Wonder Woman: You’re Doing It Wrong, Grant Morrison
In the recent article Grant Morrison Explores Provocative Elements of Wonder Woman, we learn about the plans for Wonder Woman in an upcoming comics reboot. They’re…uh.
In this latest installment of the Earth One series that reinterprets DC characters for graphic novel readers, Morrison has scrapped the recent interpretation of Diana as a warrior woman who falls for Steve Trevor. Instead, Morrison focuses on Diana as a princess who’s bored with her life with lesbian Amazons, tired of living on an island that has separated itself from the rest of the world.
Along with Diana, Paquette and Morrison also worked to update Steve Trevor as a stronger, more complex character, adding diversity by portraying him as a black man while also minimizing the sexual attraction between he and Wonder Woman.
Mmm. OK. That’s…
You know? There is a fundamental tension right there. I’m just going to sashay right past that whole being black to minimize sexual attraction thing and look at the other comment, about diversity.
Are there new and interesting stories that can be told with a black Steve Trevor? Certainly! But I predict about a 0% chance that this run will tell them. Because that fundamental tension is between what that story is professing to claim about diversity, and what it’s telling us. What the story is actually telling us is that if you put 3000 people of the same ethnic background, sex, sexual preference, put them on an island for millenia, and keep them away from any foreign influences, you get Themyscira, which is a paradise of culture, technology, and sustainability.
You can’t tell a story in which diversity is a value, and Wonder Woman comes from a culture worth defending. And I don’t get the impression that this is going to be a critique of reactionary isolationism and xenophobia.
And this, I think, is both a missed opportunity, and indicative of a real danger. If people are genuinely unable to recognize the rhetoric of their enemies when it comes from fair faces, then they’re not fighting for principles, they’re fighting for their tribe, and nothing more.
And that, in reality and stories both, is the antithesis of heroism.
Oh, as a side note, Morrison also wants to get back to the roots of Wonder Woman, as Marston intended her to be. Grant my boy, I’m sorry to break it to you, but Mastron’s intent for Wonder Woman is filled these days by fanfic with very questionable abbreviation codes and slashes in their titles these days. Wonder Woman the Warrior has more-or-less entirely displaced Wonder Woman the Bondage Evangelist, and this is universally regarded as a good thing.
It is, as I’ve said before, important to note that there are a thousand ways to visualize and tell stories about popular heroes; that is what makes them popular. I don’t think that this upcoming run is going to damage Wonder Woman, but I do think it’s going to be a bad run, and to add very little value to the canon of interesting Wonder Woman stories. We’ll see how that goes.