was reading Batman and Superman and I know them as much as I could predict the behavior of some of my friends. Wonder Woman was just there as extra muscle. Well, girls gotta stick together so I started reading from the very beginning – well at least as far as the reboot.

George Perez’s retelling of the Amazons’ and Wonder Woman’s origin was incredibly… “anti-men” (as some rabid feminists are called). The Amazons were spirits who died violently in the hands of men and were given new life by the Greek gods. The Amazons were created to set an example of peaceful existence for men (who were of course violent and dumb and selfish). In the end, the Amazons failed because the men led by Hercules tortured, raped, enslaved, and violently murdered most of the Amazons. Queen Hippolyta herself was raped by Hercules! The gods freed them of course but note that the Amazons' arm bands were actually the shackles that they wore when they were enslaved. The Amazons then retreated to Themyscira and the gods helped conceal it from the cruelty of the world of men. I mean who would blame them for banning men from the island! It was after this that Hippolyta wanted a kid so bad because when she was murdered in her past life by a man she was pregnant. The soul of that baby was still hanging out in limbo and was pulled out and placed in the clay sculpture that Hippolyta made thus Diana was born. (Pro-choice women would interpret this pro-life propaganda – fetuses have souls! No to abortion! But then again these souls could still be recycled into superheroes...)

And as the story goes - Diana went to man’s world to do superhero stuff and because her “suit” was similar to the American flag helped in her being accepted in the USA as a new superhero. Perez’ Diana had no secret identity, she needed to learn English, and fought gods and monsters. I missed some of what happened in between but in Phil Jimenez’s run, Diana became a diplomat and an advocate for the women becoming more self-reliant. Greg Rucka ran with this idea and he installed Diana as the Ambassador of Themyscira, she wrote a book on Themysciran or Amazonian way of life, she attended UN conferences and White House events. She became and inspiration to abused women all over the world, she was called an pagan and a bad influence by Christians, and a zealot of peace by fans – while fighting gods and monsters and violent, dumb, and selfish men.

From her own series and the JLA Wonder Woman centric arches - Diana was a serious and uncompromising person. Everything was black and white because of her lasso – she could not accept anything other than the absolute truth. She was just asking for trouble. What if there were two opposing truths? What if truth was based on perception and context? In JLA’s A League of One, Diana knocked out ALL of the members because it was foretold that in battling a dragon the JLA will all die – that was the truth according to the Themysciran oracle. In Golden Perfect, the lasso breaks because there was no objective truth and Diana breaks down too.

I have no idea how she became friends with Batman – with Superman it was obvious, boy scout and all but Batman? That big yet endearing sneaky paranoid bully?! But maybe they have more in common than with Supes. Anyway, Flash never wanted to hang out with Diana because she was too righteous and preachy. And Wonder Woman punching Conner Kent when she caught him and Cassie kissing – priceless!

Her decision to kill Maxwell Lord – well, truth is there was no other way to stop him even if killing is wrong. She didn't agonize about the decision - she had begun to understand that there are gradations of gray between black and white. Bruce and Clark couldn’t handle the truth. (Stupid men!) After the crisis, after the Amazons had to leave this dimension or be attacked by the USA, Diana decided to get a secret identity like her two best buds. Batman set it up and Superman told her to wear glasses because it works. But to the world of men, she was still a murderer.

Allan Heinberg’s unfinished run was very disappointing but he established that one year after the crisis, Diana was unsure of herself – she was not an ambassador, not an advocate, and NOT Wonder Woman. Donna is the new Wonder Woman. (But damn Heinberg he didn’t finish telling the story!) Diana stumbled around, she could not connect with anybody.

The US just had to persecute Wonder Woman for murdering a government agent and this was tackled in Manhunter where Kate Spencer could have won the case by showing the unedited video of Wonder Woman killing Maxwell Lord because he was controlling Superman. True to her selflessness, Diana decided not to enter the video as evidence because people will lose faith in Superman.

Now Jodi Picoult’s run – let’s forget that Heinberg happened – Diana still had the secret identity thing, the “who am I now” angst, and Wonder Woman was high on America’s most wanted but in spite of it all she had a sense of humor! (Diana was only written this way in Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey when Dinah sparred with Diana - who was wearing a white tee and jeans – oops girly stuff spilling out.) For the first time reading Wonder Woman was entertaining as opposed to the grim-and-determined-feel of all that was written before. And there was sexual tension between her and Nemesis! In three installments she has made the post-crisis Diana into a character that reflected the changes brought about by all that happened before. But she was captured by the US government and imprisoned and to show that not all men are violent, dumb, and selfish- Nemesis broke her out of jail (because I think he’s in love!).

Anyway, Circe seemed to have orchestrated the whole thing and upon resurrecting Diana’s mother (who valiantly died in Worlds at War when she was with the JSA as Wonder Woman – oh, go read it if you find it confusing!), the witch (literally) told Hippolyta that Diana was being held prisoner by that damned macho US government. So we come to Amazons attacking Washington DC. They killed the first man and boy they saw and blew up Capitol. Mustering up the Amazons to attack the US was no big leap after their history with the world of men – plus imprison their Princess and you’ve got a war. The thing is Wonder Woman #8 and Will Pfiefer’s Amazons Attack #1 almost told the same story (yes, Thor, I read it again and I agree with you this time, di nga nag-usap mga writers). Its still wait-and-see but it looks promising with Cassie and Supergirl fighting alongside the Amazons and Batman with a sword - I am not hard to please – as you all know I like X-men….

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