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She Has No Head! – It Took Gail Simone

If you thought last week’s Lois Lane confession was a big deal…well I’m going to blow your minds this Wonder Woman #40week because…I’ve never liked Wonder Woman.

Let me give that a minute to soak in…you with the rotten fruit in back…sit down…let me finish and then if you still want to throw it…be my guest.

I know there are actually a surprising number of people who feel this way about Wonder Woman, but as a “Women in comics! Go!” advocate of sorts, I’ve long buried my head in shame at the fact that I couldn’t seem to like Wonder Woman no matter how I tried.  Although I’ve been informed by my mother that as a child I possessed (and loved) my Wonder Woman underoos – which makes me think that there was a time when I loved Wonder Woman – but it wasn’t a time I can remember, so it remains a source of shame.  It feels kind of good to come clean actually.

Here’s the real problem though…I couldn’t really tell you why I didn’t like her.  It wasn’t like with Lois Lane where I had never really given her a chance, or because her original concept was as someone’s girlfriend (which of course would rub me the wrong way), or because I had some weird possibly unfounded dislike for her profession.

On paper Wonder Woman is actually my dream superheroine.

She’s a powerful woman that needs no man to make her important.  CHECK

She comes from a badass three thousand year old matriarchal society.  CHECK

She’s an Amazon. DOUBLE CHECK (I love the idea of Amazons and exploring the history of Amazon culture in a fictional way).

As a result of her Amazon heritage she sees herself as a sister to all women, immediately making her a positive female portrayal unlike many of her contemporaries.  CHECK.

And many of her stories are based on mythology, a subject I love.  CHECK.

So really, before an issue is written or drawn, she’s just a character I should be into, and yet I’ve repeatedly found myself bored and bristling whenever I read her over the years.

And I tried MANY of the different versions of Diana. Over the last 15+ years of comics reading I’ve picked up many a random Wonder Woman issue and also made an effort to read entire arcs in trade trying to force myself to become a fan.

I’ve sampled the Byrne Wonder Woman, the Perez Wonder Woman, the Heinberg Wonder Woman, the Picoult Wonder Woman, a lot of the Rucka Wonder Woman (it’s the version that came closest for me), some Jimenez Wonder Woman…and even an issue of Brian K. Vaughan’s Wonder Woman…but despite all these different takes, and even in the hands of arguably my favorite comic book writer (Rucka) I have just never gotten Diana.  And it left me feeling like an impotent bystander, just watching as the most important superheroine in comics, a character I should be enjoying and advocating for, passed me by.

Don’t get me wrong; even though I didn’t “get” her, I still appreciated the hell out of her presence.  I’ve been grateful as all get out for her ability to ride out the tough times and remain an iconic hero…to stand up and hold her own with Batman and Superman over the years.  I’ve also understood (and agreed with) her incredible significance in the tapestry of superhero comics. But I just couldn’t care for her, which at the end of the day in my opinion, is a big fat FAIL.

So what’s the problem?

In an attempt to analyze what the problem might be I decided to write down the first three words that came to mind when I thought of Diana.

  1. Cold
  2. Preachy
  3. Honorable

Yikes.  One out of three ain’t bad?

Those are not the first three words you want coming to mind with the most powerful female superhero in all of comics.  I felt lost.  How could I advocate for female superheroes (and be someone that wrote a freaking novel about them) and not love Wonder Woman?

And then one day it all changed.

Because one day Gail Simone started writing Wonder Woman.

Suddenly, under Gail’s pen Diana became softer and more relatable to me, less perfect and preachy and more interesting, and most importantly, and the key to all of this I think, is that Simone’s Diana is kind of funny.

Funny.

In nothing I read before was Wonder Woman funny.  Even in the hands of Greg Rucka, whose incarnation of Diana I had come the closest to falling for, was Diana ever remotely funny.  Instead she was always serious and formal and stiff (though less so in Rucka’s hands than in other versions).  She was well written and respectfully handled by Rucka, and I think he gets her, but the version of her he gets, just doesn’t personally work for me, not on all levels.  In fact, not only were the old versions of Diana not funny, but she didn’t seem to have much of a sense of humor at all, and I don’t know about you, but a sense of humor, it’s critical.  When I look at the people I adore in my real life, a sense of humor is generally requirement one.  I’m certainly not advocating that Wonder Woman should be all Plastic Man all the time or anything, but funny changes things.

Funny immediately undoes both 1. Cold, and 2. Preachy, in one fell swoop

I can see why not everyone would be on board with this. Funny is certainly a departure from the character that existed for years and years.  For people that already loved Diana and “got” her as I couldn’t, perhaps they see the funny in Simone’s Diana and don’t think it fits the character…and I think that’s fair.  But for me personally, I think there was no way Diana was ever going to find a home in my heart without that sense of humor coming to the forefront a little and making her more real and less princess and perfection.

So let’s take a look at some of the moments that Simone has hit in her run that have turned me around…*

First, on page seven of Simone’s first issue (vol.3 #14), and really, only page two of Diana’s appearance in the issue, Diana makes a joke.  Honestly, I almost fell out of my chair…did…did Diana just make a joke?  Hell yes she did:

WW 14 07Also, Simone brought in the gorillas, and honestly?  They’re worth their weight in gold.  They help the levity of the overall book, but as it’s an almost inadvertent comedy (they have no idea that they are freaking hilarious) it helps keep things balanced:

WW 24 13

WW 24 14

WW 24 15

Nemesis aka Tom Tresser as Diana’s love interest works for me.  He’s a very serious very talented guy, walking around pretending to be not so serious and not so talented.  It’s hard to imagine Diana with anyone, perhaps because she herself can’t quite imagine it, but Tom works for me.  I like it and want it to work, and am glad it’s not working easily…it shouldn’t be easy, for either of them.

WW 24 09

WW 24 10

Simone actually managed to make me have kind feelings for sharks.  Impossible you say?  I would have thought so.  I fraking hate sharks…like so much that if someone gave me a button to push saying it would destroy all the sharks in the world but also simultaneously collapse the delicate natural balance of the world and kill us all, I would have to seriously think about it.  That said, the Megalodons, giant ass crazy scary sharks that protect the waters of Themyscira seem honorable as hell, and I felt for them on this page…damn you Simone!:

WW 33 07

Simone does “quiet” issues really brilliantly.  Diana spends so much time fighting (I mean really, the woman never gets a freaking break) that I find myself really appreciating Simone’s more quiet stories, where she gets a couple pages to peruse toy shops in Tokyo with Black Canary:

WW 35 page1

WW 35 page 2Or when she gives Giganta a bit of a beating because her broken heart is just too much too bear (yes, this IS downtime for Diana):

WW 36 page 1

WW 36 page 2

WW 36 page 3

And lest you think from these pages that Simone has made Wonder Woman all girl talk, gorilla hijinx, and stand up comedy routines, don’t worry – here’s some intense violence for you:

WW 26 page 1

WW 26 page 2

WW 26 page 3

Simone’s Wonder Woman is still 90% epic battles, excellent Greek history, and difficult warrior choices, but for me, it’s that 10% that’s something I’ve never quite seen before in Wonder Woman that makes all the battles worth it – makes all the stories and stakes something I can care about.

WW 37 page 1

WW 37 page 2

While writing this column and thinking about why this funny aspect of Diana, something so simple, won me over, I realized that a huge part of the problem for me with Wonder Woman over the years is that she always gets put into this frame of ‘she must be all things to all people…she must be perfect’ and that is just impossible, even for a superhero…even for a comic book character.

While Batman and Superman get to be just that…Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman ends up getting put on this pedestal that expects her to be every woman…to represent all things good and perfect and heroic, and because she’s alone in standing up in representing all women, she can’t also represent the flaws in women…because it undoes the one marquee role model we have.  It doesn’t even matter that it’s impossible to be perfect, because even if it could be done, it isn’t very interesting to read, and it ties the hands of writers and artist everywhere.

So Wonder Woman (both the character and the book) keep getting saddled with this heavy burden of being all women all the time, and of embodying perfection.  But because there are seemingly infinite marquee male leads in comics – Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Wolverine, – you can take your pick, and they can all signify different takes on heroes in comics.  But when you boil it down there is only one long running marquee heroine in comics – Wonder Woman.  So she has to cover ALL the bases – and it’s just too much load for any one character (or book) to bear, and she’s constantly buckling under it.  It’s impossible for Diana to be all things to all people and it’s the primary reason I think that she (and her book) are so often considered a disappointment despite the brilliant creators, writers, and artists often at the helm.

But this to me is why the simple act of adding a much needed sense of humor, both to the book in general, and to Wonder Woman specifically helps to cut back on those expectations.  How can you be disappointed that she (and by association her book) cannot be ALL things when you’re too busy laughing and falling in love with her?

Once you fall in love (as I finally did) it’s easy see that nobody can be all things, but that doesn’t make her contribution any less…and it doesn’t mean she can’t be loved for just being.

The irony is that I think the simple solution to “fixing the Wonder Woman problem” that I’m always reading about is not to do anything to her.  She’s fine as she is, and she probably always has been (well, mostly), it’s just that she needs some powerful superheroines to carry the load with her.  She needs a powerful Batman superheroine equivalent (and wouldn’t it be great if we get that as rumored in the form of an ongoing Batwoman with Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III at the helm); she needs a Flash and Captain America, a Spider-Man, a Wolverine and an Iron Man.  She needs other powerful women to have strong ongoing (long running) books so that she doesn’t have to answer the ‘female superheroine question’ alone.  They can all answer it in their own ways, as the men do, allowing Diana to answer it in hers.

Of course this takes a long time.  You can’t have a marquee hero overnight.  And it’s not going to be easy, it wasn’t easy for Diana forging mostly alone these past 69 years, and so it won’t be easy for others, although it should be easier considering that Diana has paved the way to a degree.  Hopefully as comics change and more progressive men and women become involved on all levels from editors on down the line, we’ll see that change and Wonder Woman won’t have to carry the burden alone.

If you, like me, have been on the fence with Wonder Woman over the years, I urge you to check out Simone’s take on Diana, it’s not going to work for everyone, but I really do believe there’s something new and interesting there, something that deserves a look.  And now is a great time to take that look, Issue #40 just came out last week, and it’s the beginning of a new arc.  I’ll be honest, it wasn’t my absolute favorite of Simone’s issues since she started, and on the heels of such an intense emotionally resonant arc, it had a lot to live up to, but I’ve come to trust Simone with Diana, and so I know that even if #40 wasn’t my favorite issue of all time, she’s got the character down and the story she tells will be rewarding, illuminating, and enjoyable.  And what more could I really ask of a superhero comic?

* I didn’t talk about the art here, because this post wasn’t really about the art, but I think it speaks for itself in the pages I posted.  Wonder Woman has been in very good and respectful hands for a long while now – between Aaron Lopresti, Bernard Chang, and Terry Dodson (and with Nicola Scott on deck) – the art on Wonder Woman has been consistently beautiful for Simone’s entire run.

71 Comments

[…] She Has No Head! column up at CSBG.  All about Wonder Woman and my long standing attempts to fall in love with […]

Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman run has been very “meh” to me. And I usually love Gail Simone in other series like Birds of Prey and Secret Six. I am at my job right now, and can’t write much to explain exactly why. Maybe later.

For the record, my favorite runs are Rucka, Perez, and Jimenez.

Kelly, do you really think George Perez’s portrayal of Diana presented her as “cold”? Preachy and honourable, yep. Not much of a sense of humour? Perhaps. But cold? She was all sweet and innocent and wide-eyed and smiley. Probably warmer than most other comic book characters.

I loved Perez’s take on WW, and haven’t yet read Simone’s (although I liked her when she guested in BoP).

Worth pointing out that the preachy Wonder Woman As Your Mother – which I also hate – is almost completely a post-Crisis invention. The majority of the post-’40s Marston Wonder Woman stories aren’t… well, not very GOOD, but she didn’t turn into a personality vacuum until relatively recently.

Wow. Not a single panel posted makes me want to read Simone’s Wonder Woman. Lots of cutsey-poo posturing and posing and laughable dialogue with some gratuitous gruesomeness thrown into meet DC’s dead-woman quota.

Rene: I don’t think Perez’s take is specifically cold, no. And when I say cold, I don’t necessarily mean cruel or anything (as Wonder Woman is anything but) but more…formal…removed. That said, in all truth, I really disliked Perez’s take (she felt very silly and inconsequential to me) and I did not read more than a couple arcs. So it’s possible I’m missing something there that you see and respond to. But I think my whole case here is that I get why some people like other takes and maybe don’t like this one, but this is why I like Simone’s and not others. Of all the great creators I listed that have had their hands on Wonder Woman prior to Simone, Rucka’s is the only one I remotely liked. Which bums me out a bit, as I said.

David B: A lot of people that like Simone’s work, don’t really love her take on Diana (see Rene above), but I say give it a chance when you get the opportunity.

MarkAndrew: I have read very little of the early Wonder Woman stuff (which is why I mentioned in the article, exactly which writers I had read).

Irwin Schwab: Well, to each his/her own. In my opinion Wonder Woman’s stories tend to be very complicated, and so it can be hard to sample pages and understand the larger picture, but if you didn’t like anything at all here then I don’t suppose this book is for you.

Have you read Caldwell’s WW strip for Wednesday Comics? His interpretation of Diana is very much not cold, but the art takes a bit (OK, a lot) of work to get into. Specifically the density of panels and word balloons, since some of the pages have 30 or so panels with framing dialogue.

It helps that he portrays a younger Diana.

Thok: I LOVED the way Caldwell drew WW in Wednesday Comics – I thought it was some of the most beautiful artwork in Wednesday Comics period, however, ultimately it was much too hard to read and I gave up (after slogging through the story for two issues). As you said the density and the size of the word balloons combined with the sheer number of panels and the way it was paced – it was too hard and frustrating in that format. It really bummed me out actually, because it was a take (and a look) I was (and am) very interested in.

Kelly and morrison gave WW a sense of humor on their respective runs in JLA. Just sayin.’

I’ve been reading Wonder Woman comics for more than forty years, and I’ve always thought that she worked best as a member of the JLA. Her solo title has pretty much always been weak. She was my favorite character on the Justice League cartoon. Some characters just work better with other heroes to play off of (Hawkeye, Martian Manhunter, Vision, etc.)

I really like what Gail Simone has done with her comic, though it could use more elephants, marching bands and spankings.

I really like what Gail Simone has done with her comic, though it could use more elephants, marching bands and spankings.

But that’s true of ALL comics! :)

I prefer everyone else who wrote WW including Morisson, Waid and Kelly before this relaunch. The things you cite I have seen in Diana and done much much better. WW has never been more messy than in this 3rd series. Basically WW still does not know who or what she is …play I spy, hero, wanna be baby mama,( can we say that of Superman and Batman?) and nor do DC and that is a sad indictment of the character.

The minute DC said WW does not know how to be human= fail. I don’t know what the character has been doing all these years.

I am enjoying Simone’s WW run, but I don’t LOVE it for some reason, like I do her work on BoP and Secret Six. Still haven’t been able to put my finger on why yet…

As for WW as a character, I liked the TV show as a kid and had tons of WW comics (unusual for a little boy, I know…) but the only time I truly loved her adventures was the Perez run. Yes, it had its goofy moments and was very different from what came before, but I thought he did a wonderful job at the “fish out of water” aspect of Diana’s *ahem* maiden voyage to “Man’s World.” Her friendships with the Kapatelis’ was real and meaningful, the Greek mythology based threats made sense in how Perez worked them into the story, and Diana never seemed preachy to me during his run really. She was an ambassador after all, so she was prone to the occasional speech, but I never found it distracting.

The Perez run was also the first time DC made an active attempt at getting female creators to work on the character, from Karen Berger as editor, to Mindy Newell as co-writer, to Jill Thompson and Cynthia Martin’s runs as artist on the book, to the 1989 annual which was completely written, drawn, colored, and lettered by female creators.

“I really like what Gail Simone has done with her comic, though it could use more elephants, marching bands and spankings.”

You are going to love issue 41. :)

Kelly,

This is a lovely article, full of what I, too, love about Wonder Woman. Not my version of her, but the character herself. I think you have really gotten to her core.

Thank you so much.

Gail

@ Kelly

Gail has quietly been a powerhouse in comics, and I am glad she delivered for you.

Cut yourself some slack. 1) It is not like there even close to enough female (and other “minority”) characters to even approach satisfying all the readers various needs. 2) As you point out: No one character can be all loved, so stop apologizing for not loving icons…particularly Lane and WW (who I have neither a defensive or offensive feeling toward). Marvel at its best and DC at its most surprising has been clear to have flaws in their characters that can run counter satisfying all.

1. “Cold
2. Preachy
3. Honorable”

Wait, isn’t that what Obama has been labeled this past week…(in his case I think the cold, preachy accusation is inarticulate).

For me the history of Wonder Woman’s creation is what makes her interesting. I hate to say it, but the life of a man is what has built my interest in her. Dr. William Moulton Marston’s paradoxical or ironic attempts to create a feminist superhero in 1941, his open marriage and S&M home life and Wonder Women’s early visual iconography of bondage regularly depicted in the comic, and his role in taking on Dr. Fredric Wertham during the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency in 1953. This is what makes her success, iconography and development (slow as it has been) as a character fascinating.

I like Simone’s run on Wonder Woman a lot. It started out a little cold for me, but it was through no fault of hers. I don’t like – nor do I agree with the need for – the Diana Prince identity. That and…I don’t know. While post-IC, the Bat and Superfamilies have flourished, it feels as though the Wonder Femmes have floundered a bit.

Having said that, I enjoy Gail’s run on the book. While it’s not what the Rucka run was for me – I loved the formal ambassador who had come to Man’s World angle more – there’s still a lot of fun do be head here. While it doesn’t have the bright spark that her work on Birds of Prey and Secret Six have had, it’s miles better than anything that Heinberg or Picoult had done.

I haven’t read Gail’s issues yet, but from what I’ve seen, they might be worth a look for me.

I don’t think Perez’s version was particularly ‘funny,” but I don’t feel that she was as removed as you’re saying, either. In fact, it was Perez who gave Diana her first grounded, human, supporting cast in the form of the Kappatelises, Myndi Mayer, and his very real and very human Steve and Etta. William Messner-Loebs, though his writing was later bogged down by DC’s insistence on doing a fake-replacement stunt with WW the way they had done with Superman and Batman, gave Diana a lot more whimsy and humor once he took over the book.

I think a wall that stands in the way of people becoming overly fond of Wonder Woman as a character is the fact that she never seems to be interpreted with the same personality from incarnation to incarnation. Some of that is probably due to the fact that her original depiction, under the hands of Moutlon-Marston, was simply not one that could survive into the modern time. WW’s mythological origins also separate her from humanity in a way that Batman and even Superman’s don’t. So, I can understand your difficulty in getting “into” her. I think though, that ultimately, the constant tinkering with her (especially in the years leading up to and away from Infinite Crisis) and the fact that the comic has never been a particularly high seller, have made her into kinf of a mess.

Lovely stuff, the opening arc of Simone’s run immediately set to work re-establishing Diana as a strong, determined, warm character – while also accomodating the topsy turvy status changes of before. I was impressed with how well this merger of old and new was managed.

Neo-nazis invasions and gorilla warriors…can’t go wrong.

Kelly: For what it’s worth, the earlier issues of Caldwell’s strip are the worst in terms of the density. The later ones work a lot better (partially do to some changes in the printing process.)

Plus, you get to see Caldwell’s versions of Cheetah (Priscilla Rich version), Dr. Poison, and Etta Candy.

In addition to Morrison and Kelly giving WW a sense of humour, Christopher Priest did two excellent, memorable, funny issues…years ago.

As for Wonder Woman carrying the burden of female heroism by herself: Supergirl and Catwoman have had long-running solo series. I wonder why the symbolic weight falls on Wonder Woman. Because she’s not connected to Superman/Batman?

I myself, love what Gail Simone has been doing for Wonder Woman. I think she has given Diana a voice that I can relate too. Especially the “Diana/Tom” pairing

And Kelly Tompson what a GREAT Artickle!! Here’s hoping for a few more years of Simone’s Wonder Woman

Oh man, I typed my Username wrong LOL Sorry~~

Wow. Not a single panel posted makes me want to read Simone’s Wonder Woman. Lots of cutsey-poo posturing and posing and laughable dialogue with some gratuitous gruesomeness thrown into meet DC’s dead-woman quota.

Totally agree. That was really dreadful. I cringed and winced a few times.

This current run of Wonder Woman has been a bit of a let down for me. I have loved Simone’s work on Birds of Prey, The Atom, and Secret Six (If DC is against letting Ostrander write another Suicide Squad ongoing, she or Rucka are the only two I would trust to do the property justice). I collected the first two story arcs (the Circle and the one with the demon sending her through time) but it didn’t grab me. I figured that, maybe, it would read better in trade. So I picked up the Rise of the Olympian trade and was very disappointed. I wish that some of those “down time” issues had been included because it just read as…rushed. I guess the groundwork for why one should care about the characters had been laid earlier but I found myself with no sense of consequence for the Genocide story. The story with the male Amazons was also a bit of a non-starter for me as well in that it seemed far more interesting but was given very little page space compared to the Doomsday rehash of Genocide (so it seemed reading it).

In retrospect, I think I had some WW fatigue after the not very good Amazons Attack and Picoult’s run. It seems like there are only a couple of moves a writer can do with the Amazons (take them off the board or endanger them constantly) and WW’s list of villains isn’t very deep (Circe again?). I felt like I had seen this dance two or three times before and, as talented as Simone is, I just found myself kind of bored with the whole thing. The really weird thing is that when Simone writes WW in a non-WW comic (like Secret Six) I love it! So, I am not sure if characterization is the problem so much as kind of off-putting plotting choices…if that makes any sense? I have a feeling some of this stuff is editorial meddling (it felt like the two plot lines in Rise of the Olympian deserved twice the space to make them work but things were rushed to fit with some grand scheme or another) which is the curse of working with the A level characters, I suppose.

Anyway, the point is, I still love Simone but I will not be collecting any more of Wonder Woman.

To each his own I guess

Eh, Gail’s run is fun enough. Parts of it are very good, parts of it are just good, parts of it have Nemesis in them (I can’t stand him. I spent every page of his plot line wishing for his messy, fridgy death [so to speak]). Nothing in it, for me, has come even close to Rucka’s run, though (especially his Medousa arc). His whole “West Wing meets Xena” tone was exactly, exactly what I’ve always wanted from WW, and never before gotten. Simone’s been saddled with a lot of things I can’t stand (“Diana Prince,” Nemesis, Zeus taking Olympus back, etc.), and the stronger bits just haven’t been strong enough to balance them out. And the humor you’d been missing until now, I mostly find irritating and unfunny.

So there’s no pleasing everyone, I guess. I’ll keep reading, of course. I have thirty+ years invested in Diana, and like I said, there are aspects of this run I like. But it’s nowhere near a high point for me. Oh well.

Kelly –

My reasons for not enjoying Simone’s run so much are several.

I don’t object so much to the characterization. Wonder Woman is warmer and funnier with Simone, but I think she is also a bit more unremarkable and less distinguishable from your average superheroine, personality-wise. So the pros and the cons more or less even out, IMO.

My real gripes are:

1) Simone inflicts unusual emotional ordeals on Diana in certain major storylines, but don’t quite convince me of what is happening. In one story, Diana loses her soul and goes red-eyed and kinda bloodthirsty for several issues and there is a lot of metaphysical babble about what is happening, but the situation never feels horrifying or harrowing (I mean, I never lost my soul, but I am assuming it would be horrifying), it only feels confusing and remote.

In other major story there is this villain called Genocide that is supposed to be major bad-ass and has a sort of aura that makes people despair. Again, lots of talk and talk and talk about how horrible Genocide is supposed to be, but it just doesn’t come across as horrible or threatening. And not only because Genocide looks kinda goofy. It’s like Simone can’t establish the mood the story requires and depends on expository dialogue to convince us of what is happening.

2) I admited that most times Diana seems warmer and more human wth Simone. Except that she has never been more alien and more calculating than when she tells Nemesis that she never loved him, she doesn’t know how to love a man very well, she only courted him and strung him along because she is the last Amazon and she wants a heir. I did feel sorry for her inability to enter into a more normal relationship, yep. But it was very odd to have this major piece of creepy, pathethic alienation when Simone is supposed to make Diana warmer.

3) Genocide. Man, she is goofy, And when she is supposed to be the major villain of the piece that should induce nightmares… I am never one to object to the use of real life tragedies in comics, but for someone who is supposed to represent what happened in Rwanda or Yugoslavia and the bad karma of those events, Genocide is remarkably not-scary.

4) Hey, I like fun, I like whimsy. I love “Incredible Hercules.” But for every idea Simone has in Wonder Woman that is genuinely fun (like the gorillas and the neo-nazis) there is another that is just.. weird. What is the deal with Zeus and the olympian gods dressed in those purple and gold sci-fy astronaut suits? And while Diana and Black Canary fighting undercover in that underground arena is cool, Wonder Woman in space fighting a Green Lantern is sort of lame. Simone alternates between cool and lame in Wonder Woman.

5) Except Genocide, Genocide is always lame.

What really grabbed me about Simone’s Wonder Woman, and turned me around on the character in a way similar to you, Kelly, was how she spent the first year examining the various aspects of the character’s personality — as a daughter and sister, as a peacemaker and a warrior, as an example to other women — in a way that highlighted both their symbolic importance and their importance to her as a person. It was one of the first times she seemed like a real character to me, as opposed to a projection of the author’s women’s issues. Also, that she did all this while giving her lots of things to punch, a boyfriend and all the troubles one entails, and some awesome gorilla sidekicks.

Of course, some people seem to want their Wonder Woman cold (I would have used the word “distant” as well) and preachy, but some people just can’t be helped.

What is it with us Kelly, we both are ambivalent to character women are ‘supposed’ to like or aspire to.

I like the article and it details a lot of reasons of why I like Simone’s WW run so far. My one question would be whether the sense of humor is a general requirement or just that it happens to make WW better for you in Simone’s version? The reason why I ask is that Batman almost NEVER has a sense of humor in the modern versions of the character, but that doesn’t seem to have hurt his popularity at all. Or does that version of Batman turn you off, too?

The moment that sold me on Simone’s WW actually happened back in Birds of Prey, when she was helping Dinah work out some issues by fighting with big sticks. At the end of it, Dinah realizes that Diana was pretty much playing the whole situation from the word “go,” including taking a beating at the end, and Diana says something about Amazons being willing to take a hit from a sister if that’s what she needs. It was sort of beautiful and bloodthirsty at the same time and I loved the contradiction.

You should also probably check out the WW DTV animated movie if you haven’t, which I thought kicked much ass and probably think is the best DTV DC’s done so far (and is only seriously challenged by “Planet Hulk,” which streets tomorrow). I think I can also still see Gail Simone’s fingerprints all over it ,and I don’t think those two facts are unrelated.

I personally never had any real gripes with ANY writer writing Wonder Woman. I think all writers have put a certain stamp on the character that is awesome and makes them shine. For me Gail Simone has added that these Amazons are MORE than Just Amazons. They are WOMEN. With Needs. That is the theme that has been missing from almsot all writers (save Marston)

Seeing Diana yearn for children and a husband was “Humanistic” in nature. I so respect Gail for doing that. It take cajones to write that. Odd though that some would think that Gail was being “Anti-feminist” when writing that storyline

@ Kelly:

Great article.

Edward Liu. Gail’s fingerprints ARE all over the Wonder Woman animated movie. There is no doubt in my mind. You only need to check out her current Wonder Woman run to really get that.

And you are also right the movie was AWESOME!!!

Hey everyone, been away for a bit. Can’t effectively respond to all of these, but will try to respond/answer those that I can, and give a general thanks to everyone who is commenting, whether this Diana is your cup of tea or not.

@Gail Simone: I’m of course hugely happy that you enjoyed the article. And thanks for stopping by. :)

@Amit!: I’m with you on the Diana Prince identity. I didn’t want to get into it in my post because it seemed to derail the point I was trying to make. But Diana Prince would be my one major complaint. That said, Simone has all but phased it out as far as I can tell. We haven’t seen Diana as ‘Diana Prince’ since…well I’m not sure exactly…but many many issues – which I’ve been thankful for. I’m particularly not a fan of the whole ‘Circe “gift” of Diana being powerless in her Prince form’ – I can understand why Heinberg (or whoever dictated it) thought it was a cool idea, but it doesn’t work for me.

The entire Prince identity doesn’t work for me…perhaps because a huge part of Diana is absolute truth (wasn’t she even reborn as the goddess of truth at one point?) so I don’t really understand how the dual identity, which though harmless in a way (I also believe is harmful in a way) is anything other than a lie. And that doesn’t work for me with Diana. In my perfect world Simone will find a way to completely remove the Diana Prince aspect…and further, that we find a way to undo the Circe “gift” as I don’t want Diana’s new “powerless human form” being used against her in the future. I love that Batman is also Bruce Wayne (and vice versa) and though I don’t often read Superman, I think Clark and Superman work, but part of what makes Wonder Woman fundamentally different than both of them to me is that she does not need that. She is who she is. It’s plain and honest and I don’t know that the Diana I believe in would want it any other way.

@Michael P: I completely agree…and like what I said above to Amit! about not liking the Diana Prince aspect, I wrote a whole section about my like of this aspect of Simone’s take, but in the end it took away the focus of the article and I had to drop it (maybe I’ll talk more about it at a later date).

I really loved the reinforcement on Simone’s run of Diana’s genuine love of all women. Her use of ‘sister’ (which she uses under most writers) really seemed more believable to me with this warmer Diana. Without the warmth, ‘sister’ I think could be taken almost as a condescending thing to say. But there’s none of that here.

I also liked Simone’s return to (and other writers have done this as well) the true devotion and adoration of Diana by the Amazons, as if they are all her mother, since they are childless and raised her all together, it seems only natural to me that they would be wholly devoted to her and I have not enjoyed the stories in which they don’t seem to feel this way. Of course the connection to Hippoloyta is the strongest, but I was genuinely moved several times in the most recent arc by the behavior of the Amazons – to protect and save Diana at all costs – like any mother would. That is what happens when you have hundreds (thousands?) of mothers – imagine the power of that. I confess to getting goose bumps a couple times – most especially when Alkyone and her three companions are shocked to find the Amazons running at them, not to fight them, but to borderline commit suicide in an attempt to save the princess. They care for nothing but Diana. That is powerful stuff.

@Nikki: I think sometimes the very fact that a character is designed especially as something that we should want, immediately makes us turn away from it. I often feel this way (especially lately) with characters that are designed purely to be “cool” or “badass”…they suddenly become to me the opposite of that.

@ the few of you that mentioned JLA runs in which Diana is well written. I don’t read JLA with any consistency, so I can’t speak to whether those worked for me or not, but it’s entirely possible they would have if Diana came with a bit of a funny bone. :)

@Edward Liu: Because a sense of humor is the one most drastic difference I noticed between Simone’s take and all the others I’ve read I suspect that the sense of humor is the key. Especially because I really like Rucka’s take in general and it came really close for me and yet it is missing the sense of humor that Simone instilled in Diana.

As for Batman, this is interesting, because I guess a lot of people believe Bruce/Batman is not funny or doesn’t have a sense of humor, and I suppose it does depend on the writer…but the version of Batman that I hold in my head…as who I feel he “is” has a great sense of humor it’s just very very VERY dry and quite dark. Certainly different than what I’d expect from Diana. Batman is more sarcasm to me. Diana is ‘my world is so very odd’ how can I help but laugh.

@Jessica: I also liked the West Wing meets Xena take that Rucka had…but you know what is true about both The West Wing and Xena that I didn’t really see or feel in Rucka’s pages? Those shows are funny. Xena is quite funny…almost slapstick. And The West Wing, while a serious drama, does not go a single episode without some laughs. Life is tragedy a lot of the time, but you have to be able to laugh. And I yearned for that in the Rucka take, without even realizing that that was what I was yearning for.

I also want to be clear that none of this should be seen as bagging on Greg Rucka. As I wrote in my Batwoman/Detective Comics post, Greg Rucka is my favorite writer working today. If I only had money to buy two books a month it would be his Detective Comics and his Stumptown. And if he moves to Batwoman I expect it will be his Batwoman and his Stumptown. I really could not be a bigger Rucka fan.

@Rene: You make good points, and as someone that obviously loves Diana I certainly respect them, I do however have a point for point disagree…for what it’s worth. Take it as you will :)

1. I agree that the arc where Diana travels through time and loses her soul was not my favorite, it had some strong points, but overall I would say that was the weakest of Simone’s arcs – for me. Particularly clunky was when Diana first lost her soul (and how exactly did Candy get into that soulless place and get Diana ‘back’? I have no idea).

I disagree on Genocide. I do think the design for the character is quite ridiculous, and I admit that it hindered my taking the character as seriously as I’d like, but first and foremost I don’t suspect I can blame Simone for that. Secondly, I thought the fact that Genocide openly killed a woman in front of Diana – something I almost never actually see – despite all the violence – helped get me over the hump of how serious this character was. Then the fact that it absolutely destroyed Diana in battle and by her words “best me as a warrior” was powerful. The fact that it took her lasso from her by force and left her so beaten (physically and emotionally) that she was unable to escape from rebar bonds solidified for me the power of the character.

2. I did not feel that the scene with Diana and Nemesis at the hands of Genocide was at all calculating and alien. I think she never would have said those hurtful though honest things to him, except that she was being compelled by the lasso and absolute truth. I thought Simone handled the opening of the Tom/Diana relationship well in that Diana admits that she’s never done “this” (this being Amazon courting) before and that she doesn’t know how to. But she also confided in him that what they had begun was only the first stage of their courting…to see if they are compatible. I wouldn’t expect her to be completely in love with him at that stage. Did you stick around for the fallout of that scene you reference (where she is compelled to tell him that she does not love him)? I thought issue #36 very well addressed it. Diana explains everything – quite well I thought – despite her fear that it isn’t going well. Additionally, I found it honorable that Diana could admit that part of her interest in a mate is to preserve her people. With the Amazon’s scattered to the wind it would be disingenuous of her to pretend otherwise. And who would really expect Wonder Woman to fall in love with you overnight? She’s Wonder Woman. She’s not prone to flights of fancy. She also never told Tom that she loved him to my knowledge, so him jumping to that conclusion…is not really her fault. I understand (and respect) his reasons for leaving, but I don’t fault her for it beyond the fact that her life is a difficult one to tie yours to. Additionally, I felt (and it’s actually in the pages I posted above) that she has been very forthright with Tom. When he asks her if she can even feel this (when they’re holding hands) she says, “No…not like you do. But I feel something.” I think that’s honest. And powerful stuff. It made me sad for her. It’s pretty awesome when you can make me sad for Wonder Woman.

3. I think I already addressed this above. Things are not over with Genocide in a sense (although hopefully the silly design will die) but I felt that, and maybe I’m over-reaching in the text, but Diana’s lasso seems f’d up to me ever since Genocide had it surgically implanted in herself. I admit to not always understanding the limits and powers of Diana’s lasso (though I feel like I should figure it out because Simone has been doing a lot with it) but something has seemed ‘off’ about it for a while now…perhaps thanks to Genocide surgically implanting it in herself.

4. I thought the silly Gods suits was something Simone inherited…no? There is some inconsistency…some arcs are better than others. But at the end of the day I’ve enjoyed Simone’s overall take better than any other simply because I like…no, love her Diana and I haven’t ever been able to say that before.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

February 1, 2010 at 5:46 pm

After reading Secret Six, which was the first work by Gail Simone I went absolutely bonkers for, I decided to check out her Wonder Woman… but I made a mistake.
I grabbed the two trades preceding hers as well.
Heinberg’s was alright – the Dodson’s did the heavy lifting – but then came the one by Jodi Picoult… I still haven’t finished it, because it’s so hard to read a book by someone who assumes the reader is a moron, and writes as such.
It not only put me off her work, but even the character – I tried reading the first issue of Simone’s run, but the bad taste Picoult’s take left in my mouth just got in the way.

That said, the DVD animated movie of Wonder Woman was highly entertaining, up there with the Green Lantern one, both of which left me hoping that if/when they do live action films, they take the scripts for those as the blue print.

Tom Fitzpatrick

February 1, 2010 at 6:17 pm

I first tried Gail Simone’s Wildstorm series “Welcome to Tranquility” and for some reason didn’t like it and never have cottoned on to Simone’s work.

Liked Perez’s work on Wonder Woman as well as Rucka’s.

Did WW make a “pass” at Allison? (or was that something else?)

Great article, Kelly!

And I love Gail’s work!

Mindy

The Wonder Woman comic under Gail Simone is the most intelligently written version of Wonder Woman…ever. Don’t mistake that as saying that Wonder Woman is written as super intelligent. She isn’t. She’s pretty smart, but it sometimes takes her a while to figure out things.

Gail’s writing here is akin to the art of Frank Quitely or JH Williams III in it’s beauty. I have enjoyed a lot of Wonder Woman interpretations over the years, including Perez, Jiminez, and Rucka, but this is by far the best.

Thanks, Gail, for the wonderful book. (Pun intended.)

And thanks, Kelly, for a great column.

I know people like to rag on it but come on Ryan Choi and Dr Zeul as a couple is too cool…

Hey if you all can find Talking Gorillas and Disembodied Brains cool, I can find awkward romantic couplings cool…

The fact that Wonder Woman beat her up blinded by her own emotions was just icing on the cake and a humbling experience that not many heroes (or their writers) can do…

I can’t get into Simone’s WW run and I’m terribly frustrated by this. It’s a lot of elements I usually like in her writing and a lot of elements I want to like in Wonder Woman, but it just doesn’t come together to make me feel any real enjoyment.

I wonder if it’s just that Simone is yet another writer who just can’t make me believe that Wonder Woman possesses any sort of humanity. This is not a problem she alone has had, Rucka and Perez’s WWs also felt a bit like robots that said pre-approved interesting phrases.

I like Atom and Giganta going out. But I’m a big fan of Simone’s Atom run, and to see a wee bit of that awesomeness continue brings me joy.

I have to admit that this is one of the first times I’ve really enjoyed Wonder Woman as well. The humor is a huge part of it (and I’m glad you included bits from Tom and Diana’s trip to the Island, my favorite issue thus far), and something that seems to shine through all of Simone’s work. With the darkness in a lot of comics nowadays, that humor seems even more refreshing.

I have to say that I’ve never been interested in Wonder Woman as a character before this post, but now I want to read the issues to find out what happens with the movie, what happens with Genocide and how Wonder Woman ended the relationship with Tom.

How can you not like sharks? For one thing, they give us Shark Week.

I love Wonder Woman, but I’ve tried and can’t get into Simone’s run.

I appreciate the honesty from the comments section.

I appreciate all the comments, good and less good. We’ve been trying some things that I think are pretty subversive in WW and it’s been a pleasure to write her and her amazing cast.

While we’re at it, I hope everyone gives a hand to the great Mindy Newell, who posted here on this very thread.

Not only is Mindy a complete trailblazer as a power female voice in mainstream comics (and a fantastic writer, even more importantly), but she is the REAL first female ongoing writer of Wonder Woman (an honor that was mistakenly credited to me over and over) and comics dearly miss her talents.

Oh god yes, Hats off to Mindy!!! Bless You lady.!!!

Genocide was a cool villain. I hope she does come back. I think the scary part was to find out the TRUE Identity of Who/What Genocide is. As for me her costume didn’t bother me as much as it did for some. Coul it have been better? Sure/ But many villians start out with one costume to later get a much cooler one. So I am good with that.

Thanks Gail/ I hope you can convince someone to let you do a weekly cartoon series of Wonder Woman. Although I am not sure I want a “Kiddie” version though. I would love a JLU type style Wondy toon.

A Wonder Woman animated series would have a lot of potential to be quite good, at least in part because it would be easier to tailor the material toward a predominantly female audience. A major problem with Wonder Woman from its inception is that far more men than women read it, skewing Marston’s intentions for the character pretty decisively. Future iterations couldn’t do much more than pay lip service to her foundational ideas as a result.

to me Wonder woman has always been the female version of batman and superman which is why for most its hard to relate to her. but so far gail has found the key to try and fix it so wonder woman does not have to be so perfect prove she like batman and superman is a normal superpowered being. as for other strong heroes to help her out . Dc has yet to come up with any one worthy to be able to carry the load with wonder woman. besides maybe oracle and black canary

It’s funny – I was just thinking about writing something about Simone’s WW run, because I’ve read so much negativity on the web about it lately. I just finished re-reading all the trades (yup, I’m a waiter), and really enjoyed them.
Her depiction of WW is quite jarring, probably because she has developed a sense of humour, and that’s not been seen before (not in her own title, anyway).
There are highs and lows, but as a whole, having read the whole story (so far), it really hang together well. I’m keen to find out what happens next.
Great art, too!
And in the past week there have been 2 positive blog post about the run – here and at newsarama. Guess I’m not as alone in my opinion as I thought I was. :)

Wonder Woman is my wife’s favourtie character and jsut last night we were discussing the current run… and came to the exact opposite conclusion that you did.

As much as we like Gail Simone on Secret Six, the current WW run is pretty bad. The Genocide character was just so… uninteresting. Tom Tresser as a love interest just seems so wrong. (I still don’t like the idea that WW is heterosexual, but that ship has long sailed…)

We both still really like Simone and look forward to the new BoP (though Benes? really?), but WW needs a change.

Oh, by the way, on the idea that WW coul dhave a sense of humour, that part is great.

In fact, as odd as this may sound, I think Gail writes WW the character well, even if I don’t like WW the comic.

Does that make sense?

I do have one question (and this comes out of my admission that I have yet to read any of Simone’s run)- why exactly is Giganta running around free in the first place? Wonder Woman seems to be apologizing for fighting her, but, um, isn’t she a wanted criminal?

While I appreciate the (intentional?) tribute to “Legends of the Super Heroes” (RIP Ed McMahon), I’m also a little disturbed by the notion of a superhero dating a psychopathic murderer.

Although I’ve enjoyed a lot of Gail Simone’s writing and am a huge fan of her Secret Six work, not even she could make me like Wonder Woman.
Personally, I find the character superior and preachy. And, really, she has no reason to be. She comes from a culture that has remained static and unchanged for thousands of years, a culture comprised of misandrists, worshipping gods that, honestly, don’t deserve any such devotion. Who on Earth would embrace the values espoused by such a people?
A while back, Grant Morrison incensed the WW fanbase by saying he found the character artificial and false. That really resonated with me, because I think there’s more than a little truth to the statement. Wonder Woman is, basically, an affirmative action character, created specifically to appeal to young girls, and lauded for the fact she’s been around for over seven decades. She’s the Paris Hilton of the DC trinity; a character who is famous for being famous.

Having an 80’s childhood I grew up with Lynda Carter and Super Friends. I love WW’s original costume, always associate Steve Trevor as her love interest, and think she was a great role model. But as an adult I just can’t get into her series.

I really dug Simone’s run on Bop and Secret Six but couldn’t get into her WW series. I kind of have the same problem with comic version of WW as I do Batman or Superman. There is so much history, so many reboots, and no two writers depict them the same way. Although it’s way worse in WW’s case. Her origins change, her mission in life, supporting characters, etc.

I guess when it comes to Wonder Woman it’s more nostalgia and the idea of her than how she’s written at the moment. That and too many thought boxes.

Not counting the once in a while issues I picked up pre-COIE, I’ve been reading WW non-stop since #89.

“Don’t believe everything you read.”

First time I read something in a WW comic that made me bust up laughing. Messner-Loeb’s run def had some humor strung throughout, tho I admit the T&A-looking art by Deodato could be a put off. The Challenge of Artemis is still my fav story post-Crisis filled with some very funny moments.

I enjoyed Byrne’s run, certainly not for the art or dialog but MAN that guy crammed more new ideas into 36 issues than in the previous 100. Luke’s run is still lukewarm to me (no pun intended) though he did do the villain-created-from-Diana riff first. I did not like the Jimenez run. And just like every other thing Rucka has ever written I liked his run but cannot for the life of me tell you why. And I can’t leave out Priest’s quick hit issues in the WW title and the Legends of DCU – all of them were very, very good.

The relaunch tho – no. One big no. As far as I concerned Volume 3 began with Gail. A rocky start even then, I wasn’t a big fan of Genocide or the Manazons but where her ideas left me wanting, her ability to bring the characters to life made up for it. I am liking the current run and I agree with Kelly’s assessment.

I want more Nemesis, more Diana Prince , DMA detective (in fact, how about some DEO and Checkmate thrown in for good measure. I’d love to see how she relates to Chase and Mr. Terrific), a little less mythology for now thank you, and the rest right where it is.

I do find the constant reliance on Greek mythology riffs by WW authors to be a bit of a turn-off. It’s not even that Greek mythology isn’t interesting– it’s that every single WW creator who is coming to the book immediately wants to make the story about the Amazons and the Greek deities and crazy Clash of the Titans monsters. You see this stuff all the time and eventually Wonder Woman begins to feel like a passenger in her own book– or at the very least, it feels like she never actually left for Man’s World!

I think that Wonder Woman just seems to be far too fluid a character, and by that I mean lacking in firm, iconic personality and character, to be interesting to me. She’s super-powered beyond belief, but I still can’t name more than three members of her supporting cast at any given moment. I can’t recall any really cool moments or stories she’s been involved in.

I have to say I agree with you Chad 100%.

For the other guys, I am not sure what to say to you. It seems like the problems you have are NOT with Gail writing but the character herself as a whole. I do not want to dissect on why that is.

Wonder Woman for me, as always been a great character. Very Interesting. But then again I love characters like Buffy, Sydney Bristow, Jamie Sommers, Chamred.

I think the main problem is the too many reboots and the editors keep going back and forth with her Status Quo which might do damage to any character than actually fix it. When was the last time they did that many reboots for Superman or Batman?

I love that Gail has given Wonder Woman a “supporting” cast. And I hope that she gets to have a sort of creative control the day she decides to leave Wonder Woman. Which I hope that hapnes after I am senile LOL.

Giail is doing a great job and to me It can’t get any better,

I like Wonder Woman.

To me, a superhero needs three things to work. First, an clear identity that tells the reader why they should care. Amazon Princess fits the bill perfectly. Two words and you know what you are getting into. Second, the character needs a strong origin story that explains in normal human terms why they are a superhero. The idea of a massive global conflict stranding an outsider in their lost civilization and a contest to determine who will help him is pretty awesome story by itself. Third, the character needs a strong visual design that expresses concepts #1 and #2. Wonder Woman has that.

She is a great character as her long history can attest.

The problem that I have often had with her title is that it gets over-thought. Kelly hit the nail on the head when she stated that Wonder Woman is utterly alone as a female on the top shelf of comic book heroes. Four of the top five DCs are men in Superman, Batman, The Flash and Green Lantern. Five of the top five Marvel are also men in Spidey, Wolverine, Iron Man, Captain America and (probably) The Hulk. Wonder Woman gets freighted down with carrying the flag of her gender and is not allowed to simply be herself.

To my mind, Kelly is also right that the character-driven humor that Gail Simone has brought to the table has been a Godsend for the character. The previous takes on the character that I have enjoyed have always had an optimism about them. That was present in the original Marston stories, Lynda Carter’s portrayal in the ’70s and the re-boot George Perez did.

i just read all of simone’s wonder woman run last week and all i can say is “wow!”. simone’s wonder woman, on a personal note, hasn’t been everything i’ve wanted her to be. but in regards to wonder woman herself – and let’s face it: any true fan wants what’s best for the character above what they want personally for the character – she has been a consistent “A”. i love what gail has done, and i’m glad to have her on the book.

“So Wonder Woman (both the character and the book) keep getting saddled with this heavy burden of being all women all the time, and of embodying perfection. But because there are seemingly infinite marquee male leads in comics – Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Wolverine, – you can take your pick, and they can all signify different takes on heroes in comics. But when you boil it down there is only one long running marquee heroine in comics – Wonder Woman. So she has to cover ALL the bases – and it’s just too much load for any one character (or book) to bear, and she’s constantly buckling under it. It’s impossible for Diana to be all things to all people and it’s the primary reason I think that she (and her book) are so often considered a disappointment despite the brilliant creators, writers, and artists often at the helm.” …

“The irony is that I think the simple solution to “fixing the Wonder Woman problem” that I’m always reading about is not to do anything to her. She’s fine as she is, and she probably always has been (well, mostly), it’s just that she needs some powerful superheroines to carry the load with her. She needs a powerful Batman superheroine equivalent (and wouldn’t it be great if we get that as rumored in the form of an ongoing Batwoman with Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III at the helm); she needs a Flash and Captain America, a Spider-Man, a Wolverine and an Iron Man. She needs other powerful women to have strong ongoing (long running) books so that she doesn’t have to answer the ‘female superheroine question’ alone. They can all answer it in their own ways, as the men do, allowing Diana to answer it in hers.”

well said, kelly. and thank you for this article.

Wow Mystical, long time no see. I I noticed you haven’t posted n the DCMB. Miss ya man.

Good too see you back :)

Fair enough, Kelly. As someone who usually enjoys Gail Simone’s work, I didn’t give up on it yet. And I really enjoyed many parts of it. For instance, I liked the concept of many amazons being anguished over their inability to have children.

Returning to some of your initial thoughts on Wonder Woman. Yes, she is very hard to write, partly for the reasons you mentioned, that she has to carry alone the burden of representing her gender. Another element that makes Diana unique (but also harder to write) is that she is the Messiah, perhaps even more than Superman.

Wonder Woman originates in a virgin birth instigated by divine forces, and then she is sent to our world, not only to save us and inspire us (like Superman), but to transform our world and redemn it through her teachings, seeing as how she comes from a feminine Utopia. The messianic aspect is hard enough, but that she is also a feminist, pagan Messiah… how can you get readers to identify with her?

I like the idea of Wonder Woman as special and unique. I believe Perez (and then Rucka) managed to make Diane special and unique, at the cost of making her very archetypical and preachy, and yep, not very funny or very human. I would love if a writer managed to give equal time to Diana’s mission as feminist messiah and to a more human, funny side. But that would have to be a hell of a writer.

I also wish to tell you how I see George Perez’s run and his vision of Wonder Woman (or at least the way I interpret his vision).

In the 1987 relaunch, Wonder Woman was presented as the mythological messiah I mentioned above, but on the very first steps of her journey. I don’t think she was cold or remote. She was caring and warm, but in an angellic way, as befits a novice messiah. A bit of a tabula rasa personality-wise. She was otherworldy, very innocent, kinda child-like. Child-like, yep. It’s funny that despite her powers and beauty, what I noticed most was how child-like she was. Because almost everyone else on the stories was a parental figure or an older sibling figure for Diana. There was Hippolyta as Mom. The other Amazons as surrogate mothers. The Greek Gods as mentors. Julia Kapatelis as her surrogate mother on our world. Steve Trevor as an older man. The rest of the superhero community all was more experienced than Diana, etc. etc. etc.

I see Greg Rucka’s Diana as the same mythological messiah as Perez version, but now all-grown up. She isn’t the innocent anymore, she knows a lot about our world, and she is very organized in her way to change the world, through her embassy. And she is more explicit about her agenda now that she isn’t the naive child any longer. It’s the same combination of rich mythology and feminist messianism, but darker, grittier, more adult. But she is still otherworldy and not very developed as an individual. I agree.

But I didn’t mind, you know? I didn’t mind very much that Rucka’s Diana was not very funny or relatable. The mix of dark fantasy and politics was fascinating enough for me. I mean, we have lots of characters that are funny and relatable, but how many that mix feminist politics with urban takes on the Greek Gods? I think my lukewarm reaction to Simone’s work on Diana is that I don’t see a clear vision, or a very ambitious one. It seems like it’s just a fun superheroine story. I think that is okay with Birds of Prey or Supergirl. But I’m not sure I want that on Wonder Woman.

Nothing against Simone personally, I had a similar reaction to John Byrne’s run on WW. Even though Byrne actually made Diana a goddess in some point, I felt it was too superhero-y. And Byrne’s Wonder Woman was funny too (though she was funny in an arrogant, smug way).

“where she gets a couple pages to peruse toy shops in Tokyo with Black Canary:”

Sorry to be a douchebag but ‘peruse’ means to read or to examine in detail. My sister uses it as if it’s synonymous with browse or glance over too and it drives me crazy.

Ella: Good catch. Ironically, the sentence (from my handwritten notes) was supposed to read “where she gets a couple pages to peruse her own toy statue at a shop in Tokyo with Black Canary”…so I had it right…but a typo is a typo is a typo…so it’s still wrong in the article. :(

There is a huge chasm between writing ‘cute’ dialogue and actually being funny – a problem I have always had with Gail Simone’s comics.

I’ve always had that problem with a lot of Peter David’s comics, myself. (Young Justice especially– I remember reading that as a teenager and just finding it groan-worthy.)

I believe everyone has a sense of humor and, being a huge Wonder Woman fan, I always just guessed that she kept her sense of humor for her ‘off-time.’ I never figured her to be a Spider-man type, that would joke mid-battle. Wonder Woman. in my eyes and especially a kid, is perfect. She is every bit on the level of Superman. And as such I’ve always been ok that we never get to see her sense of humor. Though, I can see how it would be a problem for some.

I’m glad you showed us some pages of Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman. I’ve had lukewarm feelings about the book lately due having only read two or three issues at the most. It looks to be much more interesting than I originally thought.

Thanks!

[…] this is just all the punch the story had.  Regardless, it’s still a good comic that stars a Diana that I’ve come to really love unreservedly.  It may not be the best issue Simone has ever penned, but especially in the face of such weak […]

Have to agree — with *all* of it — but I also have to ask. You said “I tried MANY of the different versions of Diana” — did you ever try the original William Moulton Marston version? It’s blatantly dated, but she *is* funny and warm. Archetypical but not cold or preachy. Well, OK, a little preachy on the topic of BDSM, but anyway, fun-loving.

I suspect the “representing all women” wasn’t so much of a problem back when Superman and Batman were basically the only male superheroes out there, and the rest ranged from blatant clones of them to gimmicks-without-personality. Marston did *his* take on the ideal woman, and if that wasn’t everyone’s (and what with the love of bondage, it sure wasn’t), he didn’t much care.

What drives me nuts is that I think a bunch of us really didn’t start waking up to Gail Simone’s WW was until late last year or this year. Then DC cancels it in favor of some ill-thought-out JMS thing. Aargh. Give a book a chance for its audience to find it, already.

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