Saturday, June 17, 2006

Why Wonder Woman Is Destined To Be Alone

Wonder Woman 178
Originally uploaded by Heidi Meeley.
It’s our fault, you know.

The readers of Wonder Woman are a supremely devoted lot. I know that I include myself among the faithful, and clamor eagerly each month to get my hands on new tales of the Amazon Princess. It has been that way since I was 8 and continues in the same comforting pace to this day.

DC is the supreme editorial being, and according to their dictates, Wonder Woman has customarily been alone since the first series ended. Here are my thoughts about why this is the way it must be in their eyes.

In the original Wonder Woman series, Princess Diana of the Amazons lays her eyes on Steve Trevor, a wounded pilot whose jet has crashed on her island. She is so overcome by him that she disguises herself to win the contest that determines who Wonder Woman will be. This is lore that I am sure we all are aware of.

Throughout the tenure of the book, Steve and Diana/Wonder Woman indulged in a game of cat and mouse. Steve loved Wonder Woman and she him, but there was always the irritation that he thought Diana Prince was kinda blah. This kept things spicy in the fact that readers hoped for eternal love, but were stuck with a woman who had vowed to banish all evil before settling down.

After awhile, this wore pretty thin. Around issue 178, Steve Trevor was killed and Wonder Woman was de-powered and lost her memories. She ran around fighting crime with I-Ching as her mentor. While I enjoyed this run immensely, evidently Gloria Steinem did not. For whatever reason, around issue 210 Wonder Woman was back in her star spangled tights doing 12 trials to get back into the Justice League. This is where the 8 year old in me picked up the title.

When Diana got her memories back and realized that Steve was dead, I figured that was it. DC had other plans. In a visit back to Paradise Island, Diana fought “men” and found that they were really a test of her goddesses with the exception of a Steve Trevor who had been brought back to life.

This relationship was rocky from the start. Steve knew Di’s secret identity, and she had changed. Perhaps DC sensed a bum deal, and once again Steve was killed. Not long after Diana went and became and astronaut and had a fling with some dude named Mike who turned out to be a baddy in the Royal Flush gang. Fed up with the bull crap, Diana went back to Paradise Island and her mother caused her to forget Steve AGAIN.

In another Hera Help Us moment, Steve was returned a third time. This time he came through transdimensionally and DC took him and Diana back to the basics. Etta Candy, General Darnell, and the military were back in the picture. Once again Diana was the ugly duckling, and Wonder Woman was Steve’s “angel”. Things definitely had come full circle. In issue 300, Diana met with her Earth Two counterpart, who in a happy twist of fate had married her Steve Trevor and had a daughter Lita (soon to be known as Fury, but that’s a whole ‘nother story!). Diana decided to kill off her alter ego Diana Prince so she and Steve could get married. Needless to say, it didn’t come off the way the fans had wanted, and Steve and Di remained close, but not man and wife.

The series ended in issue 329 as Crisis on Infinite Earths loomed. In this issue, Diana of Earth One married Steve Trevor and they lived happily ever after. DC had a planned reboot coming up to rejuvenate sales that was certain to shake things up.

It became obvious very soon in the second series that Diana was NOT meant to have a man in her life. Steve Trevor was much older, and was in love with Etta Candy this time. Diana remained virginal with the exception of a school girl crush on Superman.

The whole Superman thing is a great “Elseworlds” vibe. It creates huge sales and a great deal of interest. There is just one problem with the whole equation and her name is Lois Lane. She is the grounding force for Superman and a key element in his mythos so the Wonder Woman/ Superman relationship can never be. Other then the stupid crap about Supes being WW’s best friend, it is a done deal.

Not until writer Eric Luke came along was there a hint of a possible love life for Diana, and this wasn’t until the 140’s and 150’s of the second series. During “Godwar” Luke introduced Rama, a Hindu hero blessed by his gods, much like Diana. The two flirted and god knows what else, since there were only hints, but it never came to fruition after he manifested into some crazed Hindu God/Killer and was too ashamed to stay.

Writer/Artist Phil Jimenez took another stab at it with Trevor Barnes, a humanitarian who got Diana’s blood pumping simply by being smart, philanthropic, and “beautiful”. It got off to a bad start when at the end of their first date; Di and Trevor were whisked off to the Savage Land of all places. This stalled things considerably and then Di had to go rescue Vanessa and fight the Cheetahs. The last issue on Phil’s run was a great set up for the beginning of a great relationship that was not to be. Walt Simonson’s run from #189 to 194 killed Trevor off, albeit heroically.

This led into Greg Rucka’s run on the book which ended this series. Rucka had Diana doing many cool things; it is just that romance was not one of them.

Now we are starting the third series with a new number one. I don’t know where it is going, but I feel relatively certain that it doesn’t include Wonder Woman getting any.


I don’t think DC will allow Wonder Woman a steady. Based on the history she had, it was hard to keep the magic with Steve Trevor over a forty year time table. Rebooted, she was treated as a virginal warrior, and her crushes stayed pretty much just that- a crush.

I think the reason for this is that readers and DC alike want to keep Diana untouchable. Unlike her male counterparts, a love interest is not used to spur stories. She is portrayed as a perfect woman who recognizes the flaws in the life and constantly fixes them. The fact that she is unattainable is used as a tool to keep interest. Evidently it has worked so far, but I wish they would allow some loving in her life.

WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE (pipe dream central) is Diana go on multiple dates and get a sense of the type of men that are out there. Let’s see this untouchable goddess cringe a bit, or even swoon a bit. Even if the ultimate decision is made to stay single, I would at least like to see her get her feet wet.

WHAT I WOULDN’T LIKE is for the third reboot to have Steve Trevor be a love interest. In my mind that ship has sailed. Been there, done that so to speak. I will always have a great fondness for their history, but in my mind that is what it is. I also would like to not have to deal with more Superman/Batman crushes. They are the great trinity- can we leave it that way?

If Diana had to date a super hero, have it be out of left field. Have Diana take out Ralph Dibny for the hell of it, to give him some support. Maybe have her sweat Dick Grayson a bit- that would drive Bruce crazy. Heh. OR just to clear the palate, have her go out with Ollie to teach the old lech a lesson.

IN CONCLUSION, it doesn’t seem that the readership or DC wants to give Diana a love life that is steady, so why not have a bit of fun? The girl doesn’t have to go all ‘ho’ or anything, but let her at least have a date. As her own mother Hyppolyta told her “have some fun while you’re at it.

I can always hope.


Ragnell said...

Here's the thjing, though. What I DON'T want is for her to be a Superhero love interest. Everyone keeps pairing her off with guys are equal power, and what does that say when all of her male counterparts have civillian love interests?

I really think the only way to handle it is to give her Steve Trevor, her civillian love interest back. Spider-Man's taken out Mary Jane a few times and she always comes back.

Heidi Meeley said...

Ragnell, you make a good point in the fact that male heroes are able to date civilians. I agree about that. In fact, I should have mentioned that I wouldn't have a problem with her having a non-powered love interest as long as she could have one period.

I just don't want her to end up in that same vicious cycle with Steve Trevor wherein he gets killed for the sake of the story only to be brought back to life by the next creative team. I hated it back then, and I still don't like it today.

My bottom line is that I want Wonder Woman to have some of the "fun" her mother thought was lacking, whether it be dating a fellow hero or an average joe.

Ragnell said...

You seriously think they'll accept anyone else? Like Trevor Barnes?

Why not have Superman marry Lana Lang instead.

Not a chance. But don't worry, Steve always comes back. He's resilient, no matter how often those woman-hating writers try to deprive us of our uniform golden-haired hottie, he will always return to be tied up and knocked unconcious in an oh-so-suggestive manner... *Sigh*

kalinara said...

Steve kept getting killed off because the male writers didn't know how to write male bondage bait. Characters like Sand or Kyle or Dick Grayson show that things are a little different now.

Being the sensitive man isn't the same stigma it used to be. Thus it seems more likely that writers like Marz or Morrison or Heinburg could write a man in distress, getting rescued by a woman, without him being emasculated. Thus, they shouldn't have to kill him.

I want my pretty blond bondage bait, darnit. :-)

I suppose I'm a traditionalist. Pairing Diana with another man seems like pairing Clark with anyone other than Lois Lane. It's just...not right. :-) He's as much a part of Diana's mythos as Lois is to Clark's, but he never gets respect, because it's okay for a woman to be the helpless damsel saved by the hero, but it's not okay for a man or something. Hmph.

Carl said...

Hmmmm, I always thought the Wonder Woman romance angle was a bit odd myself. First, it's Steve Trevor, WW II soldier/OSS Agent. Oh, nope, that relationship was the Golden Age Wonder Woman. And we are told the then WW is seeing Steve Trevor, Jr. A lil' creepy but, well, okay. Then the other shennagins including a bit back in JLA Batman?!!! I never kept up with her book regularly but the JLA with the Batman romance seemed forced and not real.
Anyway, one of the most interesting things I ever heard was the rumor (that you might have heard) that years ago, DC was going to get one of the hot-cutting-edge new writers to reboot WW yet again. Someone like Alan Moore. So, he wrote his drafts with WW as a lesbian and that Paradise Island/Themasycria (sp?) was similar to the Isle of Lesbos.
There's an excellent send-up of that rumor called "Look What They've Done To Princess Paragon"
by Robert Rodi. A comic writer does the revision with PP a lesbian and the comic book world explodes. Anyway, there's my take on the WW romance biz...

Heidi Meeley said...

I see we have two definite votes for Steve Trevor here!

In my mind, Steve was never written in a way that made him a sympathetic character. He was always either too egotistical and non-responsive, or he was treated as a pretty boy. He would be loving and kind towards Diana, and then all of a sudden he would be "don't protect me- I can take care of myself" and get pissed. That was always a problem for me.

Why couldn't they let the guy just get a hug in without having to read too much into it, you know?

The other problem is that Wonder Woman is written with such a focus on her perfection that she at times does not seem like good dating material. The writers forget that sense of humor they allude to.

Where Heinberg will make a stand in his portrayal will tell the tale for this current series. Hopefully he can reign in the goddess so that she can have a man like Steve Trevor in her life.

When you talk about giving Steve to Diana, I just keep thinking "poor Etta". I can't help it.

What will it take to have Diana have a love life? The writing team and DC editorial letting her be "human".

That is why Batman has not had a successful love life- the writers can't allow any one woman to penetrate the mystique. Sure some women have gotten close, but they never seem to get "there".