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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Essay

How Wonder Woman #7 Left a Bad Taste in My Mouth


It’s funny, because I was just writing about Wonder Woman this week for an unrelated project, and talking about how I’m relatively unfamiliar with her, and why. My point was that I’ve never really been overly interested in her as character because she is inextricable from the idea of “women.” To quote Dwayne McDuffie “If you do [one] black character or a female character or an Asian character, then they aren’t just that character. They represent that race or that sex, and they can’t be interesting because everything they do has to represent an entire block of people.” The solution is to provide a spectrum of characters that represent that block, and Wonder Woman, in her origin both fictional and real, was intended not just to be “a female superhero,” but “the female superhero.” As McDuffie was trying to point out: it’s hard to make a character a person when they have to represent an entire demographic of people. My growing interest in Wonder Woman as a character has paralleled my reading of stories that present her as human (metaphorically).

But when I said that the difficulty of extricating Wonder Woman from her status as “a paragon of the feminine” lead to me to be less interested in her, what I didn’t mean was that she should be separated completely from her origins as “a paragon of the feminine.” Which is kind of what happened in this week’s issue of Wonder Woman. (Spoilers ahead.)

I’ll let Tim Hanley explain:

In this issue, we learn that Hephaestus’ minions are the male children of Amazons, who they trade to Hephaestus in return for weapons.  Hephaestus takes them in and raises them as is own, and they’re one big happy family, working at the forge.  You see, thrice a century the Amazons go out looking for dudes to have sex with, seduce them with their feminine wiles, kill the dudes after they have sex with them, keep the female babies to be Amazons, and ditch the boys.  Apparently it’s been going on for a while.

Let me digress for a while.

I’m not a huge fan of the “demographically limited society is a philosophical utopia” trope. While the idea that an all female or all African (to name two prominent comic book examples) society would be a naturally more peaceful or technologically advanced one can be a narrative step that makes a firm stance that that minority demographic is worth welcoming into our culture in reality, it seems no more or less problematic than saying that an all male or all caucasian society would be a natural utopia.

On the other hand, there’s a lot of fantasy and science fiction out there that presents exactly the opposite: a female dominated society that is a hegemonic and oppressive dystopia. Most famously (because D&D has so many imitators and has founded so many fantasy tropes) the Drow of D&D’s Forgotten Realms setting, ruled by a evil spider-queen goddess. In Drow society men are enslaved for labor, sex, and reproduction. I like this trope even less, because it plays into the fears of every person who believes that the stated goal of feminism, gender equality, actually means “female dominance and male oppression,” or, for that matter, that “equality” means the oppression of the majority at the hands of the vengeful minority.

Ok, now lets put this out there: I have really been enjoying the New 52 Wonder Woman comic. It’s full of everything I like in modern mythological stories: blood magic, great curses, subtle mythological injokes for those who can notice them, oracles, gods, and inventively designed monsters. The first issue reminded me in a lot of ways of Sandman, and that’s just about the highest praise I can give anything that has mythological gods as its major characters.

So when the Amazons of Paradise Island made their first appearance in the comic, taunting Wonder Woman that they could smell the injured male god Hermes’ genitalia from yards away, and that they were toying with the idea of cutting “the offense from the offender,” I nodded. “Okay, this is what isolationist societies are like. It’s realistic. The Amazons are disgusted with Man’s World and project that hate onto individuals, but they don’t make war because it’s against their principles.”

Presenting the Amazons (or at least some Amazons) as people who openly and vocally despise the World of Man and will do anything to protect their home, but who value their principles of philosophy, peace, bravery, and violence-only-when-there-is-no-option-and-then-without-cruelty more than their animosity was fine with me. It’s a fine way to humanize the Amazons (who, prior to the New 52 were actually a separate race entirely) without denying Wonder Woman’s roots. You can humanize her as a character and keep from presenting Paradise Island as a stereotypical utopian society without removing the fact that she comes from a culture that prizes diplomacy as much as the warrior’s way, and art and philosophy and freedom as much as the thrill of battle. Ideally you’d get a society much like our own current one: flawed, in all likelihood with some new ways of separating citizens into stereotypes, but one that understands, for example, that politically sanctioned slavery, infanticide, and cold-blooded murder, even of our enemies, is wrong.

Oh, wait, the Amazons stopped killing male babies when Hephaestus said he’d trade weapons for them: so they’re only baby killers when slavery isn’t an option. Presenting the Amazons as murderers and slavers of men is that second trope that I mentioned above, the one that fails to subvert the, yes, still pervasive notion that if you put a woman in charge of something she’s going to oppress men (with more regularity than if the genders were reversed).

Even setting that aside, the plot twist doesn’t even make a lot of sense, as Hanley points out:

This bothers me.  For a lot of reasons, some of them dully logistical even.  I mean, how does Wonder Woman not know about this?  Was she literally JUST born?  Or did she just not notice all the babies, and everyone ducking out every 33 years?  It’s not a big island… I have NO idea why this was done.  It serves no purpose in the story, other than to make Wonder Woman look dumb repeatedly.

Indeed. Why do the Amazons need to have babies if they are immortal, or at least very long lived? If they aren’t immortal, how has Hippolyta always been their famed leader? If they aren’t immortal, why hasn’t Wonder Woman wondered how they were a functioning society at all since she believed, up until this issue, that she was the only child born to the Amazons in history?

I may have had trouble getting into Wonder Woman because of how she is painted as The Woman Superhero who represents All Women (Superman doesn’t explicitly represent masculinity, does he?), rather than as a single woman with her own unique characteristics. I like the idea of making her, and the Amazons, more human and fallible than godly and utopian. But slavery, murder, and infanticide aren’t relatable fallibility. They’re some of the worst acts that humans can inflict on other humans, and yes, assigning those acts to a group of characters who have historically been ones that built a feminist utopia (even if I’m not a big fan of that trope) left a gross taste in my mouth.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/maxwell.lachance Maxwell LaChance

    They did de-age WW, if it only happens once every 33 years, then she would have been part of the last batch…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=741755026 Alexander Lorenzen

    Since you mentioned the Drow in D&D, I just wanted to point out that, at least in R.A. Salvatore’s books, I think it’s unfair to claim that the trope applies. Do you think maybe it’s possible, based on the way other female characters (Catti-Brie, Alustriel, etc.) are portrayed, that he was only trying to show what a society dominated by one gender is like? I don’t think that means that it is necessarily an analogy for the male-bashing, false kind of feminism.

  • http://robot23.blogspot.com/ Jinxy Blastwave

    I agree completely with the Tim Hanley article, reading the issue yesterday, I wasn’t outraged or upset or anything like that, but what I was most of all was confused.  I just couldn’t understand why they took the story that way.  Was anyone particularly clamoring for these details?  Now, that said, this is the actual Amazonian mythology outside of comic books.  The occasional sex crusade, the killing of male children, I mean, that’s really the myth.  But that was never the myth in the comics.  Why make this change?  Because, not to be spoilery or anything, but in the books right now, is there even anyone for Diana to confront over this piece of history being hidden from her?  The narrative device usually goes: main character is lied to their whole life, they confront the liars (usually their family), and then leave the nest, saying screw you guys, I want nothing to do with you.  But who does Diana get to confront?  They’re all… indisposed at the moment, right?  She would have to fight Hera to make her undo what she did, and now that she knows her kinsmen are crummy, why would she bother?  Very odd choice, and the book had been going so well before now.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not particularly familiar with the Drow personally, but so long as they remain a female-dominated society that oppresses men on an institutional level (regardless of some female characters who go against the prevailing trend, which is I think what you were trying to bring to my attention) they still fit the trope. I also did not imply anything about Salvatore’s intentions in my article, but simply pointed out that this trope can play into the fears of those who think feminism necessarily means replacing an oppressive patriarchy with an oppressive matriarchy. 

  • http://twitter.com/mitaukano Kash Mitaukano

    The news about Wonder Woman has shocked a lot of us in the comic world. I mean yes, they were very
    peace loving and more awesome than thou for the longest time, but while some
    may not be a fan of that sort of female society lets break down what it has meant
    to fans over the decades.

    1. When Marston put
    together Wonder Woman back in the 1930s he was from an era (and personal
    mindset) that femininity is the gender that embodies and embraces intelligence,
    gentleness, and philosophy. While there are so many things that are wrong with
    Golden Age Wondy, she was at the time a breakout character that shook up the
    norm of super heroes.

     

    2. Fast forward to the
    late 80′s when Greg Perez reboots Wonder Woman, revamping her character and
    history to have a more decidedly Greek feel. The Amazons are women, created
    from the souls of Women killed by the violence of men. Now while this can be
    squickey subject what Perez does is use that origin of the Amazons to justify
    the reason they live in a peace loving Utopian society. They do not
    understand why they are so adverse to violence at first but eventually it comes
    out and bam we get a baby Wonder Woman from that whole shenanigans.

     

    3. Fast forward once
    again to within the last few years of Wonder Woman writing and we learn that
    yes while the Amazons on the surface appear to be completely at peace with
    themselves it has been a very thin veneer of peace. We learn that many
    political intrigues, oppression of ideas, and violence have been going on for
    quite awhile. 

     

    So yes, the series has its
    faults, and utopias are never very realistic, what they do for the people that
    read them is what matters. And what they do is make women and men imagine a
    society where females are warriors, princesses kick ass, and wearing star
    spangled panties with knee high boots is considered “about what’s
    needed” in man’s world for battle. I think they comic itself would fare
    much better without the horror element because if my kids grabbed Wonder Woman’s
    current run to read, I would not let them. Too much violence, not very kid
    friendly, infanticide, and slavery to boot. Good role models right there. 

     

    PS. Superman represents
    all nerdy males in the world. He was designed to be the male nerd’s fantasy
    life fulfilled.

  • Anonymous

    If so, she would have noticed other young Amazons growing up around her, huge evidence that she’s not the only Amazon child. Also, she’s the child of an affair between her mother and Zeus in the New 52, so, not actually conceived during one of those raids. 

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for bringing in the more Wonder-Woman-informed points! I agree with your PS. that Superman can been seen to represent nerds, but he was never explicitly meant that way. Krypton’s not a planet of nerds, for example.

    If so it would undoubtedly have been blown up by the Star Trek/Star Wars Wars or somesuch.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Kash Mitaukano,
    and I am a bit surprised that the quite well known fact about the
    origins behind WW is not mentioned in your article here. Marstons
    faiblesse for “amazons” and strong, dominant women (who every now and
    then tie men up etc ;) was a quite interesting “twist” and for its time
    quite unusual. So I do not really see this portraiing of WW as something
    strange, more of a flirt with the original story/character.

    Or to quote Marston himself: “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.”

  • Anonymous

    I think there’s quite a tonal difference between “force, strength, and power” and “coercive sex, murder, infanticide, and slavery.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nika-Kalantar/100001282923942 Nika Kalantar

    Actually, I only started getting into comics maybe a year ago and Started looking into Wondy only as of the reboot. Before, I knew the general facts but I sort-of jokingly assumed that the male children were killed off so this new development doesn’t shock me in the least. If anything this seems logical, I mean, you live in a society that approves only of one gender so you’re going to oppress the hell out of the other one.

  • Anonymous

    “Krypton’s not a planet of nerds”

    They cosplay as Flash Gordon, spend their time building rocketships in their basement, and have never had sex.

    You be the judge.

  • Terence Ng

    i mean, is there any way that the Amazons could ever come back from something as severe as a history of willing genocide and infanticide? It seems like an awfully limiting reveal. It’s not like the reveal in say, the Justice League cartoon, where Amazons teach that men are violent and evil, but secretly buried a man on the island who washed up after saving the life of a child. This is them having a long-standing history of killing babies and men without a second thought…

    Kind of wrote themselves into a corner for Amazons having any sort of protagonist role or justified saving…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nika-Kalantar/100001282923942 Nika Kalantar

     Wait, what? I get all the other points, but they never have sex?

  • Anonymous

     Gosh- Krypton is clearly a world of Geeks, they were ruled by a science council.

  • http://twitter.com/zaewen Zaewen

    The problem with the Drow is that they are not actually a matriarchy (in the actual sense of what even the most dystopian one would look like) as there are many facets of the society that only make sense in a patriarchal worldview, such as the women being highly sexualized (versus just being highly sexual like men are stereotyped to be in our current culture) and the men have far more occupations and life paths open to them. The Drow are far more an example of a sexualized power fantasy than anything else, or more simply just a trope meant to use female sexual power as shorthand for evil, alien, and oh so titillating.

    Also, it doesn’t really stand out as an example of what a society dominated by one gender since almost every other society portrayed is definitely patriarchal.

  • http://www.mygeekygeekyways.com Starman

    Depending on the writer, all Kyrpotnian children were created through invitro-fertilization.  They felt they were far too advanced to waste time with the “sweaty-and-sticky” bit, as I believe Jack Knight referred to it when he became lost in time and wound up on Krypton in the Starman series.  The idea of sexual congress wa so foreign to them, Jack had to spell out his lewd remark to Superman’s grandpa. XD

  • Frodo Baggins

    “They felt they were far too advanced to waste time with the “sweaty-and-sticky” bit”

    That is decidedly unlike nerds.

  • Frodo Baggins

    I think those could be read as two sides of the same coin. After all, coercion and slavery are all about force and power.

  • Frodo Baggins

    “Is there any way that the Amazons could ever come back from something as severe as a history of willing genocide?”

    The USA did. Heck, Germany did within decades.

  • Anonymous

    Being strong does not mean being EVIL. There is a difference between being a strong person, and using that strength to do BAD THINGS. That’s what separates a hero from a villain, and is a very important distinction to make.

  • Frodo Baggins

    In theory, yes. But point me toward a nation (since that’s what we’re talking about here, not individuals) that is strong, yet hasn’t used that strength to commit atrocities.

  • Anonymous

    “Superman doesn’t explicitly represent masculinity, does he?”

    Frankly, I think he kind of does, at least in the hands of certain authors, where strength, courage, resolve and whatnot are expressly “manly” issues.  SuperMAN, after all, not SuperHUMAN.

    I think a large portion as to why Wonder Woman is so tied to femininity is simply because of her origins in a woman-dominated society.  If Wonder Woman was an alien like Superman with no matriarchal backstory, then perhaps she wouldn’t “represent all women” as she does when she comes from a place which is *by definition* about a completely female environment.

  • Anonymous

    We are not taking about governments. We are talking about societies, and specifically, about the gender of women and their archetypes. But how would you even qualify a nation as “strong”? A good economy? How many wars they won? A nation that is a “superpower” has the ability to influence its interests across the world, namely with a nuclear bomb. But that does not mean they’ve actually nuked someone, and if they did, out of anything but necessity. It doesn’t make them inherently evil, no more than it makes the soldiers in a war evil; they are just doing what needs to be done, or else, someone else will do it to them. Humanity sucks in that way.

    But back to the point, the quote you’re contesting is about how girls didn’t want to be any of the stereotypical women in comics, because they lacked strength. Allowing women characters to have strength shouldn’t automatically MAKE THEM EVIL. That is what Susanna was saying.

  • Anonymous

    “I think they comic itself would fare much better without the horror element because if my kids grabbed Wonder Woman’s current run to read, I would not let them. Too much violence, not very kid friendly, infanticide, and slavery to boot. Good role models right there.”

    Frankly, it’s not meant for your kids. This run has made the character relevant to a much larger audience, and that’s a huge success. WW is still heroic, and now we have a very interesting cast of characters to go along with her (and the lack of a supporting cast has been a common complaint prior to this version).

  • http://www.facebook.com/eric.lindberg3 Eric Lindberg

    Oh, blurgh. This is why I dropped Azzarello’s Wonder Woman. First the unnecessary and  completely unoriginal retcon to her origin (daughter of Zeus? Right, because that’s not the origin of almost every character in Greek mythology!) and now this? Murderous baby-killing succubi Amazons? I thought these were the good guys!

    In fairness, yes, this is inspired by the original Amazon myths. But I thought the idea was that they went to Themyscira to get away from the violent, amoral world of men. I could see this as a secret shame in the Amazons’ ancient past but to have been consistently doing this through their whole history? How are we supposed to see these as our protagonists and how could a society like that produce someone like Wonder Woman?

    Ironically, as a male, I never had any problem relating to Wonder Woman. Yes, she’s THE superheroine but when writers actually treat her as a person and not an ideal, she’s a very principled and compassionate character. Part of that came from the Amazons’ Gospel of Gaea — embracing peace and tolerance and using violence only as a last resort. Guess that’s all out the window now.

  • Frodo Baggins

    We are not taking about governments. We are talking about societies
    The Amazons are a society, government, and nation. Whatever you want to call it. A discrete political and cultural entity.

    specifically, about the gender of women and their archetypes.
    The evils in question–infanticide, genocide, and slavery–are perpetrated by this nation, as a whole, not by Wonder Woman individually. So her personal ethics or strength, as they relate to the female archetype, are not in dispute.

    But how would you even qualify a nation as “strong”?
    The Amazonian nation is strong in that it is self-sufficient, stable, and able to defend itself. Also in that it is able to raid nearby countries, kidnapping, enslaving, and murdering their citizens, without fearing consequences.

    Allowing women characters to have strength shouldn’t automatically MAKE THEM EVIL.
    The Amazons’ strength does not make them evil. But it is a precondition of the specific evils they commit. Furthermore, those evils are consistent with some qualities of their society that contribute to their strength: isolationism, martial discipline, and misandry. And again, they’re a nation, not characters. Would you consider any American character branded as evil because of the Trail of Tears? 

    In light of that, while not reflecting a positive message, it does seem plausible in the context of human history (not to mention directly drawn from the original mythology of the Amazons on which the DC incarnation is based): countries with the capacity to dominate others often do.

    I’m not even arguing for or against the inclusion of this plot point. I’m just saying, the concepts of power and oppression, as they apply to societies, are linked.

  • Anonymous

    The Amazons *are* characters. They do not exist and were specifically constructed for a specific narrative. That’s part of the point of the article – that their society/nation/whatever was painted as being a certain way, which is the sexist idea that women in power = bad, bad, bad! Not just “that’s humanity for ya” bad, like trying to conquer the world, no they’re man-hating baby killers. They could have been designed to be a certain way, and instead, the authors chose to go the baby-killing route. And if you want to challenge this and say that they HAD to, bulls**t, they’re fictional people and they could’ve written anything they wanted. The specifics of vampires, werewolves, etc are played with everyday, but the sexism that was rooted in the birth of the so-called Amazons still remains today: that strong, independent women are man-hating baby killers.

    And you may notice that there’s a lot of political stuff today with that same message, so hopefully you see why this particular rendition of the Amazons would “leave a bad taste” in our mouths.

  • onewordlong

    Hi, first time reader, so apologies if I “bullinachinashop” this.
    I’d like to add in the idea that this story choice by the writer is sure to come back.  With the ongoing serial nature of comics in mind, that need has to be considered.  The idea Azzarello has created is only one element, and one that’s a radical departure from all the prior WW stories–like most of what the writer has done so far. With that in mind I believe it’s being used to build a different world for WW to come from, one with a stark tension to react against.  Ongoing an novel concepts are necessary in storytelling, especially in comics.  The whole reason DC did their company wide reboot was because the product was moribund and dying. They couldn’t keep WW in publication.
    The storytelling choices made in this current run seem to be helping that situation.  If we don’t like what they’ve done to the Amazons, well do we have to? Are we supposed to? 
    I realize this article is predicated [partly] on the notion that WW is THE woman superhero, but actually she is not anymore, and the supporting cast in her book don’t need to represent the best of people.  The do need to be interesting–and sometimes shocking–in order to make the story compelling.  This is a harsh choice–maybe the wrong one–but it has lots more potential than limitation.

  • http://adornyourhearts.tumblr.com Xomyx

    I agree with you completely, except for the point that an all female or all African society would be “it seems no more or less problematic than saying that an all male or allcaucasian society would be a natural utopia.”

    Its not, its just not.  People of colour have been oppressed for hundreds of years very brutally, and part of the justification for doing so is the idea that they can’t take care of themselves.  It is similar to the idea that women are too stupid and childlike to be independent.  And its not distant history, after all the government is legislating that women need older white men to dictate to them what to do with their bodies, we treat native Americans as wards of the states, too stupid and backwards to take care of themselves, and I don’t even want to think about the racist things I’ve heard in regards to Trayvon Martin or Kony 2012 or the famine in Africa, its disgusting.    An all white society as a utopia upholds racist ideals and justifies the continuation of oppression and segregation, while all-women or all-African utopians challenge that narrative, and the idea of Amazonian society being literally Paradise Island is nice, therapeutic escapism from the oppression we face in daily life.  Which is why this is such a slap in the face to me, that escapism is gone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nika-Kalantar/100001282923942 Nika Kalantar

     The lonely perverted Superman-grandpa, oh dear, the image :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nika-Kalantar/100001282923942 Nika Kalantar

     As far as Europe is concerned Japan is practically an angel, hell, their old flag is an exhibit in a museum in Paris

  • Frodo Baggins

    The Amazons *are* characters.

    No, individual Amazons, like Diana and Hippolyte, are characters. But “The Amazons” are a country. Would it be clearer if I referred to it as “Amazonia?” In the same way, Dr. Doom is a character, but Latveria is a country.

    that their society/nation/whatever was painted as being a certain way, which is the sexist idea that women in power = bad, bad, bad!

    But the babykilling and such wasn’t invented specifically for DC. It’s part of the original Amazon mythology. If anything, Marston erasing that part of the concept was an intentional choice to whitewash them into a sacrosanct vision of female-run society. And in the context of Ancient Greece, babykilling and slavery wasn’t such a horrific thing. The Spartans bragged about that shit. If anything, that seems like the central issue DC writers are trying to explore: reconciling the bizarre excesses of ancient societies with modern moral principles. Not strong women = bad.

    And if you want to challenge this and say that they HAD to

    I’m not, I’m just saying they’re allowed to. It’s a theme that fits, unlike, say, making the Amazons be into bestiality or Scientology.

  • http://profiles.google.com/amberlovescomics Elizabeth-Amber Delaney

    I don’t remember being particularly inquisitive with my parents so why would Wonder Woman? I remember a friend telling me, when I was about 11, that her parents were divorcing and I didn’t even know what that meant. I pretended to know because she was sad. Call that isolated if you will. I also think it’s natural for some of us (women) to want the game to be fair; you rape and pillage – we can rape and pillage too. If you’ve never wanted vengeance or justice, good for you and your happy life. Some of us see anger and want that revenge even as women. We don’t always want to be paragons of peace. It’s great when it’s done. It’s just not remotely fair to say Wonder Woman is The Female Hero so she has to be peaceful and kind and so do all Amazons. Or worse, all Amazons are horrible and WW shows that a “real woman” isn’t like that. Women are as different as men. 

  • Life Lessons

    Frankly I don’t like the New WW at all. The whole thing about Hera being angry at Hippolyta for sleeping with Slutty Zeus is too sexist and idiotic for me. Zeus has a reputation being be a Slut and changing his form in order to get laid. So why all the drama? Or rather why write that stupid tripe in there in the first place? Couldn’t we have done something else?

    Note: I think being an ethical slut is GREAT! Go for it! However Zeus is NOT in that category.

  • http://twitter.com/SizzlerKistler Alan Kistler

    Traditionally, Wonder Woman is supposed to be about 21 or 22 when she first leaves the island. Add the “5 year” rule to that, she’s about 27 now. So she should have definitely noticed “Hey, these Amazons are only 5 years older than me.” Or, Hell, if the last time the Amazons did this was only 30 years ago even, it should be even more noticeable that she has kids around her age. AND it seriously changes the idea that one of Wonder Woman’s reasons for wanting to leave the island so badly was because she had never truly had “sisters” and friends she grew up with, just older sisters who were teachers and acquaintances.

    All in all, even in the reboot, this doesn’t make a lot of logistical sense. And I’d wonder why the Amazons weren’t afraid of their raids attracting attention to the island that they made such a big deal about keeping hidden.

    Excellent piece, btw. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/SizzlerKistler Alan Kistler

    Only the John Byrne version of Krypton involved a sexless society, where Kryptonians were paired for genetic compatibility and then had their DNA placed into gestation chambers. It was part of Byrne’s idea that Krypton was essentially an emotionless Hell that Superman had to escape, a society that made Vulcans seem overly passionate. This lasted about a decade before other writers began tweaking it and slowly introducing a more romantic version of Krypton again. By 2002, this idea was pretty much tossed aside and it was officially replaced by a new version of Krypton and its society just a couple years later. For the rest of Superman’s 74 year history, Kryptonians seem to relate to each other similarly to human beings. :-)

  • Peter Vervloet

    Well, all I can say is that this is yet another reason (I must be up to reason #5 now) why I’m very glad that I never picked up the new52 Wonder Woman. This certainly isn’t going to change my mind any time soon.

    Hey DC, how about we all pretend this reboot was just a bad dream and continue where we left off pre-Flashpoint, please?

  • Peter Vervloet

    Well, once upon a time Hera did make it her life’s purpose to make Heracles(Hercules) miserable because her husband slept around with yet another human girl. But she did eventually get over that and accept Heracles for who he was.

    … so it makes little sense to make her relapse into a vengeful banshee who can’t get herself to take out her fury on the actual root of her troubles… really, WHY repeat the whole Heracles thing anyway?

  • Anonymous

    To be fair–that’s Hera. From actual Greek mythology. Blame the Greeks :(

  • Anonymous

    Strictly speaking, your critique of the Drow really only fails in not going far enough to criticize them. They were utilized to fulfill a very evil-is-evil B&W contrast. The Drow don’t oppress men. They oppress everything. They don’t admire or encourage any characteristic associated to weakness. Thus affection, trust, etc. are despised. Both Drow males and females will betray and destroy basically anyone. The only significant difference is that females will be portrayed as able to insult males and this isn’t much humored in reverse.

    The terms of the problem often contain the solution. You simply can’t have dominance without some kind of oppression. It’s not possible to resolve to patriarchy or matriarchy. No -archy will ever represent equality except anarchy. This achieved when women reject men ruling them and men reject women ruling them. Thus describing which term in the problem solves the problem. People are afraid of the violence of power and to protect themselves from it they submit themselves to the least violent, effective defender. Then they develop an elaborate system of begging whatever that is to be benevolent to them. Though this can never be fair to either party. The defender, if benevolent, becomes a servant with rights defined by their submission to the will of the protected. The defender, if benevolent, becomes a crutch limiting the growth and independence of the protected. This is a lose-lose scenario. Since it is clear that each party will lose something you develop a trade balance. The defender, if benevolent, receives the admiration, cooperation, and authority associated to their role. The defender, if benevolent, prizes what it protects with great affection. Any imbalance of this is met with dissatisfaction. This does a great deal emotionally to hide the reality that the situation remains one where both parties are easily conditional slaves.

    In this way, though little else, the Drow actually have one up on other cultural ideas. Of everything a woman could admire about a man she admires when he has power and males do the same with women. It is all the signs of weakness of either mind or body that the Drow hate and they will abuse anything weak. They also give the greatest respect to the strong that their reasoning will support and constantly test strength by combat, sabotage, and manipulation. This leaves it to be considered why the female oppression trope exists because it should be apparent that the thing humans really distrust is power and great fear is associated to its use by malevolent characters – of which the Drow make an excellent example.

    It may sound silly but I believe that it centers around the trade balance. You see, if women are both strong and beautiful then it is a fear of men that they have nothing to trade. Men are only rarely prized for their beauty and generally thought of fondly for their utility. A character like Wonder Woman is therefore a problem to men who would not believe they are either powerful enough or desirable enough to offset her. This leaves them nothing with which to bargain to maintain her benevolent attitude. Thus you end up with the Amazons using men just to breed with and then discard. What value have men for a society like theirs? I don’t believe this is actually a very realistic attitude but I do believe it necessitates a problem which otherwise would not exist. Since there is this issue with an imbalance of estimated worth then a strong and beautiful woman will have people who do not have a benevolent attitude toward her. Since she has enemies it will be necessary to either fight or be oppressed at some point. If she doesn’t fight then her oppression reduces her to the equivalent of her opponent’s position and a necessity to be prized enough that their act of oppression does not lead to her complete destruction. Hmmm, but why am I focused on someone who is both strong AND beautiful? For exactly this reason. While women are not thought of as fitting for power men are not thought of as fitting for desire. The only possible equal solution that does not rob us all of things we value in either is for both to possess both valued characteristic. Women must be as strong as men for men’s strength not to be able to oppress them and men must be as beautiful as women for women’s beauty to not overshadow them. Example: few men can ever have claimed their beauty sufficient to have called thousands to a war on Troy. This is a legitimate threat because women are able to command greater love and passion in men and men are the physical threat. A man would use his power to oppress another man for a woman.

    You see one attempt to resolve this in the simplicity of the physical design of Wonder Woman. She IS depicted as both strong and beautiful. But even this does not result in relationships of equality for the character. She has been associated with Batman and Superman. One is considerably more intelligent and the other considerably more powerful than she is. It’s as if this balance of pretty against power is demanded. The concept of Wonder Woman originated with a writer who – no matter what else you’d say about him – clearly had a positive reaction to both female power and beauty. But the equality has failed where a similarly positive attitude toward men is missing.

    The big issue is that without this balance a lot of people react as if something fundamental to each gender has been lost. Female bodybuilders will complain that they don’t wish to be seen as a man. They don’t want the acquisition of strength to cost them their appeal to desire. Men who are more gentle and “effeminate” complain they are not taken seriously by women. They don’t wish their refinement to cost them the value of their role. People worry where the lines between genders get blurred and it takes only one look out into the world at large to see that men are statistically larger and stronger. This leaves the pretty niche open if it can be taken and it seems apparent women in general are intent on taking it. And to all it is questioned if a woman picks up weights or a man puts on lipstick. It’s just assumed those actions are meant to be balanced the other way. And this is all without bringing into the question the range of gender expression mentally or sex expression physically that occurs among our world’s many individuals.

    What you’d like to see would be the Drow in an alternate universe where their alignment was Good rather than Evil. What you’d like to see would be a story where Wonder Woman fairly represents both women and men.

  • Adam Whitley

    Frankly I’m surprised they didn’t go full mythology and have everyone walking around with only one breast.

  • Adam Whitley

    Realistically just because you seperate yourself entirely from one gender or skin color doesn’t mean that you’ll create a utopia regardless of which gender or skin color is being excluded.

  • Frodo Baggins

    Kate Beaton’s gotcha covered: http://beatonna.livejournal.com/152986.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nika-Kalantar/100001282923942 Nika Kalantar

     Actually no, she accepted Heracles but that’s pretty much down to him overcoming the ordeals facing him thus proving himself to be greater than any common human. One could argue that Wondy also overcame much but due to the reboot we don’t know exactly how much history Wondy and Hera share.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NNDC4PQLPFMGZMCXFUCSIWPY3M CJ

    First don’t cringe — you are all having a very  intelligent conversation here and I’m going to post something that may seem a bit frivolous, but I can’t resist.  First let me say I’ve not read any of the new 52 WonderWoman though I’m reading some others (Batgirl, some Nightwing).  I did read it a bit in the past, but never consistently, just for some of the really amazing Gail Simone issues.

    At any rate, guilty pleasure admitted, I just finished watching a DVR’d Hercules and the Amazon Women — and have to say the plot mentioned above seemed very close to the Kevin Sorbo version. 

    In all fairness — spoilers below — if you’d rather watch it, stop reading.

    Hera controls the Amazons, sends them to “attack” the men, has them abandon the male children (though the men, who are farmers) raise them, and then, mad at Hercules for convincing the men to basically treat the women with respect the next time they raid, possesses Hippolyta and orders her to kill all the men.  In a completely ridiculous reboot, Hercules convinces his father to zip back time to prevent Iolous, Hippolyta and one of the farmer men from dying (of course, Hippolyta has fallen for him and he for her, and Hera had forced her to commit suicide when he tried to offer himself up as he would rather die than live without her). 

    As a simple Herc movie, it was an enjoyable way to pass the time. 

    As for the comic, I found the points above thought provoking.  I think I prefer the idea of the Amazons as a more pure, peaceloving society rather than the vicious raider type.  As for WW, it’s been in my mental list as one I one day want to check out, but I’ve kind have been aware that it would depend keenly on where I stepped in.  It least now I know a little of what to expect.

    Cheers!

  • http://twitter.com/JanArrah Jan Arrah

    Wait here’s the problem.. So we KNOW because of Justice League that Steve Trevor came to Themyscira (Not Paradise Island cause this isn’t a paradise) and that’s part of the reason why WW left. So umm.. Why if the Amazons are these men hating, murderous monsters.. Didn’t they just club Steve Trevor over the head, drag him back to their cave, “seduce” him, then kill him? That’s after all, WHAT THEY DO? SO why not? It’s so odd.. Diana seems to have come from a different world than the rest of these Amazons and she seems to know little to nothing about them. It’s so weird, it’s like she just appeared fully formed from Zeus’s brow, oh wait.. that was Athena.. Diana is just another in a long line of boring, over-used demi-gods who has all the same powers and abilities (with the added benefit of flying) as Hercules (making her an exact copy of a man..). It’s just odd how this story has filled out

  • http://adornyourhearts.tumblr.com Xomyx

    That ain’t the point, its challenging the prevalent narrative surrounding gender and race, namely that no one can get by without white men.  1984 has some logistics that would make it really hard to happen but that’s not the point of the book.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Quatermass/1260000946 Tony Quatermass

    Yes, the dumb plot twist is dumb. As a human being, not as a man, it certainly adds the element of evil to the Amazons and make WW look clueless.

  • Constance

    Try to look at it from this point of view. I mean, it’s socially okay for women to bash men and anyone-not-white to bash whites. While I don’t deny the injustices past and present, the US is pretty unique in how it wants to strictly paint prejudice by color. Have you read about “indentured servants”? It’s such a pretty word for white slaves. I recommend reading “White Cargo” by Stuart Woods, and learning about the cultures in Africa (because, shock and awe, it isn’t just one big country) who are harming each other (to say the least) because of unreconcilable differences.

  • http://www.thechildhealthsite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=1 Edcedc8

    death by snu snu!

  • Anonymous

    Hm, I started to agree with you, but I actually think you’re wrong on this. The problem with all female or all-African utopias is that such an idea of utopia essentially treats those women or Africans as non-human. Because humans -white, black, brown, male and female – are nasty, greedy, angry, selfish and power-hungry. There’s really no such thing as a utopia – maybe a Pretty Good Society. Women-only (or any group-specific) utopias tend to echo the “noble savage” racist trope – the idea of “civilized humans . . . fallen from grace from a simple primeval happiness, a peaceful golden age.”

  • http://adornyourhearts.tumblr.com Xomyx

    But that’s the thing that utopian narratives flips on its head. Women in general, for example, have often been said to be unfit for things such as voting or careers etc, because they are inferior, animal-like, child-like, etc. Colonialism and subsequent imperialism/neocolonialism is justfied because we white power holders believe countries mostly populated by brown people are incapable of taking care of themselves without us. Narratives in which women or PoC (or both!) do just fine and dandy on their own contradict this view. And the Amazons did have greed, anger, etc, see “The Circle” by Gail Simone for example, in which they were often emotional and even depressed that they couldn’t have children (before Wonder Woman was born) but the idea is that they could overcome that, and still get along just fine without men.

  • http://adornyourhearts.tumblr.com Xomyx

    But the indentured servants, particularly the white Irish, later were able to participate in whiteness and surpass people of colour economically. The US isn’t unique in having racism, we’re pretty bad up here in Canada and European colonialism is pretty damn responsible for the turmoil in many African countries today. Ever read A Small Killing by Alan Moore? there’s a lovely interview in the back where Alan Moore talks about how forgetful empires are, to forget how we create the problems we condemn. There’s a part where he says he’s actually pretty surprised the Dutch were so upfront about messing up in Rwanda, for example.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jean.mokuolu Jean Paul Mokuolu

    The writer of the original post, should really catch up on her Wonder Woman, before making statements about how The Amazons have been presented as perfect. Their utopian society has often been deconstructed and explored by writers. I don´t think since the very simplistic early golden age comics, have the Amazons been presented as purely virtuous. You should really research, mainly cause I think you´ll enjoy certain takes on the character. She really is her own woman as well. She is not a female first and character later. That is simply false. I can see why you might think that, but for a very long time her character has been developed by writers such as Perez, Rucka and Simone, so she was a far more interesting character than Azzerrelo is presenting. Anyway thanks, the article is really great.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jean.mokuolu Jean Paul Mokuolu

    Good points

  • http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2011/11/list-of-cisgender-privileges/ MS

    Lynda Carter’s wonder woman character is over a thousand years old, but i think the new 52 version was supposed to be like 24 or something. I am liking the new series as it feels like a contemporary set Xena series.
    But the fact that Amazons are jerks and baby murderers seems totally out of character. I mean, like what the hell? Was this ripped right off of Frank Miller’s 300?
    Another reason it bugs me is that it shows amazon culture to be sex essentialists, that penis=man and vagina=woman which is cis sexist and works against contemporary feminism. I still want to see a Wonder Woman story deal with trans issues in some way, but it doesn’t seem like that will be happening anytime soon.