Look, Brian Azzarello and the editorial staff of DC Comics. I get your desire to modernize Greek mythology in the new Wonder Woman. Poseidon as a giant fish monster and Hades as a little dude with a bevy of candles for a head is gorgeous, thoughtful and really flipping cool.

But while the male figures of Greek mythology have been getting fascinating updates you’ve really been short changing the females.

First there was Hera. Known as the cow-eyed Goddess and the maternal figure of the mythos you’d expect her to be some sort of giant cow, or maybe a badass female minotaur right?

Nope. Where the male gods get crazy adaptations that honor their past while making them cool beasts for the comic she’s just a naked chick in a peacock robe. And she’s SKINNY. To the point of it being alarming. How is this acknowledging any part of her legend beyond the jealous evil harpy of the Heracles myth?

Well, I mean she does have kind of a mom haircut going on I guess?¹

But things got really bad last Wednesday with issue number 7 of the reboot. Wonder Woman and friends journey into a mountain to chat with Hephaestus and there she finds a plethora of long-lost brothers she didn’t even know she had. She’s horrified to learn that the Amazons she grew up with have become pirate sirens, sailing the seven seas, seducing men and then murdering them after being impregnated and selling the male babies to Hephaestus so he has a never-ending supply of slaves.

... Yeah.²

Okay. Let’s chat about the Amazons. The original myth of the Amazons likely began as a cultural memory of the matriarchal societies from which the Greeks were descended. Like Aphrodite and Hera the Amazons are holdovers from those societies and religions.

Over the last two millenia the Amazons have developed into man hating evil women who oppose equality and believe in the superiority of the woman. It’s why many mouth breathers like to call feminists “Amazons.” They’re trying to compare feminism to a society where women supposedly mutilated their own bodies so they could better kill men (cutting off a breast to better shoot their bows).

George Pérez and the writers that followed him in the 1987 reboot of Wonder Woman kind of radically changed the Amazons. While they were still a race that believed in the superiority of women, and while they still loved a good fight, they were also pragmatic, wise, well-educated and moderately open to change. Also immortal. DC Comics was slowly transforming the Amazons into something that women could support without being labelled penis destroying misandrists.

And Wonder Woman was allowed to embrace the Amazons and happily return to her island of sisterhood whenever she pleased.

So this change, while certainly being in line with Greek mythology (it is a fusion of the sirens and certain tellings of the Amazon myth), is a major step back for the representation of women in comics.

Like as bad, if not worse, than Starfire.

It divorces Wonder Woman from her major maternal and feminine ties (please note that in the comic her allies are now exclusively male), perpetuates the myth of the man-eating Amazon and in general is just incredibly short-sighted. Not to mention it means that either the Amazons are now mortal or they’re suffering from a MAJOR over population problem.

Hey DC, maybe hire a woman consultant who can point out the plot devices that are going to repulse women? Kind of like how when tv shows decide to have a character go gay they get GLAAD involved? Get WOW or Miss Representation involved. Or Sue from DC Women Kicking Ass! It will be a nice publicity boon for you and would likely draw women back into your comics and it would keep comic fans who REALLY want to like the stories you’re putting out from hating ourselves every time we pick one up.

Sources
¹From Issue #6 of Wonder Woman (2011), art by Cliff Chiang.
²From Issue #7 of Wonder Woman (2011), art by Cliff Chiang.

  • Theo Essandoh

    What a Stupid article. “A major step back for women in
    comics”? So we need to adhere to political correctness in comic books now?

    This is a freakin REBOOT! STOP comparing the book to what
    once was.

    BOOHOO the amazons did something bad BOOHOO the artist does
    not draw Diana like Lynda Carter BOOHOO this is not the wonder woman I grew up
    with. BOOHOO I dont approve of what the amazons did. BOOHOO I dont like her costume

    BOOHOO lets change Wonder Woman comic books back to the mess
    they where before so they dont sell at all.

    If you dont like the comic then say so and give your reasons. But dont compare the
    comic to the old version and HATE it simple based on the fact that it is not
    similar to the previous version.

     

    The same stupid blogs killed the Wonder Woman pilot which
    had the potential to be very entertaining even if it was not exactly like the
    comics. ALA smallville.

    • You’re a very special individual who provides a great contribution to the topic.

      And your reading comprehension is aces.

      • That pilot was a pile of fetid ass meat.

        • J M

           Thing is, I don’t know if “ass” modifies “meat” or intensifies “fetid” here, but it works equally well both ways!

        • Haha, thanks, I needed that :)

    • Theo has a point. As bad as the show was to fanboys, it could have generated public interest in Wonder Woman. Smallville wasn’t good, but it did a lot of good to make a new generation care about Superman and certainly people liked it enough to keep it for 10 seasons.

      • “To fanboys?” Is that your special way of saying “everyone?”

        Fans of oxygen, you might say….
        Fans of quality? No! Fans of either meat OR vegetables!

        Yeeeeeeees…..as bad as that pilot was to fanboys…

        (Ok, Thanks for bearing with my smart remarks. I still disagree, but truthfully respect your opinion)

  • This article is spot on.   If you look at Wonder Woman, what DC did to Kory in Red Hood, and Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad…. it is a much larger pattern… you have to wonder if it all ties back to not including enough women working in the creation process.

    Not to mention making Amanda thin, Oracle better… ending Tiny Titans (because not in the sewer of the New DCU)

    THE REBOOT is GARBAGE!   MORE OF IT EVERYDAY! 

    There I said it.  

  • Josephine Yanasak-Leszczynski

    Next time, force me to read all of your articles before attending a convention. The pantheon came up, and I could have easily dropped this on Azzarello! Sigh, missed opportunities. But I agree with Chris! Spot on!

  • Vi9

    ….Meh I’m cool with this as this isn’t the hero of the comic, just a shady part, the thing is women have negative parts just as much as men to ignore the fact that while yes it’s not all wholesome as it implies 1000s of years of rape slavery and bay eatting, this is no worse then the Altaean’s way of dealing with surface dwellers(sinking ships that drift into their waters and trying to kill the baby) Just because it’s a soceity soley made of woman makes this some how more prevalnt 

    “perpetuates the myth of the man-eating Amazon ” that’s the pont they’re man eatting Amazons, Zeus screws anything that moves, Posiden raped or seduced  a few women including the woman who’d be come to known as Medusa and HERA IS AN EVIL B*** BENT ON KILLING ZEUS’ BASTARD CHILDREN! if a few women in the universe eat men, that’s cool by me.

    • Exactly, this article is bad feminism. What’s wrong with the Amazon’s being mortal like every other person? That’s equality. Therefore, the Amazons have to make hard choices just like every other real nation. Glorifying an island of women as some perfect utopia sends the wrong message that without men everything would be better. Ridiculous.

  • Pontifex

    I haven’t read comics for a few years now, but I am a huge fan of the fourties WW. I still have my gold hardback edition with the introduction by Steinem, so it is some dismay that I read this article. What’s next? Wonder woman was the result of a rape by Hercules?

    I don’t have my Bullfinch’s to hand, but a quick look at the Wikipedia page “amazons” has no mention of eating the male offspring, nor of killing the men from a neighboring tribe they had sex with. There have been women found in graves with weapons and other items of war in the land where the Amazons supposedly lived. My supposition is that these were women who, like Boadiccea, rode into battle with men, not an all girl army.

    But to me the amazing thing about fanboys going ballistic over discussions like this is that they seem never to know that Wonder Woman, like Buffy, is the creation of a *man* who saw the utter lack of decent female heroes in his time:

    “Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks
    force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to
    be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong
    qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious
    remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of
    Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.”

    So DC fires its two most prominent women and state that it is only necessary to focus on boys? That is a self defeating prophecy. It worked in the early fourties, but maybe now the industry has become so offensive to many women that it is too late.

    My favorite god(esse)s are Diana & Inanna. I think the tale of the Virgin Huntress and Aecteon is a good parable about harassment/objectification, and that the tale of Inanna getting drunk with her uncle is just plain hilarious. I mean the poetic translation by Wolkstein & Kramer, not the version by Trina Robbins, which cheapens my favorite god.