I think that what we’re going to do here is get a grip on the heavies of the DC Universe. Since we got a bit of Batman last time, I figure we will just continue on and examine the rest of the Big Three. After that, we will probably end up taking a look at other, more obscure members of the JLA.
So, with that in mind, I think we should take a look at Wonder Woman, otherwise known as Diana of Themyscira.
Wonder Woman grew up on the isolated island known as Paradise Island, or Themyscira. It was a society of warrior amazons with no contact with the outside world. Steve Trevor, an army officer during World War II, crash-landed on Themyscira. Believing that they could no longer continue their isolationist policy, the Amazons sent Diana, daughter of Queen Hippolyte, out into the outside world as their emissary. There have been a few origin reboots throughout the years, but I think that’s enough to move forward with.
Creator tangent: Did you know that William Moulton Marshall, Wonder Women’s creator, created her as an amalgam of his wife and another woman who lived with them polyamorously? You do now.
One aspect of Wonder Woman that I have always found interesting is that she is willing to go farther than her two contemporaries, Superman and Batman. While neither Clark nor Bruce will kill their opponents, Diana does not necessarily shy away from doing so. Put it down to growing up as a warrior amazon, I guess, but girlfriend will not hesitate to stick a sword in your guts.
Wonder Woman is one of a rare breed of super-heroes though. I think it has been done to death that comics and super-heroes are kind of a modern retelling/interpretation of mythological tropes. The unique (well, close to unique anyway) thing about Wonder Woman is that she is directly connected to a historical mythic tradition. I mean, Super-man is the last son of Krypton. Krypton and its red sun are modern-day myths. Diana of Themyscira is based on an older set of myths, those of Greek origin. The only others that I can think of off the top of my head are Thor and Captain Marvel, the DC version anyway. Thor is as Nordic as Diana is Greek and Billy Batson’s powers are based on a pastiche of biblical characters and Greek gods.
I recently read a Wonder Woman collection that dealt directly with Medusa and the Gorgons, speaking of historical mythic traditions. It was pretty hard-core. It was a nationally televised duel between Diana and Medusa. Wonder Woman actually blinded herself before the battle so that she wouldn’t be turned to stone. I can respect a woman who does that. She ended up killing Medusa by skewering her with a sword. Again, hard-core.
There are certain aspects of Wonder Woman though that are unbearably cheesy. Invisible jet? Check. Lasso of Truth? Check. Bracelets that deflect bullets? Check. I don’t think she even needs the bracelets. You could shoot her point-blank and she wouldn’t even bruise. Pointless.
I guess though that you have to realize that there are cheesy aspects to any super-hero when you get right down to it. Clark Kent’s glasses come off and all of a sudden no one recognizes him. Batman has a giant penny in the Batcave as a memento of his defeat of the Penny Plunderer or Two-Face, depending on continuity. You just have to get past the cheese or otherwise you end up drinking shitty pinot grigio at a cocktail party while your wife goes down on the valet in the bathroom.
Man, growing up and leaving behind childish things sucks.