- Wonder Woman 2009 Animated movie
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love comic books. While growing up, my Dad would bring home big stacks of comic books on weekends for my brothers and I to read–Thor, Dr. Strange, Daredevil, The Flash, and my personal favorite X-Men. I remember wondering why we weren’t reading comics like Superman or Spiderman or even Batman, and I’m sure I asked at some point, but the answer was either sufficient to my mind’s logic at the time, or it became irrelevant because I had fallen in love with reading any and every kind of comic book I could get my hands on. Even when I would go to church with my grandmother on the weekends (yeah, I know… that’s a topic for another post all together kids…) we would walk to church, then to get milkshakes at the local penny candy store and I would get to choose a comic. Well… not exactly choose. See, I always ended up getting Betty and Veronica comics because any time I picked up a traditional comic book she would recoil in horror and pronounce that “Girls don’t read that kind of thing!” (This is also the same woman who stated in the same breath that “You don’t need a man to take care of you!” but that “Boys are better than girls…” Nothing like confusing a young girl, right?) And so I ended up being captured by the cut throat manipulations of the dark-haired, insanely jealous vixen Veronica Lodge and the ever-forgiving blonde haired, girl-next-door Betty Cooper as they vied for Archie’s attention.
Betty and Veronica
Instantly I became Veronica’s biggest fan and insisted that I die my hair the soul-sucking black that she had! Betty was a push over who rarely did anything that was improper or for revenge. She got hurt a lot, and got walked all over, and Archie consistently ditched her for Veronica. What little girl wanted to be the door-mat? Be like Betty just because she always took the high road and it would eventually pay off? I had already taken issue with Disney for their illusions of happiness that women receive only after abuse, cruelty, and attempted murder by this point, and I certainly did not believe that a Prince Charming was the only one who could save me from my situation. So why wouldn’t I favor Veronica? I didn’t see any stand out female heroes with their own comic book to be a fan girl of (remember, my reach into the comic world was limited to what my father brought home), and as far as I could tell, only the female mutants in X-Men were strong and independent role models. In all of the major comic book titles I had been reading, women were the ones who always needed saving. They were damsels in distress or they were villains… and cheesy villains at that. I was always craving that strong female presence, and I think that craving drove me to write fiction.
So then, why did I hate Wonder Woman? I was bored with the Live-Action TV show. I accepted the campiness of the Batman show, but somehow found the campiness of Wonder Woman unacceptable. I never read any of the Wonder Woman comics regularly, and I recall being distinctly upset by the deviations from the Greek Mythos that the writers took. I was obsessed with Greek Mythology, and all I knew was that what little bit I did encounter in the WW comics, was wrong. I hadn’t yet accepted that fictional worlds could incorporate and toy with history and myth as it saw fit. I just knew that they were putting some woman with a magic lasso and an invisible jet (…seriously? I still hate that jet…) in the same story as ancient Greek Gods. Nope. Not okay!! So I decided to turn my back on Princess Diana of the Amazons and never look back.**
…Besides, she was just the token female superhero that DC had to create even though her character and her story arcs were completely unbelievable, right?! And the villains she faced… I mean, come ON!! Batman had the Joker, Superman had Lex Luthor… Wonder Woman had….. Sharkeeta?! (The leader of a humanoid pack of sharks….yeah) and Giganta–you guessed it… a woman who could grow to incredible sizes! For the record, I still hate Giganta, even though she is one of WW’s classic villains and still makes appearances. The writers at DC clearly didn’t like girl superheros as much as the folks at Marvel, so why bother? Superman is annoying anyway…
How did I go most of my comic reading, literary life under this premise?? How is it possible that no one disabused me of my dislike of DC, let alone Wonder Woman? This March, DC released a new animated movie straight to DVD entitled Wonder Woman. I saw the preview while watching the trailers for another film and I did a double take and wanted to do some investigation work on the Amazon Princess in the hopes that the movie was reflecting the recent changes in writers and plot direction of the comic book series. I picked up Amazons Attack! and Who is Wonder Woman? – both graphic novels that tied in with the rebooted Volume 3 of the comic. I also picked up about 10 individual comics that followed the Who is Wonder Woman? relaunch from 2006. I read all of them (believe me, that’s a lot of comics… even for me!) in the span of two days and I know one thing for certain…
I was wrong.
I Love Wonder Woman and I love that the new writers have embraced her strengths and have updated the complexity of the story lines around her! I’ve always brushed off the comic because I felt the writers weren’t taking advantage of an opportunity to create an engaging, powerful, complex character. The current team of writers is doing exactly that, and I love it. I suppose they didn’t have much of a choice when Wonder Woman killed Maxwell Lord at the end of Infinite Crisis…. (psst… that’s a big deal… super heroes aren’t supposed to kill people! Wonder Woman went head to head and beat up Superman, then snapped Maxwell Lord’s neck…)
And the movie?
If you have never watched an animated film based on a comic book, you’ll want to give this one a try. It’s stunning, it’s fun, it addresses issues of feminism in ways that modern women still struggle with without being a bludgeoning force, and still manages to be witty and action packed. See it. You won’t be disappointed, I promise!
**In retrospect, I realize that none of the story lines I encountered were from the revamp that George Perez did in the 80’s. Everything I had encountered was somehow connected to the Golden/Silver/or Bronze Age of Wonder Woman comics. It wasn’t until after the cancellation of the series following DC’s “reboot” of their products with Crisis on Infinite Earths that Wonder Woman became a familiar strong, modern female icon that modern writers like Gail Simone and Jodi Picoult have taken to rich, respectable heights since 2006, all thanks to George Perez’s relaunch of the Amazonian Princess in the mid-late 80’s.
Tags: Comic Books, DC Comics, Feminism, Graphic Novels, I still can't stand the Big Blue BoyScout, New Obsessions, What the hell what I thinking?, Women In Comics, Wonder Woman