Wonder Woman #7 Review OR That Was An Odd Choice

So I was RIDICULOUSLY jazzed for this issue.  Cliff Chiang is back and Hephaestus and Eros were going to be in it and they were going to plan a trip to Hades and it all sounded terribly exciting.  Then it took a very bizarre left turn that’s been perplexing me all night.  I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but I don’t think I like it. 

But I can’t tell you about it without first saying SPOILER.

As always, I’m going to wreck everything that happens in this comic, so if you haven’t read it yet, go away!!

Seriously, it’s only three bucks… go get a copy.

Okay, onto the reviewing…

Cliff Chiang was back and killed it as always.  I loved barefoot hipster Eros and burnt arms, ogre-like Hephaestus.  That was all very fun and good.  But I’m pretty much only going to talk about one thing in this review.

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.

I have a huge problem with this.

Let me preface this by saying that I love EVERYTHING Azzarello and Chiang have done with the series so far.  The new take on the gods is fantastic, I adore the new characters, and I think that Zeus as Wonder Woman’s father was a really interesting tweak to the mythos that’s been handled well so far.  I know a lot of Wonder Woman fans are up in arms about this new direction for the book, but I’m not one of them.  I’ve loved it all, and I think it’s the best book on the stands right now.

But 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.  Anyway, let’s get back on track.  The main reason this doesn’t sit well with me is because the Amazons have ALWAYS been better than us.

That’s their schtick.  Paradise Island is a feminist utopia and the Amazons are more advanced than everyone else on the planet in every possible way on account of they don’t spend all their time killing each other and taking other people’s stuff like we do.  And it’s been like that for seventy years, most blatantly in the Golden Age with William Moulton Marston but in every incarnation afterwards as well.  The Amazons can be warriors when they need to be, but left to their own devices they are a peaceful and prosperous people we could all learn something from.  That’s what makes them awesome.

And that’s what makes them important.  Wonder Woman and the Amazons have been representatives of feminism for decades, way before feminism was cool (though really, feminism still isn’t cool is vast swathes of the United States).  Yeah, there are lots of great other female characters in comics now, but no one’s been around for as long or been as spectacular as Wonder Woman.  Wonder Woman is who she is because she’s an Amazon, and Amazons have always represented the best that humanity can achieve.  They’re noble and brave and strong and heroic, which can’t be said about most other female characters without having to add “she’s also this headlining hero’s girlfriend” or “she’s a derivative of this more well known male hero” or “she’s got a big hole in her costume right over her cleavage”.  And they’re ladies!!  They’re better AND they’re ladies.  The Amazons are strong and independent women who have been a remarkably progressive and feminist presence in the DC universe since it began.

And now they’re jerks.  No, jerks is WAY too soft.  They’re killers.  Murderers.  You could actually call them feminazis is you wanted to… they’re certainly exterminating large numbers of a particular group of people they don’t like.  There’s no way to justify seducing and then killing random, innocent men.  I mean, you could get into a whole “no man is innocent in a patriarchal society” thing but that’s just a slippery slope and you’ll end up sounding like Valerie Solanas.

Plus, if it wasn’t for Hephaestus, they’d kill all the male babies too!!  Wonder Woman sees the whole set up as forced slavery for her brothers and she tries to set them free, but they all tell her thanks but no thanks.  Their Amazon mothers were cruel women who would have left them to die if it wasn’t for Hephaestus, and they were glad to stay with him.  This scene would actually be sweet if I wasn’t perplexed by everything that came before while I read it:

Hephaestus, the male, is caring and compassionate.  The Amazons, the females, are cold-hearted killers.  This is not how things are supposed to go.

And here’s the thing… if this had been the Amazons pre-Paradise Island, I’d be cool with it.  I could understand it.  An all female society is going to die out pretty quick if you don’t figure out some ways to make babies.  If they were plundering a Greek trireme or some such and killing all the dudes, I could see that.  It was a different time, and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.  But at a certain point, they go off to Paradise Island, become immortal, and build a utopia.  There’s no need to do that anymore, because a) they’re immortal so they won’t die out, b) they don’t want to have anything to go with men anymore… that’s sort of the ENTIRE goddamn point of the island, and c) having left the world of men because men are murderous, treacherous fiends, their main aim as a society was NOT TO BE LIKE THAT.

Also, why?  I know Azzarello has mad skills and I’m sure he has a plan, but I have NO idea why this was done.  It serves no purpose in the story, other than to make Wonder Woman look dumb repeatedly.  It feels like a twist just for the sake of being shocking and different.  Maybe it will play out into something interesting and, I sincerely hope, good and restorative for the Amazons, but so far there’s no discernible reason for it.

In earlier issues, I sort of enjoyed the man-hating bits with the Amazons because it felt like a joke, like they were teasing Diana for being out in the world with stupid dudes all the time.  But in actuality, they REALLY hate men.  It wasn’t a joke.  Thrice a century they’re going out to kill them and toss them off boats:

That is beyond screwed up.  If that is a sanctioned practice in Amazon society, what does that say about Amazon society?  Nothing good.  The Amazons were unimpeachable.  The Amazons were the ideal.  But now, they’re no better than the rest of us.

Now, this doesn’t ruin Wonder Woman or anything like that.  Much as Wonder Woman being the product of a feminist utopia is a fantastic story, Wonder Woman being a kind and noble hero despite what is now a pretty twisted history is still a positive message.  Wonder Woman herself remains awesome.  But something really great from DC’s history is now gone, and that’s kind of sad.  What the Amazons represented was so cool and so unique, especially in what has historically been a male-dominated and often sexist industry.  After seventy years, that’s now been done away with.

With this shift, Wonder Woman seems to be just like everyone else, a hero with a messed up past who’s trying to overcome the ever-present darkness that surrounds her.  She’ll overcome it, of course, and be a stronger hero for it, but Wonder Woman was never dark or tortured or trying to deal with a screwed up history.  That’s what made her different.  She wasn’t a hero to excise her demons or because of a psychological break cause by serious parental issues, she was a hero because she’s an Amazon and that’s just what they do.  But now she’s a hero despite being an Amazon, and that’s bumming me out some.

So yeah, this was not my favourite issue of the series.  And of course, it’s just a comic and the world hasn’t ended or anything.  I’m frustrated and perplexed by a change to the backstory of a fictional character I enjoy… there are people dying in Uganda.  Also, I feel a little bad about not liking this, because I’ve loved the book so far.  I know I just said it’s not a huge deal, but I’ve been thinking about it ALL night and yeah, it just doesn’t sit right with me.  Of course, I totally reserve the right to take this all back if the story restores all of the Amazon’s feminist awesomeness at some point, but for right now I’m confused and a little bit disappointed.

Published by Tim Hanley

Tim Hanley is a comic book historian and the author of Wonder Woman Unbound, Investigating Lois Lane, The Many Lives of Catwoman, and Betty and Veronica: The Leading Ladies of Riverdale.

13 thoughts on “Wonder Woman #7 Review OR That Was An Odd Choice

  1. Confused and a little disappointed. That’s a great way to describe how I felt as well. Though, I was probably less confused than most regular WW readers, because I knew so little of her previous back story. Pre Reboot, Diana was a character that I liked, but never actually bought any of her books. She’d show up in a Bat book or I’d read the occasional Justice League arc and get a dose of her awesomeness. But as for her origin and homeland, I was basically clueless. That’s why I thought the Wonder Woman of the New 52 was a great jumping on point.
    So now that the Amazons are being portrayed as pseudo-black widows who seduce and kill their victims, I’m a little perplexed. I loved the general idea of an Amazon – a tough, female warrior. It’s why I named my tumblr account the way that I did. I love noble, kick-ass women, and I still think WW is a noble, kick-ass woman. But it seems like the writers have made her the exception instead of the rule, and that kinda sucks.
    I’m interested to see where the story goes from here. But based on the backlash from so many of her devoted fans, I’m thinking I should read up on her previous series if I want a better Amazonian representation.

    1. I agree that making Wonder Woman the exception instead of the rule is a bummer. The original Wonder Woman was always just the best of the best compared to the other Amazons… Diana was their champion, but any Amazon could have done the mantle of “Wonder Woman” proud and been a great superhero outside of Paradise Island. I realize it’s a new universe and all, but this change seems too much of a swing in the opposite direction.

  2. DC has been weighed down by 70 years of continuity, making their stories hard to access by new readers. The whole point of the New 52 is to blow the dust off these characters and make them relevant.

    WW has always been an iconic and heroic character, but her backstory has always been flat and boring. She comes from an island where everything is perfect… there’s no arc, no dramatic hook there. There’s no high stakes.

    This new take on her origins is fresh and interesting, and it makes her into more of a hero, because she has to overcome adversity. She is put in the position of protecting the world from her evil amazon sisters… or possibly working to overthrow the regime. (There are likely to be other Amazons that feel they are on the wrong path. Political intrigues on Paradise Island could be a lot of fun!)

    There was never any compelling reason for her to try and have a life in our world. Now she’s all on her own, and will need to make a life for herself, rather than having a safe utopia to return to.

    I’ve tried to get into WW a couple of times, and her story never really hooked me, and I think Azzarello has correctly identified the problem and corrected it.

    1. To me, there are SO many superheroes overcoming adversity and dark histories and the like. It’s new for Wonder Woman, but sort of a stale story generally. It’s nothing we haven’t seen a billion times before. I think the idea of a hero with a happy past, who’s a hero just to be a hero because she loves it and feels compelled to use her abilities for good, is a fascinating one. It’s not as dramatic a hook as dead parents or a destroyed homeworld, but I think it has a lot of story potential. Wonder Woman is just like everyone else now, and that bums me out.
      However, I totally agree that political intrigue on Paradise Island could be awesome. I mean, all the Amazons are snakes now so that’d be tricky currently, but I’d be interested in seeing something slightly less utopian among the Amazons. Now they’re straight up evil though, and I don’t think that would be terribly compelling… there’d be no nuance to the intrigue. The Amazons murdering people are always going to be the bad guys. So yeah, intrigue could be cool but I think they’ve veered too far with this setup.

  3. I hope we’re only getting part of the story and once the Amazons are no longer all Snakes and the Hippolyta is no longer a statue we get a clearer picture of what is going on. Perhaps I am being naive, sigh.

    1. That’s my hope as well. As disappointed as I was in the issue, I’ve loved everything so far, and I know there’s a long game here with this story. This twist seems ridiculously hard to make okay and understandable, but flipping out now without waiting to see how it plays out would definitely be premature. So fingers crossed on a satisfying resolution.

  4. Hello there! I read your article first, so I wasn’t as much surprised when I finally saw it ((I didn’t think I’d be able to read WW this month, that’s why)) …and I didn’t expect it to contain such a huge spoiler!!! Anyway, I can’t quite shake the feeling that we’re missing something…like we don’t have all the pieces yet. We don’t know for sure if in the NDCU all amazons are immortal or not, we don’t know why they moved to Paradise Island…heck, i’m not even sure if WW flies anymore!!! My point is we can’t just suppose things are like before, because they’re not. I’m personally enjoying this take of the story as long as it lasts, because I’m afraid they’ll go back to the “canon” DCU sooner or later. Cheers!

  5. One more thing. Given the age of the male amazons, we could think the last time they did the murders was BEFORE Wonder Woman’s birth — thus her ignorance about it. Don’t know…

  6. DC has been weighed down by 70 years of continuity, making their stories hard to access by new readers. The whole point of the New 52 is to blow the dust off these characters and make them relevant.

    I am so sick of that crap. Our readers are too stupid and dumb, with short attention spans. They are mostly pubescent males who want oversexed sleaze characters.

    Nothing, not ONE thing in the reboot, is worth one page of the continuity they did away with.

  7. I think it’s genius, for a few reasons.

    1. I think this may be a sort of post-modern deconstruction of the whole “ideal feminist society” thing. Even though, as you point out, feminism (or rather a certain radical view of feminism) never became cool for a majority of people in this country, it’s pretty clear that we’ve become a “post-feminist” culture. The idea that all the things that are wrong with the world is a direct result of male leadership, and that if only women were in charge we could build a violence-free Utopia, is an idea that is more likely to be mocked and dismissed today (by young women as much as men) than in previous generations. Younger people today (I’m 25, so I would say my generation) are more cynical about any kind of Utopian ideals, including feminism.

    2. Paradise Island, like Krypton, is boring. But unlike Krypton, you have no drama of a dying world, arrogrant leaders not listening to their most brilliant minds, and brave parents sacrificing themselves to save their infant child. The Island is just sitting there, all perfect and stuff, doing nothing but…being all perfect, all by itself. Boring.

    3. Tying in to point #1, if you don’t happen to buy into a more radical version of feminism to begin with, then Paradise Island isn’t just boring, it’s not even good. An Island of all women with no men, no love (of the marital kind), no families, etc., isn’t something that 98% of people will find attractive or something to be admired. In fact, the only interesting and logical solution to this problem, for a character/story arc, is for WW to fall in love and ultiamtely repudiate her Amazonian upbringing…but then that would undermine the whole “utopian feminism” thing.

    4. Lastly, just speaking for myself, I love EVERYTHING about this new WW series. I never read comic books until last summer (2011), right before the reboot. I am, basically, the exact type of person that DC was trying to reach. And in my case, they succeeded big time. When I heard WW’s original origin story, AFTER reading the new one, I thought “Wow that sounds silly. How did they NOT think of the whole daughter-of-a-greek-god thing in the first place?” And my reaction to the revelation in this issue was a big “Woah! That’s cool/interesting!” But again, that’s just my own reaction.

  8. I just finished reading issue seven of Wonder Woman as I’m far behind, but from what I’m gathering, Wonder Woman doesn’t address this issue (sex/killing/slave trading) at all with her Amazons in this series. I’m so mad right now, Why would DC do this. What if the situation was reversed and it was men that did this to women, would that make it different. I think it would. They make Amazons out to be basically physically strong whores with little or no conscience that kill men and engage in their own race slave trading for weapons. They care about nobody but themselves. This is just my opinion, but when Wonder Woman goes to try and save her male Amazons from Hephaestus, she gives a very half hearted effort. When one of them says that he loves his master and so they stay, what else is he supposed to say if that’s his only life he’s ever known. She talks to one guy, and decides well, that’s that. There’s a love for her sister’s, but I guess not for the males. Do you think that maybe they would like to live on an island with their sisters and have lives instead of living under one guys rule working all day long? Would she have tried harder if it was a group of her sisters that were enslaved? Wonder Woman just stands there, and by not saying anything, her non actions say she agrees to it. It’s like she’s saying, “Okay, well if you’re good with it, then I’m good with it. Off to save this woman I know nothing about and her kid, while my Amazon brothers stay enslaved. I’m a bit sad, but okay.” Do you think Superman or Batman would have done this. She just accepts it and moves forward. I’m guessing the sex for offspring isn’t addressed either in later issues from the little I’ve read, so once again, by non action, Wonder Woman agrees that it’s okay to have sex for female Amazons and then kill the men after they are used up. She says nothing about it being wrong or trying to change this situation in anyway whatsoever that I remember right now. I understand if she didn’t save them in that issue, but she makes absolutely no effort to say that she needs to save them later, or fix her issues with her Amazons. Her sisters do all those abominations, yet she says nothing. Say something about how it’s terribly wrong!!!! How can women look up to this character when by her non actions, she approves of this sex/killing/slave trading. If I was a woman, I’d be ashamed to say that Wonder Woman is my hero. Hell, I’m a guy and I feel ashamed. I thought the focus of her efforts would move off Zola and move to her freeing her people and taking charge. This would really be a great way to move her forward and inspire women. She could try and change her culture, something Batman and Superman have not done. This would really be a feather in her cap and make her stronger. If she does go back and address this, then all of this is void. If not, I’d hate to be a man in need of her help on a sinking ship. No wonder people think that Amazons, Wonder Woman hate men. It’s clearly spelled out in issue seven in my opinion. This might not be the case, but I’d prefer Superman or either Batman if I was in trouble.

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