I´m writing this short article as a Wonder Woman fan about a recent Time Out article by Brian Azzerrello´s Wonder Woman. I have recently been debating with a lot of people about the artistic merit of Azzerrello´s run on Wonder Woman, and what it bodes for the future of Diana´s mythology.
I want to start by saying I am no purist when it comes to comic book writing, I in fact love when writers come up with a new angle to explore the mythology of the characters we all know and cherish, however in my humble opinion Azzerrello is ruining Wonder Woman for future generations. I have noticed of all those who really get WW stories it tends to be outsiders or margenalized groups. Groups who traditionally don´t have a voice. Most of my friends who love her tend to be of ethnic background, women, gay friends in to comics or the 70s show, or just plain guys who struggled to be where they are today. Wonder Woman has always been a symbol of power when we feel weakest, and it is in that light as a feminist icon (for good reason) that I write this. To all those I´ve already discussed this issue with, thanks for your patience and tolerance of my passion, it just so happens Wonder Woman with a select few others like Hulk, Batman and Superman are characters that at certain point in my life inspired me.
Many I´ve discussed with on the site are fans of Azzerrello´s Wonder Woman; I myself was a huge fan on the work he did with The Joker, he´s a great writer with a really dark imagination - and in light of what I read of his in his Joker graphic novel as well as Before Watchmen, I recognize him to be a great talent, but enough of the fore play lets go on to the article and what I take exception to. I will quote him from his interview with Time Out, not all in order.
1. According to Azzerrello a good comic character has to be explainanble with in one sentence. This is his primary justification for potentially changing WW origin for years to come.
When asked: You know there are comic-book purists who hate the idea of Wonder Woman having a father.
"With Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, any really famous character, you can break their origins down into a sentence or two, and Wonder Woman didn’t have that. And the sentence or two is not for people who read comics; it’s for people outside of comics, in general popular culture. But now she is Zeus's daughter, and now it works. In a general pop-culture sense, it works. That’s something that everybody can get their head around" - Azzerrello.
I pressume he´s saying here that the reason WW comics weren´t selling as well before is that people could not summerize her origin in a single sentence, therefore she wasn´t a great character.
I say this to Arrezzello, what a bunch of nonsense. Batman, Superman and Spiderman are unfair comparisons, the reason they are all known - as well as their origin story - is because of the movies, cartoons and general media surrounding the characters. They are part of the collective imagination for that reason and that reason only. If people were more exposed to Wonder Woman, they also would be able to whip out fairly simple sentences describing who she is, she is yet to have that kind of exposure. If we were to time travel to the 70s the general public would know the Lynda Carter character and be able to explain who she is, but WB hasn´t done anything with her outside a monthly publication since then.
So here´s his challenge completed -
Wonder Woman Princess of the mythical Amazons, a tribe of isolated warrior women. She their greatest champion is gifted powers by the Gods that make her Earths mightiest warrior.
Diana the first born on an island of Warrior women for millenia seperated from the world of man, is gifted unearthly powers by the Gods, so as to become Earths mightiest champion of peace. The Worlds only Wonder Woman.
I could go on doing this all day. But that isn´t the point, on what planet is it true that a truly great fictional comic character is measured by how few sentences they can be explained in. Of course if they are truly convoluted stories they may not capture the publics imagination, but for every Spiderman you can explain by "Peter Parker young scientist is bitten by a radioactive spider, gifting him with powers akin to an araknid - now he fights for justice as Spider-man" Their are many more exceptional characters whose origins are not redusable to a few sentences if you are to get a sense of who they are. Take Wolverine, how could you explain what makes Wolverine a unique character in a single sentence. You can´t. It would take atleast a few. Even the big daddy of them all Superman one would be hard pressed to identify to someone who knows nothing about him exactly what he´s all about. We can get a way with saying, oh he´s "the last son of a dying planet, rocketed to earth, becoming Earths mightiest hero" or "faster than a speeding bullet..." because people already have a sense of who he is.
I don´t want to go on much longer cause I don´t want to bore you guys, but this is the last bit I took exception to in his interview.
How did this gig come about?
"I was out to dinner with Dan DiDio. This was actually prior to the New 52 becoming the New 52. We were actually in talks about me doing a different character. We’ve gone out to dinner and I told him what my feelings were about taking this character in a certain direction. He was happy with it, so we were finalizing that. I asked, “Are you doing this [heading in new directions] with some of the other ones?” He said Batman is staying Batman, and he told me what editorial wanted to do for Wonder Woman. I was appalled. I came up with something different right there at dinner. I thought the direction was going to be a mistake for that character, right at her core. And I knew nothing about her!..." - Azzerrello.
So here´s a guy who really has no interest in the character, doesn´t actually like her, but knows immediately what direction she needs to go in. Huh?!!
Now look, if I had the privilege of my dream job to work and write comics for DC or Marvel, and I could work on any character I like, I had the pick of the litter, I would probably not take on Aquaman or Antman. I certainly wouldn´t be so presumptuous as to think, hey, here´s a character I know nothing about, let me write a continuity for them that may well change them for the forseeable future and change their whole mythology. After all what do I know about Aquaman? Talks to fish, from Atlantis. You know what, that´s not catchy enough, how about he works at an Aquarium in Los Angele´s and figures out he has a connection to the fish Gods etc etc etc. If I could I´d write something in which I knew I could enhance the established story and characters historically connected to the character. I write a character I loved and if, if I was forced to write Antman to keep my dream job, I would research and write a story arch as wild as possible, but one that maintains the structure of the mythology, especially if I knew this was that characters chance to finally shine. If I trully thought I had an original story that deviated from that mythology, but kept to the spirit of the character, then I say lets make this a different continuity that can be collected into a graphic novel later on. That way everyone can be happy, no ones pissed off. As I´ve charged before, quite frankly I think Azzerrello is being creatively dishonest to himself and to Wonder Woman fans, his changes aren´t simple strokes, they are drastic and worse quite possibly perminent. Quite frankly for an artist his reasons are more than a joke as well, I know comics are a business, but if you choose to market only two of your properties properly the rest are bound to suffer. So thats my piece.
Heres a link to the complete interview, let me know what you think.