In honor of the many changes that have recently affected one of DC Comics’ most long lived character, I’m writing five problem I see with Wonder Woman and how they might be fixed.
Part 3: Greek Myth wasn’t like this
Another aspect of Wonder Woman’s stories that rings false is their take on Greek myth. I’m not referring to the conception of Ares or Circe as direct villains, that’s the nature of the genre and can work well, but rather that it doesn’t contextualize myth in contemporary realities. Most myths are and were created from oral traditions to either teach morality, explain the way the world works, or allow for worship. They transformed as they passed from mouth to mouth to fit regional eccentricities or the realities at their time of telling. Strange then that in Wonder Woman comics its use feels dated and irrelevant. During Greg Rucka’s run he attempted to change this by modernizing the gods and making them reflections of Wonder Woman’s mind frame, but DC decided to abandon that. If myth is to be used in comic books then it needs to be grounded and palpable as any other story is. It needs to reflect our current time period in many ways. Even if the gods remain in their classic forms, the way they react to the current world and the way their behavior functions needs to interact with the world in a more seamless way. Most often, writers turn the gods into either pollyanna figures or cackling maniacs, when in myth they were so much more multi-faceted and interesting.
Another point, it’s nonsensical to ignore the realities of multi-canon belief and limiting Diana to a realm of only greek belief is thinking small. Here and there writers including the talented Gail Simone have attempted to introduce figures from other myths as minor plot points, but a big picture all inclusive vision on the line of War of the Gods or Neil Gaiman’s Sandman would make the character’s world so much richer. This month’s Thor comic did this nicely: Thor is forced into Christian hell by a confluence of circumstances and there finds Gaia, the earth goddess. He comes to realize that this is merely one aspect of her form and that despite the pain she is feeling from being bathed in hellfire, it is a natural aspect of a goddess who exists in all earth. In this way two pantheons are fluidly mixed, creating a more interesting overall take on godliness. It was a small moment but one that worked well.
JMS’s run: In the most recent Wonder Woman story, issue 602, the protagonist speaks with her patron goddess Aphrodite, who lobs some tepid vagaries at her about becoming a queen and ominous gobbledygook and then fades away. This again, really? I understand that inevitably the story will develop and the fate of the gods will become clearer but the talking snorephrodite in Wonder Woman’s head is certainly not enticing. On the upside, the temple where the story is set has a history of being lowered into the earth by Aphrodite only to later be summoned out by an Amazon priestess, which is a great bit of invented myth and perhaps points to some more interesting stuff coming up.
Tagged: DC comics · JMS · wonder woman
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