New Wonder Woman Arc to Focus on her Brother OR No One Wants This


DC Comics announced a new creative team for their Wonder Woman comic yesterday, with James Robinson coming on board to write the book alongside Carlos Pagulayan and Emanuela Lupacchino on art. They’re going to do a six-issue arc that will run bi-monthly from September through December, and it will pick up on threads first introduced in DC’s “Rebirth” special a year ago. The solicit for the first issue says:

Who is Wonder Woman’s brother? Taken away from Themyscira in the dead of night, the mysterious Jason has been hidden somewhere far from the sight of gods and men…but his life and Wonder Woman’s are about to intersect in a terrifying way, bringing them face to face with a cosmic threat they never imagined!

I am underwhelmed, to say the least. Wonder Woman has been stellar since its “Rebirth” relaunch, with Greg Rucka, Bilquis Evely, Nicola Scott, and Liam Sharp revitalizing the character and setting her on a good path after several rough years following the book’s previous relaunch in 2011. Shea Fontana and Mirka Andolfo are set to take over the book in July for five issues, and that sounds like it’s going to be a fun run. I was pleased to see a female writer take over the series, and Mirka Andolfo’s art is always a treat. But now we’ve got a male writer at the helm again (and one with a problematic writing record at that). We do have Emanuela Lupacchino on art, and she’s marvelous, but the solicit is all about “legendary writer James Robinson,” along with credits over a decade old, and doesn’t mention the art at all. Robinson is also focusing on Wonder Woman’s mysterious brother, a bizarre turn that shows DC seems to have learned nothing from the success of the Wonder Woman movie.

First, with so many amazing female writers working in comics right now, DC should be handing over the reins of Wonder Woman to one of them long term. The book has had some great male writers over the years, and Rucka’s tenure over the past year was fantastic, but it’s time for a new perspective on the book. Men have written Wonder Woman for the vast majority of her seventy-six year history. Meanwhile, giving the Wonder Woman film to Patty Jenkins gave Warner Bros. its first critically acclaimed superhero film in years because she brought something new to the table. DC should do the same with the book and bring in one of the many amazing women working in comics right now.

Second, a brother? Has DC not seen any of the responses from folks coming out of the Wonder Woman movie? No one left the theater thinking that there needed to be more men in the mix. They wanted more Diana, more Amazons, more Etta, more of all of the amazing women that made up the film. Introducing Diana’s brother is the last thing anyone wants right now. Long term fans of the comic have been loving the female-centric storyline of the “Rebirth” era thus far, while potential new fans curious about the character after the movie are going to have no interest whatsoever in some new dude.

The brother angle was a weird idea from the start. When the “Rebirth” special came out a year ago, the tease struck me as a fundamentally dumb move. Diana is a unique creation, the only child of the Amazons. To introduce a sibling is unnecessary enough (unless they brought back Nubia, which could be cool if done right), but to make it a male sibling just totally misses the point of having Amazons in your universe. They let you tell cool stories about women! DC doesn’t need to stick a man in there; they can do fun things with the amazing women that they already have.

The people inside DC Comics can be dopes sometimes. Wonder Woman has never been more popular. The movie is a smash hit! And they’re putting out a comic book that’s going to appeal to few if any of her fans, new or old. It reminds me of 1973, when DC returned Wonder Woman to her Amazon roots after she appeared on the first cover of Ms. Magazine and became a mascot of the women’s lib movement. Just like today, Wonder Woman was hugely famous outside of the comics, but DC handed the book to Robert Kanigher, an old white guy who ignored her new status and wrote a bunch of lazy, subpar issues that failed to capitalize on her popularity. Four decades later, DC is making the same mistakes.

Part of me is hoping that this is some ill-considered cleanup operation, that editorial is thinking, “Let’s deal with this seed we planted a year ago and then get on to a cool, different creative team in the New Year.” Maybe they’re just burning off three months of comics to follow up on this story that absolutely no one is clamoring for and they’ve got a great team lined up after that. That would be a dumb plan; better to just let the seed die. But at least it would be a plan with something better in the future. As is, this is just dumb and ill-timed, as well as a big missed opportunity to make the most of a huge moment for Wonder Woman. Even if this somehow turns out to be a decent story, which seems very unlikely but you never know, it’s just the wrong direction for the book right now. Put women in charge of Wonder Woman with women on the pages, please.

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.

15 thoughts on “New Wonder Woman Arc to Focus on her Brother OR No One Wants This

  1. Your review today was SPOT. ON.

    Also, (excuse my french) but who in the fuck comes from an island of Amazon’s, is brother to Diana..and his name is…


    They should have just called him fucking Chad or Tyler. (insert eye roll).

  2. Yes.. let’s just put a woman on the book. In fact, why don’t we just bring back Meredith Finch! Cause all that matters is that we have a woman, not whether or not she can write.. She just needs to be a woman! Any woman! Let’s grab Gabby Rivera who can’t write America and put her on this too! Cause clearly she’ll do a better job than a man.. because she’s a woman! Come on.. I’m all for putting a great female writer on this if she wants to work on WW and can do a good job (Not Gail Simone.. sorry..), but just being a woman is not qualification enough to write this book. Now if DC wants to put Renae De Liz on this book.. get the hell out of the way DC.. cause she’ll do a bang up job.. move James Robinson to JSA and be done with it.

    As for Jason, well it’s a heroic Greek name, so that’s why Jason. I had personally hoped this whole thing would never be mentioned again, but it is.. so there it is.. at least Giganta and Grail are back.

    All I can think is Johns is pushing the whole Jason thing.. and I think we’re going back to the stupid Zeus origin because of the movie which is exactly what WW should be running from, not towards.. but they want those movie fans, even if they won’t actually by the comic.. ugg.. just ugg.

    1. Ha, I’m not saying give the book to any random woman off the street 🙂 I’m just saying that there are SO MANY excellent, talented, qualified female comic book writers out there and dudes have been writing Wonder Woman almost exclusively for the bulk of her history. Plus James Robinson is the epitome of overrated, problematic white dude writer to me, and I’m not at all excited for him to take the reins of the book. But yeah, I’m with you that DC should have dropped this whole Jason thing; Wonder Woman has evolved so much since the Rebirth special, and this just doesn’t fit where she is now.

  3. The other thing to keep in mind is all the news we’ve seen the past 2 weeks about how Warners is completely surprised by the success of the movie. DC negotiated this with Robinson 5 or 6 months ago, way before they thought there would be movie fans who might try the book. Furthermore, back then they probably didn’t know how well or poorly Rucka’s tenure would work out.

    I’ll join Dinah in saying I don’t want WW consigned to a ghetto where only women can write or draw. Instead I’d rather campaign for Amanda, Becky, Hope, or Julie to write Justice League and Detective Comics!

    (I’ll also join Dinah in her characterization of “the stupid Zeus origin…)

    Finally, I object to your characterization fo Kanigher. At the point DC took WW away from Denny O’Neil and gave it back to Kanigher, RK had written Diana for 20 years (1947-1968), far longer than any other creator before or since.

    1. I was thinking a similar thing about Warner Bros. being surprised by Wonder Woman! Very few people in that company seem to understand what people like about Wonder Woman. And yeah, Kanigher had written Wonder Woman for 20 years, but he wasn’t very good at it. In fact, he was so bad at it that he’s why we got O’Neil’s mod revamp in 1968 in the first place 🙂 I think he was totally the wrong pick for that particular moment in Wonder Woman’s history. The guy who wrote a Diana who wished she could give up her superhero career to marry Steve Trevor was not the best choice for a women’s lib icon. Plus after the brief Nubia arc, he just started rehashing some of his old stories!

  4. I don’t think people need to get automatically upset because a major Wonder Woman plot will involve a man, especially if we haven’t even read the story yet.

    1. It’s sure not a hopeful sign, though. Could be great; but on the whole, this sort of thing tends to point to “meh.”

  5. In my (subjective) opinion, bringing back Grail is a bad move too. Agreed on Jason being a weird unnecessary angle. Agreed with Dinah about the Zeus origin being something to “run from instead of forwards”. But Grail? Character quality aside (I personally don’t like her), Grail brings SO many continuity problems with her. How the hell does she tie in with the Amazons and the Themyscira we’ve seen in Rebirth? Or her mother? I’m sure a skilled writer could find a way to fit them in, but it all looks too overly problematic, and for no reason… Nevertheless, I do suspect as well that Johns might be behind this, in order to continue his story. The only thing I liked about this was Giganta!

  6. The successful Wonder Woman movie was written by Allan Heinberg, a man, whose run on Wonder Woman comic books was not exactly stellar. The movie is wonderful, though, and Heinberg’s run on the TV series Sex and the City was stellar.

    I agree that Robert Kanigher was “so bad at it” (at writing Wonder Woman). I did, however, like that he made Wonder Woman quite powerful.

    George Perez, with input from Carol Strickland, et al., did a great job at revamping Wonder Woman in 1986. Perez, Gail Simone, Phil Jimenez and Greg Rucka are possibly the best Wonder Woman series writers post-Crisis on Infinite Earths, and let’s not forget Trina Robbins and Jill Thompson for their non-series takes on Wonder Woman.

    I’m not so eager to see Jason, but of course, I’ll give it a shot. I collect Wonder Woman comic books regardless of how much I detest the writer.

    There’s one character that I never forgot and whose story was never fleshed out: Camille Sly, a creation of William Messner-Loebs. Camille first appeared in issue #73 of volume 2 and later in issue #85 (penciller Mike Deodato’s first WW issue) took on two cyborg men. There was no Camille followup after that. How was she able to take on two super villains? I wanted a backstory.

    I had to rummage through old issues before posting this.

    I generally like how Tim thinks. He and Trina Robbins are the two Wonder Woman historians I’m quite fond of. I agree with Tim that Wonder Woman has had men writers for most of her career. Men, of course, can be as gender sensitive and as good as women (Perez, Rucka, Heinberg, et al, prove that). But then again, what’s wrong with giving women a chance?

  7. Tim, I hope the following excerpt from one of my CBR forum posts lays out, as diplomatically as possible, why I think you’re dead wrong on the creation of Jason – dead wrong that no one wants this.

    We want this. Here’s why…

    “…little girls have a lot of help, identifying with superheroic men…Batgirl, Supergirl, Huntress, Hawkgirl, She-Hulk, ..while boys have very little, identifying with Wonder Woman.

    Well, it wasn’t always that way.

    The Wonder Woman TV show gave us (then) boys an Andros to imagine ourselves, as. He wasn’t as physical or the hardcase that Orion was, but had some pretty awesome zapping powers and a nifty silver, Star Treky outfit, and it was very cool that he was from outer space, ..wa-aay back in the Star Wars heyday of 1977. As I recall, the first Andros to join Diana’s adventures was father of the second Andros, a much younger and studlier Dack Rambo, ..who was almost spun-off into his own adventure show. Andros was never a star pick in playground superhero games – nobody, but us fans, knew who he was – but, he was ‘our guy’, and it was great imagining ourselves as him, ..fighting aliens and turtleneck aficionados in Los Angeles.

    Even the Six Million Dollar man series was smart enough to give little girls a Bionic Woman, who sprung off into her own show and won the leading lady, Lindsay Wagner, an Emmy. ABC marketing execs could’ve just sat on their hands, groaning about little girls inability to identify with big, hunka’ burnin’ bionics, Lee Majors. They gave the world a Bionic Woman and a ton of merchandise, dolls and cars and other junk, for little girls to buy and inspire their dreams.

    The Batman TV show gave little girls Yvonne Craig, as Batgirl, and Miss Craig gave us little bat-boys…dreams. Sweet, shiny, purple dreams.

    So, when the WW comic figures this out – maybe, with Orion, Andros, Achilles or Virbius Rex – little boys will come running. You can give them all of the high-minded, politically correct reasons that Wonder Woman can’t have a cool buddy or a COUSIN [!!!], with similar powers and a rad costume – a Huntress to Diana’s Batman – but, I doubt it’ll help much. They just can’t see where they fit into the Wonderverse, right now.

    Maybe, they need a little help with that. Maybe…”

    That’s where Jason comes in…? Maybe?

    While I’m not crazy about the timing, I want to see this happen, ..and I’m not the only one. Just because male Wonder-fans aren’t lighting up the forums with Jason-thusiasm, ..YET, it doesn’t mean we aren’t here and haven’t wanted to see Wonder Woman get a ‘brother figure’, since the Lynda Carter days, with Andros.

    We also understand, however, that some of our fellow fans have decided it isn’t politically correct that we want a ‘Jason’ in the game, and dreading being mislabeled as chauvinists or worse, ..we’ve been afraid to share what it means to us that our favorite superheroine is finally getting a brother – that someone male and super-powered, created expressly for the WW comic, might finally be battling were-cheetahs and cyber-women, beside our beloved Diana! Let me tell you…

    It feels pretty GREAT.

    We’re not stupid, though, and, well…we got the memo. While Jamie Summers, Batgirl, X-27 and Power Girl inspire the superheroic dreams of little girls and big girls, Jason doing the same for little and not-so-little-anymore guys wrong. It’s sacrilege! We get it…

    We want a Jason, anyway.

    1. The “nobody wants this” title was a bit of hyperbole, obviously; I was fully aware that some folks might be excited for it. And I’m glad you are! Me not being into it doesn’t mean that no one else should be 🙂 I just think it’s a poorly timed, unnecessary story from a writer I don’t trust to do it well. And also, maybe the larger issue is that we should teach boys to identify with female characters?

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