Thursday, September 21, 2006

Profile: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman
First appearance: 1941 in Sensation Comics. But let me note that this whole essay could discuss any misuse of Diana (or Hipolytta) in all the incarnations she’s had since then, both Earth-1, Earth-2, and today, not to mention both mother and daughter.

Current status: the mother is dead, having been killed off during the Our Worlds at War crossover in 2001, and the daughter is, currently, still working but not the star of her own book (she's in the new version of Justice League of America). Instead, it’s Donna Troy who’s currently the star.

Was subjected to the followings acts of discrimination: let’s see, there’s the times when she would end up tied up with bondage, chains, and even her own golden lasso during the Golden, Silver, and Bronze Ages. She would be paralyzed by having her magic bracelets tied together as well.* And, in more recent years, there’s the time when John Byrne wrote her in much more pathetic, exploitative form when he wrote her book in 1996, the only good thing about it being the introduction of a new Wonder Girl, Cassie Sandsmark (and then other writers bettered him on that!). And then, there’s the parts in Identity Crisis where Diana was depicted alternately as a zombie-like tool for interrogating Slipknot, and then as apathetic.

What’s wrong with how this was done? On the early depictions, it depends on how you look upon it, as either guilty pleasure or just some embarrassing form of gleeful tomfoolery. On the later depictions, that I can address more easily. In a battle with Darkseid’s minions, when they invaded Themyscira and caused injuries galore, instead of going to cry alongside her Amazonian sisters, she went and collapsed in her then boyfriend’s arms. Unfortunately, considering the storyline, it was not the tongue-in-cheek pleasure it might sound like, and could be in a different story setting.

The depiction in Identity Crisis is even worse, because it’s symbolic of the massive sexism that permeats the whole miniseries.

* Donna Troy, by contrast, besides being born human, was not affected by such effects, and while her golden lasso did not have the same power and influence that Diana’s does, she could not have her strength paralyzed by locking her own magic bracelets together, and unlike her adoptive older sister during the Silver Age, she could fly authentically, which would mean that she could also levitate in the air.

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