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She Has No Head! – Is the Destruction of The Amazons The Destruction of Feminism in DC Comics?

I drafted Wonder Woman #7 for my CBR reviews last week not knowing what the issue was about, and it resulted in the toughest review I’ve had to write for CBR yet. To CBR’s credit, though the review skewed a bit editorial, they ran it. However, we have strict word counts over there and I have many thoughts and feelings…so here we are on She Has No Head! five days later.

I have loved and supported the new Wonder Woman under Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang. I supported this book vehemently even when I did not agree with all the choices they made — like Wonder Woman being Zeus’ daughter and thus a demi-god — because I understand that writers have to do things that are unpopular sometimes in order to tell the best story. And in fact, doing something unpopular can often be the right thing to do. In addition to that, I also understand that stories are not tailor made FOR ME, and I don’t expect them to be. So I accepted the changes as many fans did and continued to read, and frankly to love, so much of what Azzarello and Chiang were doing.

Before we get any deeper into this, let me say that Azzarello and Chiang are still getting a lot right – Wonder Woman is still an incredibly well-written comic, and it’s drawn by easily one of the best comic artists working today, so it’s no surprise that it’s beautiful. I understand why people love this book and I will never suggest it’s a “bad” book. It’s a quality comic book in many ways.

However, the biggest problem for me is that destroying The Amazons is an arrow to the heart of female empowerment and feminism. It is completely Azzarello’s prerogative if he doesn’t subscribe to that idea, but it is simply a fact for me and I hope talking about this here will help some people understand why dragging The Amazons through the mud is a sensitive subject for people. Quite simply, The Amazons are, in comics (and in many other mediums) one of the best examples of female empowerment and thus have become a catch all for feminism in general. The Amazons may not have been created originally to be such a thing, but they have been adopted as such in more modern times. Feminism means different things to everyone I suppose. For me it is simply the pursuit of equality between the sexes. Because we are still not there – at true equality – positive examples of female empowerment are important both in the real world and in media – as what better reflection is there of our society than the media that we create? The reason that “girl power” is even a thing, is because we’re still striving for that equality. And it’s one of the reasons why we just can’t afford to let things that represent female empowerment disappear. It’s also important to remember that something being female positive, does not mean it is male negative. By empowering women, it does not mean we have to “de-power” men. Being equal is not about making the other sex less important, it’s about making them equally important.

There are not a lot of examples of true positive female empowerment in media. Sure, they’re out there, there are plenty of books, movies, television shows, and beyond throughout history that represent female empowerment and/or feminism. It’s out there in both obvious and subtle ways — from Ripley in Alien and Buffy The Vampire Slayer to Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games — but when you look at it in the scope of all media, it’s very small in comparison. And thus it’s precious. And so it must be fought for and protected diligently lest all examples of female empowerment and feminism just disappear in the night when we weren’t looking.

When a reader connects to a concept like The Amazons as a beacon of positive female empowerment, it’s devastating to have those myths, characters, and culture turned into one-dimensional monsters out of nowhere in three pages of a comic book that you previously loved. Absolutely devastating.

One of the most common words to be thrown around on the Internet at women by people who disagree with them is the word Feminazi. The implication of Feminazi generally being that the woman in question is an unreasonable militant feminist that hates men. It’s a horrible and generally false stereotype that is shockingly pervasive. So when you take something that is the symbol of positive female empowerment and more broadly a symbol of feminism and present it as exactly that stereotype (except even more extreme) then it just feeds into all that is wrong with those ideas. Azzarello’s Amazons are absolute monsters. They are presented as women who not only rape in order to procreate (and yes, I believe rape is the right word), but also women who kill after they mate, women who either kill their sons or sell them into slavery, and who seem to lie and hide what they do and who they are. I don’t see any way in which these women – an entire nation of women – can be labeled as anything except monsters.

There is no nuance to this idea. It is the broadest and most one-dimensional way to illustrate an entire people and culture as absolutely irredeemable.

Yes, mythology tells us – and let’s be clear here – this is MYTH – not FACT – that Amazons as an idea in Greek Mythology may have opted not to raise male children, they also may have raped in order to become pregnant. And they were certainly warriors, although the difference between warriors and murderers should be quite clear to us all as comic book fans. Much of what Azzarello is choosing to use has basis in Greek Myth, however A) the myths vary greatly; B) to take on ALL of the absolute worst qualities of a group of people at once while showing none of the other attributes that might offset some of those abhorrent qualities presents a drastically unbalanced portrait of an entire people which feeds into the absolute worst “Femi-nazi” stereotyping; and C) Regardless of the roots of Greek myths, The Amazons of Wonder Woman were certainly never intended to be presented this way. The Amazons of DC Comics, though warriors, were never intended to be monsters.

And so what is the purpose of this?

Because at the end of the day I must confess that I believe in story first. Tearing a character down in order to build them back up again can be a fascinating story. And stripping them of everything they thought they knew and believed can make for the beginning of an exceptional heroes’ journey, but the price in this case is unbelievably high. Perhaps more importantly however than the high price, since that’s a bit more objective and personal from fan to fan, is the fact that it doesn’t seem to work on a logical storytelling level at this point.

For starters, the idea that Diana has no idea that these people she came from and that, for a time at least, raised her, are murders, rapists, liars, and slavers seems far fetched. It makes Diana out to be either incredibly naive, or just galactically stupid. Diana is neither of these things. I have seen arguments that this is only something that happens every 33 years and thus could be easily hidden from Diana, but I don’t think rape, murder, slave trade, and the broken heart of giving up your child against your will, would be so easily hidden. Do you think you would not know if your mother was a rapist, murderer, liar, and slave trader? Do you think you would not know if your mother was the Queen of a people that behaved this way? I suspect most people would know if they were being raised by monstrous murders.

And if the Amazons don’t think it’s wrong – as they do not seem to in these brief pages – then why hide it? People hide things only when they know they are wrong.

And if these are Diana’s people, why has she been sent to “Man’s world”? We must assume that Diana’s entire mission has been rebooted as well, since it seems ridiculous that these women would send her on a mission of anything other than utter destruction. Obviously there could be more still to come, but it’s hard to imagine how any of this fits together in a way that isn’t devastating.

As for the rape question, I have seen so many people being ignorant on this one point that I’m exhausted. The Amazons boarding a boat at sea and having sex with the men on that boat absolutely makes them rapists. If there’s magic involved, then that means the men cannot consent, therefore it’s rape. If the there’s no magic involved and most of these men do consent then great, but there are obviously going to be exceptions. There will absolutely be men that do not consent – most obviously – gay men. And the “it would be every man’s fantasy!” leaves out every gay man on earth. You simply cannot to that. I would also argue that you have to concede that at least a few are so in love with girlfriends or wives that they would abstain (sure it’s going to be rare, but there are some dudes out there actually like that, I’ve heard the tales!). Not to mention the men who would be savvy and paranoid enough to know that nothing in life is free (if I was a dude I would be one of those for what it’s worth).  Quite honestly the whole situation makes men out to be utter morons and paints The Amazons as nothing more than murderous sirens. For those that say that a man simply cannot be raped by a woman, I urge you to read up on the subject matter. It is absolutely possible, has happened, will continue to happen, and is horrifying, the same way the rape of a woman is horrifying.

For those of you crying out that we don’t know the whole story yet. Okay. Sure. In fact, yes, we can all agree on that one point, the story is not over yet. There are a million ways in which Azzarello can resolve this. People can be lying, things may not be what they seem, magic could be afoot, etc. But I can only deal with what I have now, and the way in which the story is being told. So that is what we are discussing. Azzarello is an incredibly smart writer and there are clearly levels to what he’s doing here. His words are carefully chosen, and it’s entirely possible that all of this will pay off in an amazing way and even a redeeming way, but I have been burned too many times before by comics like this. Held out hope, kept reading, only to have those hopes dashed mercilessly against the rocks.

I spent the weekend trying to decide whether this story would have hit as painfully if not for the current state of women in the real world. In the U.S. alone we are in a fever of women’s reproductive rights being stripped away, women being denied a seat at the table for discussion of these rights, women who use birth control publicly being called ‘sluts’, and women being physically violated by things like transvaginal probes.  Not to mention everything from continued victim blaming for rape, sexual harassment in the workplace, and women still (in 2012!) making approximately 80 cents on the dollar. And those things still ignore the far larger and more obviously dangerous problems that women must face in so many other countries – being forced to marry your rapist, being stoned to death for daring to be raped, to even archaic rules like women not being allowed to drive cars.

It’s hard to ignore that this is a society that increasingly hates and distrusts women, especially as they gain any ground or power for themselves. And so it’s doubly hard to see that reflected back in our fiction right now. To see powerful women – which The Amazons have unequivocally been – as THE example of a society of powerful women in DC Comics – stripped of everything that might be good and honorable so that we may see the broadest most hateful stereotypes of them presented. The erroneous and damaging stereotype reinforced yet again that women with power will become absolute monsters. I would never make an argument that a matriarchal society would be a utopia. I would argue that any society that has inequality can by its very nature NOT be a utopia. But I see the Amazons, time and time again turned (primarily by men I’m sorry to say) into horror stories. Wildly exaggerated speculation of man-hating, man-killing, war-like unreasonable monsters. The question in fiction seems to lately be – how could powerful women be anything but monsters?  For me, it’s a bridge too far.

Diana is tired. Me too.

I’m not telling you to not read this book, I’m not telling you to not like this book, it’s got a great writer and a great artist and one of the best characters in all of comics, and until now has been a hell of a story quite well done. And if the deconstruction of The Amazons doesn’t offend or bother you, by all means, keep reading. You can do that the same way that I can say that I think this is a bridge too far. The same way that I can say that it undermines too much of what I loved about both the Wonder Woman mythos and too much of what I believe is the seminal touchstone for feminism in comics.

It’s possible in a different political climate that I might be able to handle this deconstruction and keep reading, but considering the way the world is right now for women, and the way mainstream comics are right now for women…it’s just too damn much.

That doesn’t mean I think Azzarello or Chiang are sexist or misogynistic or out to get women (though many of you will infer that with continued failed reading comprehension that blows my damn mind).  All it means is that this story has failed to be a story I can continue to invest in and advocate for.  That shouldn’t be offensive to you the same way that it is not offensive to me for you to continue reading Wonder Woman. Different work speaks to each of us. This no longer speaks to me. I yearn for and seek out powerful female characters in all of the media I ingest and comics, I’m sorry to say, is the one that fails me the most frequently, and so it’s also the place where the context seems to matter the most. At this time, in this place, in this context, making The Amazons into one-dimensional monsters is too fierce a blow for me.

You can’t eliminate the only long standing example of female empowerment at DC Comics and expect people who care about such things to just roll with it. I’ve seen a lot of comparisons over the last few days about “Oh this would never been done to Superman, or Batman, etc.” I even made a similar argument myself – something along the lines of “DC wouldn’t dare to turn Ma and Pa Kent into small town meth dealers and racist bigots simply because it’s en vogue, or possibly more realistic to modern times.”  But the reality is that even if it’s true that you can’t do this to Ma and Pa Kent (which I suspect it is) it’s still a false equivalency. Because if you do that to Ma and Pa Kent you’ve still got dozens upon dozens upon dozens of powerful positive origin stories for dozens upon dozens of male superheroes and you’ve still got precious few for female superheroes. And you just destroyed the longest standing origin for the longest standing female hero.

Undercutting The Amazons is not undercutting just any female empowerment myth, it’s undercutting THE female empowerment myth.

350 Comments

I’m bookmarking this to read later and I’m looking forward to your thoughts, Kelly. But right of the bat, I want to say that I personally don’t understand the praise this book has been getting. I, too, was onboard when it first launched. I was excited about it, including the new direction and most of all the wonderful art by Cliff Chiang, about which I have zero complaints.

But after two or three issues, I lost interest. I don’t think it’s a well-written book at all. The dialogue is really terrible. So many puns and clever quips that it feels like there’s no room to breathe. It’s like a whole book of nothing but punchlines. It gets really tiring and it’s hard to get a sense of the characters when they all talk exactly the same way.

As for the story… I don’t know. I think I’m a pretty smart reader, and yet I find it really hard to follow the basic plot of this book. Maybe it’s because I’ve had so little interest in it because of the bad dialogue that I don’t make an effort to remember the plot from one issue to the next. Or maybe I’m just dumber than most comic book readers. (That’s a scary thought.)

In any case, I dropped it about two months ago. I’m not the least bit surprised about the latest developments in the story. (I haven’t read this issue, but I know all the spoilers.) What I’m surprised about is that people who are angry at this continue to defend it as a well-written book, when to me it clearly isn’t. It’s a big mess of uninteresting punchlines with some really fantastic art.

Correct me if I’m wrong but wouldn’t the deception of a female only society as a perfect utopia be just as sexist? If we buy the Amazons as a society then even the best of societies (or at least the best of intentions) built upon the backs and ruination of others (see America’s dealing with the African slave and the decimation of the Native America). Isn’t the whole point of “utopian fiction” to point out that there is no such thing as a “perfect” society?

This was a powerful issue, to be sure.

Azzarello can resolve this in many ways. Perhaps this was done in older times, when the world was harsher. Or perhaps the Amazons chose their target vessels carefully. Not every crew member could be convinced to “donate”, as it were, and there may have been survivors who escaped. Perhaps Hippolyta called for an end to the raids when she herself first conceived with Zeus. It’s up to Azz, really.

But Diana’s reaction, the utter heartbreak over the news and her righteous anger at how her brothers were treated, leads me to have faith in the story. A society of monsters wouldn’t be able to raise such a moral character. And this paints Diana not just as an example of Amazon culture, but as the BEST of Amazons. She has strength and skill, but also compassion and a thirst for justice. And, if at the end of this story, Diana manages to restore Paradise Island, things will probably change, thanks to Wonder Woman.

Quick note on messing with origin stories: this reminded me of John Byrne’s changing of Krypton in the 1986 reboot. Gone was the super-society, replaced by a world devoid of emotion, where children had no parental contact. And this society previously raised clones for organ-harvesting.

I wanted to like this run. I really did.

But first the Zeus as father thing, and now (especially) this killed any enthusiasm I had for it.

What I loved about the Perez run was that it took the Greek mythology to the forefront while still giving it the pro-women spin of Marston’s. The Greek myths of the Amazons tend to be misogynistic (as the Greek mythology in general), and usually drip with the male fear of a female society (of warriors no less) and all the bogeymen that come with it. So the WW Amazons were quite refreshing. The Amazons of Perez (and Jimenez and Rucka and Simone) weren’t perfect, but they were good. Flawed, but in interesting ways that didn’t undermine them as WW’s family and source of strength.

But even this is apparently too much. After Rucka comes Amazons Attack. After Simone comes Flashpoint. And now we have this. Amazons vilified in depressingly similar ways. It’s like they can’t help themselves. Male fear of a female society is apparently still potent.

The art is great. The story seems interesting. The writing seems good as well. I wanted to like it, but I can’t.

perhaps I am misreading this but it seems you are saying bad people are not empowered people, surely some one like joker is empowered even though he is a chaotic murderer. the Amazons may no longer be positive role models but they still aren’t under the thumb of any man. I also think some things in society can happen but be chosen to be ignored. Diana may come advertises as massive but then surely people who convince themselves that there can ever be true good are all a little idealistic.

I think the difference for me is that I never considered the Amazons to be the epitome of equality between the sexes like you–rather an alien culture, a warrior tribe with an eclectic mix of masculinity and femininity, which turned their back on “Man’s World.” To me, no culture that becomes so isolationist that no one else can ever find them can truly be considered a utopia, no matter how high-minded their original intent may have been.

To me, the icon of female empowerment and feminism isn’t the Amazons, but Wonder Woman herself–the curious adventurer who escaped from isolation and not only lived in the world of “Man,” but thrived, and fought along-side men as an equal, sometimes even their better. THAT seems more in line with what I consider to be feminism than the Amazons.

But hey, that’s your opinion, and it sounds like you’re not hating on Azz and co and putting making that their intent, so it all really comes down to interpretation. And hell, considering the whole crux with Diana’s attempt at breaking her brothers out is finding out that things often aren’t what they seem, maybe there’s something we’re not being told about this stuff either.

@jambamkin: Most of us who are looking for empowered women in our fiction are looking for women we can admire and/or identify with. And for most of us, villains aren’t going to fit that bill. If a writer is portraying female empowerment as something that goes hand-in-hand with hatred and destruction, we may feel that writer has ceased to represent us in any meaningful way. I know I would feel that way.

I haven’t read the issue in question here, but it seems like a solid idea, only half-baked.

The question of ‘How does a women-only society get that way, and stay that way?’ is supremely logical, but the answer is illogical, even in just the pages you’ve scanned. If the Amazons have such little regard for male life, why is a mother in that one panel screaming about having her baby taken away? I know nothing of what a maternal bond is like, of course, but it would seem this society, for nine months, would sit around the campfire saying ‘Oh man, I hope I don’t have a boy! Ugh!’ The internal logic of this idea fails in that one panel, for me.

Is all of the information coming from that one guy though? I’d say there’s more to the story, if it is. Like an argumentative essay presented as fiction, so all sides are equally represented. What’s the Amazons motivation for this? Something truly awful must have happened for them to go off and set up their own female-only society, and maybe there are some Amazons who still love their barbaric ways, maybe there’s some who don’t. (And maybe that’s the reason why there IS that one panel where a baby is being ripped from one parent…?) Maybe Diana’s mission to man’s world is to find a new way?

Maybe the point of this story is that women, so wronged by men to create their own manless society, went away and just acted like men anyway? (Is that equality? Hey, we can rape and murder just as good as THOSE guys!) Maybe the story will be all about being bigger than that? About how, shucks, we ain’t no different…

I dunno. Whenever gods are used in comics, (or any media really) the stories are always about the characters being pawns on a celestial chess board, and you just gotta follow the moves til it’s game over. I would say if you’ve loved the ‘game’ so far, maybe you should stick around to see who wins?

(I would suggest a huge, meaty article like this means you’re at least a little invested…) ;)

The depiction of the Amazons here was as close to the earliest original myths as I’ve seen it portrayed in modern media.

But, then, people would have to know that I suppose…

Kelly’s thoughts on the matter closely mirror my own, so I don’t have much to add. Perhaps if the current political climate wasn’t as it is, this wouldn’t sting so much. But right now, I’m just tired.

Oh, already we have massive reading fail. Good times.

Listen guys, I know the piece is long, and nobody is going to force you to read it. But please try your best to actually read what is there before commenting. This is not rocket science.

I address the Utopia aspect, the original myths, and I repeatedly say “positive female empowerment” in the text. It’s all there.

(I haven’t read this series, so you’ll pardon me if I’m way off base.)

You’ll notice this a lot in fiction. The “other” are presented as monolithic, which is wildly simplistic. Diana is the only one who thinks this is a bit weird? I don’t think so. Let’s hope that Azzarello shows that maybe the Amazons aren’t as behind this as he’s showing here. It’s idiotic to think that no one has ever questioned this.

Also: Not only are the Amazons rape-happy murderers, they apparently live in a Stone Age society. Has Azzarello shown their society much? Because any society most highly-functioning than a bunch of hunter-gatherers would know how to make their own damned weapons. Is this addressed in any way? I know societies still buy weapons from other places, but that’s because it’s more convenient. It seems like the Amazons wouldn’t really want to be beholden to someone else for their weapons.

At least the DCnU hasn’t given up on rape as a plot device. That really is the best thing to come out of the past decade in comics!

Another reason why that rape is rape is because the men are killed afterwards. It relates to consent – even if you feel compelled to disagree with Kelly and assume that ALL these men are cheerily consenting, tell me who among them would have done so knowing their murder was the dénouement?

b

The Amazons were never “the female empowerment myth” because that implies they were created during the age of patriarchy, which is actually a late emergence during Hellenic Greece. There was a sophisticated Minoan culture with women in prominent positions (religious ceremonies, female deities, attending festivals & entertainment, participating in sacred ceremonies like Bull Dancing).

Recent studies of scholars Evans, Foley, Clinton, Burkert, Richardson, and Mylonas show that there were centuries old tradition with classical Greek civic religion that focused on female experience, while addressing the relationship between the divine and human, where “human” refers to both male and female.

In ancient Greece, the most important mystic cult during Plato’s time was the mystery cult of Demeter at Eleusis where birth, death gifts, story telling and sharing divine knowledge were rituals. The experience of birth & death that make up the myth of the divine mother and daughter (Demeter and Kore) constitute the essence of the Eleusinian Mysteries. These rites were public and communal and civic, but a new human religious experience that differed from the rites of civic animal sacrifice.

Eventually, Crete fell to Mycenaean dominance where a theological conflict ensued between a central female divinity & natural cycles of generation, and a supreme warrior father god. By Plato’s time, women were increasingly segregated and domestically isolated, & politically disenfranchised, but they still had some power in religion as in sacerdotal role of priestess of Demeter or Athena.

I’m hoping it’s simply a case of Hephaestus lying, possibly from his own misogyny or jealousy of Wonder Woman. In some Greek myths, he, like most other versions of Wonder Woman, had no father but was created by Hera alone, jealous that Zeus had given birth to a fully formed Athena on his own. Her creation was, literally, lame and she cast him out for his imperfection. His own resentment of Hera might have been compounded by his terrible marriage to Aphrodite and jealousy of Athena, both of whom were critical in the creation of the Amazons (Aphrodite/Venus was their main patron pre-Crisis and Athena was it post-Crisis). Hephaestus from myth would have a lot of reasons, albeit petty, to defame the Amazons and wound the confidence of their greatest ambassador.

Every month DCnU is making it easier and easier for me to stick with my decision to treat this nasty little Elseworlds as a jumping-off point. I’m down to *one* monthly regular-continuity DC book, Batwoman; there were times in the 2000s when I was probably buying 20 or 25 including miniseries and so on. For the first time in my adult life I’m not buying Legion even though it’s being published; for the first time in life I’m buying more Marvel than regular DC, not to mention more Dark Horse and more Vertigo.

Moreover, the current version of the Amazons by Arazzelo is entirely consistent with the original Amazon mythology where Amazons visited an all-male tribe in Gargareans in order to reproduce, and if they had male offspring, they were either killed off or sold back to the Gargareans. Many accounts already consist of rape and coercion.

Editing out the rape/coercion for political reasons is dishonesty in my opinion.

I thought that too, this is what the myths depict.

Anyway, I like the daughter of Zeus angle, but oddly enough I wasn’t really sure about this. It raised many questions for me like wasn’t Diana so beloved because she was the only daughter of the amazons? If not, where did diana think the other kids came from? If the amazons have children then does that mean that the amazons aren’t immortal? I never thought about the feminist implications until I read this. I’m not sure it’s the death of feminism at dc but I’m sure there’s more to tell in this story.

Good article btw!

Jeebus…she’s not saying the Amazons are a Utopian society…but the opposite.

I would like to believe that Caanan has the right of it…all will be revealed. There is some curse of some wronged god that is forcing them to do this, and WW was sent to end it once and for all…though, it would make more sense if she knew all this before hand about what they do every 33 years…
I suppose the argument could be made that she was sent out into the world as an innocent to discover all of this on her own so that she will fight all the harder to put an end to it. I dunno.

It’s hilarious that people claim it’s consistent with the original myths. The original myths that were created by a patriarchal society that HATED women. Yeah, that’s what we should base comics in 2012 on. I can’t wait to see a comic that shows Jews with horns drinking the blood of Christian babies. I mean, that’s a myth from the Middle Ages, so it’s fair game, right?

I have never thought the Amazon society/culture was an exemplar of feminism, but instead thought of it as an example of extremism. How else can you think about a culture that is so insularly feminine, or conversely, one that is so inversely masculine?

To me, it’s always been WW who was the paragon of feminist ideals, not the society she came from. A strong minded woman who bowed to no one, but who never hesitated to bent the knee to help those who needed it; who engages the world instead of hiding from it; who falls from grace on occasion, but stands up again, a little bent, a little broken, but ready to continue. That is what everyone, not only women, should aspire to. And that is something that, despite the revelations of issue #7, hasn’t changed in the comic. In fact, WW reaction to the news, as someone previously pointed out, only solidifies my belief in her as a true feminist.

I applaud you, Kelly, for voicing your opinion, and for so forcefully defending Azz and Chiang’s work. But I think you are making a mistake by dropping the book. I think they deserve a chance to be judged on the merits of the entire story, not just 3 pages of it.

Thanks for your time.
kjf.

Ms. Thompson,

I will confess that I’ve walked away from the DCnU so I’m not up to speed on the current lore. In the Secret Six though when the Six encounter Wonder Woman, Jeanette’s hatred of Amazons seemed to be based on one point, “You’ve never done anythingfor women in 3000 years.” That one line actually got me thinking about how ‘empowered’ they could be if Jeanette was right. Sure, part of it was similar to the “Reed Richards is useless” trope but still, it resonated with me.

I agree that, barring further revolations, the discovery in this comic do a) make Preboot Vandal Savage look like a caring parent and b) Make Diana look like an idiot. (assuming she’s only like 18-20, she’s never heard “Only 12 more years before we go a raiding?”) I also agree that these are DC Amazons, not Greek Amazons. It’s like the Hercules/Diana fight in JLA v Avengers. In Marvel history, Hyppoletta (sp) and Herc had a good consentual night. In DC history, not so much.

eh … it’s the only run of Wonder Woman in a long time that has been any good. If the sacrifice is the Amazons then so be it.

Besides its only the comics. I know its a werid thing to say, but comic Wonder Woman has never been a big seller or that popular.

The image of Wonder Woman, the iconic ideal of her has been. It that iconic ideal that is the message of positive empowerment and its not going anywhere.

It’s ingrained in the public’s mind as much as Superman being about truth, justice, and the American Way.

Sooner or later the comics will once again attempt to reflect Wonder Woman’s public image, comics always do.

But until then I’m going to enjoy one of the few DCNU reboots that makes the character and world around her interesting and fun to read about.

I have had a problem with the whole darkening of all the super hero comics. Yes, I get it, Alan Moore was a great writer, and he wrote dark books about super heroes, but, why does that mean that every writer out there has to make every super hero dark? I just don’t see the sense of darkening Wonder Woman, or the Amazons, or how that in any way makes them ‘deeper’ characters. Yes, the ancient Greek Amazons were violent monsters, they even cut off one of their breasts so they could be better archers (notice this has not been included in the Wonder Woman stories, for some strange reason…), but that was never the point of William Molten Marston when he created Wonder Woman, and he definitely took liberties with the mythology to say what he wished to say. Yes, one could argue that Azarrello is just trying to say what he wants to say, but, why trample over the vision of the original author?
I see this as not just a feminist issue, but an issue with comics in general. I have teenage nieces and nephews, and I would love to show them positive examples of teenagers trying to make the word a better place in comics, but there really isn’t that in modern comics these days. Before Flashpoint, the Teen Titans was resorted to nothing more than a killing ground for teenage characters to make their crossover stories more ‘grim and gritty’.. After Flashpoint, they are dangerous outsiders who the authorities are trying to control. I remember how much fun New Warriors used to be, until the group was the cause of 200 deaths which resulted in the Civil War, and now, whenever anyone tries to recreate these characters, the name itself reeks with that one horrible event.
For the love of God, can we get back to writing fun super hero comics again?

Very interesting and thoughtful article Kelly.

mostly agree with everything said here. The only thing I really want to add is that I kind of feel that we’re reaping the whilrwind here.

Paradise Island (before it behame Themisycra) and the Amazons were originally as perfect society of women who sent Diana to Man’s World on a mission of peace and enlightenment. They were the inventors of purple healing rays and scientific advancement. Yes there was a warrior side to them but not embellished much.

But with all the reboots, the Amazons have become, for lack of a better term, kick-ass. It’s closer to Greek Myth and by the ’90s it connected to the zeitgeist with Xena. But by last year the Amazons were bloodlusting, murdering, nasty pieces of work (Amazons Attack, flashpoint, etc.)

And here it is at its epitome: total demytholoigization. The Amazons are no longer the best of womankind but the worst. That makes me sad. And yet I am totally unsurprised we’ve made it here.

While I agree, I also happen to think, story-structure-wise, that Azzarello is building up to Wonder Woman having to atone for and redeem the sins of the Amazons. If he doesn’t, that would be a disappointment.

Of course, what do I know? I see these characters as characters, not symbols. And I hardly think DC has a monopoly on the myth of the Amazons.

Normally I am a Marvel reader, X-Men to be exact, but I completely agree with the growing trend of depowerment of women. My favorite X-Woman Storm was married off in a completely forced story line in what I considered to be a totally stereotypical situation just because a big-wig in editorial thought it would be a good idea. Yes, she became queen of a nation, but she has been nothing but window dressing ever since. Black Panther gets the lion’s share of the attention while she waits in the wings, throwing the occasional lightening bolt to remind us she still exists. Jean Grey was killed off and most of the other X-Women are basically sidekicks. And if a woman exhibits much power, she’s usually marked as emotionally imbalanced, as happened with the Scarlet Witch.

I’ve been reading comics for years, but my pull list is down to one book. I remember when comics where FUN and not these dark dismal apocalyptic stories that, as you mentioned, give me hope just to let me down in the end.

Comic writers and editors have forgotten their roots. Superhero comics originated from the need for hope in a world torn by war. They were the kind of characters we as kids wanted to emulate. Heroes don’t prevail anymore, and many of them don’t behave like heroes. Back stories are destroyed or rewritten by overambitious writers who want to make a name for themselves. “Goody goody” characters are marked as “obsolete” and either killed off or delegated to the background. Considering the downward state of American comic sales as media in general, one would think they’d get the point. We don’t want our characters destroyed. A writer doesn’t need to grasp for earth-shattering changes to a character to tell a great tale. It just takes talent, which is sadly lacking in mainstream comic writing at the moment (IMHO).

I don’t understand the idea- which I have seen expressed repeatedly- that because Azzarello’s version of the Amazons may more closely resemble the original myths about the Amazons (myths that were products of a repressive, patriarchal, misogynistic society), that it is more “realistic” and therefore somehow better than Marston’s original vision of the DC Amazons. Writers have a choice as to which version, if any, their mythologically inspired characters resemble. Azzarello chose to make the his version of Amazon society- when the original DC version was a long-time symbol of positive female empowerment- as ugly as possible. The question I would ask him is, “Why?”

Kelly, thank you for articulating so much of what I thought as I read this last issue and what has been going through my head on this run. I know it’s been successful, but for me, I haven’t cared because they’ve yet to show enough humanity in Diana for me to buy into it. As a title that I loved since childhood, I have given up and come back from time to time. I’m sticking with it for the moment, but if there are more twists like this with little seeming justification, I’ll spend my money elsewhere. And thank you, as well, for acknowledging the likelihood of gay men among those raped.

You already know how I feel, Kelly.

I’m with you. I’m a male who’s read WW since he was a little boy, since the Ross Andru/Bob Kanhigher years. There have been strange mutations, but this just changes the Amazons totally, even more than the Zeus-as-father thing, and ruins it for me.

It’s like telling me that James Gordon is REALLY the killer of the Waynes, and framed Joe Chill. Or that Jor-El blew up Krypton and is still out there, blowing iup other worlds.

This changes the whole background of the world that WW comes from. And WW, more than Superman, who was raised here, is a foreigner, a product of another culture. If she comes from a horrifying culture rather than an empowering one, you have basically altered her personality.

Like you, I loved the creative team, and I loved most of the issues of this run. (The exception was the WW is Zeus’ son. How trite. Like half the heroes from mythology.) But this is ….

…It’s too much.

Sorry, DC. There are many questionable things about Moulton’s creation, and I will be interested in seeing Morrison’s take on the character, capturing many of the questionable old stuff—but the Amazons as murderers, as Black Widows, as sirens-who-slay…..

No.

I will await the next sea-change.

We ALMOST had the perfect WW. Almost. But now they’ve driven it off a cliff.

Ok let me start of by saying that I am not the biggest fan of Wonder Woman fan and I haven’t read a whole lot of stories featuring her and the Amazons. I have read certain runs which people might suggest to be to not the best (Heinberg launch and the one Picoult issue) and some which people regard the best ( Gail Simone) and I wasn’t impressed/ hooked either time (maybe I just read the wrong issues).

I guess long term fans have legitimate gripes if some concept they love has been turned on its head.

I have read the issue in question because of all the hullabaloo concerning it and I liked it (I am going to pick up the trade now to read it from the first issue). One reason is the I am not as invested in WW or her lore as older fans might be. But I don’t see the depictions of Amazon as serious blow to female empowerment.

Frankly I can’t see any society which segregates and isolates themselves from an entire gender because they view said gender as inherently problematic and responsible for all the ills of the world as a positive one ( if that is how indeed the Amazons have been portrayed previously in DC comics and close to the viewpoint they hold).

So, according to Azzarello, Diana is the dumbest bathing suit wearing broad in existence.

Just to say that Marstons Amazons always were about promoting his brand of feminism. They weren’t ever the Mythological Amazons. In the same way Siegel took the ubermensch and gave us Superman, Marston redeemed the Amazon myth ( which was a form of propaganda ) into something positive.
Second not yet convinced Hephaestus version of events is the whole story.

I had not decided how I felt about what happened in Wonder Woman #7. I certainly felt it was awful, and I found myself perplexed by the turn of events … women raping men in comics. Ritualistic mass-rape, at that.

This is an extremely well-written, thoughtful piece, Kelly. I agree with you wholeheartedly. A bit of cognitive dissonance remains; I am not prepared to drop Wonder Woman from my pull list … purely out of character loyalty. I hope Azzarello and Chiang redeem the Amazons in an authentic way. But … that still wouldn’t change what has been written.

A frequent follower of SHNH, but I think you’ve gone too far on this one.

A) Amazons have always been a fairly dubious “feminist” icon. Their extremist views have frequently pushed them into villain territory in modern popular culture – Xena frequently clashed with them, Zealot (Image) wobbled between leading and opposing them. They frequently stand as the polar opposite to male dominated culture between which stands a true feminist icon. David Brin has a insightful take on all this in “Glory Season” where a planetary society uses cloning to dispense with most of the need for males. In their extremity, the Amazons serve as a metaphor for the Tea Party movement or the Taliban – here Chiang shows the dark rationalizations necessary to achieve their utopia. In neither classical nor modern literature have they been portrayed as “the best of womankind”. They are more likely a mirror through which to evaluate their opposite, the male dominated society.

B) Everything it the run of Wonder Woman so far has been about various characters revealing “truths” to WW that are slanted by their own opinions (eg. Hypolita, Eris, Hades, even Apollo), and much of her struggle as a character has been to find her own truth in all of that. She can no more take Hephaestus at his word than any of the others.

C) Chiang never presented the Amazons as feminist icons – throughout the run he has shown the cracks in their society through their reactions to and relationship with WW. I think you’re being pretty unfair to say that he has “ruined” them when he never presented them that way in the first place. To say you can’t support a series because you got fooled by your own presumptions going in is to totally disrespect the role of the author as an investigator into our understanding of ourselves, and to shut down on one of the few mainstream comics that is taking a more nuanced approach.

And the reason ,I feel, why WW’s origins were tampered with while Superman and Batman remained intact is because her back story is not that well known. This of course is the result of not pushing her as aggressively in other media like Superman or Batman. There is pop cultural awareness regarding WW ( the costume, the look, powerhouse similar to Superman) but not as much regarding her background.

@ Cindy

I cannot agree with you more. The marriage of BP/Storm has been detrimental to both franchises and characters. I love a shared universe and the possibilities that exist as a result but sometimes you don’t mix worlds or sections which don’t go together. And the BP/Storm situation is a prime example.

Seconding JG’s recommendation of Colin Smith’s post reinforcing Kelly’s points:

http://toobusythinkingboutcomics.blogspot.com/2012/03/on-wonder-woman-7.html

Between them, Kelly and Colin have thoroughly dismantled the pernicious argument “oh, but these Amazons are more in keeping with actual myth!” (Not that I expect this will stop people from repeating that claim endlessly as if it had never been answered, but at least the rest of us should be aware of what you’re choosing not to hear.)

I’m with you, Kelly. This issue really skeeved me out — it’s a well-written story, true, with a stellar creative team, and this issue did away with a lot of the problems of punny dialogue and confused plotting that Yan mentions. But I can still like the execution of a story and disagree completely with its message — and if you take symbols of female empowerment and turn them into all-but-literal man-eaters, the message is pretty clear.

Azzarello’s characterization of the Amazons has reminded me a lot of J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek reboot, and how it (and, to a lesser extent, Star: Trek: Enterprise) turned the Vulcans from peace-loving, logical beings into xenophobic, know-it-all bullies. I understand why he did it in the movie — sowing conflict between Spock and the Vulcans underscores his half-human heritage, and helps build him up as a character. But for anyone who remembers when the Vulcans professed to believe in “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations,” the idea of Vulcan schoolyard bullies just feels wrong.

If Azzarello’s intent is similar with this reboot, it’s not working. Wonder Woman ends up looking like an idiot, and we’re left wondering how she could have lived her whole life on Themiscyra without ever knowing this was going on (and if it goes on every 30 years, it’d be pretty hard). She’s made to seem arrogant for believing slavery is wrong and wanting to free the Manazons, as she should, being a superheroine and all. (It’s been annoying to see how many reviewers are praising this issue for illustrating Wonder Woman’s “hubris,” as if wanting to bust up a centuries-old human trafficking racket is hubris above and beyond what a superheroine would normally do.)

Maybe this creative team will build something truly good in this title, once the retcon heavy lifting is done and Diana can finally become the lead character in her own book. But I’m going to wait for that, and not stick around for more of this.

JC – it doesn’t matter if “In neither classical nor modern literature have they been portrayed as “the best of womankind”, DC’s Amazons are neither of those. Marston’s Amazons were a new concept, a female empowerment fantasy for a world that half a century later still struggles with gender equality. It is irrelevant whether the classical Amazons, written in even more sexist times, were rapists – I don’t see the “this is faithful to the myths!” advocates arguing that Wonder Woman should cut off one of her generous tits, so let’s not pretend we’re all looking for comics that are consistent with ancient myths.

I often think Kelly’s rants miss the mark but this time I agree with her completely. Character-wise, this is equivalent or maybe worse than making the Kents a couple of repulsive racists, or making Uncle Ben a pedophile who bad-touched Peter – it undermines and poisons the character’s whole backstory. And considering that Wonder Woman is a rare female star in the overwhelmingly-male-dominated world of superheroes, it IS a big deal that Marston’s idealized Amazons are being perverted like this. And to argue that it’s OK because it fits those incredibly sexist myths where liberated Amazons were treated as villains… oh boy. Shall we make Marvel’s Herc a rapist and cut off one of Diana’s glorious tits while we’re at it, then? That would make them even more faithful to the original myths! Or is being faithful to ancient myths only good when it’s throwing the liberated wimmins under the bus, but not so good when it ruins our cheesecake?

I can’t speak for the current run, but it seems to me that defaming if not outright destroying the Amazons has been the thing for each new Wonder Woman writer to do in the past number of years. They were wiped out, then came back, then wiped out again by/before Simone then JMS had them gone, then flashpoint etc…etc…

5 year ago, if you had told me that DC Comics would make all the Amazons rapist and rape-babies, I would have said, “I know.”

If I could go the rest of my life without seeing, in response to a thoughtful, impassioned piece of comics criticism such as this, “It’s only comics”, I’d die a happy man.

I have a hypothesis that many of the creators at DC are secretly sabotaging the new 52 in hopes that it will create the justification Corporate WB needs to give the okay to return to the old continuity.

The reboot seemed really out of place after the Legacy mini series and all the work Geoff Johns was doing to strengthen the continuity without rebooting it. So it has been suggested that the reboot was something Corporate ordered to increase sales with no regards to the established fan base.

There are just so many bizarre changes in the 52 that don’t make any logical sense that this conspiracy theory does give me a brief moment of “it all makes sense” that I can at least latch onto while I slowly drop every DC book I have been reading.

Since I’m not invested in the myth of amazons being paragons of virtue, I think that this is actually a more interesting origin for WW. If she is good, it is in spite of her upbringing, not because of it. I think it will be interesting to see her push the Amazons to reform their ways.

Also, I think a better analogy would be if DC made Kryptonians evil, not the Kents. Didn’t they do this in Smallville? I only saw a handful of episodes, but didn’t Clark find out that Jor El sent him to Earth as a conqueror not a savior?

Still I sympathize with the author’s viewpoint, even though I do not agree.

Superman was also based on ancient myths: Hercules, Samson, Chuchulain, all those old hero types.

If he were more like them, he’d be a dull-witted, short-tempered, murderous philanderer.

Anyone want to try and tell me that would be a justifiable direction to take the character in, based on his pedigree?

Kelly, usually I disagree with what you write on your blog to one degree or another. However, this time you wrote an amazing peice that should be forwarded to Azzarello and Chiang. Well balanced and thoughtful.

I think it might be a step too far when you claim: “It’s hard to ignore that this is a society that increasingly hates and distrusts women, especially as they gain any ground or power for themselves.” As I don’t experience that, but I realize that you (and many others) may feel that way daily, which makes me sad, to say the least.

The only thing I would add to your brilliant blog entry, I was furious at how efficiently they turned the Amazons into monsters. 3 Pages to destroy a society? It felt like too big a reveal to be fit into an “Oh by the way…..”

As far as I can tell the Amazons have not been destroyed, merely transformed. This is a common occurrence in Greek mythology and sets up conflict between Diana and Hera. I have no doubts they will be back soon enough.

I don’t get citing Katniss and Buffy as empowerment role models. both characters were manipulated and cajoled by their handlers. Katniss was frequently kept ignorant of what was happening around her.

The only person who knows what’s going on with his creation is the writer Brian Azzarello; every other perspective is mere conjecture. So I consider all this mere conjecture.

While the critic educates the public about art, the artist educates the critic. – Wilde

The WW/Marston-created Amazons were indeed conceived as exemplars of female empowerment — but the execution had a lot to do (primarily) with Marston’s rather idiosyncratic conception of feminism and (secondarily) with where the larger conversation about feminism/women’s roles was at the time of WW’s creation in 1941.

But the conversation has evolved considerably since then, and the Marston Amazons now seem (to me anyway) to be a pop-culture byproduct of a brand of 2nd wave feminism that has no particular relevance to a contemporary audience — AFAIK, no serious person is advocating for full-on gender separatism in this day and age (and there were a few voices actually doing so in Marston’s time).

Azz’s take on the Amazons still depicts them as a strong, successful, fiercely independent (and powerfully so) people — and despite these latest revelations, I think their culture is still positioned in the text as having some merit/value to it — after all, Amazon society must have something going for it if it’s able to produce someone as heroic, noble, and fundamentally decent as Diana/WW.

Marston’s take on the Amazon’s worked for the comparatively unsophisticated readership of the 1940s, when questions like ‘Would a matriarchy really be a utopia?’, and ‘How does a society composed exclusively of women endure (and/or reproduce)?’ could be handwaved away and left unanswered. Today’s readers are less sanguine about stuff like that, understandably so, and thus problematizing certain aspects of Amazon society/culture makes good sense in that context. I think WW will emerge from this story and its attendant retcons as a stronger more compelling character with a milieu more conducive to telling interesting and dramatic stories.

Really well thought out piece. I don’t know if I feel 100% the same, but I think you nailed it on the head about what doesn’t feel “right” about this current reboot of WW.

I will state though that I appreciate some of the risks being taken by Azzarello/Chiang. I think for too long Amazons, as depicted by DC, were a victimized community of women who came to empower themselves. But countless stories would have them re-visit their victimhood (i.e. Hera literally kicks their island out of jealous spite, Amazon Attack! etc.). So this portrayal of them as perpetrators of violence/rape is at least a very different take on them. Hard to swallow (by me, at least), but maybe gives more nuance to their reason for being and their role in a larger DC Universe context.

That there is so much muddled female characterization in the two main comic publishers right now though, and the most disgusting political climate for women’s rights in the US, doesn’t help me fully appreciate what is happening at WW. I can remove the political climate from my reading of things, but not completely.

I’m sticking it out though. WW has been my personal hero(ine) since boyhood, and I’m going to hold steadfast that there is better to come. We gotta believe in our childhood heroes!

[...] When it comes to comic book fandom, it is the feminist or female perspective criticism I pay most attention to also. Superhero comics are traditionally a teenage male endeavour, but they can work so well as power fantasies for everyone. The female centric criticisms tend to push against the norm, asking for something good in general, not just what is is expected of the medium. So, think of my shock when they were deeply offended by an issue I really enjoyed. [...]

eehhhh relax guy, it’s just a comic.

1) I have never read a WW comic before starting with this series.
2) I have almost no familiarity with WW as a character, her back-story, or any other characters in her universe.
3) Came into this b/c of Azzarello/100 Bullets

Dispensing with assumptions, from a (male) horror perspective, this depiction hits home. To man, it is a fearsome world to live in which women not only don’t need you, but are clearly getting on just fine without you. To make matters worse, their one earthly ‘dependence,’ your seed, is merely a party favor that is easily separated from the host.

What is seen as the destruction of the depiction of a group that symbolizes female empowerment, I see as the depiction of male impotence and fear. This is, for what it’s worth, a win by default. And in America, a win is a win.

I am confused how any characterization of the Amazons–even one less vile or visceral than this one–could be considered a bastion of femininity. Again, I’m unfamiliar with any previous characterization but if I were to imagine a society of women that lived separately and on their own, I wouldn’t imagine one that was friendly towards men. Otherwise, why the segregation?

If feminism, as you say, is essentially equality of the sexes, then how can such a separatist group have ever been the pinnacle of this?

I’m curious to know what you guys think of BKV’s depiction of women in Y: Last Man? Of course he had 60 issues to flesh out his vision (not seven), and ranged from the primal (Daughters of the Amazon) to the feminist (Israeli soldiers) to the male-centric (ninja?!). Because some of the themes that BKV contrasted in that series I am seeing highlighted between Diana and the Amazons.

All in all, i haven’t forgotten that this is a WW comic, and that her characterization is far from misogynistic. I will admit, she does seem a bit naive (again, never read any WW stuff before), but I think that this has more to with the fact that they are beginning a new “series” here, starting in first gear rather than third.

Cheers.

Personally, I am completely sick of hearing about the Amazons and Paradise Island anyway, and would love to read a few years’ worth of WW comics that don’t focus on them, the Olympian gods, or mythology in general. Get Diana out into the WORLD and let her be the best female superhero on the planet, already! Her reputation as such has not been developed much in the decades I’ve been trying to enjoy this character!

I came on board WW with the John Byrne run, and and right off the bat he has Darkseid invade Themiscyra, kills Diana off from her own book so he can indulge in WW2 nostalgia, retcons and lots of standing around talking, and Diana is a Greek goddess. Then just about every writer after that (I was not a regular reader again until Simone but I read a few) has Paradise Island invaded, removed from reality, killed, etc. Gail Simone has Zeus in a space suit after Nazis invade the island and more blah-blah the Queen this and that, and a Manazon riding an elephant. Amazon high-tech is gone in modern stories so they are incongruously stone-age now (no mental radio!) so the whole weapons thing makes no sense, spears being fairly easy to make. JMS reboots the character yet AGAIN, focusing on her new costume and guess what – find the Amazons who are being hunted down and invaded, yaaawn.. Now we have the current reboot where it’s all Vertigo-style so there’s more blood (not what the book needed), not much actually happens per issue, and the main mystery is in trying to figure out which gods and goddesses all these bizarre-looking characters are supposed to be since no one refers to them by name. Why the hell would Hermes have bird feet? How stupid.

This heroine needs to go live in a modern American city for a while and have a series of adventures where she 1) fights crime and injustice 2) works as a modern woman with friends and a job 3) EARNS her reputation as the premiere female superhero by taking on a series of awesome bad guys/gals in a way that no one else could. And there will be NO mention of or stories focused on Paradise Island, her mother, the Amazons, The Olympian gods or other world mythologies for at least three years!

Wouldn’t that be a cool run? Let’s see her arm wrestle with Big Barda, tackle the Legion of Doom or some equivalent, care for her neighbor’s kids, buy a motorcycle, go camping in space! If and when we do see the island again, make it a happy place with gee-whiz technology where she can rest and recharge, not a constantly war-ravaged Balkanized mess! That is what I want to see in a WW comic. They can hire me to write it, I don’t mind.

Joanna Sandsmark

March 26, 2012 at 4:47 pm

This is an excellent essay. I hadn’t jumped on board for this reboot because I am too in love with both Marston’s and Perez’s version of the character. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the New 52 and the positive comments made me start to reconsider that decision. Now I may have to reconsider my reconsidering. I loved the Amazons in the work of those two other creators. I also saw the Amazons as a source of female empowerment.

In today’s world, we need as many symbols of female empowerment as we can get. Fighting the mascunazi’s (i.e. men who dare to call any woman a “feminazi”) and their hatred, rhetoric, and fear takes so much energy. There is so much negativity in the world right now. Our escapism shouldn’t depress us. It shouldn’t wear us out and hold up a dark, twisted mirror to our gender with yet another message of, “All you icky women are scary!”

Thank you for your thoughtful essay. Perhaps I’ll wait a bit before deciding whether or not modern comics need to come back into my life.

@Joe Kontor: She never said the Amazons were a utopia, she said the opposite.

So it seems you didn’t read the article.

…first, the posted who commented that the “real” Amazons were monsters who cut off one of their breasts— that is grossly incorrect. Despite those tales, Amazons have never been decpited as such in any of the ancient art or sculpture. It also doesn’t help one use a bow better (the reason they were said to mutilate themselves in such a way)

The “monsterfication” of the ancient Amazons (and yes, roaming tribes of ancient all female societies are discovered to have existed) comes from ancient man’s fear and dread over something he did not know or understand– how could women get along without men? (the horror…lol) Such stories about their self mutilation further the point– of course a woman taking on traditionally male roles of power would want to destroy anything that would be womanly about her, right? (groan)

Apart from that, DC’s Amazons ARE NOT THE AMAZONS OF MYTH!! Hell, even Perez helped encorperate both ideas– Hippolyte’s Amazons of WW’s history rejected Ares’ way, and went to Paradise Island. Her sister Antiope rejected the Gods, and her nation became the warring, man-hating Amazons more closely associated with the myths…

Now we just have one note boring stereotypical depictions instead of something magical, inspirational, and DIFFERENT>

I agree that female empowerment is good. I agree that it is important for characters such as the Amazons to exist. I agree that such characters can, and should often be, role-models.

However, I am in favour of – or at least understanding of – Azzarello and Chiang’s decision. This nuance forces readers to contemplate the implications of any single-gendered society. They could have explained away the single-gendered nature of the Amazons through magic or techno-babble – Wonder Woman herself makes a reference to this in the panels you’ve included – but to do so would be to ignore an opportunity to explore just how unnatural the Amazonian society is relative to our own.

Single-gendered societies do not exist. If they did, and did so without magic or techno-babble, they could only exist in this fashion: with total segregation and dehumanization of the other gender. A male-only warrior society would have to exist in pretty much exactly the same way.

Also, as you mention, it’s closer to the Greek source material. Nothing wrong with that.

MariedeGournay

March 26, 2012 at 7:00 pm

What bothers me is the idea of getting closer to the ‘origin’ of the Amazon myth. Wonder Woman’s amazons are not Greek mythology, but DC mythology. Marston took what the thought were the most compelling elements of the Greek story and revised and rebuilt it to fit into another kind of universe. Each story after Marston’s run are built upon his revision, which is essentially different in details large and small. To throw away legacy of DC’s myth in favor of the Greek myth makes Wonder Woman and the amazons a slave to an infantile sense of cultural cachet.Azzarello and Chiang’s story is not more legitimate because it’s ‘closer’ to the Greek myth, because the DC myth was already legitimate.

Allow me to present my own theory: this may be leading to a later plot thread.

We all know the Wildstorm Universe was integrated into the DCU when it became the DCnU, right?

So, in the old Wildstorm days, what were the equivalents to the Amazons? The Coda, Zealot’s (of WildCATS) warrior woman clan.

My theory: Azarello must be setting something up where it’s revealed that not ALL the Amazons are responsible for these actions–it’s the doing of a splinter sect called (drum roll please)….the Coda!

So people, don’t be surprised if somewhere later in the book, Diana learns of a splinter sect of the Amazons that were the real and only perpetrators of these actions. If they reintroduce Zealot this way, she’d probably be a Coda disgusted and disillusioned by the actions of her ‘sisters’.

What do you all think?

–everything is wrong with that– if I wanted mis-informed tales of the “real” Amazons of myth, I’d read Edith Hamilton or Bullfinches’ Mythology. This is DC Comics– they are not bound by the “reality” of our world, and the previous version of the Amazons was a more interesting concept and ideal.

Know what I love, Kelly? That with the exception of the handful of ‘fanboy ‘ responses, your posts seem to bring out the intelligent in people.

Good stuff!

This is a bummer, since the Azzarello -Chiang WONDER WOMAN was one of the few titles that was keeping me engaged with the DCnu.

The concept of Paradise Island (or Themyscira) was probably a little bit dated. It had a core conceit (i.e women to social norms) that was grounded in traditional gender roles. Those roles are mostly gone in the modern west, so it needed some updating. Looking to the Greek Myths was not a terrible path to go down. I thought the Zeus twist was a good example of using those myths to modernize the Wonder Woman story.

However, totally inverting the meaning of the Marston stories is pretty appalling.

Wonder Woman was designed for the express purpose of creating a heroic example for girls. There really isn’t any other superhero who has a comparable moral purpose. The Amazons were a key aspect of that. Turning them into evil succubi is pretty bizarre in that context.

Andrew Collins

March 26, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I’m going to stick with them and see where it’s going, but yeah, this part of the story made me uncomfortable for several reasons, not the least of which how stupid it made Diana look when she found out. You’re telling me she grew up on this island for how many years and never knew about the rape babies? Weird. That said, I AM enjoying Azz/Chiang’s WW overall, but it’s still not done anything to make me forget Perez’s take on WW, still my all time favorite…

This the first time, in a long time, that I remember agreeing 100% with you Kelly. I hardly ever do that. Nothing you said seemed off base.

I have issues 1-6 of wonder woman. But after getting to that page in the comic shop I did not buy issue 7. And I can’t seem to think of any reason why I would pick up another issue from this run.

It would take a heck of a payoff. Or it something.

This just makes me sad. Thanks for voicing my concerns in a way I never could.

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.

Nothing really beats the old wonder woman plot.

Didn’t Azzarello say he wanted to make the Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman trinity an actual in-story reality, and not just a marketing construct? It strikes me that writing Wonder Woman as a horror book is a piss-poor way to do that. Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Nightwing, and the Flash all star in superhero books. Animal Man, Swamp Thing, the JL Dark, and Wonder Woman have horror books. Regardless of the quality of the actual books, it sorts them into “mainstream” and “fringe” characters. So, in terms of advancing the Wonder Woman franchise’s interests–which is not something I, particularly, care about, but understand that a lot of people do–he’s not doing a very good job.

That said, Azzarello isn’t writing from a position of disliking the character. Whatever his endgame is will end up reflecting well on Diana and probably Hippolyta as well, if not the Amazons as a whole.

I won’t contest most of what you say, but for what it’s worth, I don’t the intent is necessarily to make the Amazons rapists: nothing says they have sex with ALL of the men on the boats. The exact words are “It must seem like a dream to MOST men, beautiful women OFFERING themselves” (emphasis mine). I’m sure the intent is that all the men – even the ones who opt out of mating with the Amazons – are killed afterward, which is certainly monstrous and I won’t dispute your taking offense at it at all, but there’s nothing there saying that uninterested crewmen aren’t allowed to go to some other part of the boat while their shipmates voluntarily sleep with the Amazons.

So, yeah, it’s pretty ugly all the way around, but if the rapist part specifically bothers anyone, I think that part isn’t (necessarily) intended to be the case.

On the question of rape:

Generally, sex becomes rape when consent is not given freely. To me, the deteriming factor is what happens when someone declines an Amazon’s proposition.

The Amazons would have to either kill them immediately or restrain them so they can’t rush off to the radio and report the ship being boarded by pirates. Just from that, you’ve moved from a conditionless proposition to “have sex with me or I will assault you (or worse)”. Clearly, the element of free consent has been removed, so rape becomes a legitimate term to describe the situation.

Bernard the Poet

March 27, 2012 at 2:40 am

There are some good and interesting comments on here, but ultimately we all know that DC won’t let this story stand. Either Azzarello will reveal this story to be untrue (most likely) or the next writer will.

Since Crisis nearly every controversial story has been abandoned and forsaken within five years.

It is one of the reasons I don’t buy monthly comic books anymore.

Well, this was a quite long and well thought out essay (article? editorial?) that really does make a rather unassailable claim, but my main criticism with it is that the claim, by the end, is just that one person has lost faith in the series. What with all the clarifications and assurances that this is not supposed to offend people and that offense is not taken for other people enjoying the stories and all that, I am left at the end with a feeling of, okay, and so what? Not that the essay doesn’t raise valid points, but that it undercuts itself by trying to soften the possible backlash against it. Shouldn’t it be offensive for other people to enjoy the story, at the very least if that enjoyment comes from negative depictions of women? I’m kind of offended reading about it, and I’m not really invested in Wonder Woman as a character or symbol or institution. But I think that such depictions that give women “power” by making them more sexual (in this case, aggressively so) serve neither women, because it casts women as having that “power” only because men give it to them, nor men, who are portrayed as really being stupid (and, can’t resist) dicks who are completely powerless when faced with sex, like sex is some sort of magic that women have and men beg for like dogs. And, haha, that is what popular culture tells us is the case and what most people would try to argue is true but really just argues that systematic inequality is justified because the roles enforced by it are “true.” And that is offensive. As a man I find it offensive that people would assume that because I am a man I think only with my penis, and treat women and their magical vaginas like some sort of dark wizards. And I find it offensive when other people like or enjoy such depictions because it cheapens us all. That is the only thing I found lacking in the essay, that it lets people off the hook in that regard, and so becomes less potent. But otherwise, I enjoyed it and it made me miss the days of term papers.

LaToya Ramirez

March 27, 2012 at 4:13 am

Oh lordy. Enough with the this whiny about empowerment and crap like that. Buncha pseudo-intellectuals over analyzing everything is getting to be tedious. People, you’re making a mountain out of a mole hill. Get over yourselves and get out of the Starbucks where you preach your smug, self indulgent “rage” at the world.

LaToya Ramirez

March 27, 2012 at 4:14 am

BRILLIANT comment!!!!

JC
March 26, 2012 at 11:43 am

A frequent follower of SHNH, but I think you’ve gone too far on this one.

A) Amazons have always been a fairly dubious “feminist” icon. Their extremist views have frequently pushed them into villain territory in modern popular culture – Xena frequently clashed with them, Zealot (Image) wobbled between leading and opposing them. They frequently stand as the polar opposite to male dominated culture between which stands a true feminist icon. David Brin has a insightful take on all this in “Glory Season” where a planetary society uses cloning to dispense with most of the need for males. In their extremity, the Amazons serve as a metaphor for the Tea Party movement or the Taliban – here Chiang shows the dark rationalizations necessary to achieve their utopia. In neither classical nor modern literature have they been portrayed as “the best of womankind”. They are more likely a mirror through which to evaluate their opposite, the male dominated society.

B) Everything it the run of Wonder Woman so far has been about various characters revealing “truths” to WW that are slanted by their own opinions (eg. Hypolita, Eris, Hades, even Apollo), and much of her struggle as a character has been to find her own truth in all of that. She can no more take Hephaestus at his word than any of the others.

C) Chiang never presented the Amazons as feminist icons – throughout the run he has shown the cracks in their society through their reactions to and relationship with WW. I think you’re being pretty unfair to say that he has “ruined” them when he never presented them that way in the first place. To say you can’t support a series because you got fooled by your own presumptions going in is to totally disrespect the role of the author as an investigator into our understanding of ourselves, and to shut down on one of the few mainstream comics that is taking a more nuanced approach.

LaToya Ramirez

March 27, 2012 at 4:15 am

As a woman I am disgusted and perturbed by the hypocrisy and more so by the pretentiousness of some of these postings. Most are clearly lame douchebag males trying to appear as if “they care” and the women here are self-hating anti-male jerks.

LaToya Ramirez

March 27, 2012 at 4:17 am

This is why Comic Reviewers are the amongst the dregs of the world of “post-modern journalism.” They paint in boogeymen, try to create controversy where there is none and get paid for snarky, wanna-be smarty pants BS. Kelly, unless you write a comic then you, like EVERY OTHER comic reviewer, should just stop being a “journalist.”

Is that you again matthew?

Thoughtful, interesting analysis, Kelly.

I think, as others have observed, that there’s a problem with taking Marston’s original Amazons as a good or positive female empowerment myth. Somewhere along the way, perhaps, they became de-Marstonized but the price was that they became bland and unconvincing in the pre-Perez, pre-Infinite Crisis WW books. Those post-Marston, pre-Perez Amazons were often passive, generic, nice. They had a Purple Ray, they had a decent little pocket utopia. WW herself as a character suffered from the blandification of the Amazons.

Perez clearly set out to remedy that by giving the Amazons a sharper edge as warriors, and a sharper edge as icons of female empowerment: Paradise Island was a refuge from rape and war, and a place where they could make a society free of both, though Perez was attentive from the beginning to the story possibilities of warriors who were against war, and took that contradiction into his characterization of Wonder Woman herself. But this posed a problem for the Amazons and WW, namely, their evolution as characters. That’s a way to start the story, but over time, WW had to become less and less a naif or innocent in Man’s World and the Amazons had to figure out how or whether to re-engage the world. If they did, then the issue would become, “How do they remain empowered while also being in contact with Man’s World?” An interesting story question, but one that would doubtless freak out main editorial at DC. If they didn’t, then that’s an equally strong statement about empowerment–that it has to happen through separation, distance, etc. Not to mention that a Paradise Island that is empowered through isolation cuts the Amazons off from motherhood, a curious problem that should create much more tension around WW herself. (Why don’t they all get clay babies? Gail Simone did some interesting work with this issue in the pre-nu52 book.)

The other problem that Perez couldn’t dance away from is the Greek gods. If the Amazons are immortal and live on a magical island that isn’t their own creation but instead a creation of the Gods, and if WW herself owes her existence to the gods, then ok, you’re going to have to figure out the Greek gods and why the Amazons should venerate them. And Perez just couldn’t figure that out for good reason. The Greek gods to modern sensibilites are hard to venerate: they are very human archetypes, with amplified and exaggerated versions of our weaknesses and strengths. And in a superhero universe, they just look like superheroes, which is pretty much how Perez and subsequent DC writers ended up treating them. And the Gods undercut the female empowerment of the Amazons in a great many ways as well as causing no end of story problems. Small wonder Perez sent them packing and subsequent writers did something of the same.

Along comes nu-52. I’m no fan of the grimdark mood in most of the books but in this one case, I think it’s an interesting and potentially generative take on the character and her backdrop. First, it solves the problem of the Gods, though I’m not sure many subsequent writers will be able to follow this characterization. Second, it raises a radical question: what is empowerment? Name me a powerful, creative, generative society that has contributed to global modernity and I’ll show you how it routinely did things basically comparable or worse than the Amazons did in this issue of WW. Sometimes is still doing things like that, right this second. So if the Amazons are to be both empowered and positive, that takes some very hard thinking. What is that exactly? The pre-Perez Amazons, who seemed to be in a Valium coma most of the time, lounging about in togas? Marston’s empowered dominatrixes? Perez’s warrior women who worship a bunch of contemptible superhumans who hang out on Mount Olympus? If this ends up being a story about how the Amazons are empowered like *all* human societies have been empowered but are now going to have to work hard to be something better than the rest of us, that’s an interesting story and maybe gets to where Kelly wants this character to go. If it’s a story about how women can’t do power any better than any other society can, just differently, then…well, it’s also an interesting story but it definitely does lose the value of the Amazons in comics as a positive symbol or icon.

Some comments are spot on, others are just… *sigh*
Amazing, people want a deconstructionist view on comics and characters but if they get something they think is wrong w/o actually reading the comic, then… Well, you know what? Don’t read it. Don’t get all preachy. Comics are NOT an indicator of modern society. The fact that someone, anyone, sees comics as a form of educating people are wholly arrogant and deluded.

Acer made a wonderful point that people seem to have overlooked. CT, Latoya, Graeme, Oroboros have raised fair points that others have ignored.

MariedeGournay

March 27, 2012 at 5:25 am

@ LaToya Ramirez: Ad Hominem, the last resort of morons.

Tom Fitzpatrick

March 27, 2012 at 5:33 am

Interesting and disturbing article.

Not too completely familiar with greek/roman mythology, so I can’t say what the Amazons theology/ideology is all about. From what I’ve read from the Perez/Byrne/Rucka/Simone runs is that all the writers (including Azzarello) has had written different perspectives on this subject matter.

As far as rape is concerned, I’ve never felt that only men had the monopoly on it. If we’re to live in a equally democratic world: then, women (empowered or not) are just as equally capable of doing good and/or evil just as men is.

Wonder Woman # 7 did leave me with a bad taste, but until I read this article, could not put my finger on it.

Leave it to Azzarello to draw out the cracks in society in the most subtle of ways.

Leave it to Ms. Thompson to bring it all to our attention.

This is a great piece; it perfectly articulates all the major issues I had with the revelation from a feminist perspective, and refutes a lot of the arguments being made in support of it, although it seems some commenters didn’t quite make it to that paragraph lol.

In terms of story-telling, I’m really hoping that there’s much more going on here and we’ll get the chance to hear the Amazons’ side of it because this just seems so one-dimensional and trite to me. I completely understand why many people enjoyed this latest twist, but imo depicting matriarchal societies as man-hating, castrating psycho-villains is boringly commonplace in fiction, and it’s become rather tedious. Part of what I liked about DC’s Amazons is that their portrayal avoided this tired, clichéd trope for the most part.

And thanks so much to those who provided a link to Colin Smith’s article! I was unfamiliar with his blog, and he does an amazing job showing why the “but that’s the myth” argument is so problematic.

This and the Colin Smith article together make a very interesting, powerful statement. The people who consider thinking in-depth about the ways creative choices in comics reflect larger social tendencies as some sort of bizarre or arrogant practice also make a powerful statement, but not the one they think they’re making.

Excellent article. Much kudos. Even if I may disagree with your stance on current events/issues, I fully agree with your stance on the “deconstruction/destruction” of the Amazons in this issue. In this current age of “everything must be explained down to the nth level,” I can see someone wanting to tackle the reasons why there are no male children on Themyscira, or how the Amazons procreate since there are no men allowed. But doing it this way, unless there is a HUGE and EXTREMELY POSITIVE payoff, turns Diana’s entire race into monsters – monsters that then sent her out into the world to do….what? All of Diana’s deep backstory about her mission and purpose just got chucked into the shredder.

The more I think about it, the more illogical the explanation becomes.

If all the females are having reproductive sex once in their lives and magically all getting pregnant at the same time, BUT 49% of the babies are males (that’s standard) who 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.

Repeat after me:

DC does not care about female characters.

DC does not care about female readers.

DC does not care about female creators.

I am no longer surprised I have to explain this.

“In some versions of the myth, no men were permitted to have sexual encounters or reside in Amazon country; but once a year, in order to prevent their race from dying out, they visited the Gargareans, a neighbouring tribe. The male children who were the result of these visits were either killed, sent back to their fathers or exposed in the wilderness to fend for themselves; the females were kept and brought up by their mothers, and trained in agricultural pursuits, hunting, and the art of war. In other versions when the Amazons went to war they would not kill all the men. Some they would take as slaves, and once or twice a year they would have sex with their slaves.[9]”

That is from Wikipedia, taken from the accounts of Strabo, a Greek historian. In versions of the myths of Amazons, they did all the stuff from this issue.

Comics are written for, and largely by, fan-boys who both lust after unreal women with impossible bodies and yet fear and hate women with real power (e.g. the power to say no or ‘I can do this on my own without male help’). Think that the story as outlined does show a fear of women’s power. You have more faith in Azzarello than I do.

@LaToya Ramirez (or you know, whoever you are):

“This is why Comic Reviewers are the amongst the dregs of the world of “post-modern journalism.” They paint in boogeymen, try to create controversy where there is none and get paid for snarky, wanna-be smarty pants BS. Kelly, unless you write a comic then you, like EVERY OTHER comic reviewer, should just stop being a “journalist.””

I do not get paid to write this column.

And though I’m not sure what it has to do with anything, I AM actually working on a six-issue mini-series with a very talented artist that we’ll be pitching in the spring/summer.

So…BOOM!

@Kelly: Great piece! I think you make a lot of persuasive points here. I’m with you on this one. I think it was an unattractive story decision, regardless of how it might play out in the long run. Personally, I feel like this story beat could’ve happened without it being ALL of the Amazons. Instead, couldn’t it be a splinter sect that did this type of stuff? That would set up an interesting scenario within the “utopia” and give the creators a chance to explore things without smearing the entire society. Just sayin’.

@Cindy: I TOTALLY AGREE!

I am intrigued by the suggestion that journalists should write comics or stop being journalists. Better get on that, Bob Woodward.

“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.” — Lioness

Lioness, whoever you are, please know that I think that is the single greatest, most perfect and most insightful thing I’ve heard said about anything in this genre in I don’t know how long. I wish I’d said that.

i can understand why you are upset with the comic, however i think what the creators are trying to show is that no society is perfect and that this new diana has lived a life blinded by wealth, power and optimism. Now she is seeing that her world the supposed paradise is no different from the world of men (or even the world of the gods), and that she needs to be an ambassador to both to show them that both ways are failures.

I think you have something of a very valid viewpoint here, but because of the feminist lens you are viewing the issue through you don’t take it far enough. I don’t think Azzarello’s problem is misogyny but rather misanthropy. It doesn’t seem anti-woman so much as anti-people. It’s the major reason I don’t read his stuff.

Some people think his misogynist or racist elements aren’t so bad because he makes everyone look bad. Some people think the fact that he hates everyone is even worse than just hating certain groups. But I do think no matter which way you fall on the issue, his general misanthropy needs to be taken into account when discussing this issue.

“Comics are NOT an indicator of modern society. The fact that someone, anyone, sees comics as a form of educating people are wholly arrogant and deluded.”

All art is an indicator of the society in which it is created. All art is capable of educating people.

I think WW has been unfairly targeted in the recent past, especially the uniform complaints from those who know nothing about how often superhero costumes change, and then change back. And now this, if this new 52 hadn’t already horribly “reconceptualized” Catwomen and then Starfire in such horrible ways, I’d probably wouldn’t have thought much of these changes to WW, or not have given thought to the larger implications. I’ve been a WW reader for a very long time, and stuck through Stracynski’s run which should make me eligible for an award, but comics, imo, are fluid and ever changing. I wish our national discourse wasn’t as horrid as it is right now, but for women and children, it is. Obama has gotten a one to three month break only because the usual suspects have turned their eyes to women. Anyways, i apologize for getting off point, or maybe i didn’t lol.

The bigger hit to female empowerment is not what has happened to the amazons, but what has been done to Oracle. Here is a character, in recent comics history, that has faced severe adversity, and his worked to lift herself up in ways that surpass her previous actions and ambitions. I don’t think you can find a greater force for female empowerment in the last two decades than Oracle, and now that’s been wiped away. It just gets worse and worse, doesn’t it? Crap

You acknowledge that the issue is well done, but rate it very poorly because it goes against how you think one story element should be portrayed.

I find that not only questionable, but downright detestable.

Oops, almost forgot.

Not only are you assuming rape is involved, you’re imagining scenarios in order to justify the assumption.
What if the Amazons only have sex with the men who consent?

See, I can do it too.

Oh no, detestation! My goodness, that came easily.

And that’s quite an endorsement, Mark. Thanks for the two cents.

Just wanted to comment on the depth and thoughtfulness of the piece. This level of thought and insight is the type of comics blogging that I believe we need more of.

Thanks for a thought provoking read

Sam Robards. Comic Fan

March 27, 2012 at 2:54 pm

This was a very well-thought out column, Kelly, and clearly one that’s brought out a lot of emotion in you. Kudos for writing it. I don’t agree with all your points, but I just want to commend you on writing it.

I am not a longtime Wonder Woman reader: I started when the reboot happened. So I don’t have the longterm history of Diana and her books stored away in my memory, though I know some bits of her overall history.

As for my responses to this piece, I am dubious about the claim that the Amazons rapists. I think Azzarello chose his wording well: he said the Amazons “have their way” with the men on these ships, most of which think of it as “a dream.”

He didn’t say they forced themselves onto the men or use any phrasing that implies that the men didn’t gladly accept the invitation.

Also, the men not knowing they were going to be killed afterwards doesn’t make them rape victims. It makes them chumps, yes, but not rape victims. If the Amazons boarded the ship and said, “Have sex with us or we’ll kill you,” that’d be rape.

However, like I said before, Azzarello knows that phrasing matters and clearly showed that the Amazons offered an invitation, the men accepted, after which the Amazons killed them.

In terms of the Amazons trading/discarding their male sons, it seems to draw an interesting parallel to the actual Spartans, who would discard children they thought were deformed or otherwise deemed unfit.

For those who might say those are two different scenarios entirely, I would disagree. In the eyes of the Amazons, being male makes them unfit for their society, so their seeking to discard their male children (in this case, through trade with Hephaestus) is perfectly in line with that line of thought.

Marston thought of women as the superior human gender, and the idea of his Amazons discarding male offspring isn’t out-of-line with that thinking. It’s extremist as Hell, there’s no doubt about that, but it isn’t opposed to Marston’s thought processes.

Does that make the Amazons monsters, as you say? It certainly doesn’t help their image, but, at the same time, they aren’t actually killing the male offspring (unlike their hyper-male counterparts, the Spartans). They trade them away.

Which brings me to the charge of slavery. I don’t think we’re given enough here to make that call.

Yes, he does take these men and have them help him with his forges, but we don’t know what that relationship is like. If anything, it could almost be construed as a familial relationship because they come to Hephaestus’s aid when Diana’s throwing him about.

Expanding on the familial angle, which Azzarello has been hitting very hard with this run, it seems to me that Hephaestus is raising these boys as his sons and teaching them the skill of working the forges and not necessarily forcing them into service.

You could try to argue Stockholm Syndrome or something, but we’re simply not given enough information to prove or disprove such a theory. We also don’t know what, if anything, he does to men that don’t want to work the forges.

In essence, we’re trying to determine the look of a completed, 100-part puzzle by staring really hard at one piece.

I also think the interesting thing will be to see how, if this backstory holds (misdirection is another concept that’s run throughout Azzarello’s run so far), Diana will rise above her beginnings and better herself overall.

Either way, it was a good read, Kelly, and I’m glad you shared it with us.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

March 27, 2012 at 2:55 pm

*Apologies if this gets posted twice: I didn’t see it come up the first time, so I thought I’d give it another go*

This was a very well-thought out column, Kelly, and clearly one that’s brought out a lot of emotion in you. Kudos for writing it. I don’t agree with all your points, but I just want to commend you on writing it.

I am not a longtime Wonder Woman reader: I started when the reboot happened. So I don’t have the longterm history of Diana and her books stored away in my memory, though I know some bits of her overall history.

As for my responses to this piece, I am dubious about the claim that the Amazons rapists. I think Azzarello chose his wording well: he said the Amazons “have their way” with the men on these ships, most of which think of it as “a dream.”

He didn’t say they forced themselves onto the men or use any phrasing that implies that the men didn’t gladly accept the invitation.

Also, the men not knowing they were going to be killed afterwards doesn’t make them rape victims. It makes them chumps, yes, but not rape victims. If the Amazons boarded the ship and said, “Have sex with us or we’ll kill you,” that’d be rape.

However, like I said before, Azzarello knows that phrasing matters and clearly showed that the Amazons offered an invitation, the men accepted, after which the Amazons killed them.

In terms of the Amazons trading/discarding their male sons, it seems to draw an interesting parallel to the actual Spartans, who would discard children they thought were deformed or otherwise deemed unfit.

For those who might say those are two different scenarios entirely, I would disagree. In the eyes of the Amazons, being male makes them unfit for their society, so their seeking to discard their male children (in this case, through trade with Hephaestus) is perfectly in line with that line of thought.

Marston thought of women as the superior human gender, and the idea of his Amazons discarding male offspring isn’t out-of-line with that thinking. It’s extremist as Hell, there’s no doubt about that, but it isn’t opposed to Marston’s thought processes.

Does that make the Amazons monsters, as you say? It certainly doesn’t help their image, but, at the same time, they aren’t actually killing the male offspring (unlike their hyper-male counterparts, the Spartans). They trade them away.

Which brings me to the charge of slavery. I don’t think we’re given enough here to make that call.

Yes, he does take these men and have them help him with his forges, but we don’t know what that relationship is like. If anything, it could almost be construed as a familial relationship because they come to Hephaestus’s aid when Diana’s throwing him about.

Expanding on the familial angle, which Azzarello has been hitting very hard with this run, it seems to me that Hephaestus is raising these boys as his sons and teaching them the skill of working the forges and not necessarily forcing them into service.

You could try to argue Stockholm Syndrome or something, but we’re simply not given enough information to prove or disprove such a theory. We also don’t know what, if anything, he does to men that don’t want to work the forges.

In essence, we’re trying to determine the look of a completed, 100-part puzzle by staring really hard at one piece.

I also think the interesting thing will be to see how, if this backstory holds (misdirection is another concept that’s run throughout Azzarello’s run so far), Diana will rise above her beginnings and better herself overall.

Either way, it was a good read, Kelly, and I’m glad you shared it with us.

A thoroughly well thought out and important piece. I’m tired of all the uncritical blogs/sites/reviews out there which just say “AWESOME”, “BADASS”, or “SUCKS” without any form of analysis.

Between this article, Lioness (above) and Colin Smith’s piece the subject has been extensively and inarguably covered so I’m just going to add that the inability of fanboys to comprehend the criticism probably shouldn’t baffle me as much as it does.

More and more I move away from superhero comics. Sadly too many just aren’t written for people who want to see any of the following from the genre: political relevance, positive representations of women, subtlety, wit, an uplifting message, or any form of enlightening purpose. Instead we get: grim and grittiness, badass-ness, awesomeness, costumed men striking poses and snarky quips.

It’s like the early-90s Image ‘philosophy’ has now become the industry standard at Marvel and DC…and that’s just sad.

Kelly, I just wanted to tell you that you’re my hero. Never stop fighting the good fight.

@Ed A.
There’s definitely another thing you should add to your list: for once, seeing someone throwing a punch, and not a single drop of blood shed.

“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.” — Lioness

Lioness, whoever you are, please know that I think that is the single greatest, most perfect and most insightful thing I’ve heard said about anything in this genre in I don’t know how long. I wish I’d said that.
Mark Waid

I am officially over the moon.* Thank you, Sir.

*Granted, most people think I live there.

Joanna Sandsmark

March 27, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Sam Robards said, “Marston thought of women as the superior human gender, and the idea of his Amazons discarding male offspring isn’t out-of-line with that thinking. It’s extremist as Hell, there’s no doubt about that, but it isn’t opposed to Marston’s thought processes.”

Although Marston did indeed consider women the superior gender, the reason had nothing to do with men being disposable. It was because he felt women had all the qualities that are admired in men plus one additional quality: love. He felt women were able to love more fully and to be more generous with their love. He tried to incorporate that into Wonder Woman and the Amazons. So it would be a very difficult argument to win if you’re saying that this version of “Amazons as monsters” is in line with Marston’s thinking. It’s the polar opposite.

@Joanna
I agree. Accurate to the Greek Myths or not, those women aren’t Amazons–they’re Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction” x1000.

I’m not sweating this storyline anymore than I am the rest of the “New 52″ because, in six months or a year, DC is going to write out this continuity, just as they did with “52″, and every other continuity since “Crisis for Infinte Cash” eh, “on Infinte Earths” back in the ’80s.
All DC did was stage another tired sales promotion – 52 (count ‘em! collect ‘em all!) new titles. Some of them have already been canned, and probably 25 more will get the axe by the end of the year.
And then – Shazam! DC will annouce the return of the previous 52 because the world of “New 52″ will be discovered to be Earth-53, or something equally obvious. The Amazons will be alive and well, and the New 52 will just be another DC dead end.
And her new costume is just so Mattel can make ‘comic-accurate’ variant Wonder Woman figures for the collectors who already have 25 of her in her classic uniform, golden age uniform, Kingdom Come uniform… (just like Batman’s variant costumes, all of which have been made in a half dozen sizes and prices, and all selling to collectors who can’t wait to buy ‘em).
I gave up on DC comics, and just enjoy my DVDs of the DCAU.

@Jim O’
Funny, you just reminded me that we never got “Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money”.

I actually don’t have a problem with the Amazons being portrayed as murderers and rapists, not so much because I approve of that behaviour–not at all–but because they ARE murderers and rapists. In fact, I’d love for them to go one step further and actually start including Amazons with only one breast. If anything, I hate it when Amazons are portrayed as ideal people. An all-female society was never going to be a symbol of real feminism, no matter how much you wish it were otherwise. They’ll always make pretty good feminazis though (That’s not an oxy-moron is it? A “good” feminazi?).

Now for a symbol of real feminisim I would point to Wonder Woman herself, as another commenter said above. It’s actually her naivety/ignorance in the matter of what her people get up to is the part I’m concerned about. How does one grow up in a society that does stuff like that and not know?

And on a side note, I kind of have a problem with the implication that men are only rarely capable of being faithful to their girlfriend/wife. Maybe you think I’m the one being naive now, but I believe that there are a lot more honourable men out there than popular opinion implies. I hope you were just being cynical.

“Rape” is almost certainly the wrong word. Nothing like rape was depicted. I agree with everything else you said, though. This is quite a revoltin’ development.

@Charlie Ward

Wrong, rape is indeed the right word for what is depicted. They had sex with them under false pretenses and if they refused, they would be killed.

This is forced consent, so it’s rape. Plus, none would have agreed if they’ve known they’d be killed afterwards.

Joanna Sandsmark

March 27, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Lioness, the more I read in the comments, the more I wish there was an arrow pointing permanently to your post. You’ve already said, in a wonderfully succinct post, all there should be to say on this subject (after Kelly’s excellent essay).

I’ve never figured out what is so terribly, horribly wrong with positive stories about admirable people.

I’ve never figured out what is so terribly, horribly wrong with positive stories about admirable people. – Joanna Sandsmark

Award-winning actor Sam Waterston says it’s more interesting to the viewer to portray a good person doing the right thing under difficult circumstances than it is to portray a villain. I agree.

To make their “New 52″ sales campaign, I think DC’s writers were told to ‘write the characters as they’ve never been done before’ – and in Wonder Woman’s case, it was to make the Amazons evil, or at best ammoral.
I haven’t read many of the new titles, but what I have are trash.
DC has a long history of trashing female characters, and writing for testosterone-challenged 14-year-old boys of all ages.
What a waste.

I dropped the book after 3 issues after initially being excited about it. Azzarello is trying to be Neil Gaiman, but just doesn’t have the chops to pull it off.

David Williams

March 28, 2012 at 7:14 am

First I think it odd that Azzarello could be criticized for getting the story closer to the myth. I think that this is one of the best series in the new 52. I wondered what Azzarello could bring to the character, and he has made her fascinating and believable. Diana has to deal with the fact that her entire notion of the world has been turned upside down. Now how will she deal with this? It will make her a stronger person.

Well in Greek mythology, amazons were about the same as in WW #7, eaven if we don’t like it that is what this issue was based on… This isn’t trash, it’s staying true to the original mythology… Yeah it makes Amazons look bad, and trashy, but Wonder Woman is still the strong, female character that I love… I do think that in the future we will see her attoning for the Amazons…

“The Amazons may not have been created originally to be such a thing,”

AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry. Deep breaths…..

William Marston, who created Wonder Woman, was a passionate, ideologically committed feminist. He believed women were better than men in just about every way — smarter, stronger, more compassionate, more fitted to rule.

The Amazons were absolutely, uncontestably, intentionally meant as feminist icons. They were meant to be feminist examples for girls and *for boys.* It is impossible to read Marston’s Wonder Woman stories and doubt this; it’s impossible to read what he wrote about the character and doubt it. There simply is no doubt. The Amazons are feminist icons now because they were meant to be feminist icons by their creator. From the very first Wonder Woman story, they were established as feminist icons.

You know how horrified you are by castrating, evil, violent Amazons preying on men? Double that. Then double it again. Then, what the hey, double it a third time. That’s how absolutely, down to his socks horrified Wiliam Marston would be to see his beloved creations used in this manner. It is a deliberate, misogynist, betrayal of his vision. Azzarello might as well dig up the man’s corpse and defecate on it.

The fact that no one — not even committed Wonder Woman fans — knows about Marston or what he wanted for his creation is yet another sign of DC’s contempt for creator’s rights. (Which is in addition to their contempt for women, of course.)

Okay…sorry. End of rant.

At least the Amazons don’t abort their male babies. Now that would be evil.

I’ve run hot and cold with the Wonder Woman title in the New 52. I’m not a huge Azzarello fan but I’m a huge Wonder Woman fan. I really don’t like his Amazon concept.

I find it hard to believe that you are not telling people to not read the book.

Why else make the article then if not to shed some negativity/disappointment on something you have said yourself that has been a great read and has great art?

I think this is a long stretch to say that the Amazons are no longer as female-empowering as before. What about secretly fulfilling the sexual desires that all women (and men) share makes them less equal to men?

You claimed to set aside the key fact, which is that this is the stuff of myth. That Zeus would seduce and rape women all the time in Greek myth. Do men go up in arms over that fact? No. Why? Because it’s a myth. Comic books are just as much myth as those stories of Zeus raping women in the form of animals. If we got rid of every situation where a comic says something at least once that doesn’t make men or boys feel good, then there would be five comic series from both DC and Marvel. This is a non-issue for readers when its male characters, but an issue when it’s female characters. This makes no sense.

Let all of us remember, though, that this is not “DC’s attack on female rights”. This isn’t any intentional attempt to devalue women in comics. Yet, people (mainly, commenters of this post) are again finding reason to rant at DC when they need to be directing this towards the industry as a whole. I agree with one of the commenters above who said that it appeared while reading that this was something to shed light on the fact that no society is without flaw. Every society has their dark days and have done things they are not proud of and the Amazons are not excluded from that. And I don’t know why they should be excluded from that if every other society isn’t.

Like you, I also believe women need positive role models, but that is exactly what Wonder Woman is and what she was created to be. She’s always been a fantastic role model and she still is. The way I see it, Wonder Woman is a positive influence, in part, because of how she was able to stand out/open herself from her Amazonian sisters and find love in men, namely that of Steve Trevor.

I have never really seen the Amazonians as a positive role model for women because they have always come off to me as man-fearing/hating. Strong? Yes. Woman? Yes. Feminist? Yes. Loving of all? No. If that’s what you think women should look up to, then I think we have VERY different ideas of gender equality.

Dan Van Danderdance

March 28, 2012 at 8:04 am

Comics are political and always have been (eg, Hulk and nuclear destruction, the FF and the space race, and of course WW vs the Nazis). The reviewer prefers her myth of women as being only pure, noble, peaceful beings. In truth, women have a much fuller dynamic and can be murderers and beasts, as evidenced in the real world by our war-mongering women leaders Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power of the NSC, and Susan Rice of the UN. Simply stated, the myth was that “if women ran the world there would be no more wars,” but now we see that women in power also run the wars. This story isn’t an attack on women, the mythic “single heroic figure that will overturn the corruption of the powerful” will still be our heroine, only she will have more to overcome.

I thought the piece was going to be about the loss of the Earth 2 Amazons, which interests me, but I was intrigued by the author’s ‘take’ on the current WW Amazons. Personally, I liked the way the Perez era dealt with the darker mythology behind the separatist groups, allowing for a Patriarch’s World version to spring from the Antiope tribe, while maintaining the DC Comics’ Paradise Island version led by Hippolyta. Why the current creative team couldn’t utilize the same concepts escapes me (let the big parenthood reveal be that Diana is actually Antope’s daughter by Zeus, but raised for whatever reason by Hippolyta! Oh, the ANGST!), but there we have it.
I’m concerned by the misuse of the term ‘rape’, though. As a victim of actual rape, it is painful to see seduction or other situations, no matter how uncomfortable or problematic one might find them, labeled as ‘rape’, just as the definition in a legal sense has been broadened for political or financial reasons. Rape is NOT pleasant, and it is not trickery. It is violent, painful, and it leaves scars. Believe me.
In a similar vein, I doubt very much that women being stoned, jailed, and/or flogged would be thrilled with having their plight equated with not having birth control covered by Government healthcare. That is a Flukin’ stretch.

Those of you saying “Marston’s Amazons were blah blah blah” have not read Marston’s Amazons. From his VERY OWN dialogue and origin stories, his Amazons were created because Ares and Aphrodite were having a contest of who should RULE THE WORLD: men or women. So Aphrodite created the Amazons to CONQUER the men anyway they can. Not with love and peace. But with swords. And war. And with giant friggin rocks they threw at the men as depicted in the art by Harry Peters. And then they closed themselves off from society and never allowed men on their island again.

Go read the stories. It’s all there. Look up Golden Age Wonder Woman pages, Wonder Woman strips (written by Marston himself). The Amazons found their “peace” through war.

This is just nothing more than wanting to find yet another thing to rub DC’s nose in. The Amazons aren’t the story. Wonder Woman is. Perez’s Amazons were violent. Simone’s Amazons were violent. And so it should be.

First, there is a flaw, even from a feminist perspective, with the Amazons as an example of female empowerment. In the 21st century, it actually could be an insult to women to suggest that the best way to empower them is to separate them completely from men. Women, we know, can be and are infinitely powerful in a society they share with men; they don’t need to be sheltered. And separating a group from the rest of society often leads to in-fighting (as metaphorically shown in Strife’s visit to the island) and to mistrust and hostilities between the separated groups. There have been numerous attempts in old runs to deal with this flaw–by showing that isolation was imposed on and not chosen by the Amazons, and by having Themyscira opened up to the world. But I don’t think Azz is wrong to take the flaw head on and begin exploring its consequences. This could ultimately lead to a reformed Paradise Island that is a much better, more up-to-date example of female empowerment. What is, for example, the warrior women eventually share the island with their artist brothers?

Second, while it’s true that we can’t judge what hasn’t yet been published, it’s also true that we don’t have to rush to judgement. We can reserve sweeping judgements–and not say, for example, that Azz is pointing “an arrow to the heart of female empowerment and feminism”–until more of the story has been told. There is ample evidence that we don’t have the complete story–from Heph prefacing his story by saying that he is a god and the gods are too self-centered to be trusted, to the the many unanswered questions which the story leaves, to the hints about the Amazons having a dangerous patroness in Aphrodite, to the pain on the face of the Amazon woman who we see losing her son. I don’t think it will all have been a lie, but there could be a lot of moral ambiguity.

Thompson has a hard time imagining that anyone anywhere could grow up not knowing that their apparently loving parents were rapists or murderers. But I think there probably were many people in American history who were raised lovingly by people who secretly raped their slaves. Some of those rapists are also responsible for action and documents that have done great good in the world. To say that the Amazons can’t have done this and also have done good is very simplistic.

Seriously from the time you set out to not write negatively or treat women with kid gloves because you are saying Amazons are supposed to be some prissy goody two shoes who turned their back on the world of men AND women and live in a perfect world and are here to tell us, men in particular, how to live…you lost the right to talk about equality. What is a utopia but myth itself?There is no such thing. Historically WW confounded many readers because that was a HUGE conceit set up by a man who lived with two women that women are the better sex. He had his cake and ate it. And as far as I see it if there were women warriors from a savage time, isolated from the world…they are not all going to be perfect. They are not going to even behave like how you a modern women today would…plus it is your opinion it does not work. It does in this narrative. And this is just the opening of the story. You don’t even know what the next turn is. A reasonable reviewer would wait. Wait for a pay off . Wait to see what the outcome is. Then judge it as a whole. You are judging based on a story told to one character set by another. Just like the tales spread of these warrior women who cut off one of their breasts when they were never true and their societies had men in them. You don’t even know if it is true in the whole set up. I would laugh if it turned out to be a lie set up by Azz to show how hysterical some of you people are because half of you don’t really want to read. You want to read what you think should happen. Well, go get published. Maybe someday you can try to write a WW that would interest modern audiences. I would question the idea of the Amazons being flawless represent all womankind. For one you are seeing it from a certain point of view. Age, experience, background, etc etc…does not mean anyone know or could understand what empowerment means to all women.

I would like to commend Kelly’s approach to her article. I appreciated that she acknowledged that not everyone views the story of the issues she talks about through the same lens. I am not one of those who took offense from the comic in question, but I also found her points valid from a different point of view than my own.

That said, I think it would behoove everyone to take a step back and wait to see where this story goes before passing judgement on it. As a society we are quick to judge without all the facts. So let us not forget that modern monthly comics are not complete stories. They are parts of a larger whole doled out in segments that are only 20 pages long. It is clear that Mr. Azzarello has a long-term plan mapped out for the book, and I think he deserves the right to tell his story in its entirety before judgement is passed on it.

Wonder Woman comics will never the respect from fans until the hate the Amazons have for men disappers. I don’t like this new series by Azzarello and Chiang especially now, that shows more hate for men and how they’re raped.

>island full of xenophobic sexist bigots revealed NOT to be a paradise after all
>feminists complain

Remind me again, was this movement supposed to be about equality, or about female supremacy?

I am enjoying new 52 WW a lot. I also loved Perez’s WW. But this sort of preaching aggravates me. Because it is using feminism in a vague way to whine about the plot and accuse DC as woman hating. This gets me and this is what is wrong with comic fans today. If you don’t like the writing fine. But ease it with the soap boxing. You did this same thing with Catwoman and I love that book. I work with women and believe me, many come from and were raised in dark places and can be grow up to a beacon to womankind. Many have done questionable things in their lives ( up to even helpless watching their child get molested and unable to stop it) and they are not evil women. They are victims of their own weakness and circumstance and even race, religion, age, fiances…many factors.

If you cannot see that Diana’s sisters could do something questionable or dark and she could still be raised well and become a hero, I think you are very out of touch. You also might need to go and revisit history. Not too long ago their were people in America owned black flesh and sold them as they would cattle. The cattle got treated better half the time. But the fact is so called civil society often did things that were not right…and it took over two centuries for folks to realize…hey this might not be right.

But I am sure in and among those people, there were also good men and women to come out even though slavery was barbaric. And for the Amazons they would have hailed from a time,slavery was normal. This take by Azzarello is really interesting because he is writing the women more realistic and that is a better representation of feminism, showing the good and the bad of this society, than trying to justify a group of women hiding away for thousands of years, lazing in paradise and really having never done anything for the world until a man dropped in their midst. Good writing does not fear challenges, muddying the waters or raising questions. It takes it head on.

@noah: “The Amazons were absolutely, uncontestably, intentionally meant as feminist icons.” Re: Marston

These are the same Amazons that opine about how nice it is to submit to loving authority, or how a good slavemistress could do wonders with them, correct? Um, OK, not a version of feminism I’m aware of.

@the original article – I guess I see it more as speculative worldbuilding brought to a logical conclusion. Really, I’m surprised they’d be so compassionate as to trade off the boys rather than exposing them on a rocky hillside or sealing them in a clay pot, as Greeks did to unwanted babies. Besides, I always got the impression from the original WW series that they killed any men who stepped foot on Paradise Island; I seem to remember (and this might be incorrect) that WW’s male comrades had to take precautions when they visited her, not to touch the soil or floors at all. I always assumed from the beginning that they killed their male children.

All I can think of in response is waa waa waa….

While I agree that among other things, this is a blow to a feminist symbol in the DC universe, I’m not certain that was really a calculated move on Azzarello’s part.

My conspiracy theory is slightly different. I blame the elitist Vertigo mindset. From the foundation, the Vertigo imprint was supposed to be for creators who were, in Karen Berger’s words, “different, smarter, and edgier” than the makers of mainstream comics. In other words, we’re so much cleverer, hipper, and more sophisticated than the trogs who wrote all those four-color stories about stalwart patriotic superheroes.

When you have an entire imprint dedicated to this mentality, my impression is there’s always been a mood of scorn and condescension towards classic characters. My earliest diststeful Vertigo memories all revolved around the mistreatment of Silver Age characters in Vertigo books. I’ve learned to view the entire line with suspicion; if it isn’t soaked in violence or adolescent darkity-darkness, it will feature oblique and inconclusive storytelling.

So when Vertigo writers end up on DC universe titles, the containment field is breached. To accept the Vertigo mindset is to believe that traditional superheroes are simplistic and silly. They need complexity. (And in that view of things, this means, “it’s gotta be dark.)

Of course they’ll be flinging poo at an American icon. It’s how they show they’re more sophisticated than the people who created them.

I’m in complete agreement with everything the article lines out, but it still feels to me like we’re being set up for a swerve. If people were on the fence up to issue #7, then bailing at this point is probably not a bad idea. But if people generally liked the book and were shocked/appalled by issue #7, then issue #8 should be the make or break point, IMO.

Seems to me by Wonder Woman’s reaction that she’s shaken to the core. The whole series to this point has really been about how little she really knows about herself and (now) where she comes from. We’re being set up for something. It’s also that reaction that leads me to believe that the writers know that what they’ve just done is destroy the foundation for the main character as well as the reader.

But because we’re made to believe in #7 that the entire Amazon society is made up of abhorrent “monsters”, they can’t wait too long before telling us that the whole story was a fabrication of Hera’s to hurt yet another child of Zeus (or whatever the swerve ends up being).

While I’m in complete agreement with you, I’m not giving up just yet.

Thank you so much for composing this piece. After 30 years of buying/reading/collecting Wonder Woman, I have dropped this book.

DC is letting Azzarello slowly disassemble and destroy one of its most popular and iconic characters. First the costume change (notice the demotion from gold to silver because they didn’t want her to have the same color scheme as Super MAN), the ruined origin and now the destruction of the entire Amazon race and culture. It’s too much.

I think the problem is trying to merge DC’s Wonder Woman with classical Amazon mythology.

They are not the same, nor were they meant to be. She was meant to be a fantasy character, created in her story by woman and given life by a goddess. That is Wonder Woman.

There was no need for a father. No need for men. No need to subjugate men.

Yes, Marston mixed in Grecco-Roman mythology but it was never meant to define her. His stories were meant to be theirs own original stories in it’s own original mythology.

This may be Greek but it simply isn’t Wonder Woman.

this was an inspiring & informative article by Kelly on one of the most inspiring yet complex literary heros in the comic book industry. the thread dialogue has been also informative & enlightening…

First off, I have never seen the Amazon’s as a metaphor. And thats maybe the problem with some of the Amazon’s literary role over the decades (though I loved Perez’s). I am not much thrilled about the current rendition of the Amazons but I do like WW in all of her incarnations, including this one. Yes WW has been a metaphor but she has also been a PERSON. Thats why she is so familiar to so many of us.

I do agree with WW always being a character that should positively inspire women & girls but us guys also need to read a strong positive female superhero. If the comic world female supes were only Catwoman and the Huntress the male readers would be missing something.

….the Amazons have been a bit nebulous and a tougher nut to crack in a serialized literary format. They are ALMOST always treated as a group personality or as an afterthought.

It would be interesting if DC would simply remove WW from the Amazons entirely and then have a spin off comic or maybe a back up stories like the GL Corps except call it “The Amazons” and then really roll up their creative sleeves and REALLY make the Amazon’s work, with various Amazonian characters of good & bad personalities whether on the Island or within Earth’s overall society. Kindof like how Birds of Prey(BoP) has been doing for DC female supes who have not had or been able to keep a solo monthly comic.

I notice BoP has provided a great outlet for female supes & their corresponding personalities which has allowed both male & female readers to enjoy the resultant creative empowerment. With the Amazon’s they are simply not a familiar enough group of individuals compared to WW and they are treated as window dressing, being shoved this way and that based on the current publisher’s marketing of the “NEW”.

That being said, i dont see why JC brought the Tea Party into this discussion as an extreme group like the Taliban. JC tposted: “…In their extremity, the Amazons serve as a metaphor for the Tea Party movement or the Taliban”… and I went “huh”???

so why drag in this “us against them-type politics” at all into this thread? In fact many world leaders or entertainers that have greatly effected history & entertainment for the better have been somewhat “conservative” leaning (I have even putting people into categories) women ie Golda Meir (the 1st Iron Lady), Margaret Thatcher, Joan of Arc, Jane Austen, Grace Kelly, Celia Cruz, Mother Teresa, etc….

Does the Tea Party ask for bounties to be put on people’s heads like the new Black Panther party or the Taliban? Does the Tea Party crap on Police cars & vandalize public property like some in the Occupy NY movement have …or the Taliban did when they destroyed the giant Buddha statues in Afghanistan in the last decade?

…really sad that a lie and or exaggeration about the “Tea Party” was posted in this informative thread in order to comment about the current WW comic & the literary depiction of the Amazons in it.

regards,
LC

ps first thing I thought of when the mens dead bodies are thrown over board like rag dolls is dont their body parts eventually wash up somewheres???

Ok, first off, I love your opinions and this article is amazingly well written. Further, I’m completely amazed that this change in history has affected people in such an emotional way. It’s great that comics can do that. In the past decade we’ve had more Crisis stories, universe deconstructions, death, rebirth, more death, more rebirth, and more crazy universe altering stories, to which the comic reading world heaved a collective “meh”. But then a tweak is made to the amazons, and there is an amazing discourse going on with equal footing in the ideas of feminism and mythology.

I really would ask that you stick it out with the amazons. Just because DC turned what used to be Jem and the Holograms into the Misfits doesn’t mean that there’s any less feminism at play here. Perhaps there is even more. Perhaps WW (the book) is asking whether or not women can be more powerful without a moral compass? Maybe WW (the character) is meant to bring them back around. The story is incomplete and you’re bailing at a plot point that you feel sacrifices some of your core values. Fair enough. But think about seeing it through. Maybe five years from now a plot point will resolve this perfectly and then you’re stuck searching for back issues. I think WW (the book and the character) need your support. I think it’s a more visceral/literate collection compared to much of the DC output and has the advantage in being rooted in mythology. I’d rather it make some extreme changes rather than go middle of the road….there’s no fun in complacency.

Keep up the great writing!

Patrick Maloney

March 28, 2012 at 10:24 am

I think you are looking at this the wrong way, or at least making your judgement a bit prematurely. Maybe you shouldn’t feel that the Amazons are the empowered ones, you should perhaps feel empowered by Wonder Woman and how she deals with this new information. Feel empowered by how she strives to look pass the terrible things her people did and become the best of her people. I mean, the first thing she did do with this information was free her brothers. Even though that was a little bit misguided, it shows that she is getting over this jarring discovery and rising above to better the world around her.
Also, I disagree highly with your opinion that this revelation was somehow out of place and hard to digest. I think it is logical, if you consider how, from the very beginning, Brian Azzarello has been deconstructing the Amazons into Spartans.
I really believe this is one of the best New 52 titles. Easily on my top 4 list.

A note from Dr. Marston:

“…You may remember, at the very first, I pointed out that when you touch certain universal truths you create a universal appeal. I ask you to note the universal truth in my script re war and women taming men as they like peace and love better than fighting. This is the entire aim and purpose of Wonder Woman…”

– William Moulton Marston note to editor Sheldon Mayer regarding a JSA story written by Gardener Fox for All-Star # 13, April 12, 1942 (reprinted in The Alter-Ego Collection Volume 1).

Eh, I’m not going to read all these posts but why can’t a female comics fan just be a female comics fan and not a feminist looking for empowerment. You don’t see a column about a gay reader complaining about gay characters in comics, do you?

Great article, Kelly – both this and the Colin Smith piece linked upthread have nailed everything that’s problematic about this plotline in Wonder Woman.

Aside from the misogynist overtones to the whole thing, what I find sad is that DC thought this was original and different, more original and different than the Amazons’ first concept. A matriarchal society that is compassionate, developed and functional? Still unique in popular culture. A tribe of naked sirens who’ll screw you then kill you? The stuff of paranoid sex fantasy and pulp horror going all the way back to Dracula. It’s not a brave new idea, it’s a b-movie, and not even a good one.

why can’t a female comics fan just be a female comics fan and not a feminist looking for empowerment.

Because the fact that a man is empowered is treated as a given, but the fact that a woman is empowered is treated as either a miracle or a freak show.

You don’t see a column about a gay reader complaining about gay characters in comics, do you?

You don’t hang out on http://www.afterelton.com/ do you?

This article makes a great point, the evil amazon’s storyline sends a strong message. I think the main problem behind it is the sexual nature of the cruelty. I mean come on, in the end it reduces the Amazons to their sexuality, the same way Starfire’s bikini did, or any other objectification of women does. It wouldn’t have been a problem if the dark secret that disillusions Diana was something like they fought on the wrong side of a war, or once tried to conquer the world, or wrote their name in the moon with a big laser. It could have been anything that Diana would have disagreed with, yet it was based around rape: the favorite tool of the patriarchy. Amazon’s aren’t just misguided, they didn’t just make a mistake, Amazon’s are now misogynists.

“Eh, I’m not going to read all these posts but why can’t a female comics fan just be a female comics fan and not a feminist looking for empowerment.”

‘Why can’t female comics fans just read things the same way I do, or just shut up if they don’t?’ I like how you imply that ‘a feminist looking for empowerment’ is a bad thing, too. No-one’s forcing you to read these articles, you know.

“You don’t see a column about a gay reader complaining about gay characters in comics, do you?”

Uh, yeah… yeah, you do. Sometimes even on this website.

The Amazon society had to be explained somehow. Wonder Woman, in the pages reprinted above, seems to me a stand-in for the reader. Didn’t we always wonder? Did we assume it was divine…or something? Azzarello is simply answering that question in a way that makes sense. The Amazons have always seemed “not quite right.” This is why.

Anyway, it isn’t the first time they’ve been portrayed this way. Check out the Wonder Woman animated movie from a couple years back.

I was definitely taken aback by the depiction of the Amazons. For me, it was the final straw for a series that I have been struggling to enjoy, as it is. (I like the inclusion of the gods, but think WW herself has been nigh unrecognizable, and the plotting very muddy).

Glad people like it. I’ll keep reading comics that seem less fixated on wholesale deconstruction.

It’s supposed to be a g** damn superhero comic, not a manifesto on feminism. Can’t people just sit back and enjoy a freaking comic book without having to dissect it’s political/social significance?

Everything Lioness said and that’s the end of it. There a lot of asinine comments from men in these comments defense of this mess and that’s deeply disappointing.

I avoid superhero comics as a rule and started reading Wonder Woman on Kelly’s recommendation. I dropped it with issue #7, people of my gender type are clearly not welcome in the DC universe.

@Michael When you’re done waaa waaa waaa-ing, please enlighten us. Which part of this section was enjoyable? Was it the innocent victims falling into the ocean (KERPLOP! SO AWESOME) or the mother watching her new baby be torn away from her at birth? Maybe you were so distracted by the orgy drawing you didn’t notice.

Nothing relaxes me in a superhero story like abandoned babies and massacres, yes sir.

Someone forgot the entertainment part of entertainment here.

One can only consider this a destruction of the Amazons if one ever truly considered them the epitome of perfection, and I’ve never seen them this way. Wonder Woman was the feminist icon, not the Amazons. They chose to hide away on an island paradise where they stayed young and beautiful forever while real women lived and died under the harsh laws and double standards of Man’s world for centuries.

So then does it bother no one else that, without even getting into the myth vs comic argument, this still relies heavily on gender stereotypes and cliches? I mean, the entire idea that a bunch of women could just board a ship and then convince all the men to sleep with them without any thought of the consequences is one steeped in rather offensive gender stereotyping. Like none of these men might have some reservations about these naked women who show up, like as soon as they see some boob they can’t control themselves? Really, are the Amazons vagina wizards or something? Even if the Amazons were 100% successful in murdering all the men they took in this fashion, then wouldn’t there still be rumors about sailing in the region, even if this only happened once in a great while? Like, look out because whole crews mysteriously die out there? So if said sailors then were approached by a bunch of naked women you’d kind of assume they’d think it was suspicious? But no, off with the pants and on with the orgy, like they just assume they’re really lucky. I mean, even if this isn’t supposed to be offensive it’s still relying almost entirely on the cliché that men will accept anonymous sex no matter what, like life is one long porno and all guys are doing is waiting for the sex bits. I agree with the original article on this and say that it’s too much to be asked to accept, and would take that next step and say that depictions of gender stereotypes like this are offensive even if they aren’t meant to be.

Well said, Michael. People are better served saving their energy and rants on things that REALLY threaten women’s rights in the REAL world. Getting DC to depict Amazons a certain way will not help real women get a job, or ensure they’re paid the same as a man, or protect them from inappropriate ultrasounds or unequal healthcare distribution. Channel this energy into the REAL ISSUES! Wonder Woman’s gonna be fine! DC’s gonna be fine! Women living real lives AREN’T gonna be fine, because we’re wasting our time trying to save comics that DON’T NEED TO BE SAVED! Let the story play out.

I’ve never followed WW, but was considering picking up this run, largely from the positive press I’ve been hearing from Kelly (Chang’s amazing work doesn’t hurt either). I don’t know if this #7 is a deal breaker, but I guess we’ll see how it all turns out.

I could see this plot point being overturned through a couple of ways, none of which would be especially egregious.

1.) Easiest, Heph is lying: I don’t trust that guy, just look at him.
2.) 1/2 truth: Amazons do go out into the world to get jiggy and no one is harmed, but they do kick out the male babies ’cause that’s their thing.
3.)HYPNO-MAGIC: Secret priestess sect ensorcels the populace every 33 years to do the deed, and also enforce the no male babies rule. No one really know’s the truth, everyone but a few think like Diana; that it is divine.

LOL @Tick Tockin! I see what you did there! Comparing the fantasy that there are women more in need of work than men or that they somehow are not getting paid in an equitable manner or are threatened with ultrasounds against their will with the fantasy world of Wonder Woman really does seem to make a certain amount of sense.

Crap, now we get to deal with another three weeks of “I broke the internet!”
Awesome people, you just couldn’t let it go, could you?

Honestly, I’ve never given a crap about the Amazons or Wonder Woman. Of all the female super heroes, she just comes off as lame to me. Give me Storm, Jean Grey, Rogue, Psylocke, Husk, M, Boom Boom, Dani Moonstar, etc. any day – the X-Men definitely have the best female superheroes. Hell, WW isn’t even the best female DC superhero – I’d take Power Girl over her. Yes, I’m a guy and she has, well, BOOBIES!! (Guh-huh-huh), but she’s also the complete opposite of a bimbo. She’s a bad-ass (just check out I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League or any JSA story she’s in).

I was more upset when they turned PG into an Atlantean since I thought the concept of her character was one of the several instances of an Earth-2 concept being better than an Earth 1 concept, and where they could have gotten something awesome out of merging the two Earths post-Crisis, like they did with JSA, they backed away at the last second and gave us something lame. Arguing over Wonder Woman? I couldn’t give less of a shit.

You’re right. How dare we discuss a comic book on a website for discussing comic books.

I’m not trying to dismiss anyone’s feelings on this, but personally, this seems like such a bizarrely overblown reaction.

@ Georgia Ball
That wasn’t really my point, I was just saying, with all this posting, she’s going to have “Well, once again I broke the internet….” in all of her posts for like two weeks. Which I didn’t think was funny the first time, but hey who cares.

I was just saying, I can’t believe people are so upset over Wonder Woman when, honestly, she got replaced as one of DC’s big three by Hal Jordan somewhere around Sinestro Corp War. Her entire existence seems to be one bad run after the next, permeated by the occasional decent run (Kelly kind of points this out herself). I don’t get why people have to argue the nuances of mythological Amazons and DC Amazons. Seems kind of pointless, but hey that’s your guys’ rights. Just don’t be surprised when “I Broke the Internet” becomes some kind of catchphrase for her. And I stand by what I said – X-Women and Power Girl are ten different kinds of awesome, and have a better track record of representing women in a good and inspiring light, Ninja-thongs and boob-windows be damned.

Not really sure why my last comment needs someone to moderate it, but okay. Pretty sure I didn’t say anything threatening or insulting in it. And considering the last time that happened, my post never saw the light of day, I don’t have too much faith this one will get seen either. Oh well.

Where’s my ‘you got your feminism in my comics’ bingo card?

‘This doesn’t interest me so you shouldn’t be writing about it’ – check

‘I was SO uninterested in this that I came here to tell you how uninterested I am’ – check

‘Why do female comics fans have to be feminists? Why can’t they just ENJOY the FUN?’ – check

‘It’s historically accurate (even though this isn’t a history book, that’s suddenly really important), get over it’ – check

‘It’s just a comic, get over it’ – check

‘Look! Over there! REAL stuff happening with REAL women in the REAL world!’ – check

Yup, full house.

Kelly and Lioness are my heroes!

Brian from Canada

March 28, 2012 at 1:54 pm

First, let me say that Kelly’s written another example of fine comics journalism. It asks us to examine the interpretation of the story, rather than simply the mechanics of the plot or (as it’s now come to be) the mechanics of its marketing. I really enjoy reading this column precisely because Kelly thinks out her arguments and presents them as valid interpretations of the material.

So please do not hate me when I say that I disagree with the overall point here about the Amazons.

Yes, the Amazons were initially created to represent an idealism that was missing in the male-dominated narrative of comic books. Yes, the Amazons were initially presenters of a society not bound to the things that were (by comparison to ours) create crime and suffering.

But at the same time, let us not forget Wertham’s accurate assessment of the bondage and spanking fantasy that got represented a LOT in the early days of Wonder Woman.

More importantly, let us not forget that, for quite a few years before the television series, Wonder Woman was without power AND Amazons to be more of a role model for young women in the way that Superman’s gal Lois Lane or Linda Danvers aka Supergirl were. For the reader of DC Comics prior to the TV series of the late 70s, much of the admiration for Wonder Woman as a character was for her ability to transcend all that was supposed to weaken her and stand strong — and THAT is the real symbol of female empowerment.

NOT the Amazons. Truly, for all that Perez et al. have done with them, the Amazons are not an example of female empowerment at all: they are a concrete embodiment for opinion or thought — much like the Vulcans are for Star Trek. The Vulcans exist for logic; the Amazons for the female view. And that’s what I think many are responding to whether they like it or not.

Because IF we take the Amazons as an embodiment of different view — the “non-patriarch” view as expressed by post-Crisis Wonder Woman — as the definitive alter-society, then having them commit ritual sexual acts weakens their difference from the male world they are meant to contrast against. In other words, how different are the Amazons now that we can compare them to the raping & pillaging of the male Crusaders?

Yet for all this, and this is why I disagree most with Kelly’s well written comment on the title, it doesn’t reflect on the heroine we are meant to admire: Wonder Woman. “Amazons Attack” et al. were rejected by the greater comics community because the Amazon actions were inconsistent with WONDER WOMAN and not themselves… that their actions must reflect her in the way the Kents must for Superman, or good society must for Batman.

[Note that's Kents for Superman, not Kryptonians, because he embodies their ideals and not his birth people's; a greater representation of Kryptonian society will be Supergirl in the New 52.]

Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang are not changing the Amazons so much as they are doing everything to undercut Diana’s FAITH in those people. What could be more earth shattering than learning your mother lied about your birth than to have your entire society’s belief system presented as a lie? We know from early on that the gods are manipulative and self-serving, playing plots upon plots against each other, and this is completely consistent with them playing a game on her.

MY guess — and this is just based on what I’ve seen the New 52 doing with every character other than the three movie stars — is that the long-term goal is to have DIANA assert what the Amazons are to set their place in the new DC universe rather than have the Amazons dictate what Diana is. If this is true, and it does happen, then it is a complete change for the character and may be what’s needed to make her empowerment spread beyond the representation of a warrior woman.

Because, quite frankly, if Wonder Woman’s exploits have been “empowering” as a representation, the animated movie underlines the conflict of that: you’re a strong woman teaching girls how to beat up boys, not be true to the female ideals that your civilization was made to present.

LOL! Men at sea are horny bastards who haven’t seen a woman in months! Of course they’ll jump on a naked woman! It’s a gangbang at sea!

I know the stereotype, but it really didn’t bother me while reading the book.

I think we all may be missing a very important angle in this debate: Since the gods are all depicted as selfish and deceitful beings thus far in the Wonder Woman series it’s very probable that Hephaestus is lying to Wonder Woman. In which case, this whole line of conversation would be moot.

Considering we don’t have the full story in our hands maybe we should all wait before we pass any sort of judgment, measured or otherwise.

A thoughtful and passionate piece. I think your interpretations are merited and well argued. I suppose being someone who has never REALLY struggled with finding fictional role models that fit my demo, I would just naturally come to different conclusions about the storyline. Like, I would read an intent to show how all “utopias” are a fallacy, especially ones built on any kind of segregated principle. Anyone who has read Azzarello’s past work know a recurring theme is that there is no peace ANYWHERE. And it seems like he’s being deliberately provocative by applying that message to the Wonder Woman mythos. In fact, I speculate that we’d be seeing something similar if he were charged with rebooting Green Lantern’s origin. Can you imagine what he’d do with the big blue heads of Oa?

But that rhetorical question actually raises two other ones: How would the fan reaction to THAT imaginary overhaul compare with the one we’re seeing now? Similar upset, or even more? And two, would DC editorial even give him such leeway with a character like Green Lantern, who, until recently, stood on a tier LOWER than Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman?

I find it easy enough to believe that Azzarello would have freer reign with a character like Wonder Woman than he would with Green Lantern. (Granted, part of the reason would probably be that WW’s origin is widely seen as more scattershot and less uniform than GL’s, but still…?)

This is all to say that whatever sins we may be seeing, they’re not so much individually caused as institutionally derived. Azzarello is probably doing his best to tell a hell of a story with a character that has been reinvented more times than most of her stature. He, and impassioned readers like Kelly, have the bad luck of this reimagination not taking place in a societal vacuum.

Dc keeps rebooting and reinventing “Wonder Woman” (note quotation marks) even more than it does “Superman” (ditto). Nothing really seems to “work”.

I figured out LONNNNNNNNG ago (back in the 90′s) something that seems to have completely escaped most DC readers. In the entire history of the character, ONLY ONE WRITER has ever, EVER done WONDER WOMAN “right”.

William Marston.

Go read the WONDER WOMAN ARCHIVES. That’s the “real” stuff.

Writers should take Jack Kirby’s advice… and go create THEIR OWN characters.

Maybe if both Marvel and DC go belly-up, there’d be room in the market for really new and creative series.

@David Williams

Except DC Amazons aren’t the one from the myths and the myths vary anyway.

@Scott Actually, no. The animated movie was not like this

@Henry R. Kujawa

The problem with that logic is that you are assuming there are a lot of people out there dying to do their own superhero ideas, but companies like DC and Marvel are keeping them out of circulation. Most people aspiring to work in the industry want to use DC or Marvel’s characters (and to a lesser extent, Image’s characters and Dark Horse’s licensed properties).

If we just took DC and Marvel out of the system, you wouldn’t have an entire new generation of superheroes created by people to fill the void – the industry would simply collapse and at best companies like DH and Image would simply survive.

Marvel Sales had the same idea back in the 90s – cancel all their spin-off books and the sales of the core books would go up because the fans of the cancelled books would go to the next best thing, the books that were the inspiration for the spin-offs. That didn’t happen, because those readers didn’t have much of an emotional attachment to the core, inspiration characters.

So why would people jump onto whatever books came into fill the void? They got emotionally invested in the previous books and characters, and they got yanked away. Why jump onto something new when the same thing will probably end up happening? Yes, change is good, but you shouldn’t have it 24/7 – people need some kind of continuity, some stability for stretches before they can stand another major change.

Azzarello’s and Chiang’s Wonder Woman has been THE ONLY RUN OF HER CHARACTER WORTH READING. He’s pointing out the extreme flaws of the so called Amazonian Ideal. By totally excluding men, the Amazons have in fact shown their own weakness. They’re not capable of dealing with men as equals so they eliminate them.

Kelly Thompson’s idolization of the Amazons was as a fangirl. That’s fine. But, I have to say to all of those female feminists who’ve boycotted Azzarello’s Wonder Woman. Don’t. He’s holding up a mirror to extreme feminism and you guys need to see it.

Yes, thank goodness this book is here to warn us of the terrible perils of Feminism Taken Too Far. That’s what the world needs, more demonisation of non-male-dominated ideologies. *sigh*

Or we can see what Azzarello thinks:

“Nrama: [laughs] Let’s talk about the pants later. How would you describe the gods? Are they evil?

Azzarello: They’re not evil. But they’re capricious. If you read some of those Greek myths, they are… you said “dark and gritty?” Some of them are very dark and gritty. Some of them are very, very violent. They’re not looking out for humanity’s best interest most of the time. They’re looking out for their own. And they get jealous. And they betray each other. And life is pretty casual to them, because they’re immortal, after all.

That’s something we’re going to be playing with. We’re taking Wonder Woman and we’re putting her into the middle of that. You said clarification? I can’t get any clearer than what I said. It’s a horror book.”

http://www.newsarama.com/comics/dcnu-wonder-woman-brian-azzarello-110826.html

I would look especially at the last 4 words.

So baby abandonment, rape and murder are feminism to the extreme and we’re somehow missing the point… Thank God so many comic book men are around to warn us of our inherent dangers.

If Hephaestus is lying, not only does no one in the room dispute him, Wonder Woman buys it without a second thought. Formerly she was the goddess of truth, that would now make her as dumb as a bag of hammers.

I didn’t boycott, I tried it,, was deeply let down, and I was done before I read this.

Laurence J Sinclair

March 28, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Don’t think of this as putting the amazons down, think of it as building Wonder Woman up; if she comes from a society of perfect people, she herself doesn’t seem that special. If they have a few skeletons in their closet, that makes her all the greater a hero by comparison.

Laurence J Sinclair

March 28, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Oh, and the reason that Diana doesn’t know of the tradition is because it’s done once every generation, and she’s too young to have been around for the last one. In fact, we haven’t seen an amazon who looks old enough to have been, so possibly they also go in for a Logan’s Run tradition for extra eeevil points.

Destroying feminism… seriously? SERIOUSLY? I wonder how women around the world in non Western countries would feel about that statement. You know while they are being beaten and abused simply for being women. Being told they can’t drive a car or being forced to work as sex slaves. To suggest that this comic book (what are the sales figures each month near 40K on average? What percentage of that are women I can’t answer, but lets assume it’s 50/50 for the sake of the discussion.

SO we have 20,000 odd women reading Wonder Woman in the countries that get American comics and as a result of this utterly pithy percentage (the total number of women on the planet is around 3,301,112,087 according to a quick google search) you’re telling us that Azarrello is flushing a privileged western woman ideology down the toilet?

You have got to be ****ing kidding.

[...] added an editorial piece today, She Has No Head! – Is the Destruction of The Amazons The Destruction of Feminism in DC Comics?, and I think the title of the piece speaks clearly to her message. Unfortunately I can’t say [...]

@Georgia Ball : Are you addressing me in both of your first paragraphs? If so, there’s no need to attack as you did. I never said anything about ignoring the very serious issues presented by Azzarrello in the story, just that they may all be fabrications by Haphaestus to make the Amazons appear as horrible as possible.

As for no one in the room disputing him, they could all be in on it or perhaps don’t know enough to say anything. Again, the gods are selfish and deceitful, and, aside from the male Amazons, gods are all that stand in that room. Their own agendas could possibly benefit from such a lie.

As for Diana only being able to buy the lie if she was stupid, at this point in the story WW’s whole world has basically come crashing down around her ears. So many things she held as truth for her entire life have been upended that Haphestus’s story would be just another in a long line. I think it would be more a result of emotional fragility at the time than lack of intelligence that would allow her to buy in.

I’m not saying this is where the story is going by any means, I just think we may need to temper opinions with some patience at the moment.

Well Kelly you know I share your concerns. Good to see some intelligent conversation on both sides. And sadly the usual bingo card full of derailment, people who are unable to read an entire post and sock puppets.

I have mixed thoughts about this article. Kelly Thompson makes it abundantly clear that Azzarello’s interpretation of Wonder Woman and the Amazons has very little to do with the Marston’s deliberately inspirational version on these characters. On the other hand, I’m disappointed with the focus on images of female empowerment (rather than, say, the depth of characterization for women or the assumptions that drive this fictional world). Maybe the conversation about feminism in comics is simply so underdeveloped on forums like this one that one needs to start from the ground up, but this seems like a version of feminism that invites tangential objections about the observer-bias frequently imputed to feminist critics (e.g. Wait…isn’t a matriarchal utopia sexist against men? gasp) and the tug-of-war between message and verisimilitude (e.g. Aren’t complex characters better than positive examples? harumph). The piece includes gestures that deal with these objections in some form, but perhaps not frontally enough to keep both from populating this thread to a discouraging degree.

For me, the treatment of the Amazons shows a difference in the way this book handles perspective. The stories that position Diana as the ambassador from a better world are geared for traditional superheroics, in that Wonder Woman observes the depravity of the real world with the innocence of the children who once (I hear) read comics. This new version adapts the figures of Greek mythology to the story logic of hard-boiled fiction, with Diana as the one moral observer who must discover that her world is corrupt from top to bottom (and can only do good by losing some portion of her innocence and detachment). From the former standpoint, the book looks grim and regressive, but from the latter it looks like an attempt to place a moral woman at the center of two traditions (noir and Greek myth) that have typically carried a palpable masculine bias.

Good article Kelly.
I think ‘utopian’ and alien cultures in fiction are used best, when they are used to highlight the flaws in OUR society, not theirs. Wonder Woman and the Amazons present a good opportunity to explore sex relations in our society. When its pushed back too far on examining the Amazons or other fictional cultures, it becomes more about validating our own, than thinking on it critically. As you point out there is still a lot of room for critic and change in our society, where despite improvements women are not equal.

@Stewart Cook – You did see the whole headline, right? You did see where it said ‘feminism IN DC COMICS,’ not feminism worldwide, yes? Right, but we shouldn’t discuss the gender politics in this comic, not even on a comic book website, because REAL WOMEN blah blah. That’s only ever a tactic for derailing.

It is interesting…. I agree with the poster who said that any society that is isolationist, and who rejects an entire gender would by default dehumanize that gender. They want nothing to do with that gender, and refuse to allow them to share living space. This gender are less worthy than animals. They are less than nothing. Of course, they would kill them them, and would have little problem with that. Otherwise, why would they need to separate themselves from them in the first place. It never made much sense. Azz’s story makes more sense. It just does.

You said ” that this is a society that increasingly hates and distrusts women”

That is patently false, some small percentage? yes

You sound like a Feminazi, lolol, its not 1950

THANK-YOU Kelly for once again another inteligent and passionate article. I can’t get enough of your MUCH needed articles, please don’t ever hesitate or stop calling our attention to so many gross injustices. With the first issue of this run I simply started boycotting dc comics for their treatment of Wonder Woman. I even came aross an article how George Perez even said that dc did not strongly support his celebrating Wonder Womans huge comic book cross over, “War Of The Gods”. I’m over dc comics throwing us Wonder Woman supporters a measly bone and acting like they’ve given us a whole turkey. There have been just way too many lows that dc comics have put Wonder Woman through, but I know KARMA will teach those culptris a worthy lesson. I’d also like to say thank-you to MariedeGournay and Lioness for their very powerful and inspiring comments, much appreciated!

LEADER DESSLOK

March 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm

I agree 100% with your assessment with one exception: it may not be a “bad” book in terms of the quality of execution, I just think the overall approach is bad for WONDER WOMAN, which is why it just “ain’t” for me! In addition to this, I am really starting to become concerned about what I see are deliberate attacks on religion in general. From Frank Miller’s “Holy Terror” to some of Constantine’s remarks in JL:Dark to the snide remarks on the WW pages I see here ( “as a god, I can say the gods only care about themselves”) I feel these writers are using the pagan gods to convey their opinions about contemporary religions! In isolation these aforementioned incidents may seem coincidental, but when I see this stuff so widespread, throughout so many “mainstream” books, it starts to become just as annoying as the so-called “Dark and Gritty” era of the 90s!

Okay, I acknowledge that some of these writers may be atheists or against feminism or whatever their
beef is, I don’t see why they have to use comics to foist their insipid opinions upon the fans. I want to pick up a comic to be entertained, not to have a character essentially say that “Worshipping Zeus sucks” when they are REALLY indirectly assaulting The Lord [Allah (Muslim)\ Adonai (Judeo-Christian)]! Once or twice is coincidental– when it’s repeatedly popping up–it’s simply disturbing.

From Spider-Man’s drunken sex, “friends-with-rape” nonsense, punching Storm with a closed fist to the distortion of the Amazons by individuals who may or may not feel that women should be barefoot and knocked up and if they’re not, they will become maniacs bent on male-domination, then these writers should
just self publish their on “Crum(b)-y” comics and leave Wonder Woman and Spider-Man or whomever out of their personal hells!

I’ve been seeing this again and again and I am asking, what the heck are the editors doing while all of
this stuff is seeing print? I am seeing it and I like to think of myself as a pretty moderate guy, so why can’t they see it as well?

At one time, during a particularly materialistic era (the 80s) WONDER WOMAN was amazingly life-affirming in general, as well as inspiring for women in particular: not only that, the comic was one that respected all faiths– any resemblance between that and what is currently being published is simply accidental!

I wanted to take a bit and then come back before responding to your article in an attempt to avoid any sort of knee jerk response to your article, which raises multiple valid points.

At the end of the day, I do have to disagree with you on the final analysis. I think Wonder Woman herself is the key to this female empowerment myth. I can roll with multiple takes on the Amazons as long as WW herself comes out the other end okay.

In fact, I think this is better for her at the end of the day as a character. WW has a lot to juggle given her status as comics’ #1 female icon. One of her handicaps is coming from an all-female society that is a paragon of virtue. She’s come to our world to show us how superior hers is. An all “fill in the blank” society is never superior and to a modern reader, isn’t a real counterpoint to our own. If WW came from a society with both genders where women have been as dominant as men, then you’d have a counterpoint. In Marston’s time, things were tipped even more in favor of men and his version of the Amazons is a response to that.

I like that by making the Amazons more like a real society (accomplishments and achievements but with a dark side to it), he’s delivering a WW that doesn’t come from a place so lofty we can’t relate to her. If, and that’s if, Azzarello can show her accepting the sins of her people and working to redeem the Amazon legacy, it makes her an even stronger icon of feminine strength.

I guess I think of it like Captain America representing and redeeming the best ideals of America, a nation that was once at peace with attempting genocide on its native people. The only difference with WW is a dark underbelly is a new take on her story.

Like I said, the main concentration is WW. If she comes out of this a richer character, the ideals she stands for will be stronger than ever. Because her feminine power will be a redeeming factor for both the Amazons and man’s world. We’ll have to see how it plays out.

I understand completely why you feel the way you do reading this, especially in the current cultural climate. Keep in mind, though, that the sort of knee-jerk, angry push back we’re seeing on the issues you mention are the acts of people who deep down know they’re losing the war. It’s why they’re so desperate. Our society isn’t increasing in its hate of women. It’s just that people who fear female power are louder and more rabid than ever. I’m convinced that twenty years ago, Rush wouldn’t have lost the sponsors he has. If so, it would be for using borderline profanity, not the sentiment itself. The fight must continue but don’t let loud fools convince you it’s being lost.

How did you draft a review without reading it? Smells like you were ready for something to fail you…

When have the Amazons ever been a perfect idea of feminism or female empowerment? Just because you’ve adopted them as such, doesn’t mean they necessarily should have been. Just because the most iconic female figure used that myth as a basis for her origin, doesn’t necessarily mean that the idea of the Amazon was suddenly embraced as a positive idea of female empowerment. Or if it has: Provide some concrete examples beyond Wonder Woman. Nor do I exactly see how this somehow has the same flavoring as the GOP’s attack on women or Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut.

You argue that pro-woman is not necessarily anti-man and I totally agree. But let’s get real: The Amazons were and always have been about being better not just because they were all women, but because there were no men. The absence of men was always a huge factor in the “success” of Paradise Island. I don’t even think sexism against men has the same impact as sexism against women or misogyny, but the Amazons have always had an anti-man component to them.

Also, how does this one aspect of their society – barely elaborated on and told from a singular male perspective – destroy the Amazons completely? The fact that it was a male god’s perspective and he doesn’t take into consideration gay men or faithful husbands doesn’t surprise me when the gods of this new DC all seem a big pompous. And as a gay man, I definitely thought: Not my dream. But that didn’t offend me. It was just how the story was being told. I’m sure ever rape baby-making raid wasn’t smooth sailing.

It also seems like the one female Amazon didn’t want to give up her son, but was forced to. See the panel of her reaching out for her son. I read that entire part of the story as something the Amazons did as a kind of necessary evil to keep their society going. And what society is perfect? I know you don’t argue that it should be perfect. But I don’t think it implied ALL the Amazons were rapists and murderers. But the women who bare children happen to engage in this ritual are. And also, let’s think about the Amazons as a culture having no exposure to men: Why would they think of men as equals or even worthy of life? I’m not saying it doesn’t make it horrific, but we don’t complain when heroes in comics slaughter aliens, so maybe it’s a similar perspective? Maybe we shouldn’t paint them as murderer due to moral failings, but maybe by way of cultural ignorance. And how many societies have had THAT problem? Oh right. Just about all of them.

Also, “slavers?” The babies were given over to a life of service. This to me seems similar to a lot of historical customs. Families gave their daughters to temples all the time in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome and it wasn’t considered placing them in “slavery.” It was honorable. Here the boys are being given away to lives of service of a god. That’s not the same as if they were kept around in chains and whipped for sneaking a pudding.

Assuming Diana’s mission must be one of nefarious reasoning seems to really be the “comic fan jumping the gun” cliche to me. We do know Hippolyta could love a man (/god), so why is it hard to believe that she would not want to just send someone out into it on a mission of peace? Or at least reconnaissance to know what they’re dealing with should the world of man ever discover them? No where does it even imply an act of aggression.

More than anything Diana seems to be driven to do the right thing for her sister(s) – something we can assumed was instilled in her by the Amazons. That’s a powerful message for women: to stand united, to not tear each other down, to have faith in themselves. Hera, who is jealous and insecure and vindictive, makes a perfect foil in being the opposite of an empowered woman as represented by Diana, who was reared in the Amazon society and probably owes a lot of her character to the women she was raised around and by.

And even if her going out on her own was an act of rebellion against this brutish female society, doesn’t that say something for Diana? Doesn’t that make her even stronger an icon? That she can see the sins of her culture and not want to participate in them? Doesn’t her willingness to work with men say something about Diana as a contemporary icon for female empowerment not being “man hating”? I think she’s been shown to be remarkably complex in just 7 issues.

Also, the Amazon’s aren’t dead. They’re snakes. Seems like something a god or goddess could easily undone and we could all learn more about how they live and who they are without making a lot of baseless conclusions.

@Barrett:

At CBR we do a draft (between all the reviewers) in order to choose what books we review for the next week. I drafted Wonder Woman #7 the week before it was released.

IVE BEEN A WONDER WOMAN FAN FOR YEARS AND HAVE ENJOY THE BOOK UP UNTILL NOW.

I didn’t like Azzarello’s writing at all when I read the first issue of 100 Bullets, and he lost me quickly over the first six issues of WW. I already decided to drop this book last month. Glad I did, it seems.

Why?

Why do so many sweaty nerds feel such an overwhelming need to defend anything that is charged with sexism? Is it really so unfathomable that maybe women are having a hard time out there? Is it really so emasculating for you to admit that women might be getting a raw deal on occasion?

Why is it always the EXACT SAME PEOPLE defending every single writer, book, and company from every single allegation of sexism, no matter what that allegation is? (Hi there, Oroboros! What a surprise to see you here!) Apparently, to some of you people, there’s no such thing as sexism, and it’s all just a made-up sham campaign that the scary feminazis are putting out there to try and cut off everybody’s ballsack. Seriously, Oroboros, you’re one of these guys that just keeps coming back, every single time, to tell everybody about how sexism doesn’t exist. Pathetic, man.

Why is contraceptive care currently being treated as an issue that is under discussion when 95% of American women utilize it, including a majority of American Catholic women?

Why are women’s clinics that do not provide and have never provided abortions being defunded and shut down by state governments?

Why are laws that could literally criminalize miscarriage being seriously considered and even passed in some state legislatures?

Why the fuck do I have to live in the same country as you ass-backwards dickweeds? Y’all should move somewhere else, like to the bottom of the ocean, or one of the moons of Jupiter, because the reasonable, decent human beings in America are trying to have a good time and handle our lives. I’m not even mad at Azz. My guess is that Azz made a huge blunder here. He didn’t think through the implications of what he was doing. Having read most of his prior work, I think I can say quite confidently that he’s a very intelligent, provocative thinker on the subject of gender representations in media, and he just made a big mistake this time. I would tend to doubt that he would change much at this point, though, because he’ll be aware that doing so would completely wreck the narrative flow. He made a big mistake, he’ll probably apologize, and this business will be a nasty footnote to an illustrious, decorated, storied career. But the fucking commenters on this site can just go to hell.

IS DC MANAGED BY A SECRET SOCIETY OF RAPISTS?

Probably not, but don’t let that stop you.

Well, at least all the trolls (using multiple “accounts” in some cases) popping out of the woodwork shows that there’s some merit to this essay!

IS DC MANAGED BY A SECRET SOCIETY OF RAPISTS?

Probably not, but don’t let that stop you.

Yeah, that’s EXACTLY what the article was saying. What an idiotic post.

Some people are so triggered by the word ‘feminism’ that they seem to lose their minds.

Let’s put this all into perspective. Unfortunately all the previous writers have tried to champion the Amazons as the epitome of female empowerment – and sadly the comic Wonder Woman has never had stellar sales records – and it rarely gets rave reviews. Obviously that way of writing Wonder Woman doesn’t appeal to the crowd.

For once, Wonder Woman has actually caught the attention of the readers – and the reviewers. And yes, it has everyone talking about it. That’s a victory all by itself. Yes, the backstory for the Amazons has been changed drastically but seriously where did you think the men on the island went? Surely after all those centuries there would be at least one male baby. At least it finally laid to rest that particular question!

Believe in the story, we’re just in the beginning of what I think is going to be a really long saga – just like a glance at one issue of Bill Willingham’s Fables would only give you a tiny hint of what’s coming. Trust in the writer.

I must say Kelly and commenters, you have certainly given me plenty to consider here. As a black comic/sci-fi fan I have often felt alienated the way my race is presented in a stereotypical manner. So I can sympathize with what Kelly, and other female readers could feel reading this…

On the other hand, given Azzarello’s prior comments about the nature of Diana’s journey and in line with a previous commenter’s point, I have to believe that these were half-truths twisted by Hep to further his own agendas. So for those fans of Wondy I would say wait for the endgame to see it resolved… The best thing about this article though is that it holds up a mirror to our personal perceptions and forces us to consider the point from all sides…

Other things I gathered from the comments:

That idea about The Coda and Zealot being linked to the Amazons in the new 52 universe was cool….

Could not agree more with the point about the Black Panther / Storm marriage. I had high hopes for a rich expansion given both characters’ backstories and instead got “Doomwar”…ugh….

I had no problems with the Wonder Woman animated movie and its Amazon depiction. However the one thing I wish was included was a lil shoutout to Hippolyta’s own adventures with the JSA. I know. Convoluted continuity but I’m a new age JSA fan…..

No easy answers… a whole bunch of questions… but truly a lot of fodder to think about Kelly. Thanks for the opinion.

If one questions many of the people reacting to this one will find many are NOT reading the title. They NEVER supported WW comics. Their ideas of WW have always been Lynda Carter’s 70ties tv Wonder Woman. But they all have the most to say. Typical of this whole reboot really. This reminds me of Fox news reaction to comics and those blogs that are attempting to try to rally uninformed readers to cry DC hate women when they don’t get what they want.

You WW#7 review was typical fan tantrum/ ranting.Not a review. I wish CBR would have another person review this book in addition to you. Maybe you can suggest that to them. But then we should only have women review Wonder Woman! That way we are not disrespecting women and attacking feminism!

“Girl Power” was a catch phrase by the Spice Girls and an island where men are not allowed to set foot isn’t an example of equality.

“It’s possible in a different political climate that I might be able to handle this deconstruction and keep reading, but considering the way the world is right now for women, and the way mainstream comics are right now for women…it’s just too damn much.”

Grow up. I work in a job where I am the only male in the workplace, I come from a country where there’s been a female political leader and one of my favourite characters is Batwoman, who’s from a company that has had a few female editor chiefs.

Wonder Woman was an UTTER failure before the New 52 and now I’M going to be getting the trades, that’s a success right there. If getting shut of the Amazons help make the character an actual character and not just a tired old sounding board for for rapidly outdated ideas then great.

Because for me it’s about the character and great story telling, not feminism.

I would like to say that as a gay man, I have had a similar reaction to Northstar and Freedom Ring’s death. Not because superheroes don’t die or get driven into a mindless killing rage regardless of sexuality, but because at the time this removed one of of maybe three positive gay role models in Marvel’s stable. I completely get that this characterisation of the Amazons has a much more devestating effect then, say Miller’s re-imagining of Bruce Wayne as (arguably) a sex fiend. There are a variety of batman books, but there is only one WW title. At the moment, the Amazons on WW are (were) one of the few examples of strong women filled with both a warrior’s spirit and compassion as well.

I hope Azarello is taking this somewhere worthwhile – it certainly has hit hard at the level of equality in books. I hope it is a commentary on the revisionist view that opposing cultures – in this case the Amazon male children and the Amazon women – take against each other.

Hope.

Some people seem to be turning the disagreement over this issue into a simple dichotomy; either you’re a feminist and you see a lot of sexism in the world and you hate this issue, or you’re an anti-feminist and you see no sexism in the world and you love this issue. I’m here to tell you that it isn’t so. I consider myself a feminist and I see a lot of sexism in the world, but I admired this issue and I am fascinated to see where the series is going.

It’s about a strong, independent woman on a hero’s journey. Like any hero’s journey, it begins with disappointment in the familiar world form which she is about to depart. In her case, that disappointment involves finding out that her mother and sisters and mentors apparently weren’t everything that she and we thought they were. I get the sense that she’s going to show that she’s the kind of human–the kind of person–who can get through hell and back, and when she returns, it’s going to be with a new understanding of home and a new mission. Out of all of this could come a stronger Paradise Island that represent modern feminist ideals of equality and open communication among women and between the genders.

Or not. But if at the end of Azz and Chiang’s run Diana is the grim n’ gritty daughter of a irredeemably evil race of women, they’ll be plenty of time to hate it then.

If one questions many of the people reacting to this one will find many are NOT reading the title. They NEVER supported WW comics.

@ N. John – stop making up reasons why the views you disagree with don’t matter or shouldn’t be expressed. It’s perfectly valid for someone to comment on this without having read the comic. Not only Kelly here, but several other bloggers have given more than enough detail on this issue for someone to form an opinion on it without buying it. I’m willing to bet half of the people screaming ‘feminism gone mad!’ haven’t read it either. And, wow – because you disagreed with Kelly’s review, that makes it not a ‘proper’ review, and you want someone else to step in and write one you agree with? Entitled much?

@lead sharp – so because you personally have a non-male-dominated workplace in a female-led country and like Batwoman, Kelly should shut up? And because you’re picking up the trades, this storyline’s got the ingredients for success (ignoring all the people who’ve specifically said they’re dropping it because of this story)? I get it; you’re the representative sample, and everybody else is the abberation. It’s all about you.

For those who are still struggling to “get it,”: there are not a lot of positive portrayals of women out there in comic land. There are even fewer examples of women working successfully together without male influence.

Now the most prominent example of positive female teamwork in comics, has been revealed to be morally bankrupt. This comes at a time when women’s fundamental rights seem to be under attack in the US.

There very well could be a credible in story reversal, and I hope there is, but it is completely understandable why so many find this twist to be profoundly disturbing.

This was mentioned earlier briefly, but has anyone really considered the fact that wonder woman is setting up this society as horrible, and one sided so that she can redeem it? I mean in all the wonder woman comics I read (albeit it wasnt that much) and all her interactions with the JL and other heroes depict her as one thing; the greatest of the amazons and the one who made them a people to respect! So I think this new storyline and the direction Azz is taking is actually traditional considering the re-launch of the character means that Diana needs a reason to be “great” in a sense. If she came from the perfect person from the perfect society, how would she have been the “greatest of the amazons”? This shows a path in a typical perfect society where everything is not perfect and as a result the reason the hero (or in this case heroine) chooses to change it and make it better.
Another thing, to those who are egging on Wonder Woman because she doesnt know this earlier, its very possible that she didnt and that makes sense because this has happened in the real world multiple times. Think of the german children and many germans citizens not involved with the war, during the world war 2 about what was happening to the Jews. As horrible as it sounds and as much as we want to riduclue them for doing so, many people geninuly didnt know about what was happening. Now whether or not, they would have done something if they knew is another question, but it illustrates a big point. Society can and will sweep issues that they dont want to think about under the rug. If it the question never comes up, then the people or children in it who are not exposed to it, will make some other logical thought that explains it. And to those who are arguing that as the future ruler, Diana should have known it earlier but actually it makes sense because she was the daughter of the queen, they sheltered her from that information until they thought she could deal with it. Its like Kings who never understood the hardships of the peasants beause they were never exposed to it. Sure they could have taken a leap and found the answer on their own but that is unlikley and Diana finding it out about it now all because of the fact that somthing new that the amazons didnd foresee happned. Namely the shipwreck of Treavor that lead her down this path.

Man, I feel like DC is doing everything in it’s power to destroy all of the things that made Wonder Woman special. And in the most crappy way possible. Sigh. It’s a sad realization that this Wonder Woman is just not for me.

Kelly, great job on the article.

Lioness, you wrote what should be the blueprint for every future WW writer.

As an ethnic male, I can see where Kelly Thompson is coming from. Had it been an island of black male savages that raped and pillaged people at sea, I might have been a little objective. Not as much as the Mr. Terrific comic, which offended me on so many levels (as an atheist, ethnic male, etc..) but that’s another discussion. I can see how you may be upset with the stuff that’s going on in the political arena, with women’s reproductive rights and health issues being attacked. It’s disheartening to me as well, as a brother of three little sisters and someone who finds religion immoral (again, a different discussion). Just know that it’s not only feminists out there pushing back on those issues.

Despite all the controversy on this topic, the main question is what’s the payoff? Before this topic exploded my first reaction to this Wonder Woman #7 (please keep in mind I’m not familiar with the WW mythos) was amazement. Even before she tried to free those male Amazons, I knew she didn’t understand their plight. Hephaestus gave all those orphaned males a purpose and brought them together as a family. Had I been in their situation, I would have stayed too. So for me, seeing Diana in anguish at the end hit home. I connected with those male Amazons, but I also connected with her.

I’m not saying that was the best method of displaying her compassion or how much of a caring individual she is, but it definitely left an impression. She turned into a character who I didn’t know anything about, into someone who I got close to. I can understand how it feels being ashamed of certain elements of you’re past (even if it’s not your fault). I can understand trying to help those who might have shared those unfortunate elements with. Most of all, I can understand trying to find a family. Those male Amazons at the time were ironically the closest thing to family she has left. When she called them “brothers” it seemed to me that she found something in her past to be proud of again.

For those reasons, WW#7 was an endearing read for me. That’s not to say there aren’t any plot holes. It is weird that she wouldn’t know about the Amazons activities, or the various points brought up in this blog. At the same time, I didn’t assume that she was only brought up and raised on the Amazon island. I didn’t assume that they approved of her leaving the island into “a mans world” or that it was entirely their decision. Maybe that’s my ignorance, but I assumed that this was merely a set up for other stories that detail WW’s past. For now, I’m giving Azzarello the benefit of the doubt, he is a smart writer. I could be proven wrong biut we will see.

[...] She Has No Head! – Is the Destruction of The Amazons The Destruction of Feminism in DC Comics? [...]

Sean,

I get that it’s disturbing–I think it’s supposed to be. Good fiction often is. Especially horror fiction. But this is also the story of a strong, independent woman protecting another woman and trying to come to terms with terrible revelations about her family and mentors, who also happen to be women. Feminism doesn’t teach that women always do the right thing; it’s not anti-feminist to depict some women doing the wrong thing. And telling the story of the Amazons’ dark past provides an opportunity for Azz and Chiang or whoever follows them to tell the story of their redemption.

I agree that there should be more examples of female teamwork in DC comics; I just don’t think the lack of alternatives should limit any one writer’s creative options. Worlds’ Finest looks like it may be a good example of women working together, and i hope there will be more.

Honestly, I think we need to separate real world events from what’s happening in a comic book. What’s happening in the real world in terms of women’s rights is obviously pretty ass backwards no matter which way you choose to look at it. I don’t think anyone other than utter morons could argue that.

As someone already mentioned, the previous versions of The Amazons just didn’t seem appeal to many outside of the most hardcore of WW fans. It just wasn’t. It certainly didn’t appeal to me. Like someone else already said, you can’t claim to believe in equality when you forbid a certain portion of the population from ever stepping foot on your property just because they weren’t born the way you like. That’s like saying that caucasian woman in that Emma Stone movie The Help last summer believed in equality despite the fact that she wouldn’t let an African American woman use the same bathroom as her. What stunned me the most is that these Amazons didn’t realize just how hypocritical this was, especially for what was supposedly such an enlightened culture. Were they strong and powerful? Yes. Were they an incredibly intelligent people? Yes. Were they caring and compassionate? Yes. Did they practice everything that they preached? Sadly, no.

As for this latest version of The Amazons, I think it’s an intriguing twist, personally. Do I like them any more than I did before? No, quite frankly (I mean, seriously, who can possibly like these Amazons?). However, do I find them infinitely more interesting and am I interested in learning more about them? You bet your ass (imperfect, flawed characters are almost always more interesting than paragons of virtue). This is probably why I also liked the way Mark Waid handled Diana’s relationship with The Amazons in Kingdom Come. It took years, but she realized that they weren’t as perfect as she was always raised to believe and that after so many years away from them, she discovered that she had something to teach them, which I suspect (or at least hope) is going to be the direction Azzarello takes the story. And if not, it’ll just go to show just how wonderful Wonder Woman really is coming out of such a detestable environment. The fact that she was so intent on freeing her brothers when the rest of her society had cast them out already speaks volumes.

Honestly, I don’t think Brian Azzarello (or DC as a whole for that matter) have any sort of agenda than telling a good (not necessarily pleasant, mind you) story that sells like hotcakes. Quite frankly, I don’t think they’ve ever had any sort of agenda but that.

And just to give you a little insight into what female-fronted comics I read, a few of my favorite titles in the past have been the Dan Slott run of She-Hulk, the Gray & Palmiotti run of Power Girl, Kelley Puckett’s Batgirl, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Ed Brubaker’s Catwoman. I also immensely enjoyed Brian Wood’s New York Four and Five as well as Supermarket.

@KJJohnson Disagreeing with you and others is not an attack. A LOT of people have suggested the god MIGHT be lying, give the book time to MAYBE show that. Not only does that not jive with Azzarello’s interview, it doesn’t add up with the way the events went down afterward. If it’s true, it makes Diana look uncomfortably gullible.

To the rest, the fact that male writers unconsciously make choices like this for female characters but would not do the same for a beloved male character (turning the Kents into meth addicts is a fantastic example, nice job Kelly) is the entire point of the article. The fact that it’s unconscious is the reason articles like this need to be written.

“it would be every man’s fantasy!” is not the line, it’s right there on the page– “it must seem like a dream to most men.” MOST. not all.

That was a really wonderful read, Kelly.

Personally I haven’t given up hope on Wonder woman. I feel like a big part of the new 52 has been showing that superheroes are something new, and can potentially lead society into something better. Amazonian Society is undoubtedly a more horrible place than it has ever been depicted before this, but now we have a story where Diana can potentially lead them into something better. What I’ve always loved about superheroes is the idea that they build something great out of something horrible. Batman is born from his parents death, Superman is born from the destruction of Krypton. And now Wonderwoman is born from this, and is doing so can now potentially represent the redemption of a people. I think that’s the worth the sacrifice. Assuming Brian Azzarello is willing to take it in that direction.

slvn —

I know you as a regular on the Wonder boards, and one of the saner members of our crazed little bunch. So I know you to speak thoughtfully.

I have the same hopes for WF that you do, and the same appreciation — as Kelly and Sean BOTH do — for what up to now has been a fantastic story, and one that any Wonder fan can appreciate for how it’s brought her back to prominence. Yes, there are fans who have been upset with the direction DC has taken her on ever since #600 / Odyssey — but Kelly and Sean aren’t in that group.

What’s wrong about this — as a good writer and a gifted artist have both pointed out above — is that it isn’t just SOME group of women — and we all agree that there are too few of them already — but THE group of women who have, for 70 years now, have given DC a unique perspective and maybe even a bit of moral high ground. Marvel’s pre-eminent women in the Sixties? A dilettante (Wasp), a doormat (Sue Storm) and an ill-defined crush object whose power worked on pure luck (Scarlet Witch). Now, Wonder Woman was kinda bizarre herself back then, but whereas Marvel viewed all their female characters solely in relation to their male counterparts (Hank Pym, Reed Richards, Quicksilver and all the other male Avengers who drifted in and out of “love” with Wanda), Diana always had the Amazons. Marston designed them not to be exclusive, but isolated — it wasn’t by their choice that men couldn’t set foot on the island, but by the law of the goddesses that had delivered THEM from slavery. That’s always been part of the core of the character — even when men WERE allowed on the island, Diana had come from a society that was as good as humans could be — please note I didn’t say perfect — just as good as we can be. The best WW writers have always had flawed Amazons.

Taking that away is taking away what makes Diana distinctive — Supergirl and Barda have as much power — but only Diana comes from a society that shows what can be achieved if women are allowed to achieve and explore their own limits — at least until now….

Something important has been chucked out the window — and unless Hephaestus is either a master deceiver — something he has never been in myth — or all of Olympus has been tricked — it’s not coming back. Azzarello has had the rotten luck of bad timing, given the political debate of the day — one that I’m astounded we’re STILL having – -but it’s never been a secret that there are a large number of people in America who think that way.

We need more Amazons in comics — not less. And it’s a stinking shame that the ones we had are being torn down — however, or if, they come back. Because this is not a business that has been kind to female characters at all, so they don’t have a lot of goodwill to rely upon.

Unconscious or not, I don’t think it was the gender of The Amazons that prompted this decision (honestly, I think Azzarello would’ve made the same move if they were men). I think it was the fact that for most of their publishing history they’ve been put on this ridiculously high pedestal and were completely aware of that fact. Anyone familiar with Azzarello’s writing knows that he isn’t interested in writing paragons of virtue. He’s interested in the cracks and the flaws of both men and women and given the first opportunity, he’ll knock the perfection out of a character to show you the real person underneath, which is clearly what his run on WW is all about.

I will echo the fact that I don’t think its a well written book at all. It seems to me that it promotes the subjugation of women more so than the empowerment.

Looking forward to Azzarello’s reconstruction of Batman’s mother as a former prostitute who died before she could get completely free of that eightball addiction.

Joanna Sandsmark

March 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm

I was getting really fed up with posters claiming (sometimes in the same sentence) not to have ever read Wonder Woman and then telling us all the parts of her history they felt like making up in order to bolster their point. Others claimed to be fans and then spewed enough errors to make one wonder how they knew how to even spell the character’s name.

Wonder Woman and the Amazons have been around for 70 years. That’s a lot of history. Becca does an excellent job of introducing some genuine facts about the run. Here are some more: There was no “mystery” about what happened to the boy babies. There were no babies, period. The Amazons were immortal, isolated, and had to adhere to the rules of the goddesses in order to stay that way. After a coupe thousand years, Queen HIppolyta formed a baby out of clay and named her Diana. She was either the most gifted of the Amazons due to hard work (Marston’s version) or gifted with powers from the Greek Pantheon (Perez’s reboot). She disguised herself to win a contest to be the one Amazon who gives up her immortality in order to help the world outside their shores. She sacrifices an almost (please note the word “almost”) idyllic life in order to help others. That’s her sacrifice. She gives up everything she’s ever known (all the rest of the Amazons had lived in the world prior to their time on Paradise Island) to be of service to the greater good.

There’s nothing wrong with debate, but please stop pretending to be an expert when you haven’t read the issues. If you’ve never read a Marston story, you’re missing out on some amazing issues. If you never read Perez’s reboot, well, he wrote some incredible stories. These two laid the foundations up until now. So have as many arguments as you want about the new direction, but don’t pretend you know the past (and therefore dismiss it as no good) if you haven’t read the books.

Actually, Martha Wayne turned out to be The Joker in the Flashpoint timeline, also written by Azzarello. Pretty damn good story, too. :)

That said, Kryptonians also received a similar treatment as well, under John Byrne, Geoff Johns,’ and hell, even Mark Millar, and Grant Morrison’s pen. Byrne made them cold sterile beings living in a world that supposedly “deserved to blow up,” Johns and Millar made the planet’s survivors more or less insane and attempt to conquer Earth, and Morrison made it seem as if any Kryptonian survivor would’ve been an elitist snob who would’ve looked down their nose at Supes for protecting such an uncivilized people.

[...] Hephaestus hadn’t taken them in, which is pretty brutal.  There have been a lot of interesting reactions to Wonder Woman #7 that mention the ancient stories about them killing the men they had sex with and their male [...]

Wow. I’ve never actually taken the time to read that many comments on an article in one sitting before.

Anyway, I tend to find myself in the middle on things like this, and this is no exception. I sympathize with Kelly and the others who feel like they’re being let down by one of their favorite female characters in an already hard time to be a feminist. I also see where the people who say “wait until the story’s over” are coming from. There’s a lot of things to consider here, and a lot of possible outcomes.

For my money, this is what I think is probably happening (keep in mind, this is all conjecture): Brian Azzarello thought of a storyline that seemed like a natural progression from his overall arc of “the Gods are selfish, this is a horror comic”. He didn’t think it would become a big, controversial talking-point, and why would he? He just thought of it as an interesting direction for the story he’s writing.

Kelly, and others like her, read this and were upset. Not upset because Azzarello is an asshole, or because DC is intentionally trying to “bring down the feminine power structure” or something ridiculous like that, but simply because they have a personal connection to these characters. To them the Amazons represented a sort of paragon of feminine power. Not perfect by any means, but still an inspiring semi-ideal. This is why Kelly made the effort to say “I’m not telling you to not read this book, I’m not telling you to not like this book”. Some may think it makes her argument weaker, but it also shows that she recognizes her own reaction as one born of her own connection to the character(s). Also, I don’t really think she’s “arguing” anything, simply giving her opinion on something she found disheartening.

So what’s my take on the whole thing? Well, I agree that Azz and Chiang are great creators, and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of the series so far (not my favorite of the New 52, but definitely good reading). I also agree that I’m more concerned about the characterization of Wonder Woman herself than I am about the Amazons as a whole (again, I don’t have that personal connection to them that some do). I think a lot of people in the comments are looking at things in stark black and white (the Amazons are pure evil, WW is an idiot if she didn’t know, you’re either pro-feminism or anti-feminism, etc.) when I know Azzarello to be a writer who works in shades of gray.

So I guess I’m in the “let’s see where he’s going with this” camp. I trust this writer, and I want to see what the outcome is. I hope that, no matter what happens, Diana continues to be the strong heroine we know her to be. On the other hand, I totally understand those that drop the book. I’ll let you all know how it ends. Let’s all cross our fingers.

@edge007 – I should have guessed. Which universe is his father smeared in?

Thank-you Georgia Ball for all your comments. People like you Lioness, and Kelly need to have your voices heard amongst some of these people who just choose not to understand the serious issue(s) at hand. I’ve been a fan of Wonder Woman through many creative teams, some amazing & some tragiclly misguided. Since I’ve chosen to boycott dc comics because of the current creative team & their long history of gross mistreatment of Wonder Woman, I’ve started reading Glory from Image Comics. So far the creative team is doing what I’ve always hoped one creative ream would do with Wonder Woman so I’m a very happy and impressed person. Since dc comics is enjoying tweaking a so-called flag ship characters past, let’s indeed see superman’s family/supporting cast be meth dealers, small minded homophic, racist, and confederate flag waving inbred shot gun waving hillbillies on a farm??? Also let’s have batmans family be elitist snobs, who believe they are culturally and socially superior in every way possible, all the while enjoying a grossly hedonistic & crime filled political lifestyle, buying their way in and out of the most extemely depraved pleasures. Pleasures that only billionares can buy from exteme high end drug use, murder(assasination), prostitution(child & adult), hunting endangered animals, sex filled cults, etc… Why not???, if dc can get their kicks by twisting Wonder Woman’s world inside out let’s see them do the same to the other flagship characters too. What’s good for the goose…!

@GeorgiaBall: No comment about the Kryptonians?

As for Thomas, he was actually smeared in the mainline DCU. Morrison actually implied that he led a double life where he participated in criminal activities, drug abuse, and orgies. He also implied that Bruce Wayne was a pedophile when he had Jason Todd reveal that Bruce made him dye his hair black because he liked brunettes better.

Thank you, Joanna Sandsmark! It feels like most of the people that think we’re making a big deal over nothing have no idea of the history of the Amazons or Wonder Woman. The part that the Amazons play in her origin and history are what make Diana Wonder Woman and seperates her from peers. Losing her unique origin was enough but to then have the women who raised her with love, compassion, and joy turned into man-hating murderers is just too much.

[...] launch into an all-out rant about the origins of the New-52 Wonder Woman. In fact, because I found Kelly Thompson’s arguments fairly persuasive, that may still happen. However, I am more inclined to agree with Ragnell that [...]

Here’s a post from another site:

I’ve been enjoying the hell out of Az’s WW. I think the idea that an all-female culture has to be a paragon of virtue is, itself, pretty problematic in terms of gender equality. It says that women are special and magical, not just people like us dudes. Male-led cultures have, after all, done much worse things. Making Amazon culture just another culture, with high points and flaws, does more to promote women as an equal gender than making them infallible does.

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.

@edge007 – No I definitely have a comment on the Kryptonians. I don’t read a lot of Superman anymore, though I did read Action comics through the 70s and 80s. As far as I know (and there’s always someone around who knows more) they’ve never raised Superman. He’s always been shot to Earth where he’s raised by the Kents. Depicting Ma and Pa Kent, or Spiderman’s family in the Marvel universe, as retroactively evil people, is not a story I see much of.

Sterile and cold really doesn’t compare well with murderous baby abandonment either, I think above all, Superman’s father was always jettisoning his son to save him, not get rid of that useless riffraff.

The Amazons seem to be a favorite target of destruction. Sticking it to Martha Wayne and NOT her husband has a similar tone of “woman issues being worked out.”

@edge007

Thomas Wayne – I don’t think implication = cannon

Batman = Pedophile … I think we’ve all made this joke at least once. Definitely not cannon either but that’s what the Ambiguously Gay Duo is for :)

BeccaBlast,

Thanks for the kind words. I should have made this clear, but I get that you, Kelly, Sean and others are reasonable and thoughtful people who are, after issue 7,sincerely disappointed with some of the creative choices around characters whom you love.

I guess I even agree with you that something has been lost that’s probably not coming back during this run. But I think the thing that has been lost is innocence, and that’s a quality that has a tendency to get lost and get replaced with new kinds of maturity. That’s not a comment on past runs–I just mean that Azzarello saw a way to write the Amazons in a way that would tackle the problems that can come with separatism head-on, and in the process have Wonder Woman grow by coping with disillusionment about her background. Her illusions and the Amazons innocence aren’t coming back, but that doesn’t mean that she’s not a hero or that they can’t be admirable people again.

What if, for example, everything Heph said was true, but he didn’t mention that Aphrodite, for reasons of her own, saved the original Amazons from horrible abuse, gave them everything they though they needed, isolated them from other cultural influences, and indoctrinated the to fear and use men? That might not make them innocent, but would we really call them evil and irredeemable?

Ultimately, I think we have to ask ourselves, do we believe that people who do evil things often have positive qualities and can be redeemed? Hasn’t this belief been part of the core of Wonder Woman comics, going back to the Marston Sensation Comics story about the Baroness? Do we really believe that it’s possible for Wonder Woman to help a Nazi salve mistress redeem herself, but impossible for Wonder Woman to help her own family do the same?

I guess I’m one of the few people who think that this story was beautifully told. I think people keep going back to how the Amazons should be treated in high regard and undermine everything else that was presented in this story. This book was supposed to be emotional, both for the characters and the reader. Diana wasn’t just motivated to free those slaves out of justice, she was freeing them to regain a family. She proudly shouted “brothers”, believing this would be the case which makes the end even more heartbreaking. Azzerello’s run isn’t senseless, there is a strong theme of family. The Amazons weren’t exempt from this. I understand why people would be hurt by the Amazons actions but I think they are missing the point.

Joanna Sandsmark

March 29, 2012 at 4:43 pm

I have the book with Gloria Steinem’s essay. Perhaps this is the quote you were looking for:

“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.”

Ms. Steinem also discusses the role of Queen Hippolyte:

“Wonder Woman’s mother, Queen Hippolyte, offers yet another welcome example to young girls in search of a strong identity. Queen Hippolyta founds nations, wages war to protect Paradise Island, and sends her daughter off to fight the forces of evil in the world. Perhaps most impressive in an age fraught with Freudian shibboleths, she also marshals her queenly strength to protect her daughter in bad times. How many girl children grew to adulthood with no experience of a courageous and worldly mother, except in these slender stories? How many adult women disdain the birth of a female child, believe it is “better” to bear male children, and fear the competition and jealousy they have been conditioned to believe is “natural” to a mother and daughter? Feminism is just beginning to uncover the sense of anger and loss in girls whose mothers had no power to protect them in the world, and so train them to be victims, or left them to identify with their fathers if they had any ambitions outside the traditional female role.

“Wonder woman symbolizes many of the values of the women’s culture that feminists are now trying to introduce into the mainstream: strength and self-relliance for women; sisterhood and mutual support among women; peacefulness and esteem for human life; a diminishment both of “masculine” aggression and of the belief that violence is the only way of solving conflicts.”

And then there’s this, as well:

“Marston invented her as a counter to the violence and “bloodcurdling masculinity” that pervaded most comic books, and he remained true to his purpose. Wonder woman and her sisters were allowed to use violence, but only in self-defense and only if it stopped short of actually killing someone. Most group conflicts between men and women were set, not in America, but in a mythological past. Thus Mars, the god of war, periodically endangered the Amazon community and sometimes tried to disarm Queen Hippolyte through the ruses of love. Mars, of course, was the “heavy.” He preached that women “are the natural spoils of war” and must remain at home, the helpless slaves of the male victors. Marston used Mars as the symbol of everything wonder woman must fight against, but he also gave the god of war a rationale for his beliefs that was really the female superiority argument all over again: if women were allowed to become warriors like the Amazons, they would grow stronger than men, and put an end to war. What future for an unemployed god?”

Ms. Steinem does an excellent job of delving into the creation of the character, and why this character and her Amazon sisters means so much to many female comic readers. By taking away the power from wonder woman’s origins and turning it into something base, cowardly, and evil he has hurt this character and those of her readers who cared so deeply for the feminist message.

Argue all you want about how we “should” feel. Call us “whiners” or other things to make fun of our sadness. I guess the only message I want you to hear is that our reaction is genuine and heartfelt.

Let me pose a hypothetical that sums up my feelings regarding the “New 52″ Wonder Woman:

Let’s say they make a new Friday the 13th. They give it a massive budget and hire the best writers and director money can buy. Oscar caliber guys like the Coen brothers or Martin Scorsese. And they create a movie pitch-perfect in technical terms. Effects, music, direction…everything is top notch, top of the line.

BUT…Jason Voorhees is portrayed as a cackling loon who constantly talks in a high-pitched voice, waxing philosophical about the meaning of life. They reveal that he doesn’t haunt Crystal Lake because of his mother–rather, because of his still-living father, who turns out to be a sorcerer with magic powers. And he attacks his victims with a M-16 assault rifle, rather than his trademark machete.
Essentially, everything about Jason–save his hockey mask–is different (or, some might say, wrong).

Now me…despite the high-class talent and execution…I’m calling bulls**t because it’s a Jason Voorhees movie and Jason Voorhees has been utterly botched in just about every conceivable way.
The movie may be solid on a technical level, but all I’m thinking is, “Why even bother calling this Friday the 13th then?”

I realize Azzarello and Chiang are–apparently–producing a comic that is, by and large, getting golden reviews across the board and has been a top 20 seller. As such, I’m sure on a technical level, it’s a quality book.
But it’s not Wonder Woman. They’ve changed pretty much EVERYTHING about her. They changed her origin, her backstory, her driving motivation, and her general disposition. Yeah, it may be a dark-haired woman in an American flag bathing suit, but it’s not Wonder Woman.

A such, I cannot even look at this book without wanting to put my fist through a wall.
Everything Azzarello has done–and I’ll include Geoff Johns and his God-awful version of the character seen in Justice League–is, without a doubt in my mind, a complete and utter betrayal of everything the character is supposed to be and represent.

I also find the changes made to the character, in and of themselves, cheapen pretty much everything I personally found interesting, appealing, and unique about the character.

As applies to Amazons specifically…yes, in the original myths and most stories based on those myths, the Amazons were a savage tribe of man-hating barbarians. I actually found it an interesting twist on the old myths that in Wonder Woman, the Amazons were NOT that way–rather, supposed to be more peace-oriented, disciplined warriors, akin to Shaolin monks or Jedi knights.
Now that’s out the window. Because, I guess, a society of women apparently can’t NOT hate men and desire war and death upon them. It’s too far-fetched to imagine otherwise.

But maybe I’m wrong and this is all leading to some grand twist that will make everything okay. I can’t imagine what…though from where I’m standing, nothing less than revealing this entire run is some horrific nightmare reality created by Dr. Psycho, Circe, or Biff Tannen stealing the DeLorean again, will salvage this crap.

I’ll keep an eye on the spoilers…because I sure as hell am not wasting my money on this book. Nor will in the foreseeable future as long as this bulls**t remains canon & status-quo.

And one final thing: I note a lot of people saying they never cared or liked Wonder Woman until this run on the title.
Guess what kids, you STILL don’t care or like Wonder Woman. Because this isn’t her. This is Wonder Woman about as much as Batman in All-Star Batman & Robin was Batman.

Interesting article, but I think it serves feminism a lot better for any characterization of a woman to be allowed, as long as it’s 3 dimensional and not sexist. I don’t think that “strong, empowered female characters” are any more or less sexist than a bikini clad bimbo superhero; it’s all about how much respect the creators show for those characters. 

Look at Greg Rucka’s Queen and Country. Tara Chase is probably one of the most flawed and troubled characters in comics…a terrible role model for young girls, but at the same time, a great portrail that serves feminism. 

On the flip side, I’ve seen tons of terrible “I’m tough cause I disagree with men” characterizations that are one dimensional and empty. These are the last thing I think most feminists would want. 

Sure, you can have both a strong, empowered female character that’s also 3 dimensional and well written, but my point is that I don’t think feminists care aboutthe first bit. They’d rather not stick women characters in a box. 

….but not to come off like a jerk. I did enjoy the article. :)

While I don’t have much faith in DC comics’ anymore -I’ve been burned enough times as well- from what I have seen so far there is not much evidence that Hephaeustus’ story is true.

What bothers me is how naive Wonder woman is coming across in the series. She never doubted the “you were made from clay” origin? And now she just accepts some stranger’s word about her own people?

This is specially ironic for a character who actually has the power to make people tell her the truth.

But yeah, I’d really hate it too if this is what the Amazons have become, regardless of how fitting the original myths it may be.

One thing, though: you honestly believe that ONLY a few men with lovers or spouses would resist the temptation of engaging in an orgy with strange women who came out of nowhere? If anything, I’d be surprised if many accepted it of their own free will. I know I wouldn’t, and I’m no saint. I hope you were being sarcastic there, Kelly.

Wonder Woman
- written for guys by guys (guys try to “fix” her for girls? SABATOGE! pants? do you purposely makes crappy changes so you can say you tried just to get to do what you wanted anyway? hot pants where ass cheeks don’t hang out or give wedgies and straps for her bustier was all that was needed – personally i’d like really broad shoulders, short or tied up hair and much smaller boobs but GOD FORBID!)
- all the mythology – leave it with the island, let it be a story – who knows what’s true or not – wonder woman can believe it and spout it but no one knows for certain. i like ganky’s take. heroic stories in the here and now. good stories. relevant fun stories. wonder woman doing all the things a wonder woman can do. i like the convoluted back story as a fairy tale that sounds like it can’t be true but you don’t know because where else did this wonder woman come from. don’t have to answer it. i don’t want to see Greek gods and mythology brought out like it’s real. not like Paradise Island stories are any good – just to see lots of hot women and someone threatening and beating them.
- whenever i hear any of these feminist issues with the comics i’m not surprised – guys don’t get it for the most part. DC does not care. great that you can talk about it but i just want some woman to write her own comic about amazons and all the different kinds of women out there. I’d love a comic about an island of women that separates itself from the world and how it would go – problems and all. There would be lots of good things but not utopia. amazons are not DC’s. women should tell their own version of these stories. preferably in a comic but doesn’t have to be. really sick of the guys telling the ladies stories. ladies aren’t doing it yet though.

i like the whole women should be able to see women they like and want to be like in a Wonder Woman comic cause i’m not a guy and don’t want to be a guy. The nonviolent self defense truth justice and peace loving wonder woman was always the hero. not how well she throws down like all the other guys but the fact that she can but doesn’t always is something. but then i like sentry the hero with so much power but paralyzed about using it. heroines acting like the guys to get respect isn’t empowering – women playing by their own rules and pushing for reform and nonviolence and peace – that’s the stuff of heroes. I think we have lots of others who do the ass whupping or antihero fronting to look cool and badass – women too – cookie cutting.

I’d love an bad ass ugly anti hero woman or even a wonder woman feminazi that spouts all the stereotype crap and still saves the day cause she’s that good at it too. It’s possible in a COMPLICATED character. Unlikable character hero – now there’s a wonder woman i’d like to see just for the novelty. That ever pop up in an Alternative world or one shot story – bet no.

Anyway i can’t write as clear as most of the people here obviously but i read the whole post and enjoyed it so much had to say my two cents.

@GeorgiaBall: Actually, the Parkers have been a target of destruction. Years ago, Mark Millar wrote a story where Peter was actually May’s kid whose father was not Ben, but RIchard because RIchard was fooling around with May behind his brother’s back.

Like someone else already said, though, believing that a single midwestern or philanthropist couple is good is one thing, but believing that an entire nation of people who refuse to let another group of people set foot on their property just because they aren’t like them is another. And honestly, I still think that making a character or group of characters overly virtuous and practically untouchable makes them more of a target than their gender.

As for Azzarello having issues with women to work out, idk, the guy’s married to Jill Thompson (Scary Godmother, Sandman, Swamp Thing, The Invisibles, Wonder Woman), an Eisner award winning writer and artist and one of the most well-respected female creators in the medium. IMHO, I think someone like that is fully capable of putting a guy like Azzarello in his place if he needed it.

For someone who remembers what other people said about the Waynes, Parkers or Kents, why do you have such a hard time remembering the several people who have pointed out that the “no men on the island” law was not a choice of the Amazons, but rather the dictate of their deities?

It wasn’t theirs to refuse, it was handed down to them like the Ten Commandments on Sinai. “This is what you do in return for your freedom.”

Overly virtuous and practically untouchable? Then where did all those stories involving Orana, Artemis, the other Bana, the Circle, etc, come from? Not to mention the “is she or isn’t she” characters like Grace Choi and Mercy Graves. There may have been more rogue Amazons than those on Themiscyra at one point.

The Amazons you find so uncomfortable existed mostly in the Kanigher era, it seems — but that was 40+ years ago. There was even a period when men WERE let on the island — I believe Phil Jimenez wrote the book at that time. From what I’m hearing, his take on this new development makes us look restrained…

A few things stood out for me in this excellent piece. Regarding the rape scene on the ship and “gay” men being an exception, I think it important to note that homosexuality was thought of in a very different way in Ancient Greece until the 19th century when Homosexual became a category unto itself. Prior to the 19th century homosexuality was an act you did, as was heterosexual relations, and did not mean you were “gay” exclusively. IL I think Michel Foucault wrote about the way categories are created to describe people and our continued obsession with categories.

I haven’t read the most recent issue, but something came to mind regarding Amazonian Feminism. I half wonder if the story suffers from a lack of explanation, detail, backstory? I can imagine that the practice of infanticide would be difficult to conceal, but perhaps that speaks to the totalitarian leanings of Amazonian society? Perhaps there is a story associated with the deaths of males (i.e. the Gods strike them Dead upon their birth), becoming a potent part of Amazonian society and an explanation for the absence of male babies. Also, in a sense a mother does have to “kill” her children in order to grow, change, succeed. And by “kill” I mean at some point children grow up not make children the focus of your life–they become more a part of life. There are extraordinary pressures on women who desire to work rather than raise their children. Pressures men never face in quite the same way. Anyway, my point is maybe the story is yet to develop in really interesting ways? Maybe not. It is always a chance we take.

Interesting article, but I think it serves feminism a lot better for any characterization of a woman to be allowed, as long as it’s 3 dimensional and not sexist. I don’t think that “strong, empowered female characters” are any more or less sexist than a bikini clad bimbo superhero; it’s all about how much respect the creators show for those characters.

I agree that we need many different kinds of empowered women and girls. However, Diana is a very specific empowered woman. Sticking another dark-haired woman with another origin in a star-spangled suit doesn’t make her Diana.

By all means, come up with lots more and different strong, empowered female characters with different origins, backgrounds and concerns. We need them all. But let Diana be Diana.

@edge007 – You’re proving my point for me. The more you describe the Amazon’s island and try to remove gender out of it, the more uncomfortable you sound with the concept because there are no men there.

Your best examples of bad behavior being attributed to the families of men are ludicrous false accusations and one-off stories that don’t impact the main timeline.

Jill Thompson IS fab – But Robert Crumb was also married a couple of times, and I don’t think there’s anyone that’s read Crumb that can come away from it saying he had no insecurities about women being worked out in his material. I don’t know where the title of this column “She has no head” originates, but it’s always reminded me of Crumb’s story where the protagonist regains sexual power over his girlfriend while her head is temporarily missing.

I disagree with Kelly and the other people who are uncomfortable with Azzarello’s take on DC’s Amazons.

Does the original DC approach to Amazons really “empower” women?

This approach to self-esteem reminds me of Jesse Jackson leading a bunch of young African Americans in a chant of “I am somebody.” This does not necessarily lead to an increase in self-esteem. It is totally absurd to claim that myths of female superiority must be spread to counter the patriarchal myths of “evil women” and “weak dumb women who must be oppressed for their own good.”

Neither set of myths are true. I do not want to play Captain Obvious but it seems clear to me that men and women belong to the same species and have the same capacity for good and evil, for justice and injustice, for love and hate. It seems that we are still struggling to realize this basic truth despite millennia of ignorance and plain old power-grubbing.

Clearing the air is important but will privileging one gender over the other really solve the problem? I think that’s what Azzarello is discusssing here.

rob

“And one final thing: I note a lot of people saying they never cared or liked Wonder Woman until this run on the title. Guess what kids, you STILL don’t care or like Wonder Woman. Because this isn’t her.”

This times a million. If you’re only NOW liking the character, that’s a good indicator that she’s being written in a totally different way to her entire history, and that long-time fans are thoroughly entitled to cry foul.

@Lioness – While I’m really enjoying this run of Wonder Woman, I agree that DC’s character shakeup generally misguided and poorly executed. That’s really DC’s fault though and not on Azz and Chiang’s, isn’t it? They were likely told to make dramatic changes to Wonder Woman to bring in a new audience and that’s what they’ve done. I have a hard time blaming them for DC’s failure to sell a more traditional Wonder Woman comic book.

@Deadcowaroma – I’m not in a position to say who is responsible to what degree for this car wreck. I do know it’s a car wreck.

Joanna Sandsmark

March 30, 2012 at 8:22 pm

rob t said, “Clearing the air is important but will privileging one gender over the other really solve the problem?”

Since the male gender has been privileged over that other gender for thousands of years, I find it fascinating that you won’t even allow this one tiny thing to exist. No, we mustn’t allow females to be the dominant gender in any society — even in our fiction — because it might make women feel something only men get to feel. Shame on us, ladies. Please go on with your celebration of the destruction of one of the few feminist icons and her sisters.

@Joanna – First of all, you seem to think that my argument deprives you of something or causes Wonder Woman to be the way it is. If so, I would reply that it is not up to me how Wonder Woman actually turns out.

Also, If I understand you correctly, you are outright stating “Feminism must tell educate all women that they are more special than men and that they are the superior gender or it is not feminism.” I only hope this is not true.

@rob t – I’m not Joanna, and I can still say without hesitation that you don’t understand her correctly.

Looking at the comments over the last few days, I hope many of the comments are based in the usual “knee-jerk defense of something I like” mode. Because the arguments against this column are weak. The only one that has some mild form of relevance is the “we don’t know the whole story yet” argument, which is true. But unless we get info that Hephaestos was outright lying I don’t see any mitigating circumstances.

The argument that it’s closer to the mythology has already been completely demolished, but another one that’s depressingly common is the anti-utopia one. Of course, the Amazons have never (at least not since the Perez reboot) been portrayed as a perfect society, not by the good writers of WW, and certainly not by the bad ones. The best writers were quite able to write stories a female-only society that centered on their unique situation, their internal disagreements, and yes, their flaws. Yet they were still good people at their core.

So why do we get so many comments that the new, murdering, pirating, raping, infanticidal Amazons are more complex, more gray than the old ones? The Amazons haven’t gone from white to gray, they’ve gone from gray to black. Not only that, but they’ve gone from a fresh take on an old myth to one of the most trite ones. A female-only society of warriors that hate men, use them to get pregnant, then kill the male offspring? Futurama played that for humor ten years ago, because of how old and over-used it was.

Joanna Sandsmark

March 30, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Not sure how you got that message out of what I said. And no, I don’t blame you for the run. I was responding to what you wrote in your note. It was the irony of your talking about gender privilege, which has been 100% male throughout recorded history, and saying that if it refers to women it’s somehow a bad thing — do you also feel that thousands of years of male gender privilege is a bad thing?

Personally, I wouldn’t mind living in a world where neither gender was privileged, but that’s taking a major hit right now, as women are being treated like third class citizens and even one of our icons is in the hands of a man who appears hellbent on destroying her past, her character, and her family of Amazons.

@Lioness – To each their own I guess. : ) I like Wonder Woman quite a bit, but you’re right that most of it has been a car wreck. I just have an issue what are ultimately character direction criticisms flying under a feminism banner. Feminism to me really doesn’t care about these issues.

Insightful column. Isn’t it time “She Has No Head!” got a link on CBR’s “All Columns” page?

Deadcowaroma – when the character direction is to sully one of the oldest and most beloved feminist icons, that is most certainly an issue those feminists are going to care about.

I’m too old to giggle like a teenager at the sight of characters beloved from childhood tarnished and spoiled for my children’s generation.

Lioness – It’s certainly not an issue the feminists I’ve spoken to are concerned about, and I consider myself one of them. : )

Joanna Sandsmark

March 31, 2012 at 8:43 pm

That’s being a bit disingenuous, deadcowaroma. If you’ve read the comments here, you’ve heard from quite a few feminists for whom this trashing doesn’t work. You claim to have interviewed any number of feminists, but unless they’re on this thread, self-identified as a feminist, and waxing on about its greatness, it doesn’t count. (in reality, that’s been a tried and true net-argument-red-herring from the beginnings of the net, i.e. “I’m right and everyone I know agrees with me.” It’s not proof of anything other than an ability to type.) I am writing under my real name. Feel free to look me up to prove that I’m a) a woman, b) a Wonder Woman fan [note: there might be some proof of that to be found in Wonder Girl, as Cassie Sandsmark was named after me] and c) a feminist. I don’t know who you are, of course, so I’ll just take your word that you’re a feminist and like this new character. I have no idea of your gender or if you ever read the character Wonder Woman. Not that it matters. All it proves from either of us is that we feel a certain way and we can speak for ourselves alone.

Joanna Sandsmark – I’m a man and I am a Wonder Woman fan, but point taken. Feminism means different things to different people and just because the people I’ve talked to had no problem with it doesn’t mean that others shouldn’t.

“Is the Destruction of The Amazons The Destruction of Feminism in DC Comics?”

I doubt it. DC is an American company, and America is obsessed with political correctness and feminism. Which is too bad, because feminism has become a huge joke in recent decades.

Joanna Sandsmark

April 1, 2012 at 1:50 am

::sniff:: I smell a troll.

“By empowering women, it does not mean we have to “de-power” men.”

True.

Of course, what is also true, is that every single last empowerment of women in the past 200 years has been through depowering men, starting with changing custody to women (as apposed to joint custody which would have been an empowering of women without depowering men.) Alimony laws, family court, quotas, reproductive rights, VAWA, and in Australia they will sign an even worse version in law where by law they strip men accused of DV from their innocence until proven guilty, you name it, it’s all been depowering men. Including women voting. (Empowering women without depowering men when it comes to the vote, would have required women to be conscripted into the army on the 18th birthday, the same way men were. Before, men went to die on the battle field, but at least they had the power over who to put in office that decided of when and where they went to die on the battle field. Afterwards, women, a majority who did not have to die on the battlefield, got to decide who was in office to send men to their deaths; that is not even talking about the 18-21-year-old men who did have to die on the battle fields but did not get to vote until some time after WWII. It was net power loss for men, and thus a depowering.)

The result is a massive skewed society where 92% of workplace deaths are men, 97% of combat deaths are men sent their by majority electorate women, 4 out of 5 suicides are men, 90% of homeless people are men, the majority of the unemployed are men, the majority of the lower class, low-paying and dangerous jobs are done by men (the combination which lowered workplace deaths from 93% to 92%, they can no longer die in unsafe working environments because they’re now unemployed at home), men start out of college at lower paying jobs then women, only out-earning women on average across their entire lives because they choose the climb the later through, grit determination, and hard work, and succeed only because women choose to stay at home with the children, even when they don’t have husbands and all of society pays their benefits. (Yes, that 75 cents to the dollar stuff you hear? What they don’t tell you is that that is the earnings across their entire lifetimes. Hourly wage, women earn more.)

At the same time women get less prison sentences for the same crime, to the point that in the UK they are advocating removing prison sentences for women altogether. (What’s that, are you wondering what punishment they get instead? Oh, free housing, and free medical psychological help.) Or for that matter, in both the UK and Australia not longer after a child murder case in the US where the woman got away with it Scott free, there are groups of feminist ideologues that have posed the question for genuine discussion, that women should be legally allowed to murder their baby boys. No, not their baby girls, only their baby boys, for you see, the penis on their infant son, is so traumatizing and oppressing so it’s perfectly understandable that women are driven to murder their baby sons and in the first few weeks baby boys are not yet consciously aware of their life, so murder away.

That’s not a joke. I wish it were.

And all of that, is but the tiny little pinprick of a massive iceberg.

And what is feminism, that champion of equality doing you ask, well, beyond advocating that women are so pathetic and traumatized at seeing a penis on their own child they should be legally allowed to murder their baby sons?

They oppose joint custody. They put up anti-rape posters… that depict boys and baby boys as inherent rapists who can only be stopped from becoming rapists if they’re raised right… by the fathers they removed their children, and I suppose have the rapist beat of them.

Also women get health benefits up the wazoo. Obamacare mentions women and their benefits including the installing of feminist polit bureaus everywhere, 134 times, while men are mentioned only three times, two of which as reference to humanity in general. Feminists, want even more The latest of which the ridiculous concept of female students having their birth control, purely for birth control, paid for by the state, while men have none of it, ever paid for. And when some politicians thought up, that maybe some women, some of the time, should be treated no better than men, might have to pay for it themselves, feminist went on the offensive fighting against slight more equality, demanding the supremacy stayed in place, and that the politicians who thought it up, are misogynist.

Women do not have equality, indeed not, they have supremacy. They have a level of supremacy, that no demography has had anywhere in history, not even the super elite priests and nobility.

So, no, women don’t need another depiction of how great empowered women are. They already get that in every sitcom, drama show, and soap opera on tv, while men are derided, ridiculed and demonized.

Besides which, a women-only society that bans men from their lands, is by definition not great, nay, it was a distopia, the only place where women’s supremacy, and men’s non-humanity is even greater than ours.

Joanna Sandsmark

April 1, 2012 at 6:31 pm

April Fools to you, too, 3D Master.

Colin Smith was able to track down these comments by Gloria Steinem on the *last* New Wonder Woman, the last time DC tried to eradicate the Amazons.

FWIW, if it is the DC editorial decision to eradicate the Amazons, Azzarello is doing a much better job than JMS.

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

just for the record, my comments may sound similar to 3D Master but by no means do I associate myself with these “men’s rights” idiots.

feminism has been (and is) very necessary to create a just society. i just don’t think that Azzarello is necessarily destroying feminism in DC Comics or even Wonder Woman.

a debate about the nature of feminism is entirely different in my mind than these witless nobodies claiming that men are being “oppressed.”

in the end, i think that the many thousand years of patriarchy past are more than enough to stand witness against fools like 3D.

rob

I posted it on April 2nd. Like I wrote: it’s not a joke, I wish ti were.

And as for patriarchy, the myth that feminism has sucked out of their thumb, the evil men oppressing women; it’s never existed.

Men have always been the dispensers and absorbers of violence for women. The fruits of their labors, the heavy, difficult labors that put them into early graves have always been to benefit women.

Yea, they’ve also always been the dispensers of violence TO women.

(rolls eyes)

…ugh…has this conversation every gone off the rails…

Was that a “Master” of Gor a few posts back?

@deadcowaroma
Wrong. Women do a lot more violence on other women, then men do. Women are ones who have to worry least about violence. Men suffer much more violence than women do, both from other men, and women; and society treats the man that defends himself against female aggression as a criminal and throw him in jails, that is if he survives the lynch mob. That, in fact, shows you that men in general don’t, and never have, been abusive in general of women. This attitude is forcing most men not to defend themselves when women attack, even when they wield weapons. Considering a single well-placed punch can kill a man, even coming from a woman, that is a very bad cultural state indeed; that is if you care about men as human beings that have intrinsic value.

@B9000
Calling me misogynist, eh? What else is new? Feminists and their sheep spend their time doing nothing but pull the misogynist card. Let me tell you who the real misogynists are: feminists. In the mean time, I have done nothing but treat women as equals: that is, merely human beings, with all the flaws and vileness that comes with that, and also with all the virtues and greatness that comes with that. Of course, feminists and their sheep expect people to treat women as exalting, awesome, perfect and empowered goddesses when it suits, and like the most pathetic, whimpering, eternal victimized little child, when it suits them. But talk about women like they’re merely human, and you’re a misogynist according to them.

Once again, feminist ideologues in the UK and Australia advocate that women are too pathetic to handle a penis on their baby boys, that they’ll be driven to murder them so they should legally be allowed to do so. And I, and others who treat women as merely human, are the misogynists?

A few videos by a WOMAN on this very subject:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-m98xmCng0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gekyg7yy4Dc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHkGZvC0z4I

Wow, you are insane.

Wow…just skimmed through this.

I think for me the point is that Wonder Woman was very consciously created as a feminist statement. You can argue about the parameters of that statement (the swimsuit? amazons on a pedestal?) and certainly it wasn’t perfect in every way (though Marston and Peter are actually pretty thoughtful and complicated — they’re take on issues of war and peace, for example, is a lot more subtle than some folks here seem to think.) But be that as it way, Wonder Woman is decidedly, definitively a feminist vision for girls *and* for boys.

That was, and remains, extremely unusual for pop culture — or, for that matter, for any culture. You just don’t see a whole lot of movies, or books, much less comics, in which (a) the woman is the hero, (b) female friendships are central to her heroism, (c) feminism is explicitly, repeatedly, and ideologically presented as the basis for her heroism.

Since Marston and Peter, there have been a lot of creators who have, in one way or another, decided that the thing to do with the character is jettison the feminism. It’s important to realize that when they do that, they betray the original vision of the character in a way which is really, to my mind, fairly despicable. If you care about creator’s rights at all, what Azzarello is doing is really problematic.

Beyond that, though, to take a character who is originally, definitively intended to be feminist, and make her ideologically anti-feminist, is a really aggressive ideological act. One of the things Marston was doing was taking a negative mythological portrayal (the Amazons) and turning it into a feminist vision. Azzarello is turning that around and changing it back into a misogynist vision. Marston did what he did because he was a committed feminist. Azzarello is doing what he is doing…because he’s a committed misogynist? Because he’s not really thinking that hard about what he’s doing? Because he’s just getting his kicks? Whatever the reason, it is, as I said, a very definite decision with very definite ideological ramifications, and he deserves to be called on them.

Joanna Sandsmark

April 3, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Excellent post, Noah.

[...] tropes. It’s a way to build cheap heat around a new villain. And in Wonder Woman, the Amazons have been pretty heavily damaged, and there’s no hint of a plot [...]

I’m going to read the issue before I make a decision to remove this from my pull list, but I don’t like what I’ve heard and seen of it so far. The only thing keeping me going since turning Diana into the butt of the Amazons’ joke concerning her origin is to consider this an alternate version, an Elseworlds if you will. But I do think the story has meandered from the tightly-plotted first issue. We still don’t know anything about Diana’s daily life, or why she was in London at the start (with an arsenal to boot). It’s been obvious from the outset that Zola is pregnant with Zeus himself but we really haven’t progressed with her story at all. And the new Vertigo-inspired Greek Pantheon has gotten needlessly bizarre to my tastes – for this scenario. I haven’t liked these Amazons since the reveal that they’ve lied to and mocked Diana all her life. This doesn’t make them any more enjoyable as characters and takes the story to Lost levels of obvious unresolvability. =/ Sad after such a promising start and interpretation…

cedric jefferson

April 8, 2012 at 9:56 am

I’m loving this run on WW and # 7 in particular is so far one of my favorite issues. And yeah, it’s the first time I’ve actually bought a WW comic. And I’m buying it because it IS WW, but not WW at the same time. Because honestly, Azzarello is taking a lot of things that I (and many other readers I’d wager too) always found illogical, hypocritical, 2-dimensional, and honestly limiting about Wonder Woman as a character, and her world, and turning it on it’s head. Thus, if this were an entirely new character, it would not be as interesting as taking this already well- established character and, (finally!) showing some level of realism and logic to an over idealized stick figure. That’s why it’s still Wonder Woman, because we are reading about the same character, but learning entirely new things about what was shown before and honestly, gritty answers to questions never answered.

Wonder Woman herself was created as not a character, but an ideology. And there is very little one can do with a “character” like that, which is why she’s always been respectable, but fairly uninteresting, and her sales have frequently shown it. She as an ideology, and by extension, her sisters, have pretty much been seen as noble, perfect, mostly unflawed paragons of goodness, down to the perfect all-female society she comes from. This long ago was a DC thing with all of its characters, and really why MARVEL has always killed them in sales…because Marvel understood that even in creating super-heroes and fantasy, some realism and logic needed to be applied to the stories to make them more relatable.

DC got this eventually too, but WW, with her perfect moral character, and her perfect society, come to teach the world of “man” how to be perfect too, rarely benefited from this. And not only was she pretty uninteresting because of this, but too much about her was esoteric, made no sense other than some belief in the “divine” explaining it away. Right down to her coming from clay. Sorry, I actually like the tension and new drama and realism of her being born from Zeus and Hippolyta better than the divine “clay” origin. Never has it really been explained why the gods would grant Hippolyta some “wish” for a child, other than, again, some esoteric need for a “champion.”

The same “divine”, non-realistic reasoning for the Amazons goes as well. Outside of the superiority and non-inclusionary doctrine that a perfect all-female society would imply in this day and age (how many white people on here would be totally into a perfect, all black society? Yeah, I know, that’s why Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER is such a hit) there is no realistic reasons or views on how this society functions/maintains itself outside of, again, “divine” circumstances. And this is used, once again, to explain away the realistic, and maybe uncomfortable, ways that this society would be. How do they procreate? Do any want for men or are all gay? I know, let’s mostly ignore some questions while explaining away others by making them “immortal” or applying “divine” circumstances. Never dealing with any visceral realism. Unrelatable. Boring. And actually pretentious.

So yeah, i find it a compelling and interesting story factor that it’s revealed that the Amazons kept their society going by boarding ships, having willing orgies, and then killing the men while later on keeping the female babies while trading off the males. Is it monstrous or unforgivable? Sure, but prices come with creating the society you want, especially one that totally seperates itself from a race or gender. And explaining the price away by using fairytale notions, which is what WW has been mostly up to this point, is not only unrealistic, but cowardly, because it avoids the tough answers on how a society like this could keep itself going for centuries. That’s why Marston’s original view and onwards is so flawed and outdated, despite whatever intentions he had for inspiring girls.

And I find the notion that this affects feminism and the view of Amazons as irredeemable a bit silly. First, feminism is about equality, not based on all women being about love and caring and peace. If that was the case, women like Margaret Thatcher, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and others wouldn’t exist. It’s the notion that women, like men, are capable of anything, including, war-mongering, killing and being evil. To think otherwise is actually anti-feminist, and is really just a view of extreme, liberal-defined feminism.

Also, whose to say that this practice still goes on? Whose to say that Hippolyta herself didn’t eventually stop this practice? Are we really to believe that a centuries old society doesn’t have some darkness in their past, and thus are entirely ireedemable or unforgivable? Should germany then never be allowed to redeem itself for the holocaust? Should America always be seen as a blot on the world due to all of the things in it’s past? Should I, as a black man, be hateful towards every white person I encounter due to slavery, jim Crow, and the still apparent priviliges whites have over me in this country? We don’t know yet what eventually happened to the practice the Amazons did, and while it’s ugly, it makes perfect sense. And finally makes flawed and interesting a society I always thought of as being way too much of a fairytale. Now, if it STILL goes on? And we will only know after the amazons come back and Diana confronts them on it, THAT may be too much.

In the words of Susan Sontag, “REAL art makes us nervous.” I would add that it also makes us uncomfortable. Azzarello is providing visceral answers to things that were answered with comfortable notions before that made no compelling or realistic sense. Which is why WW rarely resonated with many readers. And the best thing is, its making for some uncomfortable revelations for the protagonist, which I’m certain she’ll deal with like the hero she’s always been, and come out stronger, and more multi-dimensional because of it. This isn’t an attack on feminism, or women, or an ideological symbol to women. It’s a re-defining of a character whose background made little to no sense before. And while it’s turning off some long-time fans due to tradition and devotion to the vision of a long-dead, outdated psychologist, it’s turning on many others who’ve never seen anything grounding in a character whom has always been more of an ideal than, a character.

Joanna Sandsmark

April 8, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Cedric Jefferson wrote: “And yeah, it’s the first time I’ve actually bought a WW comic.”

And then went on to write a very long post telling us all about how Wonder Woman comics used to be. He also makes the case that comics should be written for white men only (because no white person wants to read about black comic characters and comics that women like aren’t any good until they’re changed 100% to appeal only to men like him). Well, that settles it, then. Thank goodness you came here or we would never have known what the past 70 years of comics (which I foolishly read issue by issue, including Sensation Comics and as many crossovers as I could locate) contained. I will obviously defer to your superior knowledge and expertise about the character.

Look, I get that you like this new character. That’s great for you. But your post includes as many put-downs as you could possibly cram in about a character you have admittedly never read. I don’t know why you felt it was necessary to insult every single fan of the actual character on this board, but it’s a rude thing to do.

cedric jefferson

April 8, 2012 at 5:43 pm

@Joanna Sandsmark

One: save the race banter. I’m black, so how you read that comics are only for white men out of my post is incredible, since I said nothing like that.

Two: yes it was long, cause there was a lot to say. If you have no intelligent remark to it, you don’t ha ve to read it. I never said I ha vent read through a WW comic before, just that I never bought one. But of course, you’re remark, filled with overly emotional reactions, wouldn’t have allowed you to think things through.

Any insults to anyone are only in your mind. Nowhere else. How else can you explain that WW has not resonated, or sold, frequently with readers for so long?

cedric, i completely agree with you. even if i didnt, i think it still stands as the most eloquent and well-argued post in support of Azzarello’s take on Wonder Woman,

joanna, i see no put-downs of women in anything that cedric said. the only thing i saw that was slightly slanderous was branding certain types of feminism as “liberal.” i agree with him and i am a liberal, so i find that a bit unfortunate. but that was one word in a tremendously long, well thought-out post.

i dont know if anyone is reading this thread anymore (i kept the subscription on by accident) but kelly thompson should really read cedric’s post. i think she would find it well worth the time.

rob

Joanna Sandsmark

April 8, 2012 at 9:01 pm

You brought up race when you said, “how many white people on here would be totally into a perfect, all black society? Yeah, I know, that’s why Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER is such a hit” I don’t read Marvel, so don’t know the character but it appeared you were talking about race in that statement and making it seem like no white person would read a comic about a black character. My apologies if that wasn’t what you were saying. I guess I don’t understand your point there due to my not knowing the character.

The insults were about the character, not women. Here are some pulled from your text: illogical, hypocritical, 2-dimensional, limiting, uninteresting, esoteric,, unrelatable, boring, pretentious, unrealistic, cowardly, outdated, silly — to name a few. You start by saying you never bought her book. Now you say you “read though a WW comic before”. Well, that changes everything, doesn’t it?

Look, as I said before, you like the new book, well that’s wonderful. Enjoy it. You think you’re an expert on the character’s 70 years of history because you “read though a WW comic before,” and then you write about it with zero understanding of what that character and that history is, then expect to be called on it. That’s all. It gets old having non-fans a) tell us how awful she was, b) imply how tasteless we must be to have been fans, c) how hackneyed and unpopular and all those other adjectives the character used to be and d) how amazing this version (which isn’t Wonder Woman in any way except name) is.

How about this. If DC changes Batman’s origin to his having a great childhood where nothing bad happened, other than they were relatively poor, and he grew up and became a mailman who once took Tae Kwon Do and therefore fancies himself a superhero riding around in a mail truck, and he dresses up a wiener dog and calls him Robin, and he has such a sunny disposition that everyone just loves to see him smile, then we’ll talk. Don’t worry — they can still call him Batman, so it’ll be the same character.

That’s how this feels.

cedric jefferson

April 8, 2012 at 9:28 pm

@Joanna, seriously, do you hav e anything other than ov er the top emotional re-actions to offer?
You don’t know Black Panther, fine. Don’t react then on something you know 0 about, since from what you said, you never read Marv el comics. Two, I gave my own critique about the flaws I see In Wonder Woman, if you take that as insults about a fictional character, you might need to seek help. Soon.

Plus, you’re not even being intellectually honest. Half the words you posted were not at the character, but how her mythos has been portrayed, and how it’s avoided convieniently the tough questions on how Diana was created and how an all female society could exist for centuries. Read before you run on emotional rants.

Wonder woman’s history isn’t hard to get, or understand. One doesn’t have to read every book she’s ever been in to know the character. She’s an ideological paragon for you? Fine. Others can have a critique or opinion on her that’s opposed to yours.

As for the constant Batman comparison. Like I said, Batman doesn’t need the same type of revisit to his mythos because there is enough logical, and realistic, answers to who he is and how he came to be. WW does not, and never has had, the same thing. She has had esoteric, magical answers to not only her creation, but how the Amazons have continued to exist for so long, and I contend that there is no visceral grounding for the character to stand on. Nothing realistic or logical for the character, and her mythos, to entirely make any sense.

Can you explain, in any real sense, how they procreated in their society, outside of “divine” intervention?

I’m sorry you FEEL a certain way, but my post actually calls for intellectual and logical thinking to honest critique and queries posed. If it makes you uncomfortable, or is “emotionally” off-putting, than ignore it. It’s not for you.

And rob t, thank you for the compliments. Duly appreciated, and glad somone can approach the posting with
A thoughtful, intellectual retort.

Excellent points, Cedric.

Joanna Sandsmark

April 9, 2012 at 12:07 am

“Don’t react then on something you know 0 about”

Take your own advice. You appeared to know very little of the real history of the book. You have little to no understanding of the true depth of her mythos. It appears that your knowledge is filtered through fanboy lassitude. There is, as with any title, no way to appeal to everyone. So for those who didn’t find her books to their liking, they often invent quickie dismissals like, “Oh, the Amazons are this ‘perfect’ society” or “WW’s origin doesn’t make any sense to me” or “it’s just feminist claptrap” and so on. These are easily digestible statements that can justify ignoring the character. Were they to spend some time with that history, they would, if they have any reading comprehension, see how wrong they are. So, yes, I took umbrage with your pretending to be intellectual about a character for which you a) never bought comics, b) repeated only those misguided generalities, and c) for whom you have no respect, affection, or curiosity. You like the pseudo-Diana and want to prove that she’s superior by dismissing the actual character. That’s your prerogative, but it’s my prerogative to call you on your lack of knowledge.

On to your question. “Can you explain, in any real sense, how they procreated in their society, outside of “divine” intervention?”

Easily. They didn’t. In exchange for their devotion to the pantheon, they were made immortal. They were not allowed to have males on the island, for to do so would forfeit their immortality. In Perez’s version, they also guarded the entrance to many of the evils of the world (a place that contained many of the monsters of Greek myth). They had no need to increase the population, as their numbers were never depleted in enough numbers to warrant it (despite immortality, there were some deaths, but very few in number). However, Queen HIppolyte longed for a child and as a gift, to honor her devotion, the goddesses gave her her wish. The Queen formed a baby out of clay and the baby was given the breath of life. This is a nod to the myth of Pandora from Greek mythology — also a baby made of clay who was given life by the gods. You see, the Greek myths often played a role, but they were shaped to fit the character, origin, stories, etc. The new writer is going to the same well, but instead of keeping the bright ideals, he’s darkening everything, making sure there’s little to admire in the Amazons, the Queen and even, to some extent, Diana. That’s what we’ve lost. That brightness, hope, and humanity. The Amazons were far from perfect, but they aspired to be a good society. There was one storyline that showed that the Amazons who followed Hippolyte’s sister, Antiope, had no immortality. They were more like the current Amazons. When the two tribes eventually met it was a clash of societies that shook both groups quite dramatically. It was a storyline that was built carefully over quite a long time and was, I thought, an interesting take (to see how these two disparate groups, both of which were at one time a single people, had grown so far apart).

You don’t care about things like that and I get it. You don’t like emotions, well,I can’t help that. This character means something to me. Heck, I even got to write her origin in Secret Files. I care what happens to her because I can’t imagine reading comics and NOT caring about the characters. Why would I read about them if I was indifferent to everything? You say you want “intellectual and logical thinking” but you were repeating rubbish and calling it valid. Had you written your review about the new books and stuck to them, I wouldn’t have responded, because of course you’re welcome to your opinion. Have fun with the new series. Just don’t pretend you know much more than fanboy drivel when it comes to who this character really is.

cedric jefferson

April 9, 2012 at 4:23 am

@HammerHeart: Thanks! Glad my points made sense to you

@Joanna: Sigh. First, it’s obvious that your umbrage and emotional reaction has made it impossible for you to have a validly intelligent discourse on this subject. You’re reacting to a tenth of what’s in my post, and assuming I know nothing about WW when obviously I know far more about her than you do about Black Panther, or else you would have gotten what I was saying in my earlier example about the character, and not put your foot in your mouth assuming I was white.

For instance, everything that you said above about her origins, and about the amazons, I knew of, along with the offshoot of “darker” amazons. I know about the clay origin, the immortality, the stuff Perez did, and I know what her mythos and her as an ideal mean to some people. And I maintain, this is what’s limiting about her. She’s treated and seen more as an ideal than a character. And this Is why she’s rarely resonated, or sold well, with readers on a huge level.

You like the stuff in her background that you stated? Fine. But I, or anyone, can give another view of it. I can especially give a more non-biased, intelligent view of it since my discourse isn’t rooted in any deep emotional connection or ideological allegiance to the charac ter. And I maintain what I stated earlier: there is nothing in anything that you said above, about her origin, or her mythos, or that of the amazons, that has any visceral or realistic grounding. It’s all a fairytale where everything is explained away by “magic”, down to the perfect amazon society that has existed for centuries without actually procreating and/or having anything to do with men. And it’s a fairytale lacking any realism as to keep the ideology she’s stifled by aloft. And these are reasons why I’m saying she’s rarely resonated on a huge level with readers. Unless you’d like to argue the quite disappointing sales numbers Diana has had for DC over the years?

I said earlier that Marvel understood long ago that to make “super-heroes” more relatable, they had to put something visceral and realistically grounding into their fantastical world. Which is why they have had an edge over DC for years, and it shows in sales. WW has had very little to no visceral grounding in her origin and mythos up until now. And she has been seen by many to be too much of an ideal than an actual character. Hell, the fact that this whole thread is arguing over her as an ideology and not as a character underscores that.

Now, you’d like to dismiss my view as fanboy drivel? Fine. I can easily dismiss yours as reactive, emotionally-driven fangirl drivel. And just because you’ve read WW all your life doesn’t make it less so. Just because you’re a woman doesn’t make it less so. You hav en’ told me a single thing I didn’t know already, or haven’t heard before. And you really haven’t given any real answers valid argument to anything said. What you have done is reacted to a post while side-stepping more than half the points the post makes Some would actually call that trolling.

Like I said, “real art makes us nervous”. So does real life, and many look for some of that in their stories and entertainment. IF an all female society had existed for centuries, the things shown in issue 7 would be far more likely than them existing because “goddesses” willed it so. Its an uncomfortable truth, but its the truth.

And you say there’s now nothing to admire about the amazons. I do admire them, have for this whole run so far. They’ve been shown to be flawed, but also honorable in ways and courageous. And I’m not going to judge them entirely based on an ugly practice they did to maintain their society that in all likelihood is not done anymore, just like I’m not going to judge all white people for slavery and the jim crow era today, or all present day south africans for apartheid. And I look forward to how WW is going to deal with these new revelations, as well as how her sisters and Queen will answer to them.

And in the end, I have as much right to critique the ideological, traditional WW that you love as you do what Azzarello is doing now. And you have done so, for many posts. Only difference is I’m offering a point of view, based in some real facts (her resonance with readers, her sales) while you’re just reacting emotionally over things you don’t like. Thankfully though, there are obviously a few people who get what’s being said…

The amount of straw-men ms. Sandsmark is using to build her argument here is staggering. “You don’t like emotions”, seriously? Where did that come from? We get that you’re raw with fangirl entitlement about this issue, but you could at least try to argue the actual points that were made.

I mean, as part of ms. Sandsmark’s answer she wrote a long paragraph answering a question that she apparently didn’t read in its entirety: Cedric asked “Can you explain, in any real sense, how they procreated in their society, outside of “divine” intervention?” and her response skipped over the “in a real sense” entirely, focusing instead on describing exactly the problematic magical handwaving that Cedric was talking about. The answer to everything? Magic! They didn’t procreate because magic, and the deaths among that ancient warrior society were very few in number because magic. They had superior technology and healing purple-rays because magic, they all look like models forever because magic, and if any of these answers isn’t good enough for you then “you don’t like emotions”. Hooray for magic!

It’s interesting that she also brought up Antiope’s followers, the Amazons who “had no immortality” – how did THEY continue to exist, then? If magic wasn’t involved, then they probably DID need male contributions to stave off extinction along the centuries. If in the process of continuing to exist those Antiopian Amazons used their reproductive organs, that leaves us with the question of what they did to all the male babies that they gave birth to along the centuries (unless they magically only gave birth to girls, which would bring us right back to the magical-handwaving problem – in this case, magical eugenics!). Trying to answer those questions isn’t disrespectful to anyone, it’s a legitimate literary exploration of how such a society might function.

Ms. Sandsmark goes on to say that “The Amazons were far from perfect, but they aspired to be a good society” – and frankly, nothing in the new series contradicts that. The Amazons did what they had to in order to survive, but they weren’t perfect. If we agree that they weren’t perfect, what’s wrong with actually showing them doing something reprehensible? The Amazons weren’t goddesses after all, they were just long-lived humans, and as such it stands to reason that they’d be as fallible as any other human society. I understand Kelly’s concerns as expressed in this article, but that doesn’t mean that showing any imperfections in the Amazon society is a hate-crime.

One last point: some comparisons have been drawn between WW’s Amazons and Superman’s/Batman’s parents, and how showing the Amazons as occasionally reprehensible is the same as saying that the Kents/Waynes were criminals. I’ve got a newsflash for you, that actually happened! In Morrison’s Batman books, a villain told Batman that he was Batman’s dad all along. Which should carry just as much weight as an antagonist telling Wonder Woman that the Amazons were stone-cold killers who sold male babies into slavery, right? There’s no reason to imagine that Batman’s villain was being more sincere than Hephaestus, they both had ulterior motives after all. And did you see the BURNING OUTRAGE of Batman fans who hated seeing Thomas Wayne’s reputation tarnished? Oh wait, there was no such outrage? Batman’s fans just ignored it as villainous lies, and understood that even if Thomas Wayne weren’t a model citizen that really changes nothing for their hero’s essential motivation? Imagine that.

Couldn’t we just go back to the traditional epic mythopoetic Wonder Woman who had to decide who to marry between Amoeba Man, Mer-Man and Steve Trevor?

(crickets…)

Wonder Woman always lives on to sing “I Will Survive” at Superhero Karaoke Night.

Joanna Sandsmark

April 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I get what’s being said, Cedric. But again, you’re quite disingenuous about things. Why ask your question about procreation if you knew every single detail about her background? It was either to learn every single detail and then dismiss it, or because you wanted to make some point about “realism” at its expense. Wonder Woman was not created to be a “realistic” character. She was never supposed to be rooted in dark, gritty Batman-like reality. Superman is sci-fi (different planet, etc.). Batman is realism (no powers). Wonder Woman is fantasy (mythical beginnings). This is one reason they’re the big three. This is why, when she was introduced, she out-polled every male character introduced at the same time, including Green Lantern and Flash. She sold millions of books every month. Her stories were usually pure fantasy, too. So her sales were not always in the toilet, as you infer. If you’ve ever read a Marston WW story you’d understand why they were so popular and why Khaniger’s stories just couldn’t hold up to them.

That said, the sales have been a bit of a roller coaster over the decades, often depending on creative teams, target audience, and the direction the book has taken. There was a time in the 60s when they decided to take the fantasy elements away, so they took away her powers, dressed her in a white pantsuit and made her into an Emma Peel-like, karate-chopping spy. This was a failure. WW is not supposed to be about “reality” because it takes away all that makes her special and unique. Her sales have had major spikes without making her not-WW and keeping the fantasy firmly in place. I have no idea what the current numbers are to compare to. If they’re under 80,000 there are several runs that outstripped that. And yes, others that had her only selling 20,000.
As I said, ups and downs. The current run is up, but it’ll go down. I think the real problem is that she’s female. In the end, a lot of fanboys don’t have a much interest on reading about a chick.

Now please, be sure you dismiss my note as “emotional” and unintelligent, again. You are truly a joy to talk to, Cedric. May we never meet.

@Joanna – I have loved reading your comments throughout this thread. Thank you very much.

cedric jefferson

April 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I really don’t think you get what’s being said Joanna, mainly cause you don’t want to. It was obvious my questions were hypothetical, and posed to frame my argument about WW’s background not having any level of realism or visceral grounding, and why, by extension, she rarely highly resonates with many readers. So no, no one is being disingenuous. I say exactly what I mean.

And you going over the genre roles of the “big 3″, and saying this is one of the reasons they are such (which is highly arguable) and then stating how WW was never created to be a “realistic” character (and I never said she was) doesn’t matter and has nothing to do with the point.

One: my main point was that “super-heroes” need some level of visceral grounding or realism in their backgrounds to resonate more with readers. I’ve said that Marvel understood this long ago, which is why they mostly have beaten DC in sales for a long time. But, even Superman has that somewhat, because the destruction of a planet, a civilization, is possible and empathetic. And a couple raising a son with certain values is commonplace and highly relatable. Two: It doesn’t matter what the character was created to be or not be to an extent. It matters how to make the character resonate more with more fans, and how she stands up to scrutiny in this modern age. And a character whose background is entirely dependent on “divine” concepts, down to the society she comes from, (which could not exist the way it’s been portrayed in any real sense) doesn’t hold up well cause its way too questionable and unrelatable. Even Eros had to laugh at Diana believing her sisters only had “sisters” because it was “the will of the gods”

Oh, and I’ve read some of Marston’s WW. Not sure what your point was for bringing that up, but yeah, he was ok many decades ago. We’re talking about now.

Azzarello still has her steeped in greek mythology, as she always was, he’s just inserted more of the visceral narratives that Marston, and others, wiped away to make it “cleaner” and “safer”. And honestly, those narratives make a bit more sense in a modern way, ugly as some of it is. Personally, I respect the amazons more for being dependent on themselves, and not “the gods” to keep their ways and society intact.

As for your knowledgeable run of WW’s twisty publication history, (which I also knew of already) well, it kinda proves my point. DC has seemed to be struggling with how to define her for a very long time, and they’ve tried many ways obviously to keep her relevant. And I do remember even writers like Rucka and Strazcynski having a hard time getting a grasp on her by their own accounts.

Anyway, I’m truly sorry that, as an old fan, this doesn’t work for you. But that doesn’t mean as a new fan of the book and direction, I can’t express a view and opinion. I’m also REALLY sorry that you, and some others, find a society that has had some ugly and dark doings in its past so irredeemable. I hope you feel the same way about. America, Germany, Britain, South Africa, and possibly nearly every society or nation that existed, since most hav e done some very bad things.

As for us never meeting, too bad. I think I’d find it amusing.

cedric jefferson

April 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm

@HammerHeart: thanks again for the acknowledgement. You summed up what I’ve been saying perfectly. However, to be fair, Joanna’s “you don’t like emotions” remark came more off of me pointing out that her reactionary posts was more emotional outbursts than actually intelligently responding to my points. But as you have seen yourself, this must be the case to an extent since she obviously, as you noted, totally did not pay attention to what was written since she went on to explain how the amazons existed even though I already said THIS was the problem. But again, thanks for “getting” what I was saying…

Joanna Sandsmark

April 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Thank you, Johan.

Although I really enjoyed this issue and am really enjoying the deconstruction of the Greek myth as part of Diana’s character progression – the first I’ve ever really seen in a WW comic – I appreciate what this article says. I hadnt’ really thought of it that way before, the whole ‘feminazi’ angle.

Diana learning that effectively the greek gods are far from benovelent and divinity basically obscures unpleasant realities – e.g. being born rather than made from clay – seems to be the theme. Not in a ‘grim and gritty’ way but in American Gods style exploration of where myth meets folklore and our own modern fiction. It seems very fitting to me that the amazons do this horrific ritual or propagation and sacrfice yet still believe in the superiority of their own (largely agreeable) moral code. Arbitrary rules, rituals and inconsistencies seem part and parcel of a proud warrior race based on ancient codes.

Yet you are right, it is v.problematic in terms of the inane and persistent mysogyny out there. Comics aren’t really (and the new DCU particularly) at the state where such an adult dissociation of contemporary morality can take place, not when the childish backlash towards feminism is still so promiment.

Hopefully in a few decades we’ll be comfortable enough with our female myths to be able to tear them down, subvert them and retell them in the same way we’ve been doing to patriarchal ones for the past 30 years, and we can finally have a wonder woman comic that will please everyone.

Oh and Cedric did make some good points and he is that they weren’t responded to, shame he framed them in such a patronising way.

Actually reading all the comments reassures me that gender roles are coming along fine in the world of comic books, at least when it comes to the fanboys and fangirls. Great points being thrown out in passionate debate, tinged with overly dismissive comments, pigheaded stubborness (right down to “you know nothing of which you speak”) and ad hominem attacks.

Progress.

[...] What an amazingly thoughtful and insightful rebuttal to the shallowness of reactions like this: She Has No Head! – Is the Destruction of The Amazons The Destruction of Feminism in DC Comics?… and this: Too Busy Thinking About My Comics: On Wonder Woman #7 (Unless of course you're [...]

[...] to make waves. In the instance of Wonder Woman #7 … he made tidal waves. I am definitely on Team Kelly when it comes to the horrific tradition the Amazons have apparently practiced for centuries, but [...]

A well written analysis of an ongoing [in comics] problem – the depiction of women. Kudos. I would point one small, but not insignificant error… MEN can’t be raped by WOMEN – period. Your link actually demonstrates this by exploring all the myths about male rape [focusing almost entirely on men raping men etc]. When it came to discussing adult men being raped by women – it quickly glosses over to ‘emotional blackmail’ – good grief. Adult men cannot be raped by women because we cannot have sex unless we are aroused. It’s just one of the many differences between men and women.

J.G. te Molder

May 5, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Tell that to the men who get drugged, wake up, and unlucky for him didn’t get an erection while unconscious woke up tied to a bed with a que-tip forced into his penis until, so the woman could ride his penis until she came. I believe he described the pain as “excruciating”.

Oh, wait, right, that’s not counting all the male rape victims that got erections purely from the physical stimulus, but I’m sure you call it not rape because he obviously got aroused, right? Just like you are saying that all the women who got wet involuntarily during the forced sex purely from the physical stimulus weren’t raped either because they obviously got aroused, right?

@r.j. pare: Arousal does not equal consent. Period.

Counselors, doctors, victims, etc. spend lifetimes trying to dispel this myth.

Counselors, doctors, etc. spend lifetimes trying to promote this myth. It increases funding if the victim pool becomes larger, so ‘rape’ must be watered down to include far more situations than the actual definition (before it was changed) would accomodate. As a victim who still has physical injuries that will never heal properly, I find the dilution of the term abhorrent, though I sympathize with the agenda behind it. The genders are not the same, no matter how many laws are passed to circumvent biology.

cedric jefferson

May 5, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Men can and have been raped by women, period. Doesn’t mean that women aren’t more victim to it, but its a fact, not a myth. To think or say otherwise is simplu selfish and unempathetic to the plights of others outside of oneself.

However, I disagree with some whom say the amazons “raped” sailors as shown in the controversial WW#7 issue, as the men were totally willing to sleep with them (and honestly, most would) they just didn’t know that they were going to be killed afterwards.

J.G. te Molder

May 6, 2012 at 2:18 am

Actually, if you count rape in prison, men are raped a lot more than women are. That’s not counting other types of violence up to and including murder for which men are also the majority victims. Women are special and shouldn’t be touched, even criminals keep to that rule most of the time. Men you can beat up and nobody cares, even killing a man doesn’t net you as high a prison sentence than killing a woman.

The subject isn’t about men raping men – it’s about this false assertion that women can forcibly rape adult men. We aren’t wired [psychologically] that way. @ J.G. te Molder – I am in NO WAY suggesting women who get wet are NOT being raped. Men and women are completely different in how they feel about sex, the physical sensation of arousal would not erase a woman’s sense of violation. If a man gets aroused [the only way a woman get be penetrated by him] he doesn’t care if the situation started out with his consent. We are far more focused on the physical gratification of sex , as a gender, than women. A woman, most often needs to be in the “mood” for sex – as guys we could have a fever of 102 degrees, a belly ache, and cold sweats – but would not turn down an offer of sex [personal experience] – we’re just wired different @Kelly Thompson – no disrespect to you… for women you are correct – but for guys, sorry – arousal by a woman absolutely equal consent.

True story – way back in high school I was on a date and lost my virginity. Now, I was nervous, we were in the back seat of my buddy’s car – there were other nearby and I didn’t think it was a good idea. My girlfriend had other thoughts on the matter, kept ignoring my objections, reaching in my pants… well you get the gist. No need to get into too many specifics.

Months later we were having a conversation about our respective previous partners etc etc – and when I said I had none… she looked dumbfounded. She said “you mean that time in the car… but I thought you… I mean I practically raped you” — to which I replied “um… no – I might not have chosen that as the best place and time – but I would up having a blast – thank you very much” LOL

Our genders differences in biology and psychology – vis-a-vis sex – are far too different to try and use the same definitions of rape for both. Which is why, IMO, so many tragic misunderstandings occur with teenagers. I can’t tell you how many conversations I can remember having with young couples I knew back in the day – who had completely different recollections of their sexual encounters… where the girl felt “too nervous to say no” and the guy “thought they had an awesome time” — I’ve no idea how that communication gap should be bridged [thankfully I am way past such worries and happily married].

cedric jefferson

May 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm

@rj pare: sorry, your assertions are entirely bases on opinionated bias and no facts, which just make them ignorant. “We’re just wired that way ?”. Are you serious? Next I imagine you’d say people are “wired” differently based on racial differences.

Not to mention that you just totally bypassed the examples JG te Molder stated, plus your ignorance of arousal. Arousal DOES NOT equal consent for either gender…do you know how many times men have woken up to a hard on due to anything from dreaming or biological reasons that have nothing to do with consent, and that some women have taken advantage of it while the man is not yet fully awake?

Are you also aware that in schools right now, some women whom are lesbians rape other girls in bathrooms by coercion or force? Or is that unheard of where you live? If women aren’t “wired” that way, how has this been occuring??

It is absolute arrogance and ignorance to think or believe that ayone is wired a certain way based on gender or race. I can show you plenty of women who don’t think about sex the way you say they all do, and can show you plenty of men that do. I will agree that outright rape is a male occurence usually because men have the advantage of strength over a woman, and that women most times don’t have to rape a man because men are mostly always willing, but to say that women aren’t capable of raping men when instances have been shown, and because they aren’t “wired” that way, is beyond ignorant. I have a friend whom was basically raped by his ex, whom he let spend the night on his couch after a night of talking, and he woke up to her riding him as he had a hard on in his sleep. True story. Just not like your obvious self-serving one.

Look, if you want to impress your wife or other women by showing how much of a feminist you are, that’s fine. But be a bit more responsible and factual in the information you spout. Realizing that men can and have been raped by women before doesn’t take away from the fact that women are raped and how horrific it is, even by the fact that it is on a greater scale.

I’m a feminist??? LOL – quick someone forward this to my wife, it will mitigate the dirty look she shoots me when I smack her butt.

Seriously, why do people wish to view “equal” which men and women are… with “the same” which very clearly are not?

Even in your example of morning wood and a woman climbing on top and waking up to it happening: 99% of hetero men would have NO COMPLAINT about this, LOL. We do view as any sex with a woman as being better than none.

As for women who rape other women, I’ve no idea nor opinion as it isn’t something I’ve read about nor studied. But as for the subject of women forcibly raping adult men… nope – I just don’t buy it – but you are correct that it could just be my own bias – because I’m wired that way…:)

cedric jefferson

May 6, 2012 at 5:26 pm

At least you can admit to your opinion being biased with no basis in fact, which again makes it ignorant, especially with all of the factual evidence that goes against it. And dude, seriously, keep whatever foreplay you and your wife engage in to yourself. TMI.

And two things: you have no opinion on women raping other women cause honestly you don’t care to know about it, though I can’t see how some guy who acts like he’s informed on matters couldn’t know about it.

And two, put yourself in your generalizations. You can’t speak for all men. If a girl I knew to be physically or mentally repulsive took advantage and was riding my morning wood while I was waking up, I’d definitely mind.
And if a strange woman that wasn’t your wife was doing it to you, hopefully, you’d mind too. Or are you just “wired” to not mind that?

Other than in cheaply made porn films – do strange women just grab guys? Man – the experiences I’ve missed out on…. I honestly don’t think I have to worry about it ever happening.

As for the women raping women – not about caring, I don’t like to comment on something I haven’t had the chance to think about and from an opinion on. Period. I don’t buy women raping men – so I commented.

And seriously – a married man joking about smacking his wife’s derriere is TMI foreplay to you? Please. if that were the case I’d be getting some every single day… that’s just part of our banter. [we crack jokes, swat each other LOL - hardly "foreplay"]

Does anyone in the world actually believe we have a social problem, of women overpowering men and forcibly raping them? I doubt it. But hey, maybe 1 in 100 million – sure why not, I suppose… anything is possible.

cedric jefferson

May 6, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Dude, I’ll give you this: you’re a master at side stepping questions. Let’s make it simple:
if a woman you knew but was not attracted to and not your wife was riding your morning wood without your consent, would you mind? Perfect example: a friends girlfriend had her friend spend the weekend in their house. She slept in the upstairs room. Dude’s girlfriend had to run out for a family emergency while he was still asleep in bed. Her friend came down into their bedroom while she was gone and started to try and ride him while he was half sleep. When he woke up and realized what was happening he got her off of him and told his wife when she came back.

First, so much for women not being “wired” that way. And the women raping women example is something you should read up on, since according to YOU, women aren’t “wired” that way. If they aren’t, it shouldn’t be happening period, with women or men.

Second, if you were in my friend’s situation, what would you have done? And please, don’t avoid the question by saying “that would never happen to me” or whatever. Just answer the question.
Cause according to you, you and my friend would have let the girl continue without your consent, since you’re both men.

Also, what idiot today thinks the only way for someone to be raped is by force?? drugs, alcohol, and other coercive methods have been used before by both genders.

Or are you uninformed on that as well?

I seriously doubt your friend told you the truth. I seriously doubt this happens, ever. And really, now you think there are women, drugging, kidnapping and raping men?? Where? When? I just don’t buy this happens but maybe… MAYBE 1 in 100 million… but I doubt it.

Hypothetically if some woman were riding my morning wood, other than my wife… I probably feel guilt.. but still probably enjoy myself as sex is a physical act for guys and in your highly hypothetical scenario I am aroused but semi-conscious. Hopefully my wife wouldn’t hold it against me… but seeing as this is NEVER gonna happen, LOL – not worried about how to explain it to her.

J.G. te Molder

May 7, 2012 at 1:51 am

>The subject isn’t about men raping men – it’s about this false assertion that women can forcibly rape adult
>men. We aren’t wired [psychologically] that way.

Misandry and misogyny in one neat vile package. Men as disgusting, base and evil, and women as perfect saints, and always, weak ineffectual victims.

> Men and women are completely different in how they feel about sex, the physical sensation of arousal
> would not erase a woman’s sense of violation. If a man gets aroused [the only way a woman get be
> penetrated by [him] he doesn’t care if the situation started out with his consent.

Yes, of course. It isn’t like men who were raped get life long anxiety attacks, hell, it isn’t like men and boys who were sexually abused, statutory raped by men and women suffer life long psychological consequences from their violation and their sense of it. Nah, men are awesome, super strong, while totally disgusting and base. Give him a pussy, even the gays, and they’re totally content, even when it’s against their will.

Welcome to complete misandry, the man-hating view of men by society, fueled to ever greater heights by feminism.

Oh, in case you’re too dumb to realize it, all who read this; yes, men DO get anxiety attacks, men DO get traumatized by these events. Less than women? Yeah, but not because they’re wired differently and are more awesome than women, no, read onto the next section.

>A woman, most often needs to be in the “mood” for sex – as guys we could have a fever of 102 degrees, a
>belly ache, and cold sweats – but would not turn down an offer of sex [personal experience] – we’re just
>wired different @Kelly Thompson – no disrespect to you… for women you are correct – but for guys, sorry –
>arousal by a woman absolutely equal consent.
>
>True story – way back in high school I was on a date and lost my virginity. Now, I was nervous, we were in
>the back seat of my buddy’s car – there were other nearby and I didn’t think it was a good idea. My girlfriend
>had other thoughts on the matter, kept ignoring my objections, reaching in my pants… well you get the gist.
>No need to get into too many specifics.
>
>Months later we were having a conversation about our respective previous partners etc etc – and when I
>said I had none… she looked dumbfounded. She said “you mean that time in the car… but I thought you… I
>mean I practically raped you” — to which I replied “um… no – I might not have chosen that as the best
>place and time – but I would up having a blast – thank you very much” LOL
>
>Our genders differences in biology and psychology – vis-a-vis sex – are far too different to try and use the
>same definitions of rape for both. Which is why, IMO, so many tragic misunderstandings occur with
>teenagers. I can’t tell you how many conversations I can remember having with young couples I knew back
>in the day – who had completely different recollections of their sexual encounters… where the girl felt “too
>nervous to say no” and the guy “thought they had an awesome time” — I’ve no idea how that
>communication gap should be bridged [thankfully I am way past such worries and happily married].

>Even in your example of morning wood and a woman climbing on top and waking up to it happening: 99%
>of hetero men would have NO COMPLAINT about this, LOL. We do view as any sex with a woman as being
>better than none.

You’re completely wrong; you’re kind of right about the 99% who would get no complaint, and your story about being raped in high school, kind of shows why you are so dead set against the idea of women raping men. You’re in denial, you have a view of men as strong and invincible for women to depend upon, you’ve measured that identity to yourself, and the idea that you weren’t, that a woman overpowered you, and that your wife might have to help you through a trauma is unacceptable to you.

It’s not wiring that makes 99% of the men declassify rape as rape and merely as sex, just like you, men are SOCIALIZED to be that way:

1. From the first time that a parent tells a boy toddler that boys don’t cry and tell him to dry his tears get back up and go back to doing what got him hurt; he is taught that his pain doesn’t matter, that he should ignore his suffering, and go right back to doing what caused the suffering. Socialized to ignore his pain, and suffer and die for women. Violence against men is treated as a joke everywhere.

2. Men are taught by society, by the posters of they are rapists in boys bathrooms in grade school, to every single message about the baseness and vileness of their sexuality that they want sex, and nothing but sex. Sex and a pussy is the ultimate measuring stick of their manhood. Insults are hurled their way if they are virgins, they are pathetic, losers, man-boys. They are pathetic if/because “women don’t want to be with them/if they can’t get a girl”, they’re entire self-worth is not self-identified but by society and women whether or not they deign to sleep with them. When a woman rides an unconscious men it’s seen as funny and awesome that he so manly he can get women even in his sleep! Not a vile inhuman act by a woman.

The result is a virulent, vile, misandric cocktail that teaches men they are only of worth if they are utility to women, that they have no worth of their own. They are socialized to ignore their own pain and suffering, and when a woman deigns to share her pussy with him even if it’s in rape, he’ll take it, because he’s no longer a loser, a non-man, he’s now got cred as having had pussy; he’s just gained some worth as a walking sperm dispenser to women.

The result is men ignoring, and stuffing away their own violation and rape, and continuing onward. Not always of course, especially when the courts force him, even 13-year-olds, to pay child support to his rapist, turning a one-time violation into a life-long violation. More reasons why men need to be taught to value themselves and their bodily sanctity, to shut women riding them in their sleep and the least violent version of it, down, immediately.

Fun fact; women often over time classify rape and events that are clearly not rape as horrible and violating as time passes by, while men over time classified rapes, even so horrible events they had were in terror right after the events, as no big deal or even consensual. The time past clearly shows this is a social problem, not hard-wired one. Women are taught everywhere, that any sexual act, even those that she consented in, is a violation of her by the men, especially if feminists and social workers get their hands on them; while men get taught everywhere, in all ranges of society, from peers to movies to books to men further along the denial path than they are, that they should be grateful a woman even deigned to share her pussy with them.

Men go through life broken, to the point of foisting the same life-time violation on other men, instead of processing the violation and putting the violator away in prison because of it. You are one of those. If you weren’t so adamant about reducing men to base, vile pigs, I’d pity you.

>Does anyone in the world actually believe we have a social problem, of women overpowering men and
>forcibly raping them? I doubt it. But hey, maybe 1 in 100 million – sure why not, I suppose… anything is
>possible.

Another fun fact; the FBI and CDC definition of rape, excludes forced envelopment, or “forced to penetrate” as they call it. In other words, if a woman, or a man, puts a gun to a man’s head and gets him to penetrate them or they blow his brains out, by that definition he was not raped. Nope, he merely suffered “other sexual violence”. Feminists and social workers of course, love this definition, because it means they can push their society-wide, money-grubbing rhetoric of all the rapes by men and non by women, and oh think of the women, grant us more money to help the poor women, why don’t you think of the women?

Those who actually understand this, and took the most recent CDC study and put “forced to penetrate”, which also includes “forced envelopment”, see the misandry, and “sweet, innocent women” in action there, and put it back where it belongs, with “rape”, one finds that 40% of all rapes are committed by women.

Of course, the reason why nobody thinks it’s a problem, is once again the society-wide misandry and misogyny, furthered to increasing heights by feminist propaganda: Men’s pain is unimportant, women’s pain is horrible. Society ignores and ridicules and laughs at it, not considering it a problem even if it clearly is a massive problem that is well-known, and not denied and obfuscated by academics. You know, like with non-sexual violence, suicides (80% men), deaths on battlefield (97%), deaths in the workplace (93%), homelessness (97%). A man who is raped is funny, pathetic, and not a man, especially if it’s a woman who did it. The result is is self-censoring, reclassifying and ignoring pain and violating by the men who were victims of such acts; further helping along the myth and ignoratiion and uncaring of society.

It is, however sadly, not because the problem doesn’t exist.

To illustrate the point:

>Hypothetically if some woman were riding my morning wood, other than my wife… I probably feel guilt.. but
>still probably enjoy myself as sex is a physical act for guys and in your highly hypothetical scenario I am
>aroused but semi-conscious. Hopefully my wife wouldn’t hold it against me… but seeing as this is NEVER
>gonna happen, LOL – not worried about how to explain it to her.

Behold misandry and socializing of the vileness of men in action. A men once raped in high school by a girl, denying it will ever happen, and feeling guilt should a woman rape him, completely ignoring that he couldn’t possibly be at fault for what a woman does, while at the same time classifying his own sexuality as so vile that would get aroused by getting raped and instead of throwing the rapist off of him, just remain passive and let her finish; because after all, a good (but vile, base, “physical”, disgusting) man would never hurt a woman, right? Not even in self-defense, or even his wife or the marriage with her.

Anyone who doesn’t see the society-wide misandry in action, is in denial, either psychologically or philosophically.

Oh brother, you have issues…

>>>”Misandry and misogyny in one neat vile package. Men as disgusting, base and evil, and women as perfect saints, and always, weak ineffectual victims.”

No, women aren’t saints and men aren’t evil – sheesh. I never made any such assertion, nor did I infer such by suggesting that men and women view sex in very different ways. Different does NOT equal “one is better than the other”. Sex just doesn’t carry the emotional/psychological baggage, for hetero men, that it sometimes does for women.

>>>”Yes, of course. It isn’t like men who were raped get life long anxiety attacks, hell, it isn’t like men and boys who were sexually abused, statutory raped by men and women suffer life long psychological consequences from their violation and their sense of it. Nah, men are awesome, super strong, while totally disgusting and base. Give him a pussy, even the gays, and they’re totally content, even when it’s against their will.”

Please confine this discussion to the situation we were ACTUALLY discussing. ADULT hetero men being forcibly raped by women. You continually bring in examples of child molestation, men being raped by men etc etc. NONE OF WHICH applies to the conversation at hand. I suspect, because you know that it simply isn’t happening and feel the need to make the argument about a far wider range of sexual behaviour, abuse, etc.

Once more, for the cheap seats: ADULT HETERO MEN CANNOT BE FORCIBLY RAPED BY WOMEN. My definition of rape, in that aforementioned context, would include a level of violation hetero men don’t experience with women – when hetero men have sex, intending to or not, with women they experience arousal, penetration, orgasm – after which they aren’t gonna complain. They may recall it as one of the “wilder” experiences of “sowing oats” when they reach boring, middle-aged family men, stage of life – LOL But they certainly aren’t filled with anxiety, regret and trauma over it.

>>>”You’re in denial, you have a view of men as strong and invincible for women to depend upon, you’ve measured that identity to yourself, and the idea that you weren’t, that a woman overpowered you, and that your wife might have to help you through a trauma is unacceptable to you.”

It has NOTHING to do with denial. Hell I wish several dozen women had “overpowered” me, LMAO, when I was single – I’d have that many more crazy memories of my single days to smile about. There’s not one iota of trauma as I was never traumatized. Do you work in counselling or something? It sounds like you have a vested interest in applying female psychology to male sexual behaviour.

>>>”It’s not wiring that makes 99% of the men declassify rape as rape and merely as sex, just like you, men are SOCIALIZED to be that way:”

NATURE vs NURTURE — ya we all had that debate back in 1st year soc & psych in University. Neither is 100% correct IMO – we are influenced, certainly by both. When it comes to male hetero sexuality, I just don’t see it as having as much to with emotion or psychology as it generally does with women. That doesn’t make us base or vile – actually it just makes us different. I’m kinda glad, I certainly wouldn’t want to carry around all that baggage. Sex is pretty much the most fun a fella can have :) Why, at times, men have been known to stay with women they don’t even like [because the sex was awesome].

As for your numbered points:

1. Um.. yeah. Of course. What is the problem with this? Hetero men do have a predisposition to viewing pain as an obstacle to overcome [no pain no gain] – it is how we learn sports, how to fight etc etc. One of course should bear in mind not to encourage serious injury – but come on – if a young man stopped every time he felt discomfort he’d never develop any muscles at all.

2. You have serious, I do mean really big, issues… I’ve never been taught I was a rapist… posters in bathrooms? WTF? I have no idea what you are going on about. I’ve never viewed my sexuality as anything to be ashamed of. I was not ashamed of being a virgin [when I was] although I certainly was looking forward to that “coming of age” moment as most hetero boys do. I have certainly never been ashamed of any of the sexual encounters I’ve had with women over the years – though I suppose I could say it would have been nice to have more of them [wasn't much of a Don Juan, truth be told, count on my hands the number of partners I had before I was married] – but then again I dig my wife and kids, so I wouldn’t trade those..:)

>>>”Men go through life broken, to the point of foisting the same life-time violation on other men, instead of processing the violation and putting the violator away in prison because of it. You are one of those. If you weren’t so adamant about reducing men to base, vile pigs, I’d pity you.”

Dude… “pity me” really? Come on – I am totally well adjusted. I suggest you seek some sort of help as you really seem to have things going on ya haven’t dealt with. I don’t at all feel men are pigs for enjoying sex – why should I? The euphoria of orgasm is better than any drug ever devised.

>>>”Another fun fact; the FBI and CDC definition of rape, excludes forced envelopment, or “forced to penetrate” as they call it. In other words, if a woman, or a man, puts a gun to a man’s head and gets him to penetrate them or they blow his brains out, by that definition he was not raped. Nope, he merely suffered “other sexual violence”. Feminists and social workers of course, love this definition, because it means they can push their society-wide, money-grubbing rhetoric of all the rapes by men and non by women, and oh think of the women, grant us more money to help the poor women, why don’t you think of the women?”

Really? You really believe there are women holding guns to men’s heads and saying “get hard or I will shoot?” I can honestly say I have NEVER heard of such a thing. I doubt you have either. This is more like a soc/psych experiment for you, isn’t it? See how much you can twist reality, to fit your agenda? The simple fact is it is far easier for women to get sex from men than that… by and large, unless the fella is gay or married… they really only have to ask. Never knew a single guy to turn down sex. LOL That’s the real reason the stats on women raping men are so low as to be practically non-existent – they just don’t need to.

>>>”while at the same time classifying his own sexuality as so vile that would get aroused by getting raped and instead of throwing the rapist off of him, just remain passive and let her finish; because after all, a good (but vile, base, “physical”, disgusting) man would never hurt a woman, right?”

See – this is the inherent flaw in your argument – I DON’T VIEW MY SEXUALITY AS VILE. You do, apparently, view the basic sexual/gender identity roles hetero men and women have formed over millenia as bad. I don’t judge them or question them – I enjoy who I am and don’t feel the need to be angst-ridden or traumatized by sex. Hell, as to your complaints about men and violence [how it is marginalized] – we don’t really care much about that either. I’ve probably lost as man fights as I’ve won… I don’t go around moaning about it. Instead we “man up” as the saying goes and continue on with our lives.

In fact, the only shame I can remember experiencing in my adult life, was having to run from a fight. I got seriously out-matched one time, late at night down town [was driving cab to pay off tuition fees]. I’m only 5’7″ and this freakin behemoth [about 6'5"] didn’t want to pay his fare – tried to skip out… man I jumped out to confront him and quickly got the worse of it until I had to get out of there… that ate at me for awhile. “Guys don’t run” – ya know? But I eventually got over it… LOL That’s what most guys do – we deal, man. Violence is something we have to face – so we adapt for it. And we’re not broken psychologically – not most of us anyhow – as we can talk about such things without anxiety.

But sex? Come on… for hetero guys, sex is what makes it all worthwhile…:-D

J.G. te Molder

May 7, 2012 at 2:31 pm

>No, women aren’t saints and men aren’t evil – sheesh. I never made any such assertion, nor did I infer
>such by suggesting that men and women view sex in very different ways. Different does NOT equal “one is
>better than the other”. Sex just doesn’t carry the emotional/psychological baggage, for hetero men, that it
>sometimes does for women.

You are so completely indoctrinated you can’t even see the hate and the vileness. I’ve broken free of rhetoric, I see the vile bullshit, and it’s everywhere.

>Please confine this discussion to the situation we were ACTUALLY discussing. ADULT hetero men being
>forcibly raped by women.

No, we are discussing men period, getting raped by women period.

>You continually bring in examples of child molestation, men being raped by men etc etc. NONE OF WHICH
>applies to the conversation at hand. I suspect, because you know that it simply isn’t happening and feel the
>need to make the argument about a far wider range of sexual behaviour, abuse, etc.

I know it is happening, because I’m no indoctrinated in your bullshit. The example I gave with the quetip, isn’t something I pulled from my ass, it’s the personal tale of an actual rape having occurred to an actual man.

>Once more, for the cheap seats: ADULT HETERO MEN CANNOT BE FORCIBLY RAPED BY WOMEN. My
>definition of rape, in that aforementioned context, would include a level of violation hetero men don’t
>experience with women – when hetero men have sex, intending to or not, with women they experience
>arousal, penetration, orgasm – after which they aren’t gonna complain. They may recall it as one of the
>“wilder” experiences of “sowing oats” when they reach boring, middle-aged family men, stage of life – LOL
>But they certainly aren’t filled with anxiety, regret and trauma over it.

And again, every honest study shows otherwise. Men face plenty of trauma, but they force it down and away whenever they can. Not so much with the men with who societal pressure didn’t take hold, or refused to let take hold; with them, they don’t suppress it.

>It has NOTHING to do with denial. Hell I wish several dozen women had “overpowered” me, LMAO, when I
>was single – I’d have that many more crazy memories of my single days to smile about. There’s not one
>iota of trauma as I was never traumatized. Do you work in counselling or something? It sounds like you
>have a vested interest in applying female psychology to male sexual behaviour.

Your kind disgusts me. Reducing men to base morons who go “yuck, yuck” I got pussy. Men aren’t born that way, if they are ever at all. They indoctrinated to be that way.

>NATURE vs NURTURE

It isn’t about nature vs nurture, it’s about nature AND nurture. And men getting taught from the time they are little boys to ignore their own pain and suffering, getting prepared for the day they get to die for women, happens to be one of the cases where nurture is the one that is culprit.

>Why, at times, men have been known to stay with women they don’t even like [because the sex was
>awesome].

Why, at times, women have been known to stay with men they didn’t even like because the sex was awesome, and even because the man made a lot of money and she enjoyed mooching off of him.

>1. Um.. yeah. Of course. What is the problem with this? Hetero men do have a predisposition to viewing
>pain as an obstacle to overcome [no pain no gain] – it is how we learn sports, how to fight etc etc. One of
>course should bear in mind not to encourage serious injury – but come on – if a young man stopped every
>time he felt discomfort he’d never develop any muscles at all.

It’s how we are trained to die for women; it’s how we are trained to suffer for women, it’s how we are trained to be the 93% of workplace deaths, 91% of the homeless, 84% don’t get custody of our children, we don’t get coverage if we have breast cancer, how we are an equal number of prostate cancer deaths as women are breast cancer deaths yet get only half the funding to fight prostate cancer, how men are only 40% of college students and dropping, how we absorb pain, suffering, and death on behalf of women, and yet continue to swallow feminist dogma that we are evil privileged folks, and continue to heap more entitlements, privileges and money on feminists to help the already massively privileged sex, women, even more.

To anyone who’s stopped swallowing the bullshit that society and feminism heaps onto us, you see clearly men and boys continuing to suffer ever greater levels of pain, suffering, financial ruin, destruction of identity and death, and how very wrong and sexist it is.

>2. You have serious, I do mean really big, issues… I’ve never been taught I was a rapist… posters in
>bathrooms? WTF?

It’s called feminism, they like to do things like that.

>Really? You really believe there are women holding guns to men’s heads and saying “get hard or I will >shoot?” I can honestly say I have NEVER heard of such a thing.

And you apparently don’t understand hypothetical cases to illustrate things… oh, yes, you do, you’re just attempting and failing miserably to attack me.

>by and large, unless the fella is gay or married… they really only have to ask. Never knew a single guy to
>turn down sex.

I turn down sex all the time. I have no interest in becoming a woman’s money provider, so I do not give my valuable swimmers to any woman; not even in a condom where they may bet at it. Then there’s women so vile I wouldn’t be with them if they were the last woman on the planet. Given the complete lack of any kind of reproductive rights for men, and going to jail if you can’t pay the child support, it is something many more men should take up. Stay the hell away from the pussy until the woman attached to it has proven herself to be trustworthy.

>See – this is the inherent flaw in your argument – I DON’T VIEW MY SEXUALITY AS VILE. You do,
>apparently, view the basic sexual/gender identity roles hetero men and women have formed over millenia
>as bad. I don’t judge them or question them

Funny, how you spend your time claiming all the while men are merely victims of their own base sexuality, but now switch it around saying it’s something that has been developed by society.

> – I enjoy who I am and don’t feel the need to be angst-ridden
>or traumatized by sex. Hell, as to your complaints about men and violence [how it is marginalized] – we
>don’t really care much about that either. I’ve probably lost as man fights as I’ve won… I don’t go around
>moaning about it. Instead we “man up” as the saying goes and continue on with our lives.

Ah, “man up”, yes, more bullshit you’ve been indoctrinated with from the start. Go absorb violence, go suffer pain, so poor wittle women don’t have to! Oh, and spend your time working yourself into an early grave handing all your money over to the woman, but don’t forget, you’re evil and oppressing a woman when you do so! But don’t forget, you are not man enough if you don’t spend three months salary on an engagement ring! Otherwise a proper feminist woman will dump you! You shoulda put expensive enough ring on it! Oh, then go back to being a good meat shield for women.

And don’t judge and question them! Be a good little pack mule to be discarded whenever she gets bored or sees a better model pack mule.

{tired now… so very tired now…} Really —– you keep assigning thoughts, feelings and motivations to me and my POV with zero understanding of my actual words.

>>>”Your kind disgusts me. Reducing men to base morons who go “yuck, yuck” I got pussy. Men aren’t born that way, if they are ever at all. They indoctrinated to be that way.”

Who said getting laid made one a base moron? Why is sex such a “base” activity for you. It’s a wonderful physical activity that gives far more pleasure than any drug or alcohol. One does not need to lack intelligence to enjoy getting their rocks off — it’s usually a given for most healthy human beings.

>>>”It’s how we are trained to die for women; it’s how we are trained to suffer for women, [etc etc etc]”

No, when a young man learns to build his body, play sports and how to defend himself – it has nothing to do with dying for women and everything to do with taking pride in their own male nature.

>>>”I turn down sex all the time. I have no interest in becoming a woman’s money provider, [etc etc etc]”

I think I see the problem now – you really need to get laid brother. Seriously. You go too long without some it will start to mess you up. Let the endorphin rush hit ya — and then see if you feel the same way. All the bitterness will melt away.

And btw – my despite all your hue and cry over the purported oppression of men by women and how awful women are and how we are just pack mules and meat shields [great phrase, btw, I just might use that as an online handle in the future - LOL] — Despite all of that… men and women continue to get along and build lives and raise families.

Seriously, my wife and I are best friends – have been for far more years than we’ve been a couple. We’ve got a couple of amazing rug-rats and could not be happier [well I think everyone wishes they had more money... LOL but other than that...] I did not buy her a 3-months salary ring when we got engaged… YOU are confusing jewelry store advertising with feminism [this explains a lot]. The ring I got her was puny, LOL but she loved it all the same. She’s never wanted me to fight or die for her [in fact hates when I do get into the occasional scrap -- which become fewer and farther between now that I'm beyond my pi$$ and vinegar days and entering middle-age].

Your ideas about women, sex and violence seem founded on some awful bitterness or trauma. I’ve no idea where this stems from [maybe something in your childhood?] But really, you should talk to someone.. nobody should have to go thru life so angry.

J.G. te Molder

May 10, 2012 at 2:22 am

>Who said getting laid made one a base moron? Why is sex such a “base” activity for you. It’s a wonderful
>physical activity that gives far more pleasure than any drug or alcohol. One does not need to lack intelligence
>to enjoy getting their rocks off — it’s usually a given for most healthy human beings.

You are the one who described sex as a base activity, not me. You are the one who describe men as so low that it doesn’t matter how they get it, even getting raped, they’re all happy go lucky over it. You, not me. What you’re trying to do now is back peddle. Intelligent, smart, insightful do not go with “huh, huh, I’m tied to a bed, woken from a drug-induced stupor against my will, there’s a quetip in my penis and a woman is riding it to extreme pain, but PUSSY! cause I can’t get raped see, any pussy in any way, gets me hot and off, huh huh.” Someone who is intelligent is capable of grasping his own violation.

>No, when a young man learns to build his body, play sports and how to defend himself – it has nothing to
>do with dying for women and everything to do with taking pride in their own male nature.

It has everything to do with die for women, your male nature IS dying and providing for women. You learn to defend yourself so you can defend women. You learn to play sports and take bumps and bruises to show off to women you will not put your own well-being above her; you build your body strong to appeal to women and to be able to do and lift things they can’t or do not want to. You may not believe so, but hidden instinct, societal pressure and the shaming of any men by society and women if you are not sleeping with women conspire to make your active and your ignoring your pain to get approval of women. Some may escape it, I did, but anyone who thinks men are so base that pussy is more important than your own violation; you are trapped by this more than anyone else.

>I think I see the problem now – you really need to get laid brother. Seriously. You go too long without some it
>will start to mess you up. Let the endorphin rush hit ya — and then see if you feel the same way. All the
>bitterness will melt away.

I don’t need a woman for that, I’ve got hands.

>And btw – my despite all your hue and cry over the purported oppression of men by women and how awful
>women are and how we are just pack mules and meat shields [great phrase, btw, I just might use that as
>an online handle in the future - LOL] — Despite all of that… men and women continue to get along and
>build lives and raise families.

Only 50%, if it hasn’t risen to higher levels yet. Divorce rate is 50%, 70% of those filed by women. A 50% at minimum of having your children stripped from you, forced to pay (increasing amounts of) money to her for the rest of your life, and that’s if your lucky and don’t end up in prison either through being unable to pay the money or false accusations of DV and child abuse. The risk versus the consequences are far too great.

And no, it’s not jewelry store advertising, go look at the average women-loved songs out there, from say a Beyonce, a massive feminist. “Shoulda put a ring on it”, or being a loser and being dumped for not making enough money, oh, no, I mean being a loser and dumped for your car being in the shop and needing to borrow his girlfriend’, seriously, what kind of complete loser un-man doesn’t own at least two cars? How can you as your girlfriend for help, you loser! A man should always be providing for the girlfriend, the moment you are not superman, loser!

And those are merely the beginning; there even songs of murdering ex boyfriends, happily mimicking an entire female audience and female panel laughing over a man getting his penis cut off and shredded in a garbage disposal because he wanted a divorce and calling it “quite fabulous”.

An entire female audience, all several hundred of them! Not half, not a few, not even a majority; there was not a single boo, nothing but laughter. Well, one of the panel members noticed that if it had been a woman getting mutilated they wouldn’t be so laughing, promptly having Sharon Osbourne claim it was different because a penis is floppy.

If the large majority of women exemplified by that event think that little of a man and his suffering; what sane man would continue to play the odds; especially considering the power of law and the state will act on her behalf and against you?

One of the best written and drawn series of Wonder Woman and there are complaints of anti-feminism…. equality between the sexes is being equal in all of the bad qualities as well as the good. The whole journey that Wonder Woman is having has real emotional stakes now. Having Zeus as a Father. Being Hera’s biological daughter. The Pantheon now her blood kin …that is good drama and storytelling. It is the same as with Batman and Robin, with Batman having a biological son who has been trained as an assassin, raising the emotional stakes in their series. This article gives me the impression that a narrative should be sacrificed for political correctness… as if the story elements in the current series diminish the Amazons, rather than making them complex, 3-dimensional characters. Isn’t that showing more,not less respect?

[...] do not want to rehash Red Hood and the Outlaws, Wonder Woman, or Catwoman here; even though last month’s Catwoman #0 is obviously the principle motivator of [...]

[...] Amazonian men displaying the ideals of the race. For other takes on this issue, check out She Has No Head, Comics Corner, and The Mary Sue. By Mara Whiteside This article was originally posted [...]

The reaction to #7 and it’s continued hatred is one of the most ridiculous reactions in fandom history. Seriously, read the original Greek myths of the Amazons and re-evalutate what feminism means. It does not mean every female should be depicted positively. Regardless, the way Azzarello translated the myth is actually MORE forgiving that myths they are based on. People need to cool down their hot heads and bring things back into context.

I read your article and I disagree. I think that Azzarello got that right… sorry but women are not angels. For me the whole amazon thing has been a burden on Wonder Woman as a character… something that makes her unhuman and hard to relate to. I would do something similar if I get in charge of the book, I will kill the whole amazon thing, make Diana a voice of change among her people, not a femnazi (I am sorry but I had to use the word) that preaches all over the world that women are better than men. DC needs to remove the whole feminist agenda from Wonder Woman and let her be her own person. She needs friends, she needs a father, she needs a realistic romantic interest (even if it’s another woman).

I disagree with the idea of Zeus been her father, I think that Ares fills that role better and Aphrodite can be her mother (this can be like an epic soup opera done with greek gods). Steve Trevor can be her Pa Kent (she needs a fatherly figure to enter the world of men), she needs a job besides been princess and heroine, she needs friends and she needs enemies that challenge her, the amazons can be awesome villains if you ask me. Regarding a love interest… that’s a tough one, women (specially smart women) won’t pick a man they can’t look up to (that’s the truth, even rich successful women look for rich successful men) and in Diana’s case I think that for her been in love with a woman is natural (she grew up in an Island with no men), she can be bisexual if we find the right guy, but only Superman or Batman are in her league at the moment and they have their own couples.

I like the fact that she is becoming a hot head trying to show off her abilities, but I hate when she does it because she feels insecure around men… she should be one of the guys, that’s for me the key to a great feminine character… when she displays so much confidence that you forget about gender and you only think of her as a great character.

I’m disgusted with the ‘negative zone’ Wonder Woman premise of the New 52.
The whole concept created almost 75 years ago has been tossed out to appeal to the “Grand Theft Auto” fanboys, and rejecting the readers who’ve supported the book (and characters).
The radical changes at DC have me wondering if the company is on the verge of bankruptcy. Why else make this whole “New 52″ – revamping or rebooting the entire line of books with 52 first issues (the oldest ploy to sell extra copies), featuring loads of new costumes (to reproduce as toys).
It all smells of desperation. (Remember when Warner bought DC in the 70s, they nearly cancelled Superman due to the terrible sales. They also scrapped DC’s heavily promoted line of new titles, and cancelled others.)
From people I’ve spoken to, DC’s characters are now more for the licensing (movies, toys, t-shirts, etc.) than for the books. And with books, like this, it’s going to stay that way.

“she should be one of the guys, that’s for me the key to a great feminine character… when she displays so much confidence that you forget about gender and you only think of her as a great character.”

Just to get this straight, Wonder Woman needs to be a guy because that’s the key to being feminine and since only males are confident, if a woman shows confidence that makes her masculine and you can therefore forget the horribly distasteful fact that she’s female. Got it. I think you were right when you said you couldn’t help using Rush “I’m the world’s biggest misogynist” Limbaugh’s term feminazi. Thank you for going more than one sentence before it leapt out of your fingers against your control.

At least DC is showing how one-dimensionally evil women can be with those Amazons, huh? It was horrible when the book used to show a variety of women who were individuals within the Amazons — some good, some bad, some in between. What a terrible idea that was. Better to make sure they’re all uniformly evil across the board.

Is it easier to read now that she’s almost a guy and the non-guys are all evil? Excellent.

“she should be one of the guys, that’s for me the key to a great feminine character… when she displays so much confidence that you forget about gender and you only think of her as a great character.”

Just to get this straight, Wonder Woman needs to be a guy because that’s the key to being feminine and since only males are confident, if a woman shows confidence that makes her masculine and you can therefore forget the horribly distasteful fact that she’s female. Got it. I think you were right when you said you couldn’t help using Rush “I’m the world’s biggest misogynist” Limbaugh’s term feminazi. Thank you for going more than one sentence before it leapt out of your fingers against your control.

At least DC is showing how one-dimensionally evil women can be with those Amazons, huh? It was horrible when the book used to show a variety of women who were individuals within the Amazons — some good, some bad, some in between. What a terrible idea that was. Better to make sure they’re all uniformly evil across the board.

Is it easier to read now that she’s almost a guy and the non-guys are all evil? Excellent.

It’s nice to know that after all these months, people STILL haven’t read the article, recycling the “just read the myths” (like there’s a definitive text for THAT) hogwash, and pretending that Kelly complained about women being given a negative portrayal.

It’s nice to know pseudo-feminist fans still think there’s a problem.

There is no definitive text with comics. Using more of the traditional myths was clearly the intent, and the myths are what they are. It’s time to get over it.

[...] It was all so shocking. Some fans were wildly offended. [...]

This is like one blow to billions upon billions of things empowering women, I honestly feel that with so many books and talk shows telling people that woman are the superior gender, that the amazons being given a small taste of reality isn’t that tragic.

so basically wonder woman’s people are now in the new world of DC comics are a lot less magical, and a bit more realistic. Oh yes they go out and rape men then get ride of the male babies that they have. I mean seriously if the myth of the Amazon was realistic to the ancient Greece legend it would in fact include the rape of men and enslavement of men to maintain its infrastructure or at least build it well enough that it could last forever with little maintenance. In all this unlike the feminist blogger says is no blow to female empowerment. If it is against female empowerment the feminists always have their own work to empower them. Hell if wonder woman displeases they the can always go read Joanna Russ’s work “The female man” which has plenty of female empowerment methods ranging from the molestation of lobotomized teenage boys and genocide of men, or they can just go and read one of the poorly researched and written books about female superiority.

Hey “Jason/Derek” you should probably try actually reading the article before commenting. It works wonders!

Aw what’s wrong can’t tolerate it when people tell you your opinion is just that?

@ Jason/Derek: I have no problem with that whatsoever. I DO have a problem discussing things with commentors who either have no reading comprehension, or didn’t actually bother to read the material in question.

Your comments indicate that you suffer from one or both of those afflictions.

[...] She Has No Head! – Is the Destruction of The Amazons The Destruction of Feminism in DC Comics? (comicbookresources.com) [...]

[...] one last question, in light of some people ditching the book on feminist grounds: is it possible for Wonder Woman to be a feminist and a feminist icon, if she’s not written [...]

[...] own book or perhaps in Justice League Of America? A tale of youthful lady who leaves her people (who within the new 52 developed some difficulties with sex) involves an unusual country and produces rapport having a dashing military guy who’s love [...]

Kelly, I just found this commentary. You speak for me completely in your thoughts. I have to admit that, after dropping the book for a time, I have gone back to reading it. But I never miss an opportunity to complain about how Azzarello has assaulted the Amazons and how I hope/expect any future writer to undo all of the damage he has caused.

I will say this: I don’t know if Azzarello is misogynistic or not. But I do think that the fact he either completely missed or did not care about the very pertinent and, indeed, essential points that you raise about the role of DC’s Amazons in the larger culture speaks badly to his character as a writer and maybe even a person. I say that with great hesitation – I am trying not to make an ad hominem attack – but I can’t understand how someone can be so completely tone-deaf and so oblivious to the implications of what he is writing without being grossly insensitive and/or ignorant of the significance of the characters he is managing.

But I also feel the same way about DC editorial. They sat by and let Azzarello do this.

This whole development makes me deeply sad for the character and her universe. But it also makes me wonder about the state of editorial direction at DC and in the comics industry more general.

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fine detail and may foresee troubles prior to they will occur.

[...] adopts the bastard sons and has them work in his giant forge. You can see the pages in question here, courtesy of Kelly [...]

Excellent confident analytical eye meant for detail and can foresee
troubles prior to these people happen.

I have and always will be a Wonder Woman fan. She has represented everything I praise women for. I have to agree with a lot of these viewpoints about the Amazons and how they are being represented (as far as I have read) in the New 52. We all know the ancient Greeks were not … um … saints (Spartans and the 300 anyone?) but to have the DC Amazons become rapists and murderers to continue their all-female ideal was appalling to the point where I have to admit, I got queasy. The Amazons are supposed to be (and up until now have always strived to be) BETTER than men in that they don’t do the chauvinistic and destructive things men do and then we learn (by a god who is Aphrodite’s husband of all the gods) that they are secretly just as bad if not WORSE than the men they try so hard to separate themselves from! I think this along with some of the sexual themes they have had some issues with since 2011 should indicate that they need some feminine influence with their comics.

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The real original wonder woman dont grew alone in the Paradise Island.
Create girls from magic Clay and adopt orphans was a common thing in the original Wonder Woman.
Also wonder Woman was one of the first Super-heroes (if not the first) to be against killing and that really rehabilitated the villains.
The bloodthirsty Amazons and Diana being the only child in the Island is a very new thing, made after Xena.
Also the Amazons from the paradise Island arent the same Amazons from the ancient Greece, they are created by Aphrodite to be a culture about love.
Oh yes!
I also dont mention that anyone who knows a little about greek mythology knows that Hypolitha is already Zeus daughter.
That makes Diana sister of her own mother, daughter of her grandfather and her own niece.
I forgive the mistakes from George Per~es because se make a great effort to do Greek mythology right in the 80s, but today with Internet there are no excuses.
Like I said, he took his knowledge of mythology and the Amazons watching Xena.
Holy Chinatown batman.
The Amazons arent a Mith they really existed, the fact that are mythology mixed dont change the fact that the people really existed, like Troy.
Rome exist and there are mythological tales about the origin of the place.
The new American feminism also know as third wave and feminazy, really is not a good thing and is creating a lot of misogynistic felling.
Unfortunately as an Icon of the second wave feminism, people still relate the word with the character and all the anger against the “feminazis” ended in the poor Diana.

But in the end I feel that the Authors really want to destroy DC comics.

[...] Wow, how do you summarize the massive post I wrote about why I stopped reading New 52 Wonder Woman into a bite-sized answer!? Here goes nothing! While I was impressed with the creativity that Brian [...]

[...] DC’s post-Flashpoint approach to continuity. Where the results have been frustrating with Batman, damaging with Wonder Woman and just plain confusing with the Teen Titans, it has been utterly devastating for our experience of [...]

Hey there! This post could not be written any better!
Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate!
He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this article to him.
Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

[…] book critic Kelly Thompson dropped Wonder Woman after issue #7, and explained herself in her article “Is the Destruction of the Amazons The Destruction of Feminism in DC Comics?”  Basically, the writer of Wonder Woman, Brian Azzarello, has returned the titular character Wonder […]

Congrats for one of the dumbest articles i have read in a while! I mean really. Themyscira being the only peaceful utopia on Earth is somehow not sexist? The entire idea is built on sexism.The amazons were NEVER heroes. Powerful yes, but not good. They might have treated their sisters well, but they sooner let a man drown than allow him on their precious island. Wonder Woman was the hero, not the amazons.She recognizes the good in women and men.The amazons being leveled out of complete perfection is not misogyny but equality.

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