Wed
Apr 4 2012 10:00am

Wonder Woman Comics and the Violation of the Amazons

There have been a million words dedicated to the failures and successes of Wonder Woman as a female comic book icon over the years. She has been lauded equally as an example of male objectification and female empowerment since her development in the 1940’s. Yet recent rewrites of Wonder Woman’s story in DC Comics’ New 52 relaunch have female fans raising an eyebrow. There was the rewrite of Wonder Woman’s parentage that had everyone (yours truly) up in arms. Now, writer Brian Azzarello and DC have done it again in Wonder Woman #7 with their rewrite of the history of the Amazon women. Where once Paradise Island was populated by cultured warrior women, dedicated as much to art and beauty as they were warfare, the new history of the Amazons has a much more disturbing twist.

In the original DC history, Wonder Woman is raised by the immortal Amazon women as the only child on Paradise Island, daughter of their Queen Hippolytta. Her sister Amazons live isolated from men pursuing perfection of their culture without having children, focused on their own interests and largely happy. This history has largely stood untouched until the drastic recent rewrite. In Wonder Woman #7, Wonder Woman is still reeling from the discovery that she is in fact the daughter of Zeus from an extra-marital affair with the queen of the Amazons when she is forced to plan an invasion of the underworld to rescue a woman also bearing Zeus’s child. When she goes to the god Hephaestus for help, he reveals that all the men working in his forge are in fact the offspring of Amazons, sold as unwanted male children for weapons.

Let me repeat that: the Amazons sell their unwanted male children into slavery to Hephaestus for weapons. And where do these children come from, you might ask, when the Amazons are a purely female culture? In the new rewrite, Hephaestus explains that the Amazons go to sea every once in a while to force men to procreate with them. When they are done with the unsuspecting sailors, they murder them and dump their bodies overboard. Nine months later, some have daughters and are very happy while the rest give up their sons to be sold into slavery.

You read that correctly, folks. Welcome to the Amazon culture, newly rewritten to include rape, murder and slavery. They went from this...

...to this.

The change between the old story and the new is staggering. The barbarity introduced in this storyline raises a million questions for readers, the least of which is simply: whose idea was this? Who believed it was honestly a good idea to rewrite an empowering female culture for one of the most iconic DC characters into marauding murderers and rapists?

Not only is the entire story insulting, it smacks of poor storytelling. We are to believe that after growing to adulthood among the Amazons, Wonder Woman is shocked upon hearing how her culture reproduces itself. Are we expecting that she’s naive, stupid, or deluding herself, her head in the sand while all this murdering is going on? I’d imagine that a canny woman would have had the “where do babies come from” conversation way before she was allowed to go out and become a super hero. So we are either expected to believe one of DC’s greatest heroes has been tricked her entire adult life or that she’s simply too dumb to discover this on her own until she’s blatantly told.

That glaring plot hole aside, the entire premise for this rewrite is staggeringly inappropriate to the original history set up by the Amazons previously seen in Wonder Woman comics. Folks may argue that the comic is trying to mirror Greek myth, in which the Amazons did go out and reproduce this way. Yet that is not the history of the Amazons in the comics previous to the New 52 rewrite. These Amazons are not the enlightened women-warriors readers have grown up with and many cherished as positive female images. It smacks of another chance for a “gritty upgrade” to a fan favorite that is neither needed nor an earnest homage to what came before. And beyond all that, it is a glaring example of disrespect to the original stories of one of the only strong female headliners of the DC Universe.

This rewrite proves a fundamental misunderstanding of the Wonder Woman fan base by the current creative team. From the perspective of a fan who has read Wonder Woman since before I was in high school, I am saddened that a positive female image like the Amazons should be so twisted for no apparent reason. And while this rewrite might appeal to those who wanted more sex, blood and death, it forgets about the built-in fan base of women who might just find the idea of rapist/murderer Amazons insulting and contrary to the Wonder Woman spirit. If we are to accept that all the mythologies embedded in DC Comics ought to go grittier, then what’s next? Kryptonian cattle mutilations and probing in all the wrong places?

When at this past New York Comic Con, I got a chance to ask writer Brian Azzarello why the changes to Wonder Woman’s backstory during the preview panel for the New 52. The answer I was given was to “just read the book” to see why. Well, I have read and I have waited for explanations for why these unnecessary changes have taken place, as a fan I think I’ve seen enough. Wonder Woman #7 is an example of a comic relaunch that has missed the point of the legacy and though I should be angry, I can’t say that I’m surprised by the recent turn of events.

Instead I’ll say this: I’m not mad, DC Comics, I’m simply disappointed.


Shoshana Kessock is a comics fan, photographer, game developer, LARPer and all around geek girl. She’s the creator of Phoenix Outlaw Productions and ReImaginedReality.com

71 comments
Mordicai Knode
1. mordicai
I was super dubious of this, but then Chiang's art won me over to the point where I was like "well, if this doesn't betray the fundamental principals of the character, I'll pick up the trade."

...& here we are.
Clare McBride
2. The Literary Omnivore
Foul!

After the changes with my beloved Harley Quinn (Nicki Minaj is my Harley now), I switched to Wonder Woman, and I've been really enjoying this run, but this… yikes. I didn't even grow up with Wonder Woman.

I just read the first volume of Trinity, and there's a moment where Wonder Woman tells Superman about her code:

An Amazon takes life as a constant challenge, Superman--not merely to accomplish our goals--but to excel, to better ourselves--to do whatever we set ourselves to faster, more cleanly, more effectively than ever before.

That's the Amazon way, and I've been particularly keeping it mind this past few days. But what I'm hearing above isn't it at all.

(And seriously? They expect us to buy that Wonder Woman never asked about babies as a kid?)
DonWhiteside
3. DonWhiteside
You ask whether they don't really understand their female readers, but maybe they understand just fine. They've embraced their crappy attitude towards women that runs through every other book in their lineup and realized that growing their female fan base is impossible. So why not just give up on them entirely and try to grow their manboy readership for Wonder Woman? It's not like women have any reason to pick up any other DC book...

It's a shame. I was always more of a DC reader than Marvel but the last 20 years I've found myself less and less interested in their books. Sorry DC, make mine cape-rape free.
Nancy Lebovitz
4. NancyLebovitz
It's been a long time since the comics came up with new characters which caught the public imagination (I think the most recent is the X-Men). I'm not sure why this is, but as a result, they keep reworking existing classic characters, and frequently mishandling them.

Are there any characters which have been moved towards being more idealistic?
James Whitehead
5. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
'Cause that's what we need more amoral, angst driven, guilt ridden superhero(ine)s.

I had read the Greek myths as a boy & knew that the mythical Amazons were different from the comic book ones; didn't bother me one bit.

I think the 'creators' at DC need to retire these characters & start fresh if they want 'dark, gritty, & realistic.' They aren't old enough or mature enough to play with the big boy/girl toys.

Kato
DonWhiteside
6. Andrew S. Balfour
@Nancy - Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but did you seriously just claim that the last new characters to capture the public imagination were the X-Men (1963)? Unless you mean the latest batch of characters introduced to the X-Men, in which case, Rockslide does indeed kick ass.
treebee72 _
7. treebee72
I decided to pick this series back up after seeing over & over again how great the reboot is and in the very first frelling issue 3 women (who don't even rate names!) are used & murdered by Apollo... Should have known at that moment that this book wasn't aimed at female readers. Each frelling issue has at least one thing in it that pisses me off & it just seems to be getting worse as the series continues.

I figured I give it a year, but I really should just drop it now & save the money.
DonWhiteside
8. Michael Cugley
You forgot that Hephaestus only buys the boys in exchange for weapons because the Amazons previously just threw the babies into the sea.

Nice.

And the "murder men after mating" legend was one of the ways the Amazons were said to get their children - in another version, they meet a male-only tribe once a year, have a wild party, and nine months later hand the boys over to their fathers, keeping the girls.

So this becomes a conscious choice by Brian Azzarello to portray the Amazons in this way.

There is still the vague possibility that he's going somewhere with all this, and we aren't going to be stuck with psychopathic Amazons and Wonder Woman as female Hercules. But how many are going to stick around to find out?
Michael Grosberg
9. Michael_GR
Darker and Edgier: ruining your choldhood since the 80's.
Emmet O'Brien
10. EmmetAOBrien
This story appears to be being told, within the issue in question, by a character who is demonstrated in the same issue to be flat wrong in at least one other assertion. I'm willing to consider the possibility that this is intended to be in-universe negative propaganda with no factual basis and will be revealed as such shortly.
DonWhiteside
11. Sean O'Hara
@Nancy - There've been plenty of new comics that have caught the public imagination in recent years, they just aren't from America. While the New York Times has invoked the Harry Potter rule to keep those dirty foreign manga from sullying their Graphic Novel Bestseller list, Bookscan has allowed the heathen Japanese onto theirs. The result is, manga dominates, with even cootie-filled series aimed at girls blowing away DC trades -- for instance, in February, Sailor Moon held three spots in the top twenty compared to none for DC and Marvel. And with good reason -- I'll take Sailor Moon and Black Butler over Batman and Wonder Woman any day.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
12. tnh
Nancy Lebovita, the Endless from Sandman have definitely taken up residence in our collective imaginations. So has Lobo, who also postdates the X-Men.
DonWhiteside
13. MelindaFleming11
"Darker & Edgier" = rape, murder, kill (RMK) glamorously delivered for your entertainment. Same old, same old.

This stuff goes on in real life all the time. All the time. If you want RMK, go read a newspaper.

As far as DC Comics are concerned: I agree with DonWhiteside (#3) above: The current "creative" team simply doesn't care. They just want controversy to improve circulation. In effect, they're ditching their Independent Women Fanbase in favor of the We Really, Really Hate Independent Women fanbase. That's what the last issue screams to me anyway.

Rape, murder, and selling children into slavery. (Hmmm... Somebody is projecting onto somebody else perhaps?) Their conscious choice tells me that they don't care about me; in fact: they enjoy shoving it into their female fanbase. Hard.
DonWhiteside
14. Graham T
So, we can't do a story about someone rejecting their culture in favor of doing what's right if those characters in question are women?
Wonder Woman has always been the exception to the Amazon culture, not the rule, and much of her character is defined by being in opposition to it.

From an enjoyment standpoint, I'm not going to defend envelope pushing -- dark and gritty has its place, but is too often done poorly and with the wrong characters --, but from a sexism standpoint, are we really supposed to believe that a xenophobic sexist culture defined by its aggressive isolationism should be presented in a highly positive light, as something to be strove towards by generations of young women?
Constance Sublette
15. Zorra
We are living in a rape culture and these exploitive entertainments help it be that way.

In real life it's worse than most of us can even imagine: read The Femicide Machine by Sergio González Rodríguez, translation from Semiotxt(e), distributed by the MIT Press. It is the account of the failed state of Mexico that allows the 'parallel' state of the obscenely rich and drug cartels to keep on kidnapping women and girl children off the streets in Juarez, raping, torturing and killing them. The FBI knows who do this, but the Mexican government won't prosecute. These are enormously powerful and filthy rich corporate folks, who travele easily back-and-forth betwen Mexico and the U.S. Here they kept under constant surveillance by the FBI, but 'official' Mexico can't / won't do anything about either the drug lords or these others.

This little book also traces of the history of how this came to be.

Comix like these aren't helping any woman anywhere in the world, providing these kinds of fantasies for popular consumption.
DonWhiteside
16. sabbx
As a very old-school fan of mainstream comics, its sad to see that Wonder Woman has always been a back burner character as a solo feature. Diana has such a rich background to choose from. DC has always been of two minds about Diana and the Amazons, but at least tried to make her altruistic and outward thinking based on the highest values of Greek culture. Idealized, yes... But heroic characters do need to have some idealism occasionally.

Now, the current team does have some cover with this version of the Amazon origin. There certainly are versions of he myth that make the Amazons out to be less than caring, nurturing folks. However, we'll see if this really is a "teachable" moment in the comic or if this interpretation was done to add some cheap shock value.
Irene Gallo
18. Irene
@17, cjameson
Feel free to make your point but please tone down the rhetoric.
-- moderator
DonWhiteside
19. StrongDreams
@GrahamT
So, we can't do a story about someone rejecting their culture in favor of doing what's right if those characters in question are women?

Well, I guess we have to see where the story goes. If WW returns to Paradise Island to fight it out with the current powers, and changes the culture, then you may be right.

However, if after couple of issues, she rejects her culture and goes back to Metropolis or Gotham or wherever WW hangs out, then maybe not so much. The old version of WW came from an enlightened and culturally superior place and tried to bring those values to the horrible modern world. If the new WW rejects the values of her homeland, but then decides to live in the modern world to make it better, while ignoring the problems at home...that does not make her a strong interesting character, it makes her a runaway. (To make a slightly over-the-top comparison, Ghandi didn't come to the US and take a position at a college or progressive thinktank and advocate for change. He stayed home and lived the change he wanted to make.)
DonWhiteside
22. Rem
The twist raises so many questions. Why would immortals need to reproduce? Wouldn't Themysicara be eventually overcrowded? Do the baby daughters also get to be immortal?
DonWhiteside
23. Zephyr Stone
I would like to make the disclaimer that I have never read Wonder Woman before the "New 52," but I have been a loyal and avid follower of her title since its (re)inception in September. To me (and to several friends that I have recommended the series to), Azarrello's Wonder Woman continues to be an exceptional title with a compelling storyline and a fantastically realized protagonist. The latest issue is no exception; thus, I would like to say a few things in the book's defense.

In regards to Greek mythology, Azarrello has made it clear from the first issue that he's been cultivating the story and tone of Wonder Woman very much in the vein of Greek classics. From the near-omnipresence of the gods to Diana's heroic quest through varied lands to defend others and to learn more about herself, Greek mythology permeates just about every aspect of her title. The Amazons, then, would only be a natural fit in Azarrello's singular blend of superheroics and myth that find them as something less idealistic, but more in tune with their source material.

Now, I am not trying to instigate any argument here, but the Amazons have always been a male-excluding society, whether in myth, pre-52, or post-52 continuity -- that at least suggests some sort of prejudiced, if not sexist, attitude towards the male half of humanity. In mythology, it means that the Amazons will kill any man who invades their island or that they copulate with; in 52 status, it means that they're women warriors who will kill any man who invades their island or any man that they copulate with. The mythology and Azarrello's take on it go hand in hand.

Of course, this is purely my opinion here, but the fact that the Amazons' previous life on Themyscira was described as so utopian and unblemished sounds a bit far-fetched to me (opinion). Now, I am not advocating that they should automatically be made serial murderers/rapists (though mythology would support it); I am merely saying that some grit and sordid history would go a long way in realizing a nation as a tangible entity. It's a sad truth. Example: look at ANY nation or country, past or present, look into their foundings and development as a nation, and I guarantee you that you will find something that would be reprehensible in anybody's conscience. America's slaughter of the Native Americans; Great Britain's colonialism of foreign lands; 95% of Europe's history with various tribes/clans like the Goths and Vandals; India's strict caste system; Japan's feudal class system -- all nations have their skeletons. And if one was to tell me that pre-52 Themyscira would be different because there were no men, wouldn't that be a bit sexist and hypocritical of them? After all, men are not the only ones to become violent and irrational in history (and modern-day life) -- it's a human condition. That means that both men and women are subject to it.

As for Wonder Woman's ignorance in regards to the grisly matter, I believe #7 stated that the Amazons seduced and raptured men two or three times a century. If my math is correct (or there-abouts), that would put the Amazons' attempts to reproduce every thirty-three years or so a century, if they were going about it three times every hundred years. I'm not certain, but I believe that Diana is not even twenty-five years old yet; thus, I feel that it is entirely possible that the Amazons had never even sailed out once to find men during her lifetime on Themyscira.

In regards to the moral portrayal of the Amazons, I look at Hippolyta. At the very least, I felt that Azarrello's protrayal of her worked equally well as a strong leader of warriors and equally as well as a concerned and loving mother of her only daughter. One could see the visible pain on her face when she told Diana of her true parentage. Chiang and Azarrello's work showed me a mother who loved her daughter and was honestly hurt when she had to cause her daughter pain in telling her that Zeus was her father. A cold-hearted, man-eating monster would not have felt sympathy or pain from such a confession. Azaarrello and Chiang's work humanized her for the reader. As for the other Amazons, we never had an opportunity to learn much about them besides the obvious: they were fierce warriors, observers of tradition (and possibly religion) from their funeral pyres on the beach, and they performed as deadly sirens every thirty-three years or so. Perhaps Azzarrello will expand on them, perhaps not. Only time (and the cons) will tell.

Ultimately, I do not think that Azarrello is attacking his female
readers or intentionally destroying a symbol of their "female
empowerment" in the form of the Amazons; I simply believe that Azarrello is trying to tell a story (a damn good story, so far) that has its
origins and thematic style steeped deeply in Greek mythology.
Joe Romano
24. Drunes
I've been a lifelong fan of DC -- and it's been a long life -- but the New 52 has left me behind. The changes to Wonder Woman are more proof that DC doesn't want me.
Nancy Lebovitz
25. NancyLebovitz
I'm not dead certain I'm being reasonable on the comic characters and catching the public imagination, but here goes. I'll grant you that I was thinking of the American comics industry. Manja and anime seem to be much livelier, though I'm not sure how much they've caught on with the general public in the US-- certainly enough to have had a good-sized section at Borders, though I'm not sure about B&N. I'm not sure whether they've just got a large fandom, or if they've gone into the mainstream.

I don't follow comics-- I did follow Marvel for a couple of years or so in the 70s.

As a result, if a comic character isn't *very* famous, I'm likely not to have heard of them. Superman would be the prototype of a character which has caught the public imagination.
DonWhiteside
26. Subman
Well, now, what a surprise. Do these violently procreating Amazons also cut off their right breasts to make using their bows easier?

I read comics as often as I could in my childhood, and it always struck me that the WWII Wonder Woman was seriously at odds with the '70s Wonder Woman. A superheroine with an invisible plane, who was seriously taken with a Mere Male? Who she didn't actually need? The '70s version was rather grittier and more no-nonsense about the whole business. Heck, I knew women who were grittier and more no-nonsense than WWII Wonder Woman.

Perhaps the story will go into an endless loop - Diana, remembering a past from a different timeline, will change the present to conform with that timeline's past, while the Diana of that different timeline, will allow that timeline's present to deform into the present's horrors ... maybe the Amazons will restrict their attentions to Technical Sergeant Garp in future.
DonWhiteside
27. David Newgreen
While there are myths where the Amazons raped and murdered men to reproduce, in general, classical mythology depicts the Amazons as reproducing with a neighbouring all-male tribe, the Gargareans. Male children were given over to their fathers, female children were raised as Amazons, with the whole arrangement a consensual means for the two groups to maintain their numbers.

In other words, the 'mythology' justification is utter rubbish. Mr. Azzarello has intentionally picked the nastiest version of the Amazon myth, and then gritted it up a bit more. The fact that the original Amazon myths were the product of a hideously misogynistic culture only makes things worse.

(And the original myths where the Amazons do abandon their male children to die were the product of a civilization that routinely abandoned its own unwanted children - particularly girls. The Amazons of myth were generally Bizarro-Athens, not uniquely monstrous.)
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
28. tnh
It takes a lot of skill as a writer and storyteller to work within an existing universe and storyline. But if you aren't that strong a writer, you can still make a splash by arbitrarily wrenching long-established characters into startling new shapes. It impresses readers who don't know how easy that is to do.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
29. tnh
David Newgreen: good point. IIRC, even well-to-do Greek families didn't raise many daughters. In imagining the Amazons doing anything other than abandoning their unwanted male infants, Greeks were crediting them with more mercy and generosity than they normally showed themselves.
Rob Hansen
30. RobHansen
tnh@28: Exactly so. Whenever some new kid on the block rails against having to follow established continuity and how this is unreasonably constraining his vision As An Artist, you know this is someone lacking in the basic skills required to work in a shared universe. And their "vision As An Artist" inevitably turns out to be less compelling than they imagine it to be.
treebee72 _
31. treebee72
While the mangling of WW's backstory upsets me, I could handle it more if Azzarello actually brought something 'new' to the table with his rewrite. Instead, he's using the same tired cliche and stereotypical tropes to make the book 'edgy' and that's what really pisses me off.
DonWhiteside
32. DerekMahr
It strikes me that the author of this peice is reacting the same way Wonder Woman does. The story Azzarello seems to be telling, the base character story, is one of finding out what you thought was noble and perfect is just as brutal and messed up as the rest of the world.
Disillusionment with the true ways of the Amazons. If I read this right, Azzarello has done a marvelous job, telling a story in which at least Ms. Keestock has the same reaction as the main character.
Kevin Maroney
33. womzilla
Nancy L,

Wolverine and the Punisher were both introduced in the mid-1970s and really became stars in the early 1980s. DC has had substantial video media success with animated versions of the New Teen Titans, also introduced in the 1980s.

And of course there's Watchmen... also from the 1980s.

Emmet, I'm hoping you're correct about the reliability of the narrator. Otherwise, this whole thing seems like point-missing on an epic, mythological level. There's nothing wrong with having monsters among the Amazons; good writers, respectful of the history of WW, have done stories about that. But making the Amazons themselves monstrous--well, you're not writing Wonder Woman any more, you're writing something completely different and, frankly, less interesting because boringly familiar.
DonWhiteside
34. StrongDreams
It impresses readers who don't know how easy that is to do.

Ouch.
DonWhiteside
35. tarbis
I can't say I'm a fan of the change (if it turns out to be real), but I will acknowledge that this is the writer doing his job. His job defined as get sales, tell a story that people will talk about, and cold reboot the entire history of the character to clear out all previous stories.

The last time the Amazons were written as Perez style utopia was during Simone's run and the book sold badly for what was supposed to be one of DC's top teir heroes (25,000ish copies). JMS starts a story with the Amazon's more or less extinct and sales go up by 5,000 or 10,000 copies. Azzarello has borderline dystopian Amazons and is getting sales of over 55,000 copies. The trend tells me that somebody in a suit over at DC thought the Perez-style Amazons were a drag on sales and the suit might be proven right. (Depends how much sales slip happens after the new book/new creative team bump begins to fade.)

If readers (not people that like the idea of Wonder Woman, but people that spend money on monthly issues) want to keep a story element then they need to buy the book while that element is around. Suits put pressure on editors based on sales and waiting for the trade is waiting too long.

Sidenote: I don't mind the whole daughter of Zeus thing because it was a little creepy having the feminist icon be a magically animated rock instead of a woman. That was kinda weird and if you think about it the subtext can get sorta ugly.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
36. tnh
Tarbis:
His job defined as get sales, tell a story that people will talk about, and cold reboot the entire history of the character to clear out all previous stories.
The writer's job is to tell a good story, and trust that word of mouth and reader sales will follow. Initial buzz is the PR Department's job. And I flat-out disagree that it's the writer's job to do a cold reboot on the character and dismiss all the previous storylines. It gets done a lot in comics, where it's warranted maybe one time in ten or twenty. The other times it's a dumb, destructive, ham-handed mistake.

Why does it keep happening? Because it's easy to do. There's a lot of variation in the storytelling skills of comic book writers. The inept ones learn crap narrative maneuvers from more senior inept writers. They're good for maybe six issues' worth of story before they crumble, but in the meantime they're flashy, and any semi-amateur can write them. If you don't have the chops to splice them into the current continuity, just blow the whole thing away to give yourself room to work.

"X is secretly evil" or "New and arbitrarily evil circumstances bring into question the traditional basis for the Main Character's role" are right up there with post-holocaust scenarios, having some hitherto unheard-of criminal organization decide "it's finally time to take out" the MC, killing a staple secondary character to send the MC off on a revenge trajectory, killing one of the MC's family members so he or she will "turn dark", announcing that the MC has a conveniently unspecified disease and will die within some arbitrary amount of time ... bleah! There are more, but just listing them makes my IQ drop. I can feel it, Dave.

The trouble with "X has secretly been evil all along" scenarios is that it means everyone who's been dealing with X for years and years has been too unperceptive to notice that fact. It's a great way to reduce your MC's moral stature.

There's a worse formulation of it you see sometimes in bad murder mysteries: "Any one of these people, who've known each other all their lives, could be the murderer!" Well, no, they couldn't, unless good and evil are such arbitrary and meaningless signifiers that being one or the other doesn't affect a person's day-to-day behavior. In superhero comics, good and evil are supposed to matter.

The trouble with this sort of cheap flashy storytelling is that it damages and weakens the continuity and core understanding of the book without putting anything of equal value in its place. Basically, it's strip-mining the storyline. Let's talk instead about sustainable resource management.

If a writer is working within an established universe, I hold that it's his or her job to work with and in and around the story thus far. If any part of the old continuity is broken or destroyed, there had better be a good reason for it, and significant dramatic payoff, because burning old continuity for whatever reason weakens the story as a whole.

Look at Neil Gaiman. When he's working in an established continuity, he doesn't smash stuff. He builds out from it in transformative ways, leaving the original story as it was, but telling you more about it than was said at the time, so that it becomes something larger and more intriguing. In the process, he frequently builds in new connections to other continuities -- and again, these make sense in terms of the original story, but make it part of something broader and deeper.

Have you seen his work on Doctor Who? With one episode, he tightened up the plot logic of innumerable previous episodes. Why is the Tardis so often there when The Doctor needs it? Because it loves him. Because they're in it together. It's an elegant and respectful addition to the continuity as a whole.

The truth is, not only do good writers tend not to break or burn things; they build interesting stuff into their universe in excess of present need. It's a way of storing up goodness for the future. The stuff remains interesting while it's sitting there unused, which is a net gain of story energy. Then later on, when the writer needs to build new plotline, he or she has all that material they can use as a starting point, in the process creating a richer narrative universe.

Which brings us round to the most important point about good storytelling: it's bankable. Sales of Sandman, which knit itself into, re-linked, and extended the DC continuity in a truly extraordinary fashion, rose steadily throughout a long period in which the sales of almost every other comic book declined and kept declining. Keith Giffen's Justice League and Chris Claremont's X-Men climbed the charts in much the same way. It's difficult to assess the value they added to those franchises because they left so much interesting story material in place that later writers were still using it long after they'd left, especially in the X-Men continuity.

There are a lot of things you could say about Azarrello, but that he's doing his job well is not one of them.
James Henry
37. redraobyek
Wow. Where to begin? First off, there is nothing to indicate that WW is unaware of basic biology. On the other hand, she'd been lied to all her life with regard to her *own* origins, with her mother--with others lying to support the queen's story--telling her that she was literally born from the clay and fatherless. Whether she was foolish to believe this--in a world in which gods and goddesses and the like are normal, keep in mind--is irrelevant to any attempt to use it as evidence that she was/is clueless about *normal* biology.

Second, if her true origins could be kept from reaching her through the rumor mill on the island (or off of it), consider how easy it would be to keep these little Amazonian outings from her. Keep in mind that they occur only "thrice a century," so it's not unrealistic to believe that this is yet another bit of reality that was easily kept from the daughter of the queen.

Third, what's with the "rape" talk? There is nothing--I repeat, nothing--to suggest that the Amazonians used force or drugged the men or did any of countless other things that might justify a claim of rape. They're Amazonians, for crying out loud. And the dudes are sailors at sea for months at a time. Does anyone *really* think that the average sailor would turn down an Amazonian so that he could maintain his virtue? Really? If so, I suggest checking out any of a number of popular naval bases around the world, for starters. I'm guessing that one of two things is going on here: either people are judging without the facts, or they are misinterpreting "And they have their way. It must seem like a dream to most men... beautiful women, offering themselves. " Maybe it's the "have their way" bit that trips some people up; but that phrasing, to me, means only that they ultimately get what they set out to get. Nothing more, nothing less. Certainly no indication that they had to cheat or bully or rape anyone to get what they wanted. And note the "offering" part, as opposed to "forcing themselves," or some such thing. All in all, it seems like a no-brainer to me. When I first read this issue, knowing a thing or two about guys and having a pretty good understanding of the sexual morality of the average male sailor at sea, I didn't for a moment interpret this to be rape in any way. The fact that others see it that way is ... interesting. Again, assuming that they've actually *read* the issue in the first place.

And finally, with regard to the killing and slavery issues which *are* legitimate bits of ugliness here, I don't see why this approach is inherently anti-woman or misogynistic or whatnot. Can writers only depict *male* characters or *males* in a society as being pond scum? When a male character or a group of males is depicted doing something evil, should it be seen as *man*-hating writing, or some such thing? Sorry, but I just see this as a case of a double standard and/or a subset of women who are overly sensitive to an unflattering portrayal of a small *subset* of the world's fictional women.
DonWhiteside
38. tarbis
@tnh

I think you don't understand the concept of the new 52 (which is fair because it seems like a lot of people don't). It is a cold reboot. All stories that are not Green Lantern or Batman have been wiped. That was the entire point. It's a universal reset on the scale of Crisis on Infinite Earths.

There is no previous continuity for him to be beholden too. That makes it his job as the first writer in this new continuity to set the new rules.

The Amazons could have been made a race of post-human athetist clones from the far future and it would fit the new continuity, because it would be the only versions of the Amazons in the new continuity.

If everyone loved the old version so much they should have been buying the book in the first place. The only two groups of books that didn't have total reboots are the ones that were already selling.

More over it is the writer's job to make the buzz and often to be the buzz. Most of the promotion is based around the writer these days and, like in all other publishing, the writer is expected to hook readers and make buzz. Batman isn't selling strong on Morrison's storytelling. It's selling strong on Morrison's name. On a certain level storytelling might be a much less important part of the writer's job than being a brand name on a high profile assignment like this. In a perfect world the writers wouldn't have to be the show or the brand, but this is the world we have and the purchasing habits we have to deal with.

We have a world where Gaimen's Sandman, Claremount's X-Men, and Giffens Justice League would be rightfully canned in a year for low sales. Modern comics requires a big openning. Blame it on the speciality store distrubition system, but if you can't open big you have to go home. Honestly given the level of buzz around their names when those books started in the modern market they would have lucky to even get the assignments.

Is it easier to burn things down then build new ones? Sure. Do stories where some element is reset to evil without foreshadowing piss me off? Very often. Is this a case of that happening? Not in the context of Azzarello's assignment.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
39. tnh
Tarbis, I've worked in publishing for decades. I'm a former Managing Editor and current Consulting Editor at Tor Books. I've done all sorts of other things, including editing comic books. (Testimonials on request.) I also teach writing on the side. Are you absolutely sure I don't know what I'm talking about?
DonWhiteside
40. James Davis Nicoll
We have a world where Gaimen's Sandman, Claremount's X-Men, and Giffens Justice League would be rightfully canned in a year for low sales.

Just out of curiosity, anyone have the actual sales figures for the early issues of Gaiman's Sandman, Claremont's X-Men and Giffen's Justice League?
Paul McCall
41. PaulMcCall
This is yet another example why, after the DC revamp, reboot, restart, whatever, I have stopped reading comics. They went one step too far for me.
Sol Foster
42. colomon
James: Can't give you anything precise, but ancedotally, I wasn't reading DC at all when one of my best friends told me I had to start reading JLI around the publication of issue #8 or so; likewise, another friend told me I had to read Sandman back in the teens of that series. (I know he (wisely) loaned me the first Hob issue to read, and the first issues I bought on my own were the start of the Season of Mists arc.) My impression at the time was that both of those series were very popular by the time I started reading them. On the other hand, my (admittedly weaker) impression is that it took a long time for Claremont's X-men to take off. (Oddly, these are close to being the only three books I've ever completely fallen in love with based on a friend's recommendation.)

That said, if today's companies would have dropped Claremont's X-men because it was too slow in sales out of the block, isn't that a terrible, terrible indictment of their management? It became a fundamental franchise for Marvel and produced the single most popular character Marvel has that wasn't created in the 1960s. If today's companies can't nuture new books properly, I guess it shouldn't be a surprise how incredibly stagnant they have become...
DonWhiteside
43. Alger C. Newberry III
I went kinda long with my thoughts so I turned it into a post on my blog to do it justice. I hope it doesn't seem tacky if I put up a link to it.

http://offthepanelcomicreview.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/special-topic-wonder-woman/
DonWhiteside
44. James Davis Nicoll
I've seen people like Grant Morrison use terms like "death spiral" to describe comic book sales so my gut feeling is that what counts as a hot title today has sales numbers that would get lost in the plus or minus of old time comic sales. For example, Justice League 1 (Aug 2011) was the year's best seller at 200,000 copies. In 1968 that would have been typical, not extraordinary.

Some historical context:
http://enterthestory.com/comics/comic_sales.html
DonWhiteside
45. tarbis
The oldest sales figures I could find where the top yearly sellers for 1991 and Sandman didn't make the list. (None of the issues in 1992 even made the top 300 for the year.) In interviews since Neil as stated that it probably wouldn't have lasted in the current market. (I think at the time of the interview the current market was circa late 1990s.)

@thn
I think that like many people the cold reboot slash and burn nature of new 52 took them by surprise. A lot of that is DCs fault for only being able to get major publicity in publications and web sites that are already comics focused. (The fact that the reboot was unevenly applied didn't help.)
Similarly lets keep in mind that the only news coverage of Wonder Woman in the last few years as focused on her pants. Are you telling me that as an editor that you want the element of the book that people are talking about to be pants? That hardly seems like a discussion that would get people that aren't reading the book interested in picking it up or even having several day long blog threads full of comments.
I don't doubt that you're good at your job. I do doubt that your job and personal inclinations would keep you hopping around comic book forums and news sites. I also doubt that you came into any of the reboot books void of preconcived notions. (I know that I came in with mine.)
Joe Romano
47. Drunes
Say what you want about Wonder Woman and the New 52, but Shoshana's original article and the comments following it have resulted in one of the most interesting discussions on this site in months. I guess we have DC to thank for that.
DonWhiteside
48. Scott Benenati
I don't have much new to add, but I wanted to thank @23ZephyrStone for not only elucidating what was bubbling around in my mind, but also grounding the argument among the expanding histrionics, sexist and otherwise. I can see both sides, but it seems to me the most important thing is the current story being told, not what came before as the New 52 is a deliberate reboot/rewrite/rebranding/whatever-they-want-to-call-it, and Azzarello and Chiang are telling a damn good yarn.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
49. tnh
Tarbis, why should I or anyone else approach this reboot with no preconceived notions? Brian Azzarello isn't a brand-name comics creator whose work we'll trust sight unseen. He's just some comics pro. If we're interested in the book, it's because we want to see what he's doing with Wonder Woman, an established character we know of old. If this were a new and unknown title by Brian Azzarello, we wouldn't be discussing it.

I can't believe (except I do) that editorial management at DC doesn't understand something this basic about serial fiction: every time you trash old continuity, you're teaching your readers that they can't take any of your continuity seriously. You're breaking them of the habit of emotionally investing in it.

Here's a big rule for how fiction works: That which is arbitrary is not interesting.

The first time DC rebooted their continuity, the public perception was that it had gotten so big and old and unwieldy that DC needed to clean it up in order to go on telling stories set in that universe. That was fine. Putting that much work into revamping the continuity meant the continuity mattered. People argued zestfully about DC's choices of what to jettison, what to keep, and how to justify it. They bought the new books to find out what was happening to characters and storylines they already cared about.

When DC announced its second major continuity reboot, my heart sank. Once is a singular and earthshaking event. Twice is just a habit. Twice is something that could very well keep happening, as in fact it has. Twice (thrice, force, quince) says the stories, the continuity, and the shared narrative universe are arbitrary, and therefore don't matter.

What's truly DC's fault is thinking that slash-and-burn reboots are a good idea, and that they'll boost their declining readership. There are only two ways reboots really work. One is if they're so brilliant that they completely overwrite the previous version. The other is if what they do has some logical and emotional connection with the previous reality, and is sufficiently brilliant that you like it at least as much. Frank Miller's Dark Knight foregrounded aspects of Batman's character that had always been present. Giffen's Justice League recognized and played with the similarities of superhero teams and ensemble sitcoms. The Star Trek franchise has done a textbook job on its origins reboot.

So good reboots can happen, but they're hard to do. They require advance planning, competent writing, and a lot of thoughtful attention to the existing storyline and continuity. DC, on the other hand, decided which books to reboot on the basis of their sales. They don't appear to be keeping a tight rein on their multiple continuity reboots, and they fell down on advance publicity. I think we're allowed to doubt that a whole lot of thoughtful attention went into this project.

Why poor advance publicity is a bad sign: one of the gimmes of doing a reboot is that you get human interest stories in the media about how this or that well-known superhero is getting a facelift. It's free publicity that reaches readers who aren't in the loop on regular comics news. If you want to increase your sales, you have to reach those readers.

Honestly, I am not seeing a savvy business move here.
DonWhiteside
50. tarbis
The lack of good promotion I put down to a few factors. First, most news outlets don't care about comic books. They're a few paragraphs of puff coverage at best and point-at-the-nerds-in-funny-costumes at worst. Second, if they were rebooting one book that might make for clear coverage, but trying to explain what was happening to even the top five books in couple paragraphs of press release can not happen. Third, comic books are a niche market with a niche distrubtion system that ends up handling most of the promo materials. Posters in comic book shops and coverage with Comic Shop News mean nothing to people that aren't already buying comics.

That said DC dropped the ball. The same way they drop the ball everytime a movie around one of the characters comes out and they don't promote the book around it.

The reboot itself I think could have been a savvy business move. (In the event that readership is still up in two years I'll admit they didn't screw up too badly.) The fact that DC can still call it a major success because six months after the reboot they still have more books selling above 50,000 copies then they did a year ago says more about the market than I would like it too. If DC had broken out of direct distrubition and put out a solid few months of done in ones to establish things and hook new readers then it would have been a great business move.

Now regarding preconcived notions and continuity being up for grabs. I think part of our disagreement (or at least our talking past each other) might be generational (or aided by generational cynicism). I started reading comics in the early nineties when book groups had fairly tight same month continuity, but less so with the larger universe or the past. During those years and the years since I watched DC keep soft rebooting things (Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis, etc.) and Marvel getting into the habit of just ignoring stories the writer or editor didn't like (or didn't read).

With that kind of background I welcome hard cold total reboots (what New 52 could have been) or entirely new universes (Marvel's Ultimate line), at least then I know what continuity is. A big blank page for writers to add new stories and retcon elements into. Even if I don't like the characters or the stories, at least they weren't contradicting or ignoring previous stories (for a couple years).

I'm used to everything in the big two's comics being arbitrary. This reduced the number of preconcived notions that I brought with me. So long as Wonder Woman was still female, magical, a strong character that is female instead of a strong female character, and not a bloodthristy jerk then my preconcived notions were met. All the Amazons acting like Bana isn't a deal breaker for me, because Utopian Amazons weren't part of my requirements.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
51. tnh
Oh my, you do know the business end. Shall we continue, or do you want to leave it there? I'm finding this discussion very interesting, but I don't want to keep you if you'd rather not.

You understand the real problem: where do new comics fans come from, now that the spinners and wire racks have disappeared? How do you pick up impulse buys at the current price points, or get placement at lower ones? How can we keep enough money trickling back to the creators to make the magic keep happening?

I've been guessing that you grew up during the era of warring continuities, but this was eloquent:
With that kind of background I welcome hard cold total reboots (what New 52 could have been) or entirely new universes (Marvel's Ultimate line), at least then I know what continuity is. A big blank page for writers to add new stories and retcon elements into. Even if I don't like the characters or the stories, at least they weren't contradicting or ignoring previous stories (for a couple years).
Ouch. That would grieve any good editor I know. You been done wrong. Your affections have been trifled with. I swear, if comics wasn't such a compelling art form, by now the comics publishers would have killed it off completely.
Mordicai Knode
52. mordicai
Crisis on Infinite Earths was such a brave move. Every other Crisis after that has been...crass?
DonWhiteside
53. tarbis
I'm going to assume that the statement of desire to continue this was not made sarcastically. It's rare to have this kind of discussion with someone that knows what they're talking about so I'll take the
opportunity.

(For the record I don't consider myself to be someone that knows the business. That requires much more inside knowledge than I have access to. I prefer to think of myself as a fan that is aware of the business side of things.)

Wire racks and spinners aren't coming back anytime soon. Similary I don't think we can expect the price of individual to drop either between the price of materials, Diamond's cut for distribution, labor involved, and the fact that the ads probably aren't providing revenue in the percentage they used to (if I were selling products I know I wouldn't cough up big piles of cash to reach 30,000 or 40,000 people at best).

The current crop of lunatics running the asylums are so used to big events as sales boosters and selling to fan stores that I doubt they can see a way to actual new readers. They came up (and sometimes grew up) with events and crossovers and mini-series and other things that only make sense when sold to speciality shops. Based on sales it seems safe to say that current pool of fans seems to like that way too. (Insert sighing noise here.)

In my dream world the big two could save themselves, but the steps involved might alienate the current crop of fans and creators. Kill the cult of the creator, cut the size of storylines, reduce a lot of books to eight page backups (self-cannibalism is bad), reduce or eliminate crossovers, and remember that just because "Comics aren't just for kids" doesn't mean that comics shouldn't be for kids.

While they're at it they could steal from Archie. Produce seven or eight dollar digests with three or four twenty page stories featuring different characters and get that into supermarkets. The art would need to change to suit smaller pages, the writing would need to go to done in ones for ages twelve and under, and you might have to include one page guides to characters.

At minimum the big two could leverage the fact that they are part of multimedia entertainment empires. How many potential readers have watched and enjoyed a cartoon or movie about a comic book character without ever picking up a single comic book? Why is a single action figure based on a comic character sold without an eight page mini-comic included? Why aren't free comics being provided at the opening weekend of every comicbook movie? The comics could include a web site or app that leads people to their nearest comic book retailer. I would go further and include a means for direct paper and download subscriptions to titles.

None of this would solve the recurrent problem of continunity failures and continunity lockout, but at least it would stop pretending that the current comic book store model was sustainable.
DonWhiteside
54. seth e.
Coming in late!

tarbis, what you say makes a lot of sense. But for myself, if new readers are the goal, I'm not convinced continuity failures are the problem that you and tnh say they are. That is, I'm interpreting you to say that the consistent violations and re-violations of continuity are at issue, and DC should just pick a continuity and stick with it.

I'm under the impression that most people who are introduced to the Big Two's characters and stories theses days are coming in from other media--especially animation, where a lot of the changes you suggest are already in effect, and where continuity isn't really much of an issue, I don't think. At a certain point in the age of a story, "canon" is just a set of tropes surrounding a character/story that may or not be helpful, and towards which individual creators take whatever attitude seems interesting and fruitful. Right now, Sherlock Holmes is existing in the Hollywood movies, the British series, and soon the American series, and nobody seems to be confused or up in arms. Ditto for superhero animated series, which re-use slightly different versions of the same characters from show to show, and get away with it mostly by just not mentioning all the turgid backstory the comic versions are loaded down with.

Many DC characters in particular are of an age where the storytelling solution isn't to fix continuity, but to find a different way to treat continuity. One-off event series like All-Star Superman, Seven Soldiers, and DC:The New Frontier exist in their own little bubbles without affecting the rest of the comic world around them, and have been pretty successful. Moving in that direction would help, I think.

At this point, long-form continuity itself, as a fact of comic storytelling, is part of the problem. Trying to fix it, even the idea of it, pleases the existing fans more than attracting new ones.
DonWhiteside
55. StrongDreams
I think one of the concerns here is not just that continuity is changing, but how it is changing. In the "old days," comic book characters had a wide variety of backstories. Some were genuinely nice people who grew up in nice homes and wanted to make the world a nicer place (Superman, Wonderwoman). Others struggled with family problems, fears, having to live with the consequences of past mistakes, etc. In the present day, it seems like every character has to be given angst, a Past (with a capital 'P') and Issues (with a capital 'I' and double-underscored).

Making Wonderwoman the product of a culture that seduces then kills men and sells their boy children into slavery doesn't seem like creative inspiration, it seems like the new default reboot for every character.

Yes, it is worth exploring the existential condition of the superhero, and the first couple of times that a character is given a past to hide from or make amends for, it can be innovative and interesting. Maybe not so much any more.
Jason Parker
56. tarbis
I think there is room at any comic company for multiple continunities. However each of them must be clearly and seperately branded. Also the continunities must never crossover with each other (witness what DC was and seems to be becoming again).

Things like All-Star Superman, Watchmen, Kingdom Come, or even long ones like Transmetropolitan can be great stories. The problem is once the reader as that story they don't need to buy another. It has closure. It doesn't leave the reader with a feeling that they should buy a book next month. Continunity makes for repeat business and the companies need repeat business. They also need new business that becomes repeat business. It's a bad model that counts on people falling in love and staying in love with the medium.

It's true that a lot of people are discovering the characters in forms that are better suited animation or film. The problem is that those people aren't buying the books which reduces the amount of impact those forms of the character have on the books. Which can make the books unrecognizable from the show and keeps a vicious circle going. For example compare the animated Teen Titans with the issues of Teen Titans that were printed during the same years. Could a fan of the television show even recognize large parts of the book, let alone do they enjoy it?
DonWhiteside
57. goddess_oraorchid
To commenters who discuss the fact that the amazons use these men for babies lets break it down:
1)Diana, is a grown woman...in Ancient times she would have been viewed as sexually viable at a far younger age than 25.
2) The Amazons had NO reason to hide this from Diana. Her origins were hidden in order to shield from Hera. Which in itself makes no sense, how did she not know?
3) As a young woman these Amazons would have simply told diana, it was simply a way of life. What reason have they to hide it? She could not stop it, for she is only a princess.
4) The Immortal Amazons had no reason to procreate. Because they are immortal.
5)WHY DO THESE AMAZONS NEED NEW WEAPONS? Who are they fighting? And can they not forge their own? And if all their weapons come from Hesphaestus why are they not trading them more regularly(sense weapons can be highly damaged, etc)?
6)How often do they see and capture boats....are they just that lucky?

I keep comparing these Amazons to their depiction in the Perez era. Everywhere I look people who like the NEw 52 say that the amazons were too Utopian and perfect or were the same. They weren't. The Amazons spent centuries dealing with their anger and rage over their own rape. When Diana brings men to the island a group of Amazons hatch a plan to drive men away, that is disrupted by the pre-52 Eris. As one amazon says "As an Amazon, I forgive them, but as a woman...". The amazons spent years teaching themselves compassion trying to learn how to trust again, but never putting it in practice. Perez really put humanity in these women, and made Diana appear amazingly couragous.

The New 52 amazons....ok....what bothers me is that it almost comes off as the raped becoming rapists. To say that all those sailors willing slept with those women paints all men with a wide brush. There are men in the world who are homosexual, or are loyal to their wives, or religion. If a man refused would the rape him, drug him, or kill him? And what of the Amazons who did not wish to give up their sons? Or the Amazons who hated this ritual or were Lesbians?

Furthermore...as I stated these are women who originally practiced tempering themselves, learning the arts and self discipline.... none of this exists strongly in New 52. I would go so far as to say the New 52 paints the Amazons in the same light. They are all the same...conforming to horrific things...little to know admirable traits. They exist to make New 52 Wonder Woman look good.


consider this as well...is Hippolyta a good queen? She has a passionate affair with a god with a wife known through the ages for her rage and jealousy. She kills babes, curses women, and seemingly never blames her husband but only the women who he beds. She puts every single Amazon in danger by having an affair with him. Furthermore how does one hide a child of a god when a god has a pool that reflects events, and how is it the child of those god found out?

The art of the comic is wonderful, and there are some trully funny moments in the comic...and I enjoy the fact that some amazons really do resent Diana as "Clay" and for leaving the island(and thus rejecting them in a sense). But the overall story has elements I just can't get with. Besides the above I hate that so many of the women, not just in Wonder Woman, but in the New 52 in general are less dynamic. The stories often have difficulty balancing action and character developement. New 52 Batgirl #1 has a great balance of action of character that serves a purpose. New 52 Catwoman begins with objectifying the main character, false action occurs(action that lacks a sense of being dynamic or highly engaging), and ends in sex. While I'm not saying it is intentional....at some point Batgirl, Wonder Woman, (and within Wonderwoman Hera), and Catwoman are....overcome with emotion or placed in a high emotion situation and suffer for it in away that suggests women being regularly irrational on a constant basis. It just gets tiresome...even when its excused(Such as Barbra having a touch of PTSD). I don't think I'm overreacting when I say that I have almost NEVER gotten that vibe from comics before. The Catwoman comic Relentless, and the Wonder Woman stories around the time she killed Maxwell lord NEVER gave me that feeling of women being irrational and losing control. They may have lost control but they always seemed rational...
DonWhiteside
59. Oomu
All i see it's again just bloodier and grittier stuff to be "edgy" and again at the expense of females characters as every time ever. Always.

I don't care about the story, the logic or whatever Greek myth. I only see the usual destruction of something female.

DC wants to sell to only little teenage boys and will botch any female public for that.
DonWhiteside
60. Jill98
Folks may argue that the comic is trying to mirror Greek myth, in which the Amazons did go out and reproduce this way. Yet that is not the history of the Amazons in the comics previous to the New 52 rewrite.
That's why it's a REBOOT. The history of the Amazons in the previous comics don't matter. There is no continuity with the past. This is a new WW with a fresh start that draws more inspiration from traditional Greek Myths.

This works great for new readers who are more familiar with Greek myths than the past decades of WW issues. Yes, it's jarring to old fans, but it is by no means a malicious change as some have raged. It's traditional and much more understandable than the previous history, which became so convoluted in its attempt to explain why an all female society wasn't sexist.
DonWhiteside
61. JanArrah
I know this is probably a "dead" topic by now, but I need to point out..

As far as SALES go, this current reboot of Wonder Woman has the weakest sales in the history of this character for a reboot first of all. Second of all, with just a RELAUNCH of Wonder Woman in 2004 (during a stronger comic book market), WW #1 sold 100,000 copies and was the #1 seller that month. Even with insane delays in the print schedule, Wonder Woman was STILL selling around 60,000 copies at issue 7, meaning that in a stronger market Wonder Woman was still selling BETTER with just a RELAUNCH than this reboot of Wonder Woman. Now at where Wonder Woman is now, about 37,000 copies are selling. When Gail Simone took over at the SAME time, it sold aroud 34,000 copies (in a stronger comic market still). So the idea that the current reboot has this GREAT sales is absolute hogwash. This current reboot is NOT strong in sales and people comparing it to issue a long running series (with no tie ins) and how it ended (which btw JMS's version TANKED sales) is just dishonest.
Kevin Maroney
62. womzilla
I'm still enjoying Azzarello's WW, despite my displeasure with the changes in the Amazons. And I was one of the people who fled, screaming, when JMS came on and was glad for an excuse to start reading WW again.

But I have to say that "making it more like mythology" is not intrinsically either laudable or awful; it's just a storytelling choice. Marston (and Peters) created the Amazons they wanted to tell stories about, and those were the DC universe Amazons for 70 years. Azzarello had a different idea, and now the Amazons are different. Implying that his approach is inherently an improvement just because it adheres to stories from 2500 years ago instead of 70 years ago seems misguided.
DonWhiteside
63. Michael Claymore
Like it or not, this is what Amazons would have been had they ever existed.
DonWhiteside
65. Mera
So thats what happened to wonder woman. The writers have become so obsessed with depravity they lost their grip on their own morality. Forgetting that not only adults read this ,but children do too as well.I did when I was a child well into her '85 reincarnation and well into her learning of her mothers betrayal of of her sister Antiope. But even with the Circe and Demon storyline nothing is as worst as hearing of raping and murdering to survive as an entire race. Sounds like awfully familiar , a bit. Honestly right now ive a bad taste in my mouth of this direction they took.No wonders the tv series cant get off the ground. This is so foul, like seriously.
DonWhiteside
66. Mera
Dont get me wrong im not naive to the ruthlessness of the history of the mythological Amazon history. Its just that I never believe the writers would go so far, just to make sales rather than keeping the intregity of amazonia race intact. The very least it should reflect that there should be some act of penice on their parts. For no bad deeds ever go unpunished. I would believe they are in a constant state of struggle, such as the dangers of guarding the doomsday gates,Just when Phoenix of The X-men faced judgement for her crimed against destroying an entire solar system, so should they. When they did those acts of murdering, raping and selling into slavery they tend to lose any sense of empowerment and transition more towards enslavement and barbaric dictatorship. At least have them suffer the consequences by having dreams which may cause them to suffer insanity which physically harms their bodies so that they would remember the pain and terror they inflict upon others. It could be done as some ritual type that each amazon who partake in the act could go through at a stage in their lives by being chosen through a lottery of some sort. It would be that one thing every amazon dreads and fears the most facing insanity, sleepless dreams and physical changes to their bodies. Well thats just my input into helping solving the solution for the amazons most terrible history secret.Hopefully it will help prevent them from heading down that path again and also permit have form bonds of intimacy through interactions with men that are diplomatic and positive. I love Wonder Woman and I Know she would definitely approve of this
DonWhiteside
67. saveWW
Hear, hear, Shoshanna. I've directed my ire at this topic, too. http://savingwonderwoman.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/save-wonder-woman/ Keep up the good fight.
DonWhiteside
68. Caesar
I don't see this as a big offense, really. Full disclosure, I haven't read the comic at all because the DC reboot annoys me on principle. But from the panel you posted, I don't see where rape is involved. The Amazons offer themselves to sailors who probably haven't seen land, let alone women, for months and they gladly oblige. Probably not so happy with the murdering, mind you. But that's not rape.

You could argue the murdering of their mates is unnecessary - I mean, the Amazons could just leave - but murder is pretty in keeping with Greek mythology and old stories where killing people was everyone's favourite lunchtime activity.

As for "missing the point of the legacy," well, that's pretty much par for the course of the New 52 and certainly not unique. The entire line has been "gritted-up". Even Superman, paragon of virtue and morality, has been made more edgy and badass and less tolerant. They're going after a certain market and tone and Wonder Woman is no different.

I'm surprised to hear you're so offended by the selling of male children into slavery. I never thought of the Amazonians as particularly benevolent, especially when it comes to men. In fact they were usually painted as fearful of man and borderline men-haters - which again, is fine. It's just a story.

As for the "bad storytelling" angle, well I haven't read it so I can't really comment on whether or not it makes sense for Diana to be ignorant about this infrequent practice, but this non-addressing of details isn't really a dealbreaker in a story. Writers often gloss over small details in service of the overall plot and flow of a story, and though I wish it wouldn't happen, it does happen.

As for the Amazonian culture being "newly rewritten to include rape, murder, and slavery", I'm pretty sure that's the old Amazonian culture too. If I recall correctly the Amazonians were raped by Hercules/Heracles and his men and sold into slavery. And also they murdered and got murdered a lot. After they re-established Themyscria, any man who wandered in somehow was put to death. Wonder Woman's culture has always been steeped in Greek mythology, and Greek mythology has always been steeped in unpleasantness.
DonWhiteside
69. JoshMK
As I understand, this doesn't affects WW directly. If she agreed with it thought, then that would be another story. Grow up, guys.
DonWhiteside
70. joshdobbin
Not for nothing, but that is one of the classically recognized origins of the mythological Amazons. They'd expose male children or sell them into slavery, or send them back to the lands of their fathers, in the versions of the stories where the Amazons went on yearly mating runs.

Other versions have them capturing men in battles and using them to make more Amazons. (Or to kill the boy-children, or expose them, etc.)

But yeah, overall, the creepy-fan-service trend in DC is troubling.
DonWhiteside
71. kimikimi
I think one of the issues I have is that this is One Story. We have one place in the comics that's matriarchal and female possitive, and it's a rare thing. Now the DC decision is that that place should be made grittier in a way that makes it feel unsafe to people who've felt most at home there. It's not a female empowerment fantasy, it's a male fear fantasy and it reflects so many common tropes of men being tricked by sex and either emasculated or killed by sexual women. It's a long line of things either made for women or that women have adopted that's been taken over by men in such a way that the women feel forced to leave. How very sad.
DonWhiteside
72. Salabra
This absolutely *reeks* of outrage over the 'infringement' of male privilege.

It's as if the authors said to themselves, "Damn feminazis have made women feel comfortable ignoring us! We'll get 'em ... we'll sneak into the girls' toilets and draw dirty pictures on the walls!"

Petty and pathetic!
DonWhiteside
73. Raknay
I just want to corret one thing.
The real original wonder woman dont grew alone in the Paradise Island.
Create girls from magic Clay and adopt orfans was a common thing in the original Wonder Woman.
Also wonder Woman was one of the first Super-heroes (if not the first) to be against killing and that really reabilitated the villains.
The bloodthirst Amazons and Diana being the only child in the Island is a very new thing, made after Xena.
Also the Amazons from the paradise Island arent the same Amazons from the ancient Greece, they are created by Afrodite to be a culture about love.
I feel that the Autors really want to destroy DC comics.
DonWhiteside
74. Raknay
Oh yes!
I also dont mention that anyone who knows a little about greek mithology knows rhat Hypolitha is already Zeus daughter.
That makes Diana sister of her own mother, daughter of her grandfather and her own niece.
I forgive the mistakes from George Per~es because se make a great effort to do greek mithology right in the 80s, but today with internet there are no excuses.
Like I said, he took his knowledge of mithology and the Amazons watching Xena.
Holy Chinatown batman.
DonWhiteside
76. Basilio of Cebu
I don't see the problem here.

They're just being accurate in the potrayal of Amazons. Go on. read about the Amazons in greek methodology (which is obviously what the Amazons in DC universe are based on), you'll see barely a difference in lifestyle.
DonWhiteside
77. whatever
Well if you read about Greek mythology that's kind of what amozonian women did once a year, in order to prevent their race from dying out, they raped the Gargareans, a neighbouring tribe. The male children who were the result of these visits were either killed, sent back to their fathers or exposed in the wilderness to fend for themselves; the girls were kept and brought up by their mothers. In other versions when the Amazons went to war they would not kill all the men. Some they would take as slaves, and once or twice a year they would have sex with their slaves.

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