My thoughts on Wonder Woman and the Amazons new history

So, I've gotten into some arguments lately over the changes done to Wonder Woman, which has proven to be somewhat controversial. I've heard many thoughts and opinions from reviews to commentors, to this article found on DC women Kicking Ass http://dcwomenkickingass.tumblr.com/post/19704793909/ww7 and ultimately, and I may be wrong or missing something, people seem to be upset over two things.

One, that the change is somehow sexist, and Two, that the change is done to the detriment of the source material (in other words, pre-flashpoint Wonder Woman).

So, to get my thoughts out of the way, I'm alright with the change. Like it or not, a huge part of the basis for Wonder Woman is greek mythology, and that's really what sets Diana apart from the other heroes. Diana, represents a feminine strength, the abilities of a warrior mixed with the strengths of compassion and love, things often seen as womanly. But really, that basically makes her a female Superman with slightly tweaked values. And considering how similar their power set is, it's not hard to see how she borders on generic, if it weren't for her origins and stories tied to myths from the antiquity, which helped set her apart, especially in Post-crisis era DC. So focusing more on these roots is probably the best thing to do if you want fresh stories.

Now, the thing about Wonder Woman, as I've said repeatedly, is that she's not a popular character. She's a well known character. Her stuff has never been able to sell as much as big names like Green Lantern and Batman, and instead her longevity comes from new readers picking up a name that's familiar to them, and the decent amount of fans she collects on her own merit. Thing is, the reboot was meant to boost sales in a floundering industry, so big name characters moved along without getting changed around, some more confusing characters, such as the Flash, getting a clean up (at the expense of Wally West, but that's another rant) and those that never found proper footing, but still had good brand power, like Superman and Wonder Woman, had key changes made to their status quo while preserving a good chunk of their previous life. And this isn't the first time this has happened to her, since her setting and origins have changed drastically dozens of times in 70 years in an effort to keep readers interested, since again she never held the same popularity as the rest of the A-list heroes.

Now, for the most part, Brian Azzarello chose not to change too much about the amazons, but instead focused on showing how they really are far darker than they let on. The clay origin was still present, but it was revealed to be a cover-up. They still had contact with the gods. And, lastly, they did in fact give birth to males, except now they had to get rid of them, who Hephaestus was glad to help by taking them off their hands. Not only that, since men aren't allowed on their island, they played the role of Succubi, seducing men on boats and killing them when the deed was done.

First of all, I'd be lying if I said the murder orgy didn't make me slightly uncomfortable (especially since it doesn't explain how wonder woman only learned about this after growing up with the Amazons), but in the end, it ties in together with the original greek stories of the amazons, and like it or not, that's where the very concept of these characters came from. Don't blame Brian Azzarello for this, blame William Marston for not doing his research and associating the character with a brutal part of greek mythology, which allowed for this darkness to happen.

This new origin adds new conflict with Diana's firm moral code, and also is another piece of the puzzle for this story, as we see how the amazons interacted with the many gods throughout her world. It makes the stories more interesting, and provides some emotional moments. So great job there.

But that still doesn't answer if the change is detrimental to the Amazons as characters defined by previous Wonder Woman stories, so here's all I really got to say: They've always been a warrior society, and stories like amazons attack, even though it was bad, prove that they are capable of brutal things, so it's nothing really that far out of the blue.

But that leads us to the issue of whether or not it's sexist, since the Amazons have always been portrayed as the perfect matriarchal, feminist society, and I've got to say, I don't think it is. Azzarello is only using source material that the story itself is rooted on, not making up a new one, and these legends have existed for thousands of years. Really he's just exposing an uncomfortable truth about this seemingly idealistic society, that an island that does not allow men to be part of it probably isn't all sunshine and rainbows.

It is far more sexist to assume that the complete removal of a certain gender creates Utopia. I'm sick of hearing how men cause all the problems in the world. Guess what? History is full of awful women also. Just look at Margaret Thatcher. The fact is that it is equally sexist to create a society where men are not allowed or have no power, as much as it would be if the genders were reversed and it was an isle of men, where women weren't allowed and had no power. This new story shows that dark side. Really, he just followed the current trend of making things more realistic.

Now, I'm not saying that women NEED men. HELL NO. THAT is sexist. I'm saying that a culture that rejects men based on the fact that they are men is incredibly sexist on principle, it's just that the roles are reversed. And discrimination in any form usually creates huge problems. When it's culture wide, there's gonna be blood.

Now, there is one issue that I can't really argue with, and that is the fact that people still liked the old mythology, that the Amazons are less sisterly and communal than before, and that the men just simply weren't born, instead of forcibly removed or killed off.

Really, that is what's going to throw you off if you're a huge fan of those themes, and it comes down to if you preferred the old over the new, and it's fine if you don't. But in the end, Wonder Woman was always a series that never found firm footing. Things were changed constantly because, quite simply, there never has been the same interest in her as other characters, and she never had cult popularity like even B or C list characters might have had.

If you like the character as a concept, her personality is still all there, it's just a new environment to see her react to. I like the new stories, I find them to be far superior to past Wonder Woman, and I'm gonna keep reading. Just don't throw out words or complaints that are unfounded. If you don't like them, then you don't like them. But don't pretend like it's a great blaspheme against the character, because I don't feel it is.

6 Comments
6 Comments
Posted by airbound_dude

I was surprised at the reveal of the true story of the Amazons in Wonder Woman #7 and I like where the story is going. Now Diana has a head full of questions on her morals and her "sisters". I cannot wait to see more of this and Azzarello is doing a great job of it.

Posted by RazzaTazz

I would say more so that Wonder Woman is a very reliable character for DC but one that has always been in the middle of the pack.  Comparing to something like Green Lantern is not really accurate as those series go through much bigger swings in popularity.  

Moderator
Posted by DIOMJK

@RazzaTazz: I suppose Green Lantern was a bad example, but at least he's had multiple peaks in popularity, from a few classic silver and modern age stories, to the inclusion of Kyle Rayner to Geoff Johns past 8 years. I have never seen that kind of interest in a Wonder Woman story EVER, despite her status as one of the "Big 3" of DC. So obviously in the new 52 they'd try and make her able to connect with a wider audience through drastic changes, which is what they did, but it was done in a way that kept all her past continuity, but introduced the idea that some of the stuff she's been told about her people was instead a bunch of lies, which I feel is a pretty smart idea.

Posted by RazzaTazz
@DIOMJK: Agreed, but I think if DC had to cancel all of its titles sequentially, the last four standing would be something to do with Batman, Superman, the Justice League and Wonder Woman.  She will never top the sales charts, but more importantly for DC she has a stable fan base that will always buy her books.  She is the Law and Order of comic book characters.
Moderator
Posted by DIOMJK

@RazzaTazz: I agree lol. She does have a stable fan base and the brand recognition to bring in new readers, she just always seemed to need the little push to make her stand out from being "Greek Super-woman" in the eyes of the public, and I think this new volume helps.

Posted by PhoenixoftheTides

I've been a Marvel fan for years. This is partially due to not being a fan of Batman and Superman, and partly never being comfortable with all of the history each DC character has. I was surprised to find myself getting interested with Wonder Woman and Aquaman after "The New 52" launched. I always liked the character, but the fact that she felt corny at times made it hard for me to stay committed to picking up the story when some she hasn't felt that visible in the universe overall, plus the clay origin and the invisible jet and some other aspects of the character are tacky and hard to get over. I am really enjoying her storyline and hope she doesn't go back to how she was set up before. I'm very excited to see where she goes next. I liked the reveal that while the Amazons' daughters are warriors, the sons became artisans working with Hephaestus. It was somewhat interesting to see the usual gender flipping in Wonder Woman go in a different direction where because of Amazon attitudes, the daughters are warriors while the sons are creative.