The Wonder Woman Reboot Makes Amazons Into Man-Eating Baby Slavers
By Alex Cranz
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?
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.
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.
¹From Issue #6 of Wonder Woman (2011), art by Cliff Chiang.
²From Issue #7 of Wonder Woman (2011), art by Cliff Chiang.