Monday, 26 March 2012

On Wonder Woman #7

      
Of all of the flak fired up to obscure the mean-spirited, thick-headed sexism of Brian Azzarello's script for Wonder Woman #7, the most stubbornly effective has been the claim that his recasting of DC's Amazons is true to the warrior women's mythic roots. Resorting to such an argument has a particular appeal to fanboys, of course, because it calls upon the sacred pseudo-objective principles of continuity, which justify the side-stepping of any reasoned ethical debate in the name of fictional precedent. As such, Azzarello's decision to portray the Amazons as sexual predators who murder their partners, and who would have slaughtered their male offspring too if a kindly male god hadn't taken the be-testicled babies off of their hands, can be excused simply by saying Them Greeks Said That's What Them Amazons Did A Long, Long Time Ago. Fanboys who'd never expect the details of the origins of the Fantastic Four in 1961 to be taken literally today have no problem, it seems, in falling back upon the suddenly sacred canon of long-dead myth, and using it to beat off the pernicious attacks of those persistently joy-killing pedants of the politically correct too.

Oh, those silly, and often considerably worse than just silly, flakkers.

Look fan-boys! Naked women having sex with strangers, some of whom aren't even handsome!
      
There'd be no point in denying that the Amazons weren't always portrayed as the threatening, inferior Other in the myths which survive from Bronze Age Greece, just as it'd be daft to push the idea that later Greek historiography failed to show the Amazons some measure of respect. Where their fighting power is accentuated in myth, it's never to make the point that the free-spirited and war-like Amazons were an admirable nation. Whenever the Amazons encounter the Bronze Age heroes, they're always defeated, leaving the respect that's granted to their skill with the bow and as horsewomen functioning in the same way as any villain's fighting prowess does; it builds up the threat of the antagonist in order to make the protagonist's victory all the sweeter. As Phyllis Chesler wrote; "Amazons are a universal male nightmare, exorcised by ridicule or disbelief", and that certainly describes the Amazon's part in these myths. They were an exceptionally bad lot, an example of unnatural foreign ways which had resulted in a matriarchal culture that was inferior in every fundamental fashion to the self-image of the men of Hellas. In that, the mythic Amazons represented the threat of contamination posed by women who refuse to do what they're told. Even when we come across pseudo-historical reports of the Amazons from later periods which don't take the despicable nature of their culture entirely for granted, such as in Herodotus, there's no suggestion that their freedoms should be extended to the women of Greece.

But after you've been thrilled, lad-fans, do feel reassured that those blokes lucky enough to be baby-making with the Amazons suffer for their brief pleasure. Strong, sexually independent women are bad for you, you know, even if they make you feel strangely tingly too.
       
And that, of course, is the whole point of why the "myths and legends" defence of Azzarello's work on Wonder Woman is so phenomenally ill-judged. Not only are there a host of ancient takes on who the Amazons were and how they behaved, meaning that "continuity" is a far more problematical business than the flakkers assume, but the Amazons were a creation of a profoundly sexist culture. To take William Moulton Marston's benevolent, humane take on them and replace it with patriarchal propaganda informed by the overwhelming bigotry of the distant past is to make an exceptionally forceful, and presumably deliberate, sexist statement about women's rights today. Azzarello's Amazons are evil. Beautiful and remorseless seducers, they use their phenomenal beauty to trick poor defenceless men into impregnating them before not just murdering their lovers, but, in the words of Wonder Woman #7's script, draining the lives from them. (I'm not sure what that means, but we have to credit Azzarello as a writer who makes his choices on the page deliberately, and so it must indicate something other than simply "death".) In this, Azarello actually makes the Amazons worse than those of the Bronze Age myths, and far far more despicable than the reports of the later histories.

It's fascinating how Azzarello's script plays to both male fantasies and fears. The Amazons are super-powerful killers, but they don't capture and rape their poor helpless and yet horny prey. Instead, they seduce, they prance about naked, they row without any clothes out to ships in iceberg-filled waters rather than .... undressing when they're there!!! This makes no sense unless it's designed to make the Amazons even more evil than their murderous behaviour will prove. They're the fearsome figure of the woman who traps a man through sexual attraction outside of a stable relationship, they're the lovers who'll kill your bunnies and then you too. (Heavens only knows how Paradise Island avoided being the STD capital of the DCU. Magic I suppose, the same magic which can't be used to produce babies in any way that doesn't involve such exploitation movie sexism.)
      
To my knowledge, there are three dominant portrayals in ancient myth and history of the Amazons mating habits; they visited their male neighbours once a year for procreation; they mated with the male slaves they've captured during their endless wars against mankind once or twice a year; they created a new society with the men of Sythia and formed families in which the Amazon women retained their previous freedoms. Astonishing as it sounds, Azzarello has either invented a new and yet-more derogatory spin on the Amazons, or he's opted for the most woman-hating ancient take on the myth that he could find. Either way, it's a despicably regressive business, and those who support Azzarello because of his fealty to ancient sources ought to know that they're talking piffle. It would be hard to imagine that anyone would want to take the myths of Ancient Greece and use them to make a baby-killing race of women even more despicable, but Azzarello's managed the feat, merging the traditional blokish fear of sexually active and independent women together in a toxic mix of sexism and tacky fan-boy thrilling sex scenes.

Replacing Paradise Island and its community of female artists, warriors and scientists is a forge of kindly male artists who would've been slain at birth if not for those beastly women. The only people who display tenderness in Wonder Woman #7 are the men.
        
When modern-era experts argue over the degree of anti-female prejudice in any of the periods and locales associated with Ancient Greece, the debate's concerned not with the possible existence of oppression, but with its degree. Nobody suggests that any of the cultures we associate with the catch-all term "Ancient Greece" bore any measure of what we'd today recognise as equality. In whatever class a woman found herself in, her freedom to participate in decision making and the broader affairs of society was always markedly inferior to those of the males who shared a similar social position. (Sarah B. Pomeroy study of classical antiquity's women is tellingly called "Goddesses, Whores, Wives & Slaves".) The women of Sparta, for example, may have lived lives which were in terms of power more expansive and fulfilling than those of Athens, but neither ever inhabited worlds which anyone but a standard-issue M.C.P. would regard as fair and equal, or anything close to it. The visitor to Athens during its supposed height of the 5th century BC would find a deeply patriarchal culture which, in its treatment of women, was far, far closer to that of a fundamentalist Islamic nation today than one that's recognisably Western in the modern sense. And yet Azzarello has chosen to implant the ideology of that women-loathing culture into Wonder Woman. DC Comics has been undermining the essential feminist virtues, the fundamental decent-heartedness, of its Amazons for years now, but Azzarello has taken that drift towards gender bigotry and left no-one, beyond the die-hard denialists, in confusion about where DC stands on the issue of women's rights. After all, Wonder Woman is the most famous super-heroine of them all. Whatever might be achieved in the pages of, for example, Batgirl and Batwoman can't hope to publicly counter-balance the unpleasantness that Azzarello has chosen to pump into the pages of Diana's own book.

Who are the heroes of Wonder Women #7? The caring community of male brothers saved from the Amazons by the god Hephaestus. Who are the villains? The Amazons, lock, stock and barrel, with the sole exception of a single panel showing a grieving Amazon mother having her male baby removed from her at birth. (She's just a hypocrite, of course, weeping when the culture she chooses to inhabit treats her just as it does her fellow man-slaughtering sisters.)

Wonder Woman's comrades and allies on the trip to Hell: a gang of blokes!!! Diana is surrounded by a small army of fantastic men, leaving the reader to wonder why Azzarello couldn't add even one female fighter to the team. But - oh, no - this isn't a sexist text, and you'd be a fool and a peddler of political correctness if you argued that it was.
        
Gloria Steinem once wrote: "Wonder Woman's family of Amazons on Paradise Island, her band of college girls in America, and her efforts to save individual women are all welcome examples of women working together and caring about each other's welfare. The idea of such cooperation may not seem particularly revolutionary to the male reader. Men are routinely depicted as working well together, but women know how rare and therefore exhilarating the idea of sisterhood is. Wonder Woman's mother, Queen Hippolyte, offers yet another welcome example to young girls in search of a strong identity. Queen Hippolyte founds nations, wages war to protect Paradise Island, and sends her daughter off to fight the forces of evil in the world ... Wonder Woman symbolises many of the values of the women's culture that feminists are now trying to introduce into the mainstream: strength and self-reliance for women, sisterhood and mutual support among women, peacefulness and esteem for human life: a diminishing both of "masculine" aggression and of the belief that violence is the only way of solving conflicts."

Well, now the Amazons kill their lovers, and they would be killing their male babies too if a kindly male god hadn't saved them from their own vileness. And, of course, it's fine, because the Amazons were baddies in those centuries-old myths from long-dead, repulsively repressive cultures.

I have no doubt that both Marston and Steinem's hearts would be broken by Brian Azzarello's Wonder Woman #7. As daft and perhaps even contemptible as it will sound to the cynics and the flakkers, the sexists and the apathy-mongers, mine feels similarly shattered too.

        
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96 comments:

  1. Well put.

    You made me realize this issue was even worse than I thought at first.

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    1. Hello JG:- It's the poisonous gift which just keeps giving, isn't it? No matter how long you stare at it, new horrors emerge. I hadn't thought to notice how absurd and offensive the cheap porn of the scene with the canoes full of naked Amazonian women was until the piece was always up, for example.

      Thanks for the kind words. They're much appreciated.

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  2. Azzarello's starting to make a habit of messing around with and destroying perfectly good characters and series.

    Up next... Rorschach the ultra-violent sado-masochist! Yay!

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    1. Hello - and it cheers me up to type this - oh-em-off-gee:- just when I thought I couldn't get more grumbly, the thought of Before Watchman arrives. I can't imagine ever wanting to read another book by BA after this, and the prospect of Rorschach the ultra-violent sadomasochist isn't changing that one iota ....

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  3. What was wrong with Perez's take on WW? Why fix what wasn't broken? I know there were some criticisms that Perez's Diana was in some ways too innocent to function (Mindy Mayer and Barbara Minerva lied to her, and she seemed almost unable to grasp the concept that another woman could lie), but it was just so much better than this ...

    You mention that Marston would be devastated by this new revelation -- are there no editors at DC? Did no one look at this and ask what, if anything, it brought to the table of the greater mythos of Wonder Woman?

    I honestly can't be sure if anyone DID edit this, despite whatever the book might list as an editor.

    Finally, do you really think Azzarello thinks his "it's totally backed by the myths" excuse is even intentional? I only ask because, if we're dragging any kind of historial realism into things, doesn't that destroy the entire idea behind the larger-than-life concept of superheroes?

    I wonder if we'll learn later that Azzarello is a victim of editorial just like McDuffie was with the pre-new 52 Justice League? Not that it excuses the awful stories, it just shifts the crosshairs of blame slightly :)

    Take it and run

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    1. Hello Earl:- I always thought that there were elements of the new Wonder Woman that were admirable, if not enjoyable. The storytelling came across as pretty thin to me, and Diana's personality is a grim, humourless affectation, macho-tough and difficult to empathise with. But what we have now - whether a later issue shows it in a different light or not - is a single issue which will always be out there undermining all the feminist principles which the wise'n'wacky ol'Marston invested into her.

      I totally agree that the Perez WW was far superior to this as far as its world building and characterisation was concerned.

      I have no idea why any corporation would want this book out there. I don't mean by that that corporate interest should be the way story's are judged; I just mean I'm baffled that DC decided to frame the tale of its premiere super-woman in this way. The sexism, the stupidity - oh, those naked rowing seductive Amazons - the total absence of female characters beyond the suddenly culture-less Diana; unless DC are simply set on playing to the least discriminating aspects of the 12 year-old boys market and nothing else, then I'm lost as to why this book should exist.

      But more than that, I'm appalled. Of all the super-heroes of the Golden Age, it was Wonder Woman who was created for a specific moral purpose. DC is the steward of that character and THIS is what they do with it? Shameful, it's just shameful. I know we're not allowed to use the word anymore, I know that the very idea of shame is irrelevant in the hyper-real worlds of 2012. But: shame on them.

      I have no idea - again - what those who believe that the book is supported by mythic "truth" are thinking of. Myth is the expression of a culture's beliefs. To take the myths of historically, fundamentally sexist cultures and apply them to a feminist character is to effectively subscribe to the cultural values encoded in the beliefs. Myths don't appear out of the blue, they don't float free of moral values, they're not there to be drawn upon without thinking of the ideological implications of what's being done. Shall we have Captain America informed by the racist myths of the Frontier, or Captain Britain by the imperialist bigotry of the UK's past? Or is it just the anti-female myths of the past which we can throw around in the way BA and DC have in Wonder Woman?

      I look forward to discovering why it was that Wonder Woman's book became transformed into everything that Wonder Woman shouldn't be. But I'll be amazed if it makes the slightest difference to how I feel. As you say, it just shifts those crosshairs.

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    2. Unfortunately Perez's take on WW has lead us to this. The problem with almost all of Post-Crisis WW is that she's been so distanced from her humanity and other people that it has made it hard to like Diana in some cases. She often times has come off as cold or distant when it wasn't the intention of the writer. DC tried to fix that with the badly written Circe creating Diana Prince, but.. it really failed to capture readers. I think it was a tad too little, too late. It has also lead to Diana and the Amazons becoming vastly more violent as Perez established her as more Warrior than peaceful ambassador. It's see-sawed back and forth and well.. with him not really creating a solid rogue's gallery for WW, it's also caused problems.
      I am all for restarting WW from her beginnings and start fresh without the Perez run. Start WW in the modern DCU fighting modern DCU rogue's of her own (Notice WW is one of the FEW new 52 characters NOT to get a new villain? I mean unless you count HERA goddess of WOMEN now being her villain, but other than that.. She's still facing her GODS and GREEK MYTHOLOGY just like Perez's run). They should re-establish the Diana Prince identity (but make it new and modern maybe with her in the Peace corps or idk, SOMETHING) and bring back Steve Trevor as a love interest. WW is one of the few DC characters not to have a solid love interest and because of that we get all the rumors she's a lesbian (for fanboy appeal of course) and it distances her from her humanity even MORE.

      I just think DC has no clue how to handle Diana and Perez's and Azzarello's run both show that. Remember Perez's run took the Amazon's from being a race of women with superior magic and technology to being a race of warriors with some philosophers and poets thrown in for good measure (in other words, women can't do the maths and sciences). It's also lead the Amazons to regular slaughterfest we've seen.

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    3. Hello Jan Arrah:- That's a passionate and informed take on the whole matter and I think I'd be insulting you if I didn't take some time to think things through. I'll certainly need to let that peculate through my early morning brain. Thank you.

      A few points; the Perez take on Wonder Woman isn't my favourite, and I found that my enthusiasm wore off even before the Invasion crossover, but I did admire it, and I think that its heart as well as its brain was in a good place. However, I do share your belief that Paradise Island out to be a place of super-science as well as Bronze Age weapons; the juxtaposition between the two is fascinating. (I preferred the version of Asgard a la Kirby which presented the Gods as an ancient culture which possessed advanced technology as well as vast drinking halls.)

      I think DC is wary of re-establishing the classic Wonder Woman/Steve Trevor relationship. I can understand why. It would be seen by many as a retrogressive move, it would be difficult to sell, and publishers and creators alike struggle to find ways of making long-term relationships work. It's not that I've sympathy for that problem; I'm unsure that most comics writers want to show stable happy adult relationships. A few more would be welcome. In the end, my position on that particular love affair is that it all depends on how it paid off. There are few writers at the moment I'd trust to do that, but it'd be great to see something other than romantic angst and impermanence on occasion.

      I feel the same about the Diana Prince identity, and the super-villain question. In truth, I think that Wonder Woman is such a rich fantasy character that she operate in any number of contexts. I myself would love to see a WW book aimed at young girls, full of magic and humour and principle. I'd also loved to see the fantasy roots of the character feature in a book which aimed itself at an older audience which could happily enjoy something along the lines of a Neil Gaiman/Charles Vess Diana.

      I'm still letting your ideas sift down, but one thing you have made me think of is that Wonder Woman is probably too splendid a character to be boiled down to such a fierce reductionist vision as the current book displays. And if that's what the Rump of the market demands, then perhaps we can see the world's most famous super-heroine featuring in other forms, in other formats, in different ways for different audiences.

      She's a character who could flourish in such a situation, and she's a character who deserves it too.

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  4. I mentioned this over on our blog (where Kelly has written a piece), but this is fairly common in fiction. The "other" is always presented as monolithic, with perhaps one exception (in this case, Diana). Usually this is to show how racist/sexist/stupid the dominant culture is ("If that black guy rapes a white woman, ALL black people are evil!"), but not always, and in this case, it seems like Azzarello, for simplicity's sake, has presented the Amazons as absolutely of one mind about this stupid plan. Even the Amish aren't as unified! Will there be a few Amazons, maybe the younger ones who haven't been so indoctrinated yet, who align with Diana? Let's hope, because I don't know how Azzarello can work himself out of the mess he's created.

    Plus, I'm curious how Amazon society is presented. They trade for weapons? Haven't they figured out to make them themselves? They don't live in the Stone Age, after all. Sheesh. Iron-working would seem to be something they could do rather handily, as they appear now to be a society completed devoted to warfare. No wonder they lose all the time, throwing sharp sticks at people armed with machine guns!

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    1. Hello Greg:- I read Kelly's piece and found much to respect in it. I also found much to roll my eyes about in the comments. Good to see - as I would of course expect - that she's giving as she gets. Lots of flakkers on show there, making exactly the points I've tried to take on in the above. Folks who haven't already read it would undoubtedly enjoy Kelly's piece at http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2012/03/26/she-has-no-head-is-the-destruction-of-the-amazons-the-destruction-of-feminism-in-dc-comics/

      Azzarello's intentions are as clear as mud to me, but I know what he's achieved. I shan't be so entirely self-involved as to repeat points I made in the above, but I will certainly take the chance to riff around your point about the ridiculous way in which Amazonian culture is portrayed here. I've not read the past few issues of the book; too thin, too predicable, too humourless, too lacking in positive emotions for my taste. I was therefore wondering whether the daftness on show in #7 had somehow been previously explained away. I agree with you, how does that society possibly function? It's obviously a dictatorial state, but is it one which insists on ways of behaving which are ludicrous? Why are all those women naked in that canoe, for example? If you show a people behaving in a particular way in a comic, you have to make sure that you've presented a convincing context for it. Otherwise it all seems as if the material's being made up on the spot. (Or in this case, thrown in as part of the New 52 DOC-TRINE OF SHOCK!!!)

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  5. Thanks Colin, after reading a lot of comment on other blogs & forums, I was starting to question myself for not liking WW#7 and for disliking this new harsh take on the amazons, I was shy to comment more on the issue in other blog's comments.

    Personally I find the new interpretation of the amazons myth easy. I find it less interesting when a reinterpretation of a myth is just a more extreme version. It more interesting when a interpretation consider who created the original myth and then tell us why and how reality was different from the old stories. (naturally I mean the reality in the fiction). This is why I liked the former version where the amazons were actually different from their original myth.

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    1. Hello Cedric:- I know exactly what you mean about coming face to face with a considerable consensus such as that which still holds for Wonder Woman. In fact, one reason for my having this blog is so I don't have to feel that I'm invading other people's agreements. If folks care to pop in here for what might be a different point of view, then that's their choice. But I don't go elsewhere, I don't pimp for readers beyond a Tweet on occasion, I don't respond even when I'm mentioned in less than flattering terms elsewhere, and I've no problem with other folks saying as they like elsewhere. But here, I don't have to worry about anyone else. All I need worry about is trying to be as fair and accurate as I can. It's a relief, I can tell you. And where the majority of the New 52 is concerned, I have no interest in the Emperor's new clothes when I can clearly see the Emperor's mucky behind.

      I agree with your point about the social construction of myth, or any kind of narrative for that matter. The key issue isn't what was said about the Amazons way back when, and, despite what flakkers are saying elsewhere, it wasn't ever an unified, consistent of story defining the Amazons as man-killing'n'raping monsters. The key thing is, as you say, the values which were being discussed. And I too loved the DC Amazons when they were a deliberate challenge to the sexism of those myths.

      These are dangerous times where women's rights are concerned. The last thing we need is DC turning Wonder Woman's people from feminist icons into an expression of the purest sexism. These are times when DC ought to be taking a moral lead and presenting Diana in the spirit of the mission which Marston intended her for.

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  6. Interesting piece. I don't have much to say other than you hit the nail on the head.
    Also, you may be interested in reading Kelly Thompson's take on it at CBR if someone hasn't beat me to the punch:
    http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2012/03/26/she-has-no-head-is-the-destruction-of-the-amazons-the-destruction-of-feminism-in-dc-comics/

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    1. Hello Joe:- I'm pleased to see the value of Kelly Thompson's piece reinforced again. If folks haven't read it, READ IT!!!

      :)

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  7. I hope you can still hear the satisfying sound of that rip. With the roll you're on this weather, it's only a matter of time before Disney/Warner Funny Books Ltd hire a hitman 'Raising Arizona'-style to take you out. In a perverse way, I'm looking forward to reading about you dry retching over 'Before Watchmen'. You suffer for us.

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    1. Hello Alfie:- I hoping the satisfaction of the rip will eventually overtake and overwhelm the sense of despair provoked by the comic.

      Luckily for my health, no-one cares what I write about anything. And Before Watchman might end up being going, even as it will always remain an ethical black hole. I'm committed to reviewing the comics elsewhere, so I suppose there may be the sound of unpleasant reactions reaching the internet ...

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  8. Man, that is rough. How damn hard can it be for them to look at the source material and realize there's enough angst, drama, and sexism already, without having to add any more? WW's original origin is perfect, in that it gets across her message and concept of her character perfectly- maybe rivaled only by Spiderman for giving her an ethos, moral code, and background that perfectly explains her actions.

    Heck, I even though Simone's Amazons were a little dark, though to be fair I've only read The Circle- but at least these were still an honorable and learned people, with only a few bad apples ruining everything for everyone else. I honestly still don't quite "get" that story, I'd love to know your analysis of it.

    But it is too bad about this WW- I'd heard generally positive things about this take so far- CA used it as an example of a female lead who wasn't portrayed as a sex object, for example. I've always been ambivalent about Azzarello's misogyny- in his pulp/crime thrillers, is he just playing with the tropes embedded in the genre? Or is he playing them straight? I was dissapointed in Harley's minimal role in his Joker, though in general I thought it was a pretty compelling, and disturbing take - but framing it through the eyes of an up-and-coming criminal losing his own humanity was a very effective device.

    I'll still admit to being excited by some of the Before Watchmen books- I see Moore's POV, but I also feel that there's no reason his books alone should be exempt from people riffing on them the way he has on so many others.
    I'm also sensitive to the ways characters can be derailed. The completely unnecessary moment in the movie where Rorschach splits the child-killer's head with the meat cleaver, rather than simply leaving him to burn, struck me as very out-of-character. Rorschach is brutal, sure, but he's brutal out of (what he sees as) necessity, not sadism.

    Sorry, got sidetracked. But I share your frustration in how difficult it seems to be for creators to simply stick with something that works- though that does seem to be a general trend with the n52, I guess.

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    1. Hello Historyman:- It's as if DC had decided to remove everything from Wonder Woman except the title and the be-knickered costume. Yep, as you say, how hard could it be?

      I take your point about Ms Simone's Wonder Woman. I thinkn it's unavoidable that a modern-era take on the character will contain more than just an idealised Amazon race. Sadly, what BA's done in Wonder Woman is actually attack the foundations of Wonder Woman at the root, so that instead of adding nuance, he's wiped off the board the morality which the character was created to embody.

      I've had problems with the reboot, although I know that lots of folks haven't. I won't repeat what I've said on that in the above. But this issue was the first which managed to make me feel throughly uncomfortable rather than simply apathetic.

      If I may put forward what I believe Moore's argument is. He's not saying that other folks shouldn't play with his characters while he riffs on everyone else's. He's offended because DC promised to return the property to him. No-one expected graphic novels to stay in print for long in the mid-80s, and Watchman was to revert to Moore and Gibbons once the tpb fell out of print. It never did, and DC choose to stay with the letter of the law rather than the spirit of it.

      I share your response to the movie. For all the good intentions of all involved, it was a poor piece of work after the first 10 minutes or so. In particular, it was incredibly dull ...

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    2. Yeah, that is a very good point about Moore. DC is violating the spirit of the contract - of course, that's been a pretty regular occurrence in the comics, but less and less as time goes on and readers start to become more ethically aware, which makes DC's continued exploitation feel even more egregious than it would have 40 years ago. I'd expect Moore would have no problem with people riffing on his characters once he's dead and they're in public domain.* Assuming he ever dies... personally, I believe he'll outlive all of us, as well as the heat-death of the universe, as some sort of giant snake eating its own beard.

      Of course, I completely understand DC's viewpoint - WM is one of their biggest sellers ever, so they'd be fools to not take as much advantage of it as possible! Ethical fools, but fools all the same.

      My principal critique of the movie was the obviousness of the whole thing. The musical choices, the decision to make their punches and kicks superpowered, the telegraphing of Ozy's villainy waaaay early on, it was the polar opposite of subtle. And it didn't give people who had watched it but not read the book a real sense of the depth and power of the discoveries and revelations, like Dr. Man's about Sally's parentage. Everybody praises the title sequence, and maybe it was the best thing about the movie, but did we really need to see two dead women with "LESBO SLUTS" written on the wall, especially in the first 10 minutes? I might have checked out right there if I were going in cold. If I recall correctly, that scene only appeared in writing in "Under the Cowl", not actually in-panel, which I feel is much more effective, forcing you to imagine it, rather than just see it garishly and exploitatively laid out onscreen.

      As a way to transition back into the topic at hand, via Moore and gender roles – I apologize if you’ve already seen it: http://www.shortpacked.com/2012/comic/book-13/09-the-secondish-coming/manila/

      * the continued delaying of putting works into the public domain (the Mickey Mouse law) is a whole other issue which I feel strongly about, but we need not get into that here.

      Cont’d

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    3. Cont’d

      Yeah, I mean, I don't think Marston made all the Amazons, or their society, perfect either - but he put them squarely in a role as an idealized, or aspirational society. I think that's maybe closer to the mark than "empowered" - that word has a lot of baggage, especially since it sounds like we're just talking about "women with power" - as one commenter on Thompson's article completely missed the point (paraphrasing), "The Joker's very empowered, he’s a chaotic murderer… the Amazons are empowered, they’re not under the thumb of any man”

      The value of the Amazons, as they were originally conceived by Marston, is not that they simply have power, it's that they're enlightened. Without the distractions of men and gender relations, they have managed to accomplish so much in terms of art, culture, technology. As the original series takes place in WWII, they're set up as foils to the villainous Nazis, and it's actually an interesting comparison - while the Nazis seek to impose their view of purity over the world, the Amazons choose to stay to isolate themselves and remain pure - with Diana as the only one who sees the injustice they're allowing by not protecting the rest of the free world from the Axis.

      It's a dynamic that McDuffie's Justice League cartoon gets absolutely right - while instead of Nazis, it's alien invaders, she sees that her perfect home isn't perfect if they don't see themselves as having a responsibility to help others and take part in the global community.

      So anybody who's saying that a utopia is unrealistic is absolutely right. But there's a difference between using it as a metaphor or parable for isolationism and exclusion and accomplishment* -- which come to think of it, Simone did take on in her own way in The Circle-- and saying "Okay, so because it's unrealistic to have a society of women, let's just make them all be rapist-murderers who sell their babies into slavery because they haven't even reached the Iron Age yet!"

      SUBTLETY. WHAT IS IT.

      For what it's worth, my money would also be on the possibility that the guy telling the story is embellishing a little, or a lot. But your point about reading each issue as its own story, because after all, you're paying $2.99 for the experience, is well-made, even if the entirety of DC editorial seems to disagree with you.


      * Paradise Island isn't so strange when you consider the effectiveness of some all-boys or all-girls schools. Not that they're all good - we've all read the horror stories of English boarding schools - but there's a merit to removing one huge distraction, at least for some students.**

      ** This, as Thompson also points out in her essay, completely ignores gays. Would every single man on these naval vessels be totally down with having a fleet of naked women board the ship? I'm not even gay, and it sounds like a trap!

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    4. Hello Historyman:- As far as I understand, Moore doesn't object to his characters being used if folks clear it with him and he's happy with the project. (ie Tom Strong) And what he's said about LOEG backs up your comment about the good use of his work after he's passed on into the ever-reoccuring cycle of life.

      I can't find myself supporting DC's stance. The company made a promise and then weaseled out of it. I might understand why it doesn't want to loose the dosh, but that's a different thing from "understanding". And I'm sure you're the same. We certainly share the same opinion, it seems, of the recent drive towards reclaiming copyright by the corporations.

      I agree about Watchman and its lack of guile and inspiration. By the time we down by the south pole, the whole movie seemed like nothing more than an episode of the Batman TV series as played by over-serious semi-adults. A shame.

      There are members of Marston's Amazons who don't, or can't, live in Paradise. But on the whole, it is an idealised world. Yet that doesn't make it "sexist", as was said over at GoodComics in the comments; in a world where the powers-that-be are still male and male-centric, a strong statement that women are worthy of respect and capable of greatness is a neccessary blow against the empire. Yet I must admit, I had to stop reading those comments. Too many flakkers, I fear. Sensible conversation with some, though not all, of those folks would clearly be impossible. They certainly wouldn't engage with your excellant point that the Amazons represent not an idealised womanhood, but an idealised and hopeful take on humanity as a whole. I agree wholeheartedly with what you say re: the value of a Utopia such as Paradise Island in the DCU.

      It is astonishing that DC still can't be bothered to recognise that those comics it issues every month are monthly comics. :( I've been reading the wave of promises which accompanied the New 532's launch and they constantly stress how each comic will be constructed to make sense in its own terms. Piffle, I fear.

      Ms Thompson's essay is full of those excellant points, isn't it? To be honest, I was keen to avoid discussing WW #7, because so much else had been said about it that was excellant. And I hadn't even read her article then. If I had, I'd've been working on something else today, the world would've been no poorer and several flakkers would've been considerably less annoyed :)

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  9. I Haven't read this issue, though I was thinking of buying the trade, as a fan of this team's previous collaboration. Looking at those panels, I can see an easy "out" for any later issues contradicting this version of the Amazons' history - it's an unreliable narrator, surely?

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    1. Hello Mark;- Yep, yours is an entirely sensible suspicion. I was working from the p.o.v. of the reader of the single issue, as I always do. I was re-reading Gloria steinem's essay on Wonder Woman this morning and her comments about the inspiration which WW and the Amazons offered the comic's female readers. It really hit home that the reader of WW #7 would find themselves offered a great heap of sexist piffle. No matter how the tale is reframed elsewhere, in the form it's being sold in, it's a depressing business.

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  10. I think someone should write to Gloria Steinem and ask for her comment on WW7. Dan and friends would not care because it would mean more publicity, and Steinem would likely have something to say.

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    1. Hello ToB;- I would love to know how Ms Steinem felt about Wonder Woman #7, I really would. It's not in my DNA to ever be so daring, I fear. But it would be good just to thank her for her essay on WW which she wrote in the 70s. It's been an inspriration to me.

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    2. Gloria Steinem's opinion should be sought. And so should Harlan Ellison's.

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    3. Hello ihcoyc:- I'm reluctant to even try to intrude on Ms Steinem's privacy. However, I think we can we gain some sense of her feelings about the modern day WW from her response to new costume etc in 2010;

      http://pursepundit.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/gloria-steinem-on-new-wonder-woman.html

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  11. ragnell.blogspot.ca/2012/03/wonder-woman-7-spoilers.html

    I had felt the way you did, then I read this. there are still lots of problems with this run, but now I'm not sure this is one.

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  12. Hi Colin.

    I hesitate to say it...but I have been enjoying the heck out of Wonder Woman. I like Brian Azzarello and I love Cliff Chiang. This isn't the REAL Wonder Woman of course, I've been telling myself that it is all a different Universe, so that I can calm down and see where he is going with the new direction, involving the Gods, and Diana's place in society etc.

    Then this issue hit, and I was taken aback. But...if you take the story at face value, and compare it to what Azzarello had written a few issues before, especially, when Diana is upset that the other Amazons refer to her in a derogatory manner as "Clay", and her anger at realizing that her mother had lied to her...you will find all kinds of inconsistencies. Something is certainly awry...and I am rather looking forward to seeing what he does.

    Also, for another take on this story, go to Written World, Ragnell's blog, and see her take on it. Things may not be all that they seem.

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    1. Hello Sally:- I hope, if you're ever passing this way, that you won't ever hesitate to put forward an oppossing view. You're one of those folks who can always make me want to reconsider my opinion, as when we discussed GL Stewart some months ago.

      I think there's every chance that we're not being given the whole truth about the Amazons in this issue. Should that be so, I'd still be concerned about the fact that #7 carried such an unconditionally negative view of the Amazon sisterhood. There'll be folks who only ever read this book, and who might need something other than yet another derogatory view of women in comics. I do worry, as I know you know, about the fact that so many creators of modern-era comics pay no attention to the fact that they'll be consumed in discrete units.

      Oh dear. I'm a broken record. Time to move on to another topic, I fear. Thanks for helping me keep perspective :)

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  13. This. This. A thousand times THIS. Colin, you NEVER fail to get straight to the heart of the matter in an incredibly intelligent way. So, so persuasive and cogent. THANK YOU. I will be sharing this with EVERYONE--including Gail Simone and Phil Jimenez. Thank you.

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    1. Hello Son Of Baldwin:- thank you! I'm a great admirer of your passionate approach to cultural politics, so cheers for the kind words. I hope the day goes well for you.

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  14. (Said this elsewhere. Seems relevant.)

    Whenever anything goes wrong with the DC superhero universe, look for the Vertigo writer.

    My very broad and general impression is that Vertigo books tended to be pretentious, juvenile-dark po-mo garbage that critics adore. Call it a stereotype and I won't disagree; but stereotypes sometimes arise because they contain some truth. The critics adore Vertigo writing because the critics, like the Vertigo writers themselves, imagine themselves to be so much cleverer than the people who made up four-color stories about stalwart, patriotic heroes in the 1940s through the 1960s. After all, those writers had never read Derrida or Foucault, or even Marcuse.

    The only thing that could be worse than Azzarello's Wonder Woman would be a Grant Morrison Wonder Woman written as a bad acid trip about the meaninglessness of narrative. Or a Neil Gaiman Wonder Woman that would probably start off interesting but then take a left turn for the sake of unpleasant weirdness. Vertigo writers should stay away from superheroes until they learn to resist the urge to deconstruct them. We don't need them to point out unstated assumptions and contradictions in superhero storytelling. We don't need them to make the stories deeper and save us from shallowness. That's not what we came for.

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    1. Hello ihoyc:- You know, you present one of those ideas which leaves the reader thinking that they're just going to have to sit down and think the matter through.

      I've certainly often wished that a great many of the Vertigo books which followed the first wave of the company's books would just, to steal a phrase, not bore us by getting to the chorus. And the bleak and often pretentious approach to the super-folks comics never pays off. There was that fine wave of books from Sandman to Doom Patrol to Mystery Theatre etc, and then the line lost its way for me. Fine comics appeared, no doubt, but a considerable degree of pap did too. Perhaps that's a sign of a healthy brand, in that there was a measure of things to like AND loathe.

      To digress, I must say I've been impressed by the latest wave of titles from Vertigo; Saucer County and what I've seen of the New Deadwardians are excellant, being smart AND popular. That's the mix to hit, I think.

      I understand your trepidation about a Grant Morrison Wonder Woman. And yet, All-Star Superman was the most wonderful comic.

      On the whole, I'm never a fan of the comic book of ideas which forgets to tell a compelling story at the same time as firing off the - supposed - intellectual fireworks. I like the smartness in the books I read to be fused with the narrative, so that nobody need notice the brilliance of the structure or the wonders of the sub-text of they don't care to. In fact, all my favourite writers approach their craft in that fashion. You're right, the reader doesn't need to be saved from their own shallowness, but I do love the writer who respects their readers so much that they leave them with more to think about if they want to do so.

      But first, to the chorus, don't bore us.

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  15. Colin, you always manage to express these issues so eloquently. I'm honestly exhausted with all of this. I have been repeatedly astonished by DC's level of sexism over the last few months, but for some reason I found this particularly upsetting.
    And just at a time when women's rights are being crushed in politics (I'm from the UK and believe me this problem is far from isolated to America), and a little escapism would be a welcome relief.

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    1. Hello Sophie:- thank you. I felt I was struggling for the words from the beginning to the end of the above, so I'm grateful to know that it didn't seem as hard to read as it felt it was to write.

      I think your choice of the word "exhausting" is a perfect one. It's such an appropriate word here. I'm exhausted too by the endless sexism and racism, by the constant betrayals of what we promised the New 52 would be about. And I too found Wonder Woman #7 to be a crushing experience.

      I also share, as I hope is obvious, your concerns about women's rights in the West as a whole. That was one of the reasons I chose that quote from Gloria Steinem. In many ways these are dark days, and Marston's Wonder Woman was designed to inspire us in such situations. I struggle to understand what could be wrong with that.

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  16. I don't particularly think the Amazons portrayed in Wonder Woman #7 are exactly as bad as you make them out to be. The majority of the Amazons were unaware of Diana's real parentage, it is reasonable to assume the majority are also unaware and are told the sanitized version that Diana believed to be true.

    It is also noteworthy to point out that the women in black shown to be trading children for weapons are not the mothers -- in fact the page after the bit about the sailors it shows a woman obviously in screaming in distress as one of the women in black takes her baby away.

    Also I didn't really get the same feeling that Hephaestus was being portrayed as a good guy -- he is keeping the children and exploiting them as slaves, well treated slaves, but still slaves. I think if Azzarello wanted to portray Hephaestus as a good character, rather than as an ambiguous one, he would have had the male Amazonians call him father instead of master.

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    1. Hello NickN;- Thank you for expressing your disagreements in such a civil manner. It's been a night of some flak elsewhere and I appreciate the way in which you've challenged me here.

      I think that we're taking a different approach to the same book, and I really do respect the way you've approached things. To me, the situation is a straight-forward one, and it relates to the Steinem quote above. While I don't believe that Amazon culture has to be purer than pure, it was designed to inspire women in a time where the culture was largely working against their interest. I still believe that to be so. In that context, and for the reasons given above and in the responses here, I felt that #7 was an assault on the ethical purpose which WW and her sisters have always, to a lesser or greater degree, represented,

      I did mention the woman who was screaming, though I did put a quite different spin on things. In the context of the comic - and it's the individual issue which a young woman or man will experience as a discrete experience that I'm predominantly concerned with - the impression of Amazon culture as a whole is that it's a despicable one.

      Again, I think you're right that Hephaestus wasn't being portrayed as an unconditional ethical figure. But in the context of this single story, he was the figure who created the society of artists and brothers from a the Amazon's victims, meaning that a straight-forward male/female comparison was created.

      I think the broad strokes which BA's script establishes work in a way which creates a truly sexist comicbook. BUT I can see that a reader who is in it for the long haul, and who is engaged with the book in such a way to note the nuances as well as the broader picture, would see things differently.

      I know I can't convince you of the value of my p.o.v.,but sometimes I think that the real benefit of disagreeing is the manner in which it's done. Thank you for engaging, as I said before, in such a smart and civil fashion. Believe me, there have been not a few folks who didn't make it past the delete-before-publishing button, though I'd have happily published their dissenting opinions if they'd not been dismissive and unkind too.

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    2. I do agree that we are approaching this issue from different perspectives. I first started reading Wonder Woman after seeing episodes from the Justice League cartoon that focused on her character when I was younger. I didn't pick up feminist aspects of Wonder Woman until much later and mostly was attracted to the character because of her mythological connections. Bemusedly, my first impressions of the DC Amazons were that they were fairly bigoted because in the episode that I watched they exiled Diana for bring men onto their Island -- that and the fact that "No Men Allowed" was even a law.

      However, I do believe that the new Wonder Woman can still handle social issues despite the fact that Azzarello has shifted the central dynamic from Amazon Ideals vs. Patriarch's World to Capricious Gods vs. Modern Humanity.

      Greek myth is overwhelmingly misogynistic. I mean even female characters come across as anti-women: Artemis gets revenge on Aura for insulting her looks by having Dionysus rape her and Athena turns Medusa into a monster for allowing herself to be raped insider of Athena's temple by Poseidon.

      I think it would be great if Azzarello or any future writers carrying on with this version of Wonder Woman start having her confront that aspect of Greek myth and try reform it. I mean the Amazon's problems when it comes to reproduction are fairly simple to solve by Wonder Woman introducing her people to the modern world -- sperm banks replacing seducing and killing sailors.

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    3. Hello NickN:- I must say, I find myself agreeing whole-heartedly with much that you say here, and I disagree with none of it. Score two for the virtues of reasoned, reasonable debate. Cheers!

      I've no problem at all with the capacity of Wonder Woman as its been rebooted to deal with social issues, whether directly - which can often be very awkward & worthy - or less directly. There's no reason, as you say, why the book can't stand for broader concerns at all. Indeed, BA could quite rightly make the point that he's doing that at the moment. If he was putting forward a debate about power corrupting, then the current issue would fit the proposition. I'd still not be able to buy into the rejection of the character's feminist past in the way that's been shown, mind you. But your point is a good one.

      And your suggestion that Diana's adventures could involve taking on the patriarchal bias in Greek myth is one that I certainly get behind. I think it'd be a terrific idea! As you say, social as well as value structures could be shown being adapted; sperm banks really would be a better option for the Amazons, and there'd be the possibility of a great deal of story-driving conflict in the fact that they'd inevitably be conservatives and progressives warring for and against any such a major change in Amazonian culture.

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  17. On the subject of myth, one thing that struck me was that superhero comics have been called myths themselves. A new pantheon. Maybe it's hopelessly naive of me to think it, but if that is the case, then such reproducing of the same sexist lines as are already ever-present in society does not necessarily have to occur. In creating new stories and new characters, can we open up new corridors of action for ourselves? And then I hear of things like this issue of Wonder Woman, or the empty, bloody, fight scenes of other comics, and shattered is indeed the best word. These aren't the heroes I remember.
    We are, as a society, the stories we choose to tell. But it's our choice.

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    1. Hello Matthew:- I agree entirely. There's a worrying tendency today for some of our culture to deny that stories have any influence upon our thoughts and behaviour at all, while others seem sure that there's a deterministic relationship between seeing and doing. The truth lies somewhere between the two, of course, and comics are as valid a medium for opening up debate as any other fiction. Of course, when creators don't think about the social meaning of their work, they often end up suggesting ideas which they might not ever want to associated with.

      The creators I most admire are those who are keenly aware of the politics of their work, and who make sure that their work, while never being worthy, is always ethically controlled. Here I'll list the same old names which those who might have dropped into the blog will recognise being rolled out; Cornell, Gillen, Simone etc etc. Their opinions aren't always, or sometimes even often, mine. But their work is sharp and far more than those endless fight scenes and sexist scenarios which you mention.

      I have no idea why creators, editors and publishers alike don't take more responsibility here. This is the 21st century, we know how fictions work now. If folks aren't paying attention to the politics of their work, then I think it's fair to assume that they just don't care enough to do so. And that's not something which I want to invest my dosh in beyond the occasional popping-in to find out what's going on.

      It is our choice. Why aren't more creators taking responsibility for their work? Or perhaps they are. I'd hate to think it's so, but it could be that those comics which carry racist, sexist, homophobic texts and subtexts might be that way because its what the creators believe in. I don't believe that WW reflects such a dysfunctional commitment on BA's part, I must say; but in general, the fear does linger that some folks actually don't care if comics come across as a white boy-man's club concerned with a white boy-man's world.

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  18. I wanted to like this new WW book so much going in. I'm a WW fan, and think she deserves a top-flight comic book series. I thought Azzarello was an odd choice, but he's a good writer so I figured what the hell. Plus, I love Cliff Chiang's work.

    But as each issue came out, I found myself caring less and less about what was happening, to the point where by #4 I couldn't even remember what was going on. WW seemed like a bystander in her own title and the whole mood seemed dark and off--like someone was trying to cram the square peg that is WW into the round hole that was The Concept. Since this is something poor Diana has been through many, many times before (I Ching!), it all seemed like such a wasted opportunity.

    I dropped the book before I got to this issue; I guess I'm glad since from what I've read it sounds like WW is straying further and further away from the basic concept that has kept the character in the public eye for over 70 years.

    *sigh*

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    1. Hello Rob:- You make me realise that I still want to like the new WW. I certainly love CC's work, and I've nothing against BA's work, even if I've yet found an example of his work which quite hit the sweet spot for me. Yet I agree entirely with your reservations. That endless grim tone has worn me down, and the sense, as you say, that this isn't Wonder Woman at all does jar. The constant changes, and I too remember I-Ching!, the endless revamps, eventually sandpaper down the enthusiasm for a property. There are relatively few folks who can cope with the Legion anymore, for example, and yet a few decades ago it was a book which ranked just below X-Men and the Titans.

      At its heart, and I don't care if this makes me sound old fashioned, Wonder Woman always has been an optimistic, humanistic, feminist book. The story's can be grim, the character can loose heart on occasion, but Marston's hopefully if out-there politics ought to remain at the core of Diana's adventures. That doesn't mean that there isn't room for change and innovation, but make WW a dark, humourless horror story and it just isn't Wonder Woman.

      There. That's me pegged now forever as a reactionary, but I tend to suspect that a grim and gritty WW is the reactionary version.

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  19. Ah Colin, I've nothing to add, I'm here simply to thank you for a typically cogent piece. Now don't stay up too late!

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    1. Hello Martin:- Thank you! I was sure that I was going to be able to avoid writing anything about WW #7. I'd read several fine pieces on it coming from different angles, including yours, which, as you know, I certainly enjoyed.

      But ... I ... just .... couldn't ... let ... it ... lie ...

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  20. Well observed as ever, Colin, but while I take your point that Issue 7 is somebody's first Wonder Woman and should be assessed as a standalone story, I do feel (hope) that this episode is part of something larger. There is a wider ongoing plot of a wedge being driven between Diana and her people, which includes the revelation of her parentage, the bizarre mating customs and Hephaestean orphanage. Because I love the look of this (my first) version of Wonder Woman and want to think well of it, I have been assuming that there is Somebody behind all this sub-Deadface olympian manoeuvring, and that somebody is Apollo or (more probably) Zeus. The in-universe 'truth' about the Amazons is being distorted to an end

    If it turns out that I'm wrong, I'll happily agree that this is jaw-droppingly poor and generally despicable stuff - until then, I'll cling to my illusions.

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    1. Hello Tordleback:- I certainly hope that you're right. I really do. You nail my concerns in an accurate and - thank you - fair way; it is the anti-feminist message, on so many levels, as expressed in a single-issue format. And those concerns would remain if the longer term situation pans out as you suggest it may. (I find it hard to grasp how the fact that Wonder Woman has no female members of her Hell-bound troop could be rectified ... or at least I didn't when I began the sentence. I had a few ideas inbetween "I find" and "rectified" :)) I'd be chuffed to pieces to discover that WW still is an optimistic, joyous feminist text, I really would be.

      NickN mentioned several ways that WW could be used to serve the agenda I'm obviously biased towards while keeping the reboot in place. Well, fingers crossed. I have, as I suspect you'll know, no desire to see the book fall over just so I can moan some more. I look forward to you and I exchanging words at some time in the future and expressing our pleasure - and relief - that things turned out for the best.

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  21. Oh boy, this is a debate I want in on.

    *bookmarks page, goes to plot argument*

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    1. Hello Emmet:- You'd be VERY welcome. Since I already know my opinion, a debate is very much the point of the piece :)

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  22. Colin, I must say I enjoy your writing immensely, and value your thoughts on things I have read, but have to then add that I don't always agree with them and this is one of those occasions.

    My problem with your interpretation of this issue of Wonder Woman is that you're reacting to a biased story within the story being told: we only have Hephaestus' word that these events have happened the way they are shown, and even then, we have to ask where are the images coming from that accompany his tale? And we've been presented with this frequently in Brian Azzarello's run so far, where someone imparts a piece of information to Wonder Woman that is second or third hand, she reacts, and then finds the truth is not necessarily as she was first made to believe.

    I'm probably not doing a very good job of defending the issue here, so I'll add a link from a long time Wonder Woman fan that is far better written: http://ragnell.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/wonder-woman-7-spoilers.html

    Once again, apologies for my ineptness at getting my ideas across.

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    1. Hello Carey:- Please be assured, your argument is a good one and one well-expressed too. I've read Ragnell's post and I'm aware that, as you say, the truth as represented in WW #7 may be nothing of the sort. My argument - and I promise I'll try not to repeat myself too much here, because I know how annoying that can be, - IS of course concerned with what seems to be being said about the Amazons in WW#7, but I'd retain my problems with the issue even if we later discover that your expectations are correct. Firstly because I believe that comics sold as individual issues have to be judged as such, and secondly, because Wonder Woman ought to serve a specific, if broad ethical purpose wherever the character appears in a discrete, distinct form. There are many super-folks who can be placed in situations such as that shown in WW #7, but not Wonder Woman, and not even if it's just set-up for a future it's-not-true reveal. I know that that'll be seen as an over-worthy perspective - though I'm grateful to you for not presenting your entirely sensible objections in any such a light - but I hope that that means that I'm at least adding something slightly different to the debate.

      In a way, I was equally concerned to take on the "historical/myth" defence that has been offered for the comic. Even if we strip away the issues above, I still feel that argument is a morally dodgy one which can be used to justify any measure of toxic thinking, and worth engaging with even if WW #7 had an entirely different meaning.

      Time will indeed tell how this story plays out, and I do hope you're right. If you are, I'll be in the position of feeling comfortable with the above - re: the 'single issue' issue and the history argument - while being happy to agree with you about the work as a whole.

      I know that might seem that I'm wanting to eat my cake and still keep it. But if the scenes showing the mating habits of the new Amazon are misdirections, and if they had been shown in a complete-in-itself graphic novel, I'd've had no problem with it all. (Well, aside from Diana's humourlessness and her lack of female comrades.) But it's that single issue business which sinks it for me.

      I look forward to seeing how it pans out. And thank you for the kind words and the generous way in which you've countered my point of view. I hope it's alright if we continue to disagree, just as I hope that we might cross paths again to agree or disagree in exactly this way. Thank you :)

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  23. Wonder Woman is a superhero invented by a psychologist to help women and girls feel good about being women and girls. That is her prime directive.

    Anything that makes women and girls not feel good about being women and girls does not belong in a Wonder Woman comic. A Wonder Woman comic should not make me want to throw up at the thought of belonging to the same gender as the Amazons.

    But maybe I should just put aside all my preconceptions at look at the story with fresh eyes. If I do that, it's completely illogical.

    If all the females are having reproductive sex once in their lives and magically all getting pregnant at the same time, BUT the 49% of the babies who are males (that’s standard) are discarded, that means the population is shrinking by HALF with every generation. That’s not going to work. Didn’t these men even check their biology before writing this crud?

    I solved this problem in my headcanon 30 years ago. The Amazons magically gather unwanted female infants who have been abandoned to die — a horrific practice that occurs throughout the world and even occurred in this country as late as the early 20th Century. That solves the problem elegantly in a way that enhances their reputation instead of diminishing it.

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  24. Hello Lioness:- I wish I'd expressed myself as clearly and passionately as you have here; "Wonder Woman is a superhero invented by a psychologist to help women and girls feel good about being women and girls. That is her prime directive.Anything that makes women and girls not feel good about being women and girls does not belong in a Wonder Woman comic."

    Bravo! Bravo! That's exactly how I feel. And if a comic does feel the need to show the Amazons as a despicable race - for whatever reason - then they're better be other prominent aspects of the book which do exactly as you say; comfort and inspire girls and women who chance upon that single issue. What happens in the context of the collected edition is irrelevant in the context of an individual issue which might have helped and instead delivered a fearsomely depressing, self-alienating blow.

    And I love your admirable solution to the Paradise Island population problem. And it would constantly highlight just one vital aspect of patriarchy.

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    1. Thank you, Colin. :) I try to be concise.

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    2. Hello Lioness:- I tend to use the blog to work out how I feel. Perhaps I ought to have another column under another name where I can put the concise points once I've done the working out :)

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  25. Thank you for your intelligent words. I for one will stop getting the new WW. It is just filled with silly sexism that should not exist anymore. *sigh* Here's to hoping it gets a better writer.

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    1. Hello Life Lessons:- Thank you. Perhaps we'll discover that BA's longterm plan was always to show the Amazons in an ultimately positive light. But in the context of #7, it did come across as "silly sexism", didn't it?

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  26. Aside from repugnant, it's not even sensible - as you say, it'd be both impossible to cover this up and any society that does this all the time wouldn't bother covering it up in the first place. So why is this new to Diana? If there is a reason why the Amazons don't want Diana specifically knowing, how did they pull it off for so long and why don't they have alternate theories for why there's no men? If it's all a big con by Hephistus, why is Diana convinced by it and not, as a normal person would, saying "BOLLOCKS!"?

    In Demon Knights #1, Exoristos says "I come from a land where men are castrated and women are pleased" - which I thought was her overselling it to make her point, but it fits too well with #7.

    it doesn't even have to be this way: you could say the Amazons did do horrible, repugnant things to captured men and murdered their male infants in the past, but they since stopped because their culture has evolved (just like everyone else's). And then you can reconcile older, misogynist myths with the Marston/Perez versions so you can have your cake & eat it and give the Amazons a bit more depth to better sell the utopian bits in the present day. Like how modern-day Denmark, Sweden, and Norway are socialist welfare constitutional monarchies with top standards of living but used to be sending Vikings off to set those sleepy towns alight ("LITERALLY!" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qSkaAwKMD4).

    As a side note, the Norwegian monarchs from Haakon VII onwards would be a better way to treat Hippolyta, Diana, and Aquaman, in the sense that from Haakon VII onwards they've tended to be humble & down-to-earth. Diana and Aquaman seem like the sort to marry single-parent commoners and use public transport without bodyguards.

    - Charles RB

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    1. Hello Charles:- Your first paragraph sums up some fundamental problems with the comic: either way we look at it, Diana is easy to con and easy to convince. She's obviously unbelievably trusting; she's given no evidence of the utter corruption of her people, but, you're right, she swallows it entirely. And this is on top of having NEVER spotted the sex'n'murder raids, the absence of male children, etc etc.

      But your Demon Knights quote - good call - does really worry me. I'm glad to have it pointed out that the Amazons in the New 52 have had their fundamental unpleasantness established from the off, but I remain appalled by it. I think it's easy to accept that backdrop in DK because it feels as if this isn't Marston's creation at all. Furthermore, any sense that the new Amazons transmit a sexist message is countered by the fact that the DK have a majority of female members, all of them individual and richly different. You couldn't read DK and think that PC had it in for women in any way at all. Yet it's tough to read DK #7 and believe the same.

      Your third paragraph is full of ideas worthy of applause. I'd prefer the vision of a humane, advanced if not perfect race in exile on the edge of the world throughout history, but that's preference and not gospel, of course. Your solutions would fly past me and leave me smiling.

      Delete
  27. For what it's worth, War Rocket Ajax addressed the controversy briefly- didn't discuss it in a feminist context, but did say it seemed like Azzarello's trying to create his own Greek myth, and in terms of that, it seems successful. But whether it's appropriate for a superhero comic, is another question altogether.

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    1. Hello Historyman:- I think the shame about Wonder Woman #7, regardless of how the comic pans out afterwards, is that it seems as if BA isn't creating his own version of the Greek myths, or at least, not creating a take which challenges the sexism that saturates them. Now the story may go in a very different direction to how it seems to be, but as I know I've said, there'll be young women who pick up this individual issue and instead of being inspired, they'll face yet another example of misogyny. If BA HAD to have this scene in, he could've counter-balanced it with more positive representations of women in other ways. But he didn't, which means the book isn't Wonder Woman.

      Delete
  28. Thank you for your continued vigilance on these issues. I don't know if DC are evil, but you keep on showing they're at least terribly clueless. Which, nowadays, with all the discourse that already happened, borders on evil, anyway.

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    1. Hello Patrick:- I strongly suspect - as in betting house and at least one leg and arm - that the folks are DC are just not thinking about things as they might. As you say, there are creators and editors who give every impression - on occasion or persistently - of being "totally clueless". I totally understand why some of what's been being delivered to the shops and servers might give the impression of folks bent on what we might consider to be a profoundly uncaring agenda. But there is the good progressive and smart stuff coming out too, which means DC's not monolithic in its values, and I honestly believe most if not all of those responsible for the more worrying material are either being careless or mutton-headed. I understand your passion, I really do. Some of what we've seen has been terribly disappointing, hasn't it?

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  29. Colin good sir,

    You are correct to identify the 'true to the mythology' angle as being the most common defense being offered - and as you've proven an entirely fallacious one.

    This debacle highlights once again the push-and-pull that DC face with the franchise. One the one hand the title's decreasing commercial viability flies in the face of Wonder Woman the icon. Indeed an argument could be made that the character has long since transcended the efforts of DC to corral her into a profitable property. The issue of Ms you refer to long ago liberated Diana.

    On the other hand post-Marston the original character's sado-masochistic and sexual subtext has been kept at arm's length. This squeamishness lies behind every attempt to homogenize Wonder Woman, either through rendering her inoffensive (Diana the mother figure) or cute (the original Wonder Girl) and more drastically - a threat who needs to be herself put in line as an antagonist (Amazons Attack, the killing of Max Lord).

    I was supportive of Azzarello originally as his interesting idea of WW as a horror title seemed well borne out by the first issue. When the gods and monsters can walk among humans undetectable - but remain as cruelly capricious as ever - that is terrifying. Azzarello has swerved away from this idea though, inverting Martston's personal sexual utopia into a twisted nightmare. This feels like the fulfillment of DC's distancing from the original title, that hesitancy encouraging the writer to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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    1. Hello Emmet:- I do worry about the thinking which says "1 form of a myth says a really bad thing, so it can be made worse and THAT'S an objective, unchallengeable business." It's certainly been a business which has the Rump-Horbets setting their stings in my direction. It's been one of those moments when folks have tweeted and e-mailed me just to say "Have you seen what they're saying HERE?" You'd think I'd been found chewing on the bone marrow of newly murdered children.

      I think you're quite right, absolutely right, to refer to how DC haven't keep true to the vision - if not the specific content - of Marston's work. One of the way that his splendidly noble immortal Amazons stayed admirable was their weirdness. They were socially and sexually transgressive, they were brave in their refusal to be macho, they were determined not to sink to the level of their opponents. A 21st century version of WW ought to embrace those transgressive elements, ought to play off the nobility with the wonderful cultural uniqueness.

      I agree that the premise of Azzarello's work has often contained fascinating elements. But the betrayal of Marston's ethical purpose combined with the presence of glum'n'joyless Diana and her all-male strike force has resulted in a comic which just isn't Wonder Woman.

      I remain convinced that WW is so rich and powerful a character that she could flourish in a number of forms, in a number of genres. But this fanboy-centred, dead-hearted horror story wouldn't be something I'd ever print under the title of Wonder Woman. At best, and with some serious ethical reworking, it'd be just one in a series of comics starring the number 1 feminist super-heroine of all.

      How sad to say that, as of today at least, such a thing can no longer be said.

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    2. I think I know what writer needs to take on Wonder Woman. Look up Jody Scott. She did a book called I, Vampire which features a disco-loving (it was the 70s) immortal undead vampiress falling in love with an alien posing as Virgina Woolf.

      Now there's the proper inheritor of Marston's dilettante weirdness!

      Delete
    3. Hello Emmet:- It sounded just too interesting not to buy. So I've bought it. It was £3.00 on Amazon, apparently long out of print, and I'm really looking forward to it.

      Thank you!

      Delete
  30. Hello, Colin! I can't remember if I've commented here before, but if I haven't, you can think of me as Mark Simmons's splendid wife. (Although I merely assume he would describe me that way!) : )

    As per Lioness's thought above, this is not Wonder Woman. You honestly could not get farther from the original concept of Wonder Woman unless you physically vandalized William Moulton Marston's grave while doing it.

    If I were in charge of the Marston estate, I would sue to get the rights to Wonder Woman back over this. Given the recent court decision about Superman's origin, and how character currently being published now bears no resemblance beyond costume to the original character in either story or actions, I'd be nervous if I were DC legal.

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    1. Hello Julie:- I do think of you as Mark's Splendid Wife, just as I think of him as your Splendid Husband :)

      I was trying to approach Wonder Woman #7 in a way which had a hope of taking a somewhat different approach to the other pieces on the blogosphere. But reading your comment - and that of Lioness - I do regret I didn't just cut to the quick and shout THIS IS NOT WONDER WOMAN!!!!! The Flakkers and their daft defences of sexism are important, but the issues you raise are more important. Because, as you say, this is the anti-Wonder Woman. It expresses the polar opposite of Marston's ethical purpose. It's so despicable that I guess I'm glad I'm didn't take a direct approach, because I don't think I could have kept things this side of being exceptionally angry.

      The degree of power Marston's Estate over WW is a really interesting question. I've always thought that there still is a degree of control on their part. I'd love to know if they do have an significant influence. Do they know what's going on, and what could they do if they wanted?

      Now, that would be a story I love to see play out ... !

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  31. Congratulations Colin. Nothing more to add, just wanted to say well done.

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    1. Hello Axolotl:- Thank you. It's appreciated.

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  32. First of all, great article. I agree with a lot of the sentiment expressed here and in the comments, but…

    [Takes several paces back]
    [Locates chest high wall ala Gears of War]
    [Hides behind chest high wal]

    Not hatin’, but I kinda find the vociferous charges of sexism toward this issue on this blog and elsewhere to be a bit overblown.

    [Retreats farther back]

    Mind you, I’m no great fan of this run by any stretch of the imagination. Heck, I was one of those silly people who complained early on that retconning Wonder Woman (I mean, “Diana”) as Zeus’s daughter and reducing the Amazons to misandrist barbarian warriors serves to reduce Wonder Woman’s stature as a feminist icon and was also (at least a little) tinged with sexism. Now, I understand that you weren’t too invested in this current run in the first place and that you assess comics on issue-by-issue basis (which I really appreciate), but you seem to be…surprised at this latest development. I guess I wasn’t so surprised because I feel the writing was on the wall, given the tone and direction of this take on Wonder Woman (and superhero books in general, really), so I confess I’m a little surprised by people’s surprise to this thing. Though I suppose it also helps that I am myself a little detached and jaded toward this this.

    I've said this elsewhere, but I remain convinced that all of this is the almost inevitable result of the Amazon aspect central to the character. Rather than using it in a way to contexualise positive (and therefore childish) themes of sisterhood, Rosie-the-Riveter style can-do attitude, and an embrace/glorification of supposedly feminine values, the idea “Amazon” has been zeroed in on by creators and readers alike to give way to a brutal and historicized authentication for the character and her stories post-Crisis. Not telling you anything you don’t already know, but really, the “authentic” way of portraying Amazon propagation was going to happen sooner or later.

    (Also - and you may take this however you like - I hardly think this new turn in a book that hardly sells more than Batwoman and Batgirl is going to put much of a dent in feminism, especially in an age in which Wonder Woman tries so hard to ape the feminist (read: “kick-ass action heroine) appeal of characters she once inspired. And there's also an upside in all of this for me in the form of whatever Carol Strickland has to say on the subject, which I know I will find thoroughly entertaining.)

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    1. Hello Mayowa:- No need to step back, I've no problems with you disagreeing with me in the fashion you have. And I'm absolutely aware that my response to WW#7 is very much a personal rather than an objective response.

      I won't repeat in any detail what I said in the piece above. But I will say something which I never really understood until I wrote the above, and which your comment has helped me grasp to an even greater degree. I understand why you might feel the charge of sexism on this blog is O.T.T., but I must admit that I don't. I don't say that in stamp-my-feet-and-sulk way, but simply in the sense that I'm relieved to find that I do have a genuine position to take in opposition to WW#7. I do believe that WW should be a comforting, provocative, inspiring feminist text. I do believe that #7 is anything other than that when considered in its context as a distinct, discrete unit of consumption. I do feel that the Flak thrown up about the mythological justifications for what's been shown is poorly-argued piffle. In that, I find myself in a position which I rarely find myself in. I'm absolutely convinced that this issue is a betrayal. The collected run of the story may well not be, the next issue may not be, but this issue is. I know it's a stance which hasn't won me very friends out there in the blogosphere, to say the least. (There are few folks who'll express themselves as you have when they disagree.) But I really do believe what I've written. In such a situation, I've really got no choice.

      I don't look at the success or otherwise of the comic as being something which can measured in terms of how it impacts on "feminism" as a whole. I see it as a betrayal of principle which stands as that regardless of its wider effects. And to my mind, Marston's creation is there to offer, as I know I've said, comfort and inspiration to those who need it. If one woman or girl reached for WW#7 in a tough time and found such a negative message there, then that would be ... an incredibly regrettable thing.

      I don't share your belief that something shouldn't shock us because there was always a good chance that it would occur. If that were so, and given human nature - in cock-ups and conspiracies alike - nothing would ever shock us.

      I honestly have no expectation that I can convince anyone else of anything I argue. In fact, quite the opposite is true. What matters is the manner in which the debate continues, and I appreciate your restraint matched with the obvious conviction of how you think and feel. Your words have really helped me, I should say, because I really have given them some considerable thought and I find that, for all my beliefs and arguments may not be convincing, I do honestly believe in them.

      We can of course agree to differ. I do hope we'll cross paths again, whether we agree or not :)

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  33. Hi Colin, you're probably tired of responding to not dissimilar messages about this post, but I'll add my voice to the din.

    The most important thing to say is that I really do appreciate your take on this Wonder Woman issue, you've made me more than a little embarrassed for myself for not seeing the sexism on display (though to my credit, I have also been put off by Wonder Woman's all male entourage- excepting the new Hermes who I think is really cool), and now that you mention it, a Wonder Woman comic SHOULD be a place for women and girls to pick up an issue and feel a charge of inspiration!

    (Though I do feel Wonder Woman has grown into that role over the years, as opposed to the idea that Wonder Woman inherently deserved that role since her creation- not that that's necessarily what you think, Colin, and not that it's all THAT big of a distinction to us in the here and now, but to me there were an awful lot of worrying Wonder Woman covers back in the day with her inexplicably chained up...)

    So even though you've opened my eyes some- I still think this was a decent comic! Yes, even as a stand alone issue! Our heroine could have easily left well enough alone, she was getting weapons from Hephaestus, and she certainly doesn't need to make any more enemies amongst the gods, but she percieved an injustice and could do no less than try to help them! Having read the other issues of the series there's the added weight Wonder Woman is under, feeling that she has failed her family on Paradise Island, here's something of a chance to redeem herself in her own eyes... only to discover that she presumed too much in thinking the male Amazons wanted to be freed.

    It's the sort of humbling experience I've read dozens of times from Spider-Man, from Superman, from all sorts of characters, so why not Wonder Woman?

    And I'll tell you "Why not Wonder Woman?" (ah, don't worry Colin, I've been paying attention to what you've written) it's because there are no other books to show her winning out, being strong and positive and whatnot. For every dozen times a story is told where Spider-Man is humbled there are a hundred others where he stands triumphant (or, lest I forget, even if every Spider-Man story ended with the protagonist humbled, well sir, the young lad about town could turn to Superman, Batman, Iron Man, any of various Captains, etc etc to get their hero fix.). What's the ratio on Wonder Woman stories? Not NEARLY as good- especially not since ye olde Infinite Crisis. It's been a dark time for Wonder Woman.

    I guess what I'm saying is I intellectually agree with you, without being inclined to feel as strongly about it as you do. Sorry! I did say I was embarrassed about it...

    All that said, I do want to point out that with all the comics I've dropped since the advent of this new 52, I added Wonder Woman to my pull list because it was given a creative team I respected, that told me DC was finally trying (however misguidedly, depending on your opinion of the current book) to push the character to the forefront, and I haven't been let down by the quality of the story telling (excepting the two issues not drawn by Chiang, but hey, the guy probably needed a breather).

    I will be dropping Batman from my pull list, hopefully before the next issue comes out. Wonder Woman isn't even close to being on the chopping block. As a Batman fan and not really a Wonder Woman fan, that's pretty huge, I think.

    (As an aside: as far as Wonder Woman goes, I liked the stuff where she was an ambassador for Themyscira, and had the Minotaur friend. I've bought "The Heketaia" by Greg Rucka for any female friends of mine that'd like Wonder Woman stuff, because I really like that interpretation of the character/I love that story)

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    1. Hi Isaac (and Colin) -

      I had a few thoughts regarding your post, which I mostly agreed with.

      re: the all-male entourage, it is pretty ridiculous that this is an issue with her. As Lioness also says below, any early WW story will have her backed up by Etta Candy, Etta's sorority full of ass-kicking girls, and possibly one or a few Amazons. And of course, Steve Rogers. But his presence was as the one guy, rather than WW as the one woman.
      Etta Candy, for all the issues with her seeming like she was conceived as a walking hate crime (seriously, she's almost on par with the Spirit's Ebony White for insensitivity), is really cool. She's constantly getting into, and winning, fights with Nazi soldiers, jumping into danger, all while saying Woo Woo and talking about how much she likes candy. She could probably kick Robin's ass.

      re: WW chained up on covers. Yeah, but you see the same thing in early Batman covers. There weren't a lot of heroes who weren't getting chained up regularly in that era - it's a great way to create drama and a feel of victory and catharsis when the hero breaks free at the end. Of course, Batman had his own share of accusations of perversity, so who knows.
      It's also worth remembering that chains were also symbolic to Marston - when he made one of the rules that Diana cannon break chains that a man has put on her, it was for political and inspirational reasons rather than sexual perversity. Not to deny that there was any aspect of that at all - given his documented feelings on the subject in genera - but just that WW getting chained up is not something to be suspicious of alone.

      The issue of Wonder Woman being humbled and learning seems like it happens a lot, in storylines since the 80s and 90s - in the era where the Justice League was struggling a lot with the question of intervening in other societies to right wrongs, I seem to recall her making a lot of decisions that ended up backfiring later because of her zeal to protect people without fully understanding the situation. And Identity Crisis and the aftermath in 52 seem to say that she made a mistake and had to fix it and herself.

      re: The Heketaia - I didn't get it. I like Greg Rucka in general, and maybe I'll read it again and like it, but it just didn't quite work for me. I don't think it's because I was more of a Batman fan at the time and I objected to seeing him humbled before her - at least not just that - I just didn't quite follow all the logic of the story and even then, WW didn't seem quite in character.
      But who knows. Maybe another read will change my mind completely. It could happen.

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    2. Hello Historyman:- I want Wonder Woman to be charging around with Etta and Steve and a host of women from Uni plus those FANTASTIC gorillas that Gail Simone introduced. I want it joyous and smart and I don't want a single women at the head of a team of men who display a far greater range of emotions than she does.

      And I think Etta's great too. She's always a good friend, she's brave, often ingenious and I wish it was OK to have a women in the New 52 who wasn't emaciated. (I'm still entirely alientated by New Model Amanda Waller.)

      I wouldn't under-estimate how fascinated by sex Marston was. But I will say that he never preached what he didn't prtactise. It's often not a badge of political virtue, but I can't help but admire a man that was so far out-there during a time when out-there could be determined by not wearing a tie.

      I've no problem with Batman being humble by Wonder Woman. Firstly, she could beat him up without breathing hard, and secondly, there's something wonderful about seeing that joyless bloke in a Bat-suit getting his. But the rest of the book left me cold, I'm with you. I just don't think WW sits well with entirely miserable tales.

      Maybe another reading? I suppose so, but there's a big list of things to get through first :)

      Yeah, go, Etta Candy!

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    3. I too am a fan of the gorillas- they are indeed an excellent addition to the WW mythos, and one that I could easily see Marston including.

      What do you suppose it is about stereotypes that make them such good sidekicks? Because all the best ones I can think of are, maybe besides Robin (though Alfred certainly is). There's something about reducing a character to their very essence, one who's already been defined in popular culture, that then allows you to freely use them to tell whatever story you like.

      Or maybe I'm just immersed in Seth's fictional history of Canadian comics. You won't be surprised, given your previous review, but I'm really enjoying his work. I'd be curious as to your opinion on similarities and differences to Dan Clowes- page layout, and boldly and honestly drawn characters who tend to be jerks, life stories which aren't particularly remarkable- but Seth seems far more interested in creating an entire world- almost Tolkeinesque in that way.

      Anyway, yeah I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels that way about Heketaia. I sometimes feel that way about Rucka, though I love a lot of his stuff. Even Batwoman:Elegy, which has earned justifiably high praise, I think works better as a concept and origin than a story itself. I can recall many moments which are absolutely perfect and heartbreaking- the "a soldier will not tell a lie", the dance, every moment between her and her dad- but the actual story, with the Crime Religion and Alice, just didn't feel as compelling as they could have. None of this intending to disparage him or Batwoman, of course.

      My favorite of his at the moment may be Queen and Country, which actually goes pretty deep and points. The different artists don't always quite work -one, whose style I generally like, draws the female protagonist with distractingly large breasts and sexy figure - but the stories he tells are quite compelling. And of course Gotham Central should have been made into a tv show ten years ago.

      But anyway- yeah, WW (and Superman, really) is best served by punching out Nazis and riding giant Winged Vesuvian Shrimp-Monsters, not being all gloomy and having her family be murderer-rapists. It's just not necessary. I'll still read the book, probably, and I might even find stuff I like- I do like her dealing with gods and stuff- but what you describe here still feels fundamentally not-Wondy.

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    4. Hello Historyman:- Bring back the gorillas, that's what I want. Well, I actually want a huge number of changes, but gorillas are right there on the list.

      As far as I grasp the theory, the job of the sidekick is to help define the protagonist. This can be done, I'm told, but accentuating qualities which the lead either does or doesn't have. Robin is light to Batman's shadow, Watson is the human, grounded aspect that Holmes often lacks. Of course, the best sidekicks transcend being stereotypes, but if they grow too complex, there's always the risk that they'll out-shine the lead, as, to take one obscure comics example which comes to mind, the Black Canary did - and did for - Johnny Thunder.

      I really will check out Clowes' History. It sounds inspiring.

      I find myself agreeing entirely with the idea that a great deal of GR's work works better as a concept than a story. I'm not convinced that his work is always as emotionally convincing as it might be. I'm grateful that he prefers understatement, I really am, but I'm not always involved in his characters as I am in his plots.

      I love your line about excessively-grim WW and Supes stories: "It's just not necessary." Well, it's not, is it :)

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  34. Hi Isaac:- As far as I’m concerned, a blogger who’s tired of smart and civil comments deserves to have their blog taken away. Call the blog police!!!!

    First things first, Hermes is a cool character. The whole collection of Wonder sidekicks have their virtues. Sadly, the omnipresence of testicles is not one of them.

    It is a fair point that Marston had interests beyond gender equality and female emancipation to pursue in Wonder Woman. Mind you, he thought that all that unconventional sex was good for everyone, including, if memory serves, himself too. But Wonder Woman was designed from day one to be a feminist book, in Marston’s terms, and the idea of lending inspiration and comfort was there from the first panel. But, yes, so was all that wonderfully bizarre sex, a matter which, if handled sensitively and with good humour, still might play in part in grounding the Amazon’s noble nature – pre-BZ – with something earthy and controversial.

    “And I'll tell you "Why not Wonder Woman?" (ah, don't worry Colin, I've been paying attention to what you've written) it's because there are no other books to show her winning out, being strong and positive and whatnot.”

    And, if I can run with your point, there are a great many other books which present this kind of sexist narrative as a given. For every Batwoman or Batgirl, there’s comic after comic which regards women as at best window dressing.

    Perhaps if there’d been anything else in #7 which countered the Amazonian reboot with a positive representation of women, then it might have been a less contentious book. But that would’ve taken somebody saying (1) you do know what this is saying politically? and (2) you do know that this is going to be read in a single issue format?

    “I guess what I'm saying is I intellectually agree with you, without being inclined to feel as strongly about it as you do. Sorry! I did say I was embarrassed about it...”

    You’re always a good egg to swap ideas with, Mr I, whether I’m following your lead, as has certainly happened, or vice-versa. On the level of a story in isolation from the politics, the issue isn’t bad, and I agree with you that the creative team are in no way without considerable merit as craftsmen – but the canoeing naked sex-killers scene is tacky as heck, though; did no-one reason that that would sink the book in the eyes of a great many unRumpers alone. It’s those miscalculations, the tacky gawping, the absence of female characters, which makes the comic feel as if it’s not just a misjudgement or a set-up for a future issue, but a reflection of a carelessly insensitive world view.

    “As an aside: as far as Wonder Woman goes, I liked the stuff where she was an ambassador for Themyscira, and had the Minotaur friend. I've bought "The Heketaia" by Greg Rucka for any female friends of mine that'd like Wonder Woman stuff … “

    It’s all abit grim for me, I fear, but I respect the interpretation, I really do. I just prefer my Diana to be more joyful. That, of course, is entirely a matter of opinion.

    I guess what happens next can only be interesting. Thanks for popping over. Who knows, the next issue may well be one which shows the sexism of #7 was a deliberate misdirection? Fingers crossed … :)

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  35. I’ve been trying to find Steinem’s 1972 essay on Wonder Woman where she says t hat one of the things that makes Diana extra special is that she is not one woman against the world, but that she has sisters who will back her up when she fights the good fight.

    Steinem was used to seeing one woman against the world. Hell, she was used to being one woman against the world. But a strong woman who had other strong women who shared her values watching her back was awe-inspiring.

    It still is.

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    1. Hello Lioness:- I have the Steinem essay from the Wonder Woman collection from that period. Oddly, there's no publication/copyright year given, but I think it's from 1972. If it is, the following is the closest I can find to what you described;

      "Wonder Woman's family of Amazons on Paradise Island, her band of college Girls In America, and her efforts to save individual women are all welcome examples of women working together and caring about each other's welfare. The idea of such cooperation may not seem particularly revolutionary to the male reader: Men are routinely depicted as working well together. But women know how rare and therefore exhilarating the idea of sisterhood really is."

      I hope that's the quote you're looking for. Let me know if I can be of any help, or if you'd like me to take another look.

      Even that paragraph focusing on one aspect of Wonder Woman leaves #7 looking thoroughly despicable, doesn't it?

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    2. Well, to be fair, it seems like WW#7 does have them all working together for each others' welfare. It's just that their welfare involves them boating around naked to rape and murder sailors. Still, they're working together!

      (all of this said with tongue firmly in cheek, of course)

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    3. Hello Historyman:- It would certainly be fantastic if somebody put WW#7 forward as an example of post-Feminism. Oh, I would love to see a sincere attempt to make that argument ...

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  36. I liked the first issue, and kind of liked the next few, but won't be picking up number 7. Number 6 didn't satisfy me, and reading the naked canoeing scene was depressing. Cliff Chang is a very good artist, and I like his Diana. It's a shame that Brian Azzarello chose to steer the book in this unfortunate direction.

    -Mike Loughlin

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    1. Hello Mike:- I agree that there was a considerable measure of promise in the reboot of WW, and I do like Cliff Chang's art. He's an artist whose work I always keep an eye out for.

      I find it quite inexplicable how many folks are discussing this book in terms of what might happen in the book's future. It's as if a great many comic fans are in denial about the idea that each individual comic will be read in that form. Nobody would think of producing a comic starring a Black superhero where everyone else who isn't a despicable killer and sexual abuser is white, and where all the Black folks except for the hero are portrayed in the negative light that the Amazons are in WW#7.

      Yep. It is indeed a shame that Brian Azzarello chose to steer the book this-a-way. And even if it's a misdirection, it's an entirely regrettable one.

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    2. Hi Colin: Actually, the first thing that came to mind when I was casting about for analogies was "imagine a Black Panther relaunch in which he discovers that Wakanda has been running a white-slavery ring for centuries." That wouldn't be very cool either, even if you hedge it as "apparently discovers".

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    3. Hello Marl: Yes! THAT'S the example I trying to think of. I'm glad you thought of it :)

      Sir, I raise I Sunday morning hat to you!

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    4. Oh man, I'd like to see Marvel try to talk themselves out of that one. Or, more likely, fanboys try to talk Marvel out of that one. "You see, it's based on old mythologies about white slavery - it's a very potent image, and very true to what these original stories were saying. Yes, you could interpret it in a racial way, but geez, stop being so sensitive about everything. Besides, how badass does this make the Wakandans now?!"

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    5. Hello Historyman:- And the worst thing is that I can imagine plenty of folks who'd make that argument. I really can. I could imagine every word. Oh dear ...

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  37. How odd. I seem to remember the Amazons "historically" portrayed as a race of women who would give themselves mastectomies in order to perfect their archery. Someone better redraw those canoes of double breasted women for the trade paperback...

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    1. Hello Randomwords:- And at one stroke you reveal how literal-minded I can be. I was SO set on taking on what had been written that I quite missed - and shamefully so - the quite excellent point you make. Yes, you're quite right, and I wish I'd taken my mind off debating with what had been written and set myself to thinking as you have. Many thanks for adding an essential counter to the Flakkering argument.

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    2. Hello Randomwords:- Got your message about Flakkering. Of course, I ought to realise that I'm using terms I've invented in an idle-minded way and then got in the habit of using without letting anyone know what they mean :) Mea culpa. By "flakkering", I mean - excuse me - "The fan-boy practice of obscuring the strengths of an opposing argument through the use of a great deal of shouting & the use of irrelevant, inadequate counter-arguments".

      By which I mean, my friend, that you are certainly no flakkerer!

      And they can flak off :)

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    3. in order to continue their race the amazons return to the well of souls that contain the souls of women killed violently before their time by men.the gods then allow these souls to come down into physical bodies just as hippolyta and the other amazons were first created in the wonderfully done eighties reboot by george perez.

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  38. DC Comics' 'New 52' portrayal (or betrayal) of Wonder Woman and the Amazons is why I quit backing DC. What I loved (and I mean loved) about Wonder Woman was that she was built on the idea that reason and love could solve more problems that hate and violence. Sadly, DC threw that WW away. This new one seems more Conan the Barbarian. If this is what Diana will be from here on then I never want to see this on the big screen or television. Gone is the wisdom of Athena and the compassion of Aphrodite. DC turned our Wonder Woman from a dove into a hawk. Just for the record, I'm a straight male who doesn't have a feminist bone in his body, but I loved the idea of a society that had overcome the worst aspects of the human psyche (hate, greed, etc.).

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    1. Hello There:- I can only agree with every word you've said. In truth, I was so disillusioned by #7 that I've only been back twice since, and both issues seemed to be thin and, as you say, more Conan than Princess Diana of the Amazons.

      Sigh and pah ....

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