I've been thinking about making this thread for a while, and I have some free time right now so I decided I'd throw this together.
The idea behind this thread was inspired by discussion that came up in the thread titled "Final Crisis and also how to fix DC Comics" which can be found here: http://forums.penny-arcade.com/showthread.php?t=81523
Specifically, the discussion about the confused state of the Wonder Woman mythos begins on page 21 of that thread.
DC has built up 3 characters as the Trinity of DC comics: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. The first two are very obvious as to why they are included. They are both iconic powerhouses that have been around for a really long time and have saturated almost every facet of our culture.
But the inclusion of Wonder Woman confuses a lot of people. Her presence in the DC continuity is not so clearly defined. As I titled this thread, Wonder Woman is some what of a confused cultural icon, and I would like to discuss this confusion in more depth in this thread, as well as hopefully discuss some reasonable solutions to fixing her mythos.
So who is Wonder Woman? This is a question that even DC seems to be trying to answer. The opening story arc in the 2007 Wonder Woman relaunch is actually titled "Who is Wonder Woman"
Wonder Woman is an Amazonian Princess. She comes from the mythical island of Themyscira. She is the daughter of Queen Hyppolyta. She was trained as a warrior princess and possesses the physical attributes of the Greek pantheon. She has the speed of Hermes, the wisdom of Athena, the grace of Artemis, and a few other things.
But her powers are not very clearly defined. Her power level is largely dependent on the writer. Some writers depict her as being as fast as the Flash, or as strong as Superman, yet other writers have her tossed around like a rag doll. She lacks a clear consistency on how fast, strong, smart, she really is.
Another aspect is that her costume does not in any way, shape, or form indicate her Greek mythology herritage.
What part of a Red, White, and Blue bathing suit indicates that she's an Amazon Princess? Her costume is a relic of World War 2 when she was created. Here's an excerpt from Wikipedia:
Created during World War II, the character was initially depicted fighting the Axis military forces, as well as an assortment of supervillains and supervillainesses. In later decades, some writers and their editors preferred to retain the World War II setting, while others updated the series to reflect an ongoing "present day."
"Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world," Marston wrote. Although Gloria Steinem placed Wonder Woman on the first standalone cover of Ms. in 1972, Marston, writing in an earlier time, designed Wonder Woman to represent a particular form of female empowerment. Feminism argues that women are equal to men and should be treated as such; Marston's representative of femininity is a 6-foot-tall Amazon wielding a golden lasso that forces obedience of those encircled. In Marston's mind, women not only held the potential to be as good as men: they could be superior to men.
So she's a feminist, Nazi fighting Greek that wields a lasso, which is traditionally a part of the American Western cowboy genre.
Her history, origin, costume, powers, tools, and purpose are so muddled and confused that its no doubt she isn't as popular as her two counterparts in the trinity. That being said, I think she has the potential
to be awesome. What DC needs to do is bring in a writer with a clear vision and purpose and completely rebuild Wonder Woman from the ground up. If she's going to be Greek, then her costume and abilities need to reflect this. If she's going to be an American patriotic hero, then maybe she needs to fight some Nazis every now and again. Its 2009 and Captain America still fights Nazis so there's no reason Wonder Woman can't also.
Most of all, I think they really need to work to differentiate her from Superman. Most writers tend to just write her as a female version of him. They both fly, they both are strong, they are both fast, etc. For her to ever stand alone as the hero that she could be
, she needs to become her own woman and not just a girl Superman.
Yes, there are some very good stories regarding Wonder Woman. Gail Simone, the current writer of the book has put together some great stories recently. But even under Simone, Wonder Woman is still as confused as ever. In fact, in some ways, Simone has made the mythos even more confused than it already was. Under Simone, Wonder Woman now has her own posse of white gorilla warriors. She abandoned her Greek gods and pledged a vow of loyalty to some other guy, who recently had his heart ripped out by Zeus.
The whole thing is just a giant mess of confusion. This is one iconic character in desperate need of some focus.