WW #224: Farewell, Amazons

In Wonder Woman #224, the Amazons vow to leave this world “for a long time”, leaving Diana alone as the last of her kind. Like her, they’ve been tagged as murderesses — although unlike her, their situation was clearly self-defense. When a flock of OMACs attacked their home, they destroyed them all, which was apparently unforgivable. (Are the women supposed to have rolled over and taken it?)

Those of us who know something of the character’s history know that this isn’t a new solution to problems writers have with the DC’s best-known female character. It’s been done before, and it’s never lasted for long, because all most readers and writers know about Wonder Woman is her origin on an island of warrior women. Take that from her, and what’s left is inconsistent and nebulous. Her writers, mostly male, don’t seem to know what to do with a woman who’s the best at everything: fighting, peace-making, and inspiring others.

It’s also reminiscent of what they tried to do to Superman, making him the true last son of Krypton after Crisis. That didn’t last long, either, with his cousin and his dog back now. Both characters are hard to write for similar reasons: it’s too easy to smear them or misunderstand them, and it’s hard to be true to their essentials. They should be paragons, and that’s a tough fight in our society, which glorifies the base and unethical.

In the bigger picture, the removal of the Amazons is another example of the contradiction at the core of DC’s IC (pronounced “icky”) event — the stories revolve around historical events that are poorly copied or reinterpreted in ways that make no sense. Those that know the original stories are frustrated by the purposeful misreadings; those that don’t are left in the cold.

New readers are force-fed propaganda about the past to make the present comics look better, and old readers know that the stories are being mistold to serve the political purpose of the current regime. It’s the 1984 of the comics world, where “we have always been at war with Earth-2″.

Update: A conversation with a friend just reminded me of another key comparison. Older readers that I know support IC for the same reason they supported JSA: they love the concept, and they wish DC would do more, even if they can’t stand the execution. With JSA, they loved seeing those older characters they hadn’t forgotten, but the stories were disappointing and poorly crafted. With IC, they love the idea of heavy continuity and overarching storylines and guest appearances and a coherent universe, even if they don’t actually like the story they’re getting.

13 Responses to “WW #224: Farewell, Amazons”

  1. Tony Isabella Says:

    You nailed it. You nailed it all. This is why you’re my second favorite comics commentator. :)

  2. Johanna Says:

    Why, thank you kindly. That means a lot.

  3. Midnighter Says:

    That’s it in one. I love the continuity, seeing things that have been brewing for decades come to fruition, but the whole thing kinda annoys me.

  4. Sarah Says:

    Are the women supposed to have rolled over and taken it?

    That’s the big problem with these more “sophisticated” storylines. It’s one thing to adopt a naive “no-kill” morality when you’re writing stories for children; not that I approve of lying to children, but there’s definitely a time to establish a moral horror of killing that should inform even an adult’s view of the world. When the writers get tired of this and decide to take on (with much fanfare) more “adult” approaches, they end up with stupid moral arguments that, when looked at as “adult” approaches, are almost unbearably dumb. There are very few moralists in any serious Earth philosophy or religion that would have denied the Amazons the right to effective self-defense.

  5. James Schee Says:

    I haven’t really been paying attention, except for IC I haven’t read a story with them. Yet I thought the Omacs were robots like the (Green Lantern) Manhunters? If it is okay to destroy them, why is it horrible to destroy the Omacs?

    I agree with you in the “only one” thing on Superman and Wonder Woman thing doesn’t work for long. Both characters are hard to write solo, but having someone else that they can “inspire” or watch over is a an easy plot.

    I can enjoy the continuity stuff as well, though often I haven’t read the right comics so miss out.

    My big beef is when they start doing the “Everything was planned!” stuff. Me I’d rather say that the wishy washy Superman was bad writing, not some plan.

    Because to me when you build your house with bad material, it isn’t going to stand up very well.

  6. Johanna Says:

    Sarah, those are the kinds of storylines I call “picking at the scab”. There are plenty of wonderful stories you can tell with superheroes that don’t call the entire basis of the genre into question. For some reason, though, some writers insist on looking straight at the flaws and trying to handwave them away. The same thing happened with No Man’s Land, which told great stories when they ignored the unbelievability of the premise. When they tried to justify it, as with the story that had Superman show up and try to explain why he wasn’t flying people straight out, it just fell apart in their hands.

    James, the OMACs are transformed civilians, apparently, not robots.

  7. James Schee Says:

    Huh, so kind of like the sleeper agents Manhunters in the Millenieum(I know I misspelled that) crossover?

    Thye just look so goofy looking that I can’t take them seriously. The computer bit in IC #3 just seemed like a riff on the evil Hal computer part of the 2001 movie.

  8. Craig Says:

    ahhh Wonder Woman. all the shenanigans involving this character inspired me to pull out the first chunk of issues by George Perez and co. those issues were a revelation in their time: well-drawn issues of WW with thoughtful and engaging stories and a well-rounded supporting cast and, get this, an interesting and inspiring Wonder Woman, brimming with innocence, strength of character (as well as all the super-powery stuff), intelligence and cunning. this devolved over time into a cipher who was given an inner monologue once in every 6 or so issues, mostly relegating to guest-star status in each story that came down the pipeline..and that innocence and regality turned to icy hautiness. maybe it was the ever-shrinking costume that changed her mood…?

    George Perez (not forgetting Greg Potter, Len Wein and Karen Berger) brought sales to the table, but thankfully, along with the interest in his art came fans who cared about the character, her supporting cast and her adventures from month to month. Mr. Perez has stated numerous times (the latest in one of his introductions for the tpbs collecting his run on the book) that he felt sorry for WW and the lack of interest in her book. he came in and saved her from a reintroduction drenched in violence and victimization. but the series, over the years, has basically ended up in the mire Perez avoided.

    it really seems that DC doesn’t know what to do with WW. so now, they’ve assigned an artist with a reputation for t&a (and that will certainly please a lot of people…no judgement!) and no writer seems to want to take the plunge. makes me sad. way back in the day, i used to recommend WW to fledgling readers and female readers as an adventure comic with a difference. i haven’t been able to really recommend it in a long time and now, it seems the only real difference from, say, Superman, will be the breast-spillage overtop her bodice. sigh.

    sorry for the long rant. i’m just belatedly mourning the loss of an icon. thanks for the opportunity.

  9. Johanna Says:

    Craig, no need to apologize — you’ve summed up many of the problems with how the character has been handled.

  10. John Says:

    There are very few moralists in any serious Earth philosophy or religion that would have denied the Amazons the right to effective self-defense.

    You’re right that there are few, but there are definitely some that argue ‘passive-resistance’ is the proper response in any situation. Gandhi, for example. Of course, the problem with passive resistance is it only works if those you are ‘fighting’ have a moral code which makes them feel guilty if they kill someone who isn’t fighting back.

  11. Dan Coyle Says:

    If 2005 has taught me anything, it’s that Greg Rucka is one of the greatest Wonder Woman villains of all time.

  12. Sarah Says:

    There certainly are principled pacifists (and religions which embrace such pacifism), but those people would be just as appalled at the “acceptable” violence of the other superheroes. It’s not their viewpoint that the characters in WW are espousing.

  13. Kelson Says:

    Of course, the problem with passive resistance is it only works if those you are ‘fighting’ have a moral code which makes them feel guilty if they kill someone who isn’t fighting back.

    I remember seeing an ethical analysis of noncooperation which pointed this out. It worked great against the British, but would have failed — quickly — against the Nazis. As always, knowing your opponent is key to choosing strategy.




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