This probably won’t be the most in depth review I’ve ever written, because one panel ruined the entire book for me. I’m not particularly interested in dissecting the rest of the issue on account of I’m busy being rather perturbed with Brian Azzarello yet again fundamentally misunderstanding Wonder Woman. It’s getting so old. This is a series with a lot of good things going for it, but none of those good things are Wonder Woman herself. Anyway, let’s get to it, but first:
I’m going to tell you everything that happened in this issue!
Briefly, but still!
Go read it first!
So let’s do a quick rundown first. Strife got some sort of pin from Hephaestus for killing Wonder Woman. Cassandra’s taking her kidnapped brother, Milan, to a secret base in Chernobyl. Apollo and Dionysus have a creepy meal. Orion and Hermes fight, then Strife shows up with gifts for everyone, then Siracca pops in and everyone runs out to save Milan.
After all of the setup in last month’s issue, I expected a lot more to happen here, but it was little more than a lot of posturing and several scenes that didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose. Cassandra, Milan, and her weird airplane get four pages of the book, in which we learn absolutely nothing new. The only thing we do learn about her plot, that she’s got a base in Chernobyl, comes from Siracca with the main gang in London.
There are two pages set in the very modern kitchen of Olympus, where Dionysus is serving up chunks of the still alive First Born to his brother, Apollo, for dinner that are similarly pointless. We know that the gods are brutal, and the only thing achieved by these two pages is a hint that Apollo is going to bring Dionysus into the fold a bit more. I will say that it’s an impressively twisted scene, but that’s a lot of space for such a small takeaway. I like the idea of the scene, but it would have been far better served with some dialogue and circumstances that actually mattered.
Back in London, the gang is sitting around gabbing for most of the book, and herein lies the panel that ruined the issue for me. Strife has brought gifts for everyone, returning Hera’s peacock clock and bringing a blanket for Zeke, but for Wonder Woman she has Ares’ helmet. Strife makes a snide comment while giving it to her, and Wonder Woman calls her a bitch:
Seriously? How far off the mark is Brian Azzarello’s idea of Wonder Woman that he thinks she would ever call anyone a bitch? Not to mention that it’s 2013 and the only person who calls anyone a bitch anymore is Jesse Pinkman. He may have come up with some cool takes on the gods and a fun supporting cast, but I think that fundamentally Brian Azzarello doesn’t have a good handle on Wonder Woman at all.
It’s bad enough that she’s the least interesting character in the book, and that she’s lucky to grace half of the pages in her own series. But now she’s calling another woman a bitch, and this is a real problem for me.
Bitch is a gendered insult, one that’s been used for ages to demean women. By its original definition, there’s nothing wrong with the word. It’s a female dog. But in turning that word into an insult, what we have is a situation whereby womanhood IS the insult. Our modern use of the word bitch perpetuates the idea that there is something inherently less good about womanhood. The gender is the insult. It’s a word with some seriously sexist baggage, and to have it come out of Wonder Woman’s mouth is just ridiculous.
The word has been reappropriated in some feminist circles, turned into a badge of honour instead of an insult. Bitch Media, for example, proudly embraces the term as a symbol of their outspoken nature. There was a great “Weekend Update” sketch a few years back where Tina Fey and Amy Poehler talked about how Hillary Clinton is a bitch, and so are they, and that that’s a good thing because “bitches gift stuff done.” Wonder Woman calling Strife a bitch was not such a reappropriation.
Wonder Woman lashed out at Strife with a gendered insult, one that a strong, Amazon princess should be loathe to use. It was lazy, hacky writing, perhaps meant to make Wonder Woman look tough or bad ass, but here’s the thing: Wonder Woman doesn’t need to insult someone to look like a bad ass. Insults, especially gendered ones, are for people so weak and insecure about their own selves that they have to tear down other people to try to regain control of a confrontation. Wonder Woman is better than that. There is no reason for that word to ever come out of her mouth; she’s WONDER WOMAN. Yes, Strife was being a jerk, but Wonder Woman didn’t need to react in kind. A slightly arched eyebrow and a stern glare from an Amazon warrior would have communicated “Who the hell do you think you are and what the hell do you think you’re doing” better than spitting out “You bitch” ever could.
Anyway, I am rather unimpressed with Azzarello’s treatment of Wonder Woman. It’s just one word, but it perfectly encapsulates how Azzarello just doesn’t understand her. Combined with the terrible Guillem March variant cover for Superman/Wonder Woman #3 that came out today (and that I’m not even going to show or link to because it’s awful), it’s not been a great day for our favourite Amazon princess. I’m disappointed, DC.