Wonder Woman, A God Among Men But A Homebound Daughter
Wonder Woman is a relatively unique character at DC Comics. While DC is known for its characters that are more godly than the street level fighters or geniuses at Marvel, Wonder Woman is the character who is in fact the most closely associated with gods, so much so that she has been presented as both the Goddess of Truth and the God of War at various stages in her publication history. Equally the story lines associated with Wonder Woman have been somewhat consistent over the years, at least in the themes of the stories that are told. While there is of course a good selection of superhero fun, there is an interesting and often ignored theme to the character, that of being bound in a sense to tradition and her home. Throughout the silver age and modern age the stories have crept up now and then where Wonder Woman is pressured, usually after the death of her mother, to return to Themyscira (which would have been called Paradise Island in the silver age) to rule the Amazons.
While this is a natural outgrowth of her role in various worlds and having her commitments all over the place, it is equally a departure from the same models of other characters. As a member of the so-called trinity of heroes at DC Comics, she exhibits different qualities from her other two counterparts, Superman and Batman. Admittedly her position in the trinity is firmly in third place, and at many times in the history of the publishing related to the character she has been not even the third most popular character among the lineup of DC heroes. Her role there might be disputable, but she has earned in different respects. The Flash and Green Lantern, who might have passed her for popularity at one time or another, have still not managed to be regularly published since the Second World War. It also makes the comparisons for the character easier with the other two.
In relation to the specific theme of this storyline, there is little in common with either Batman or Superman. Batman doesn’t spend time with Alfred, hearing the latter complain about how he should stop crimefighting and focus on running Wayne Enterprises. So too does Superman not have to worry about Ma or Pa Kent calling him to tell him that his time for crimefighting has to come to an end because the farm needs his attention. Of the three therefore, it is only Wonder Woman that is forced to focus on her past as much as her future.
Is it because of her gender? An initial appraisal might point to yes. After the Amazons are female and traditional, and mostly seem to want Wonder Woman to stay at home and not get mixed up in the bigger world, a common enough warning of parents to their daughters. It would seem on closer inspection though, that it is more of a case of sloppy story telling, that in place of an engaging story, that Wonder Woman can spend one or two issues squabbling with her sisters, and that once resolved that she doesn’t have to worry about those that want to hold her back to her other duties. If either of these explanations holds truth then it does the character a disservice. The present run from the Finches includes this almost immediately out of the gate, and it was equally a part of Azzarello’s run before (and pretty much every other writer’s run.) If the new creative team does want to go some place new, which is incidentally also the goal of the new 52 relaunch, then it would help then to know the publication history of the character, and what has worked and what hasn’t since the beginning. Either way, it is time that readers got to finally read about DC’s greatest heroine without worrying about when she is getting called home.