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That Hot Topic 
5th-Jul-2010 02:32 pm
Wonder Woman
I don't think there's likely to be a Monday Linkblogging this week; more of a collection of shortish posts containing both links and opinions, because I actually have more of the latter than the former.

As a start, I've had a few people ask me what I think about Wonder Woman's new outfit, and my reaction is mostly just to shrug. It's not like I can complain about it on style grounds, because that would put me in an awkward position, but it does lead me to my major objection:

What in the names of all seven Hells is Diana doing cosplaying as me?

Also, I still don't understand why men think it's possible to fight in a corset.

Still, it's always hilarious when MainStream Media think comics are their business. DC Women Kicking Ass showcases some of the lunatic fringe.

More important than the costume - I know, what a ridiculous concept, that a woman who looks at the picture books should think anything more important than outfits - is the 'new direction' that J. Michael Straczynski is claiming to take her in, as covered in his little editorial in Wonder Woman #600. Never mind how stupid is the idea that a character that's so well established and loved that she has a 600th issue would need a complete revamp and retcon like this. The new 'direction' seems to flyso wildly off the 'point' of Diana that it makes me wonder if J.M.S. has even read a Wonder Woman comic.

That is not what her name is supposed to imply.

neo_prodigy has also talked about Diana today, and he had this to say, which really hit home one of the problems with this whole business:
The gods have essentially altered the timeline of the Amazons and ultimately Diana. She's been powered down and according to JMS, her character is being altered to shoehorn characters like Trinity and Buffy. He wasn't fucking around about the Trinity influence. In the first issue, Wonder Woman literally does battle with evil agents, runs the streets and goes to see the Oracle. First of all, no, just no. Diana is not Trinity, nor is she Buffy. She's the heroine that walks the tight rope of ingeniue princess ambassador and powerful alpha woman. A powerful alpha woman who has no business being depowered.
Forget how disgusting it is that another female superhero is being depowered, and really look at what this means. This is a writer looking at a seventy year old character who happens to be female, powerful and independent, and decided to 'update' her by transforming her into a clone of a ten year old archetype of 'female, powerful, independent,', because this is what female, powerful and independant is, these days, dear, dontchaknow?

Apparently, according to JMS and the PtB at DC, there can only be one female superhero, and all female superheroes must conform to this character. It's Buffy or nothing. Because obviously a story about a teenage girl discovering herself and the world through puberty and in early adulthood is the only story that's applicable to women, ever.

Which is presumably what led JMS think it's OK to make his new toy twenty three years old (actually, I got that from an interview; in #600 he says she's 20, unless he thinks a 3 year old is an infant, in which case he's got more issues than how he views women.)

Twenty three years old.

I don't even know where to start, that makes me so angry. This woman is the woman that every active woman in the DCU is actively shown to be looking up to. This is the second (or first, who keeps track?) woman to join the Justice League. This is a woman who last week had a superhero career as lengthy and respected as Superman and Batman.

Twenty three years old.

The character DC trots out as its 'rolemodel for girls' character.  Probably the most famous female superhero of the lot, certainly the most recognisable, in Real Life in in universe.

Forget experience, forget compassion and understanding and a nurturing instinct that stretches from here to Olympus. Forget truth and knowledge and finding yourself. Forget learning and growing and looking out for the women less experienced than yourself. None of that is as important as being young. Because if a woman dares to approach thirty, she ceases to be interesting as a character and J. Michael Straczynski doesn't want to write her.

Well, JMS... as a woman, who reads comics and just happens to be an adult and closer to thirty than any other multiple of 10, let me just add to the chorus of people saying fuck you. I want my grown up superhero back.

This post is also posted at InnerBrat @ Dreamwidth where it has comment count unavailable comments. Feel free to join in the conversation wherever you feel most comfortable.
5th-Jul-2010 03:00 pm (UTC)
It's infuriating that the only idea most WW writers seem capable of in regard to Paradise Island is to destroy it. How many times has that happened in the past fifteen years alone? The gods forbid that a nation of women be allowed to thrive, apparently. But then the gods themselves seem to be getting marginalized to a plot device here.

Not to mention how bitterly ironic that Buffy, intended to be a strong female icon, is now being used to undermine another, far more established icon.
5th-Jul-2010 03:04 pm (UTC)
Buffy is a great female icon. She's a strong, powerful girl central to a very good stroy about coming of age and personal growth and discovery.

I don't understand why women aren't allowed to be grown ups anymore.
5th-Jul-2010 09:52 pm (UTC)
It's impossible to think of Diana as anything but grown-up. One could portray her as somewhat sheltered when she first leaves Themyscira, I suppose, but that would hardly be a 'coming-of-age' story, given the upbringing she had already had by then.

If anything, it's more of a 'first day of the career you were born to do' kind of story, and that pre-supposes one is talking about an adult.

5th-Jul-2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
I can't write anything coherent about this yet, or I start frothing at the mouth. So, I'll just co-sign this rant.
5th-Jul-2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
It's pretty clear that even if JMS brings his A game to Wonder Woman, DC has really messed up on this. Everyone, from the Tea Party to Gloria Steinem, is angry. And while I would agree from a narrow PoV of "no one cares about Wonder Woman based on sales," DC seems to have been unaware that WW's popularity is entirely outside comic books. She is far more of an icon than they every guessed. And I wonder if this would have happened back in the day when Jenette Kahn ran DC and seems to know what it meant to have icons around. (The way that Superman is being handled, while far less problematic in terms of external issues, still shows that DC doesn't really know what it has.)

I will place the blame, though, totally on JMS, since I think he would not have taken the WW and Superman assignments without a lot of freedom to do what he wants. And I think he is sure that since he created strong female characters in Ivanova and Dellen, that he's proven his bona fides and doesn't need to answer to anyone. As someone who likes some of his comics work but finds B5 to be insufferable, I wish I could say I am surprised.

Also, I really, really want Rucka back on WW.
(Deleted comment)
5th-Jul-2010 03:35 pm (UTC)
Maybe it's like a rule of the DCU. We can either have Dinah being written as grown up and confident by a writer who gives a shit about her, OR we can have Diana.

5th-Jul-2010 03:27 pm (UTC)
Honestly, the retcon is fucking terrible writing. Sometimes I think JMS shot his wad on Babylon 5.

If Hippolyta died on Paradise Island, how did that affect the "Our Worlds At War" arc where she obviously didn't take part in the fight against Imperiex?

If Wonder Woman is just now coming to grips with her power, who the fuck killed Maxwell Lord? (Of course, he's back now, so it almost doesn't matter, but still...)

I read somewhere (can't find the link right now), that this is only supposed to last about three years, and then the timeline will be restored, but damn...
5th-Jul-2010 03:52 pm (UTC)
JMS' take on Superman looks to involve him walking across America, so even if he's not been depowered, there's a similar (no pun intended) pedestrian, street level approach being taken.
(And Superman has been depowered pretty much every other time he's been rebooted. It's not specifically something that happens to female characters - it happens whenever writers who aren't very good, or in JMS' case aren't very good anymore, can't think of interesting ways to write powerful characters)

As for age...this is again a common problem in the big, old universes. The timeline when Batman Confidential launched suggested that he was a twentysomething too. I appreciate that they can't have the Trinity all be in their seventies, but veering so far in the other direction just looks like a tragic attempt to be hip.
5th-Jul-2010 04:07 pm (UTC)
I can't even talk coherently about this without wanting to rage and break things.

Which, as that's a fairly rare state for me, probably expresses a great deal in and of itself.
5th-Jul-2010 06:09 pm (UTC)
5th-Jul-2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
I'm gonna be honest. I gave up on comics a long time ago and this was pretty much the reason. Women really aren't respected in comics. Maybe Diana was old-fashioned and you can certainly update that, but why make her a child? She was powerful and capable and now she's a kid who's probably gonna have to rely on a dude in the way grown-up Diana never would have. She would've been their equal, with her own unique input and perspective. Now she's gonna be guided. She's not going to be the equal because as a 23 yr-old you've already put her on lower ground than everyone around her by virtue of age. And THEN you depower her?

Where's the freaking depowering for Superman? He's so ridiculous that he's barely fit to be in a team, but no one would dare suggest a thing. This blows.
5th-Jul-2010 10:53 pm (UTC)
I still don't understand why men think it's possible to fight in a corset.

Because most men have never been IN a corset.
5th-Jul-2010 11:05 pm (UTC)
Also this sort of thing is the reason why I have given up on ever really following capes comics and just read TPB collections that don't seem obviously terrible and/or have the name "Gail Simone" in the credits. :/ I have no idea how to keep track of all this retcon mess and I don't want to have to when what I really want is awesome people beating the bad guys and saving the day. (And having cute daily life things in between.)

6th-Jul-2010 09:28 am (UTC)
Oh dear, it sounds like DC have really shot themselves in the foot here! I imagine (and hope) that this "new direction" will be scrapped before it does too much damage and they'll bring someone in who understands the old one.

It's amazing that they'd mishandle one of their cornerstone characters like that.
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