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Great Hera!

Grant Morrison Says His 2012 Wonder Woman Series “Needs Sex”

Wonder Woman has been connected to sex and fetishism since she was first introduced by William Moulton Marston in 1941. Many creators have taken on the Amazon since then and have addressed those aspects of her creation to varying degrees. Well after his appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival recently, author Grant Morrison let the world know that for his looming Wonder Woman series he won’t be shying away from Wonder Woman’s sexuality and the implications bondage has for the famous character. 

Laura Sneddon transcribed Morrison’s entire talk from the festival on her site ComicBookGRRRL. “I’m sweating the minute you said fetish!” Morrison laughed as a member of the audience asked how he’d portray Wonder Woman’s fetishized nature in his work. He explained a bit about the characters origins and how Marston and his wife Elizabeth Marston created Wonder Woman, “because they felt that Superman represented a kind of blood-curdling masculinity as they said, so they wanted to introduce somebody who was a bit more feminine, but now at the same time Marston also had all these amazing kinks, because he had this idea that basically the world would be better if men would just submit to women’s complete instruction.”

Morrison taking on Wonder Woman has been teased for several years now to, I’m sure, both elation and fright depending on fans differing opinions of the famous author, but from what he had to say at the festival, his Wonder Woman story would tackle her intentional origins head on and with respect.

“The [original] Wonder Woman strip had this weird libidinous kind of element and obviously on Paradise Island, it was this amazing Second Wave, separatist, feminist idea of an entire island where women had ruled for 3000 years and what they did for fun was chase one another! So the girls would dress up like stags and run through the forest and another girl would chase them and then they’d capture the girl, tie her up and put her on a table and pretend to eat her at a mock banquet. This is a typical Wonder Woman adventure! [laughs] In 1941,” he said.

Morrison remarked “that energy left the strip” after Marston passed away. “They were really worried about what he was doing, the bondage elements were becoming more and more overt, but the sales were good! [laughs] This was working! Unlike Superman, as you say, I started looking at trying to do a Wonder Woman that brought back some of these elements but without it being prurient or exploitative.”

And that was his starting point. “Superman when he began was, he could throw people out of windows, you used to see him drop kicking guys into the ocean, and obviously that would kill you. You know Batman had a gun and sometimes he would shoot people. But those things weren’t intrinsic to the strips, you know, you could take out those elements, you could take out the murder element of Superman and Batman and the strips still worked. But when you took the sex out of Wonder Woman, the thing went flat,” he told the audience. “So it seemed that there was something about those libidinous elements that were actually fundamental to the concept of Wonder Woman, and trying to find a way to put those back without being William Moulton Marston and not being into what he was into, was quite a difficult thing.”

“I think I’ve found a way to get all that back in again but it took a lot of reading,” he continued, “This has been the hardest project I’ve ever done. I had to read feminist theory all the way through, from Simone De Beauvoir to Andrea Dworkin and apply it to this character. And to try and do something that incorporated those ideas but completely took them in a different direction. So I mean beyond that I’ll say, Wonder Woman needs sex definitely because you know, again as I said in [Supergods], they kind of transformed her into a cross between the Virgin Mary and Mary Tyler Moore. This girl scout who had no sexuality at all and the character’s never quite worked since then. In the way that Superman’s supposed to stand for men but at least he’s allowed to have some kind of element of sexuality, Wonder Woman is expected to stand for women without any element of sexuality, and that seems wrong.”

Morrison always seems to have a lot on his plate (still waiting for that Multiverse project) and with DC’s relaunch this past September and the writer tackling Superman with the new Action Comics title who knows if his Wonder Woman project will see the light of day in 2012 as he says. Not to mention the fact that Brian Azzarello is currently writing the character and having great success in the sales department.

The biggest question about Morrison’s Wonder Woman is how he’ll actually get a title to showcase the character’s sexuality and fetishism without going down the path of straigh titillation or gratuitousness, something that caused a big stir with fans when the first issues of Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws were released. It’s certainly a thin line but even if he does cross over people will buy it, number one, because it’s Morrison, and number two, because that’s exactly what some fans have been wanting to see from a Wonder Woman book. Though Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz‘s Wonder Woman: Bondage project was never going to see the light of day so maybe Morrison really does have a handle on how to balance Wonder Woman’s fetishism and strength as a female.

It’s important to note however, that while many will jump at the chance to read a Wonder Woman title dealing with bondage and the like, Alisha Smith, former New York State Assistant Attorney, was just forced to resign after allegations of being a dominatrix at fetish parties in her past. It’s interesting that what makes a fictional character do better makes a real woman do worse. Just something to ponder.

Also something to ponder? Morrison mentioned Superman being more violent in his past and Batman using guns and that they were still interesting after that was taken away from them yet in Final Crisis he once again put a gun in Batman’s hands (and had him use it) and his take on Superman in Action is far more violent and with less power, much like his original incarnation.

What do you think about Morrison’s outlook on the famous Amazon? Would you buy his Wonder Woman based on what he had to say?

(via ComicBookGRRRL)

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  • Anonymous

    Yes I would definitely buy it. It has always annoyed me that Wonder Woman is portrayed as virginal and innocent while Superman and Batman get to have all the sex they want. To this day it is difficult to find a major female character who isn’t either virginal-yet-sexualized, celibate, a slut, or happily monogamous. I would love to see a Wonder Woman who simply enjoys sex every once in a while. It sounds as if Morrison really will do his darnedest to make the book about a character’s sexuality rather than a sexualized character. 

  • Anonymous

    I’ve really only read the Greg Rucka WW books, from about 7 or 8 years ago (though I’m gonna pick up the New 52 issues soon), and I didn’t get that Ms. Woman (ha!) was desexualized the way he wrote her. She wasn’t in a relationship at the time, but there was that hot lawyer and then the stormy batman-as-ex-boyfriend thing. Yeah, she probably could have gotten down some, but that lady is BUSY! She’s all running her whole UN Ambassador office, flying around in that plane and saving the world, then dealing with Ares, she’s a professional lady who does not have time for your games. Though I would have made time for that lawyer…that’s for sure. 

    I like that Grant Morrison is doing his due diligence in the research department, but men dealing with women’s sexuality always makes me a little nervous. By which I mean, I hope she’s Bi. 

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I mean, I trust Grant Morrison and his research so much, but I’m still overwhelmed with dread over the thought of “[MAN] says [WOMAN] needs sex!”

    There’s some shit that you can’t just research.  No amount of theory can compare to the experience of living as a woman in this society.

  • SuperZADL

    I’ve been reading the 1940′s era Wonder Women issues recently, and I’ve read and laughed about the deer hunting scene he described above. There’s a lot of that in those books. Though if I read them as a kid, I bet I would have missed it all. 

    That said, I really liked the 80′s reboot of the series best. I didn’t think she was desexualized, after all she went on dates with Superman a couple of times.

  • Abel Undercity

    Maybe I’m just an aberrant, but Grant Morrison has always been a hit-or-miss writer for me.  But Wonder Woman owning (or even having) her own sexuality has always been a missing ingredient for the character in my lifetime.  I mean good Lord, even Superman has (or had, thanks New 52) a sex life.  So I’m going to take a “wait and see” approach.

  • Stephanie

    If I’ve never read a Wonder Woman comic before, where should I start?

  • Michelle Fitzgerald

    Really anywhere. Find a trade book (a collection of a series of comics printed into a large book) and just read that. You can’t really go wrong that way. Or you can just pick up with the new 52 series but I’ve been unable to find a freakin’ single issue. Probably due to my area not having many comic book stores.

  • Michelle Fitzgerald

    Oh, also big book stores like Barnes and Noble carry the trade books of comics, but not individual comics.

  • John Seavey

    I would really love to see a sex-positive take on Wonder Woman that “isn’t prurient or exploitative”. Wonder Woman has always seemed to me to be a character who is very smart and self-aware, and people like that tend to be pretty good to their own bodies and enjoy feeling good. If Morrison does this right, it could be a definitive take on the character.

  • Null

    Be warned, this is Grant Morrison. Remember the Invisibles? This could be anything from ‘WW likes to be spanked once in a while’ to ‘WW is a transsexual dominatrix who’s actually the projection of a hyperdimensional goddess into our space who can only be seen by the consumption of acid after an occult ritual’.

    But seeing as DC will probably make him behave, what this really means is we’re going to see WW tying guys up a lot. (BDSM has to be F/m to be PC.) Which will probably make a lot of the readership very happy.

  • SuperZADL

    I would look for a copy of the George Perez books from the late 80′s. It’s the traditional origin with a nice dose of mythology. 

    Here’s a link to the trade paperback collection at Amazon 

  • Francesca M

    I’ve always been of a mind that ‘Wonder Woman has sex. I just don’t need to know the deets thanks.”

  • Anonymous

    Even better, find them at the Library. You can see whether you like them first. 

    Also, as I mentioned up there, I started with the Greg Rucka ones, from like 2003. Loved them. the New 52 is good, but very very gory. Not sure if you’re into that. 

  • Kalynn Osburn

    Part of what I always liked about Wonder Woman was that she was always AWARE of her sexuality without exploiting herself. That’s the biggest problem these days with feminism. We think that in order to be respected as women we need to erase any existence of sex or sexuality inherent to our nature otherwise we risk being turned into an object of desire or judged by our sisters for allowing ourselves to be sexual. Wonder Woman didn’t allow others to define how she saw HERSELF. She was powerful, dominant, sexual and she has a strong libido but while those were aspects of her personality they were not all which comprised her. She accepted it but she was still more than that. I applaud Morrison’s for trying to go beyond the obvious and apply subtle sexuality to a character that admittedly runs the risk of being overtly sexual.

  • Anonymous

    I trust Morrison with this subject almost as little as I trust Mark Millar.

  • DH

    Seems like this could be really good or really awful. I enjoy some of Morrison’s stuff, and I do think he’s serious about how much work he’s willing to put into this title, but he also seems occasionally to be drinking his own Kool-Aid. 

    Seconding the desire to see a bi or pansexual WW.

  • Life Lessons

    I would like for Wonder Woman to be an incredible woman who isn’t a sex object. I’m not necessarily thrilled with WW’s early life as a bondage person, but whatever.

  • Jay Insult

    The first thing I thought of while reading this was about Rucka’s run actually, which featured one of my favorite takes on WW since George Perez’s immediate post-Crisis work. Morrison, as is fairly typical of his output of late, completely ignores Rucka’s work, in particular the fact that Rucka dealt with Diana’s sexuality with nuance and tact, when he claims that Diana has been completely desexualized. Rucka showed Diana as very matter-of-fact about how growing up on Themyscira had formed her sexuality, as expressed in the book that she had published early in Rucka’s run. It was tasteful, showed a liberated, unapologetic attitude toward sex and sexuality, and at no point felt gratuitious, leering, or exploitative.

    Morrison, at one point in his career, was able to write such nuanced material, but in recent years I have lost all faith in his abilities to do so. I fear that his acknowledgement of this (undeniably true) aspect of WW’s history, will take the form of titillation for the good old “male gaze” dressed up in as much feminist lit as Morrison can ham-fistedly reference. Worst case scenario I can foresee is Morrison helming the world’s foremost female superhero and using that opportunity to write glorified and – sadly – canonical slashfic.

  • Jay Insult

    But DOES Morrison have subtlety in his arsenal as a writer? Have you read any of the mainstream Marvel or DC books he has written in the past decade or so, from New X-Men on? I certainly agree with your take on Diana’s sexuality, but “subtle” is not a word I associate with Morrison.  I don’t think he is at all the writer to handle such a thing with tact.

  • Anonymous

    Greg Rucka’s run is a good place to start. It was amazing.

  • Jay Insult

    This is the point I keep coming back to: you’ve already seen it. Read Greg Rucka’s WW. Diana essentially says in her book and in ensuing interviews “I grew up on an island full of only women. What do you think went on there? Next question.” Just because Grant Morrison claims an issue has never been addressed before doesn’t make it so. For all of his worship of Golden Age comics by the original creators, he has a very selective memory for the work of his own contemporaries, which as a responsible writer in a shared universe he ought to be. Remember that time he thought he was reinventing the wheel by putting Dick Grayson in the Batman uniform, when it has been done in the mid-90s? Yeah, this is that all over again.

  • DH

    …I’ve read the Rucka WW. I know that she has, in her past, been portrayed or at least hinted that way. I would like writers to continue portraying her that way. I guess I should have made more clear that I want to see MORRISON do this.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, you got this exactly right I think. He let her be comfortable with who she was and her sexuality. It wasn’t anything she struggled with or needed to “deal with.” Sex positive, woman positive. I think I’ll go back and read that Rucka run soon.

    And now you’ve got me worried about that worst case scenario.

  • Anonymous

    I think I have the same opinion as everyone else: it could be good but I fear the worst.

  • Jay Insult

    This is perfectly valid only if you grant the premise…but people claiming WW has been portrayed as some kind of chaste shrinking violet whilst Superman and Batman have been boning everything that moves is simply not an accurate assessment. Let’s look at the facts: WW is a complex character, a diplomat for peace who is nonetheless a badass WARRIOR. Have we already forgotten when she put Max Lord’s head on backwards? She did what she felt she had to for the greater good (to prevent Superman from being used as a weapon) when she knew it was something neither Superman or Batman were capable of. In modern continuity at least, Superman has only ever deigned to kill the Phantom Zone criminals and Doomsday, and Batman has never killed. Sure, we are talking about killing here, not sex, but the point of this little tangent was that Diana is consistently portrayed as not having the same morals as those brought up in “Man’s World.” Clark, despite his alien origins, was raised with conservative, traditional midwestern values, while Bruce’s priorities were formed by trauma. Note that I would never suggest Diana is immoral or amoral, merely that her morals are differently formed.

    Now I would challenge you to defend the claim that Clark and Bruce have been shown having so much more sex than Diana. At the very least, there was something always going on with Steve Trevor in Diana’s early adventures and across several decades. Contemporary portrayals suggest Diana has had her share of sex partners across the gender spectrum, although we haven’t seen a whole lot of them. It simply isn’t that central to her adventures, but it is decidedly a part of her life.

    If anything, farmboy Clark is portrayed as WAY more virginal and innocent. He’s the Big Blue Boy Scout whose moral directives are infallible. Rarely in 70+ years have we seen Clark do anything but pine for Lois Lane until he married her and enjoyed a healthy married sex life with her. Who else was there? OK, Lori Lemaris, maybe, assuming he ever figured out how to get it on with the fish half. Lana Lang back in Smallville? OK, maybe modern readings would have them sneaking out to the barn or the grain silo, hormones a-ragin, but the classic portrayals of Clark’s youth are always this idealized midwest to the point of being demure. Maybe the young buck that played young Clark on the Smallville TV show was getting it on regularly (I don’t know; never really payed attention) but a WB series is hardly canonical. Who else was there? Cat Grant maybe? Despite her vixen portrayal on Lois & Clark in the 90s, I never got the read from the comics that anything was really happening with her and Clark. In fact, the only other woman I can ever recall people assuming Big Blue had bedded was…Wonder Woman herself. But this was largely conjecture, except in Frank Miller’s DK2, but the less said about contemporary Frank Miller the better. So Clark has most likely had sex with three women, who creepily all have the same initials. In over 70 years of stories, that isn’t exactly setting the night on fire.

    Speaking of conjecture about Wonder Woman’s sex life, modern writers are a lot more fond of pairing her up with BATMAN…getting the two hardened warriors together to see what happens. Greg Rucka made some heavy implications; Joe Kelly explored the possibility during his run on JLA; even the writers of the Justice League animated series were fond of romantic tension between the two. This pairing aside, Batman has indeed probably had the greatest amount of “on-camera” or strongly implied sex. Catwoman definitely, Talia definitely, Silver St. Cloud definitely. Julie Madison most likely. Kathy Kane (pre-Crisis) most likely. Vesper Fairchild. Sasha Bordeaux, possibly? I can’t recall clearly. Vicki Vale? Movie definitely, comics maybe. Poison Ivy? Who knows if they’ve ever actually done the deed, but they may as well have, and it bears mentioning that Batman is always the one controlled by Ivy’s sexuality. Then there are 2-dimensional characters like Jezebel Jet who are sadly canonical thanks to…Grant Morrison! If we expand the view to TV and movie adaptations, you have to add in Andrea Beaumont, MAYBE Rachel Dawes, and whoever Bruce had sex with in the best-forgotten Joel Schumacher films. So OK, yes, Batman has bedded quite a few ladies in his day. But then again, how many of them were not fucked up, destructive relationships that ended in tragedy in some way or another for one or both parties? Just look at how many of them are villains and you will see that Batman’s sex life is fraught with baggage and conflict. Not exactly a model of healthy sexuality. And they don’t last long. No partner has ever gotten close enough to come between Bruce and his mission.

    So we have Diana, who has had sexual relationships through the years but has never been defined by it. We have Clark, who is defined by being at times an almost sexless goodie-two-shoes. And we have Bruce, who enters into destructive relationships with women who try to kill him or end up getting killed themselves. I would say out of the 3, Wonder Woman fares the best!

  • Jay Insult

    I certainly agree with you there. It is the portrayal of Wonder Woman’s sexuality that certainly makes the most sense for the character.

  • Amanda Jean Carroll

    I want Wonder Woman to have sex and all, but the character needs a LOT more than that to be as fully formed as she should be. 
    Also, throw my hat into the Greg Rucka love pile! 

  • Anonymous

    I agree she is more of a badass warrior. I would not say, however, that she has had blatantly sexual relationships through the years. She has had relationships, and the reader may assume as much sex as he or she wants, but I’ve read every single issue since the 80′s reboot and I cannot recall a single time that the writer actually showed that intercourse had taken place. Granted I haven’t read any JLA or other books in which WW guest starred, so I may not have all the information. 

    All I’m saying is that her sex life can be logically inferred, sure, but taken at *face value* we actually have no way to be certain she has really had sex (which cannot be said for Batman or Superman). I remember the time when she invited Trevor Barnes into her apartment with sex clearly on her mind (which was great!), but anything that might’ve happend was interrupted before he even got in the door. I *also* remember a letter to the editor sent after that issue, which expressed the reader’s horror at the idea that the up-until-then virginal Diana was inviting a man into her apartment. Perhaps it is this letter that is tainting my views about how Diana has been perceived, but it seems to me that nobody would ever have written a letter like this about Batman or even Superman. 

  • Xomyx

    Honestly I didn’t mind WW as asexual because a) asexual is a very valid sexual identity, and b) I trust few writers to write her sexuality well, if this turns into another Frank Miller Bondage thing I’ll wish it never happened at all.  

    And I really wish they’d write her as a lesbian/pansexual/bisexual/queer.  It makes a lot of sense, and Kate Kane will have more than two women in her dating pool XD