Did you hear the big news? After almost 70 years, Wonder Woman is getting an extreme makeover. She’s cutting her hair short, trading in her magic lasso for a basketball, giving up the Justice League for the WNBA and trying out as a shooting guard. Okay, so she’s not doing any of those things, but that would still be more interesting to me than her changing her look by turning into a biker chick in a leather jacket and pants.
Now this wasn’t a subject I was even slightly interested in until I realized the announcement of the distaff member of the DC Comics holy trinity (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman) was being wheeled out for public consumption following an extreme makeover. For reasons I’m not sure of this became a MAJOR story for the mainstream media from The Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, The BBC, MTV, CNN, Fox News, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and more cable channels, newspapers, websites and blogs than you can throw a magic lasso around. I’m always amused when the non-comic book press gets a whiff of of a comic book “event” and goes batshit crazy about it, so I figured I might as well join in on the fun. Unlike most of the writers penning these articles, I’ve actually read a Wonder Woman comic book within the past decade.
Still, to paraphrase Public Enemy, Wonder Woman was a hero to most, but she never meant shit to me.
Wonder Woman is one of the oldest comic book characters and one of the all-time dullest and most overrated. DC has tried and tried and tried again to raise WW to the level of Bats and Supes. They’ve tried radical changes in story and art. They’ve hired superstar talent, gay talent, women talent and the result—nothing. After almost seven decades there still has never been a definitive version of the character and there’s no reason to believe anything is about to change now. Will there be an initial surge in sales of the relaunched comic book? Of course there will be after all this free publicity, but after it fades away (and fade away it will), Wonder Woman will sink back to its middling monthly ales numbers in the 70,000 – 80,000 range.
In 2008, Alicia Ashby wrote a pretty well thought out essay of “The 10 Reasons Nobody Cares About Wonder Woman.” Among Ashby’s reasons were “There Are No Great Wonder Woman Stories” and compared her lackluster run of stories to her super friends Batman (The Dark Knight, The Killing Joke, Arkham Asylum) and Superman (Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, Red Sun), “Terrible Villans,” “The Invisible Plane” and the prescient “Madame, Please Put On Some Pants.”
Comic books are a male-dominated, testosterone fueled medium. Guys grow up wanting to BE Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and Captain America. Wonder Woman is eye-candy and the hot chick they fantasize about. First, last and always. The small percentage of women and girls that read Wonder Woman hardly make up for the large percentage of men and boys who don’t.
You want to make Wonder Woman edgy? You really want to smash her tired status quo to pieces and give her not a ticky-tacky reboot but a major kick in the ass? Have her come out of the comic book closet. When you think about it, why wouldn’t Wonder Woman be a lesbian? She’s an Amazon who comes from an island entirely populated by women. But that’s too edgy for DC. They would rather screw around on the edges and change her uniform and stay as far away as possible from her sexual orientation. Ooh, aren’t we pushing the envelope? Aren’t we just shaking Wonder Woman’s world down to its foundations? No. You’re really not.
If I were part of DC’s PR department, I’d be high-fiving all around because they got the mainstream media to mention Wonder Woman, but this falls under the category of a dull week where everyone is bored with the Kagan confirmation hearings and the oil spill. “Wonder Woman puts pants on” is the embodiment of a NOTHING story. It means nothing. It changes nothing. At the end of the day, who gives a shit? If you’ve ever read comic books more than a year you KNOW it’s inevitable she ends up right back in the classic duds same as Spider-Man’s black costume and Electric-Blue Superman did.
A comic book character changes from a highly impractical uniform to a slightly more practical uniform and the next thing you know the media starts wetting themselves. Whoopie-ding-dong. Must be a slow week for news. 54 people got shot over one weekend in Chicago recently including two kids who went to a barbecue and ended being chased, stripped naked, shot execution-style in the head, and their bodies left on the railroad tracks. Didn’t see any big national media focus about that and I damn sure didn’t see any Wonder Woman fly in with her invisible plane to save the day.
New Coke got a lot of publicity too. Doesn’t mean it was a good idea.
The best rendition of Wonder Woman is and was the Lynda Carter version—and she wore the one-piece. Even then the character of Steve Trevor was introduced only to give Wonder Woman someone to rescue every week and give her a little heterosexual cover. The woman is almost 70 years old. Isn’t it about time she finally chose a side? Drag her out the closet and let her start singing Melissa Etheridge and Indigo Girls songs.
Let Wonder Woman be Wonder Woman and develop into something more than Good Girl Art. By now haven’t we reached a point where we can handle open major comic book character that is a lesbian or gay? Just because she’s playing for the other team doesn’t mean she still isn’t on our side.