When you hear of the All-Star Trinity of DC comics, you think of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. This is, of course, not a lie per se but not really true. I mean after all she was featured with them in the Trinity series. And she’s listed among them — though nowhere near as much time is devoted to her — in Kingdom Come. And I guess you know she might eventually get an All-Star comic along the lines of the Batman and Superman ones. But of course we all know that the real Trinity of DC is just Batman and Superman.
So what gives? How come Wonder Woman is the “most popular female character,” the most widely known but no one gives a shit? First a little bit of (brief, shallow) history on her.
Created by William Marston Moulton, the inventor of the polygraph and a fan of BDSM sex, Moulton based Wonder Woman physically on his girlfriend but was inspired by his wife (who was always dating his girlfriend, because all three of them were together, because like duh) in her awesome feminist-ish, borderline-misandrist* ideals. She took off like a rocket, becoming a hit in All-Star Comics (which was the home comic of the JSA) before gaining her own comic with Sensation Comics.
Which is really what I wanted to talk about. Detective Comics has published over 900 comics as of this writing. And it’s still going strong (thanks to new writer John Layman, of Chew fame). Action Comics has had more than 900 issues and was Grant Morrison’s last main big superhero comic book before more-or-less retiring from them. And then there’s Sensation Comics.
Oh wait. No there’s not. There’s a Wonder Woman comic (which is great and by Brian Azzerelo and Cliff Chiang). That surely counts!
Well, no. Because there’s three Justice League books, three Green Lantern books, and about one billion Batbooks. DC divided the Universe into different “teams” f books — Edge, Dark, Superman, Batman, Something Stupid, Justice League, Oh God Kill Me Please. In case you didn’t notice, both Bats and Supe got their own “teams” of books — including the likes of Batwoman, Batgirl, Talon, Nightwing, Superman, Superboy, Supergirl — for fuck’s sake Batman himself is appearing in four books at the moment. But Wonder Woman, the only third part of the trinity? What does she get?
One book. One amazingly solid book. But one book.
And it’s not even the book she premiered in. I could understand if All-Star Comics wasn’t still going today with her as the main star (after all, it was the JSA book) but no Sensation Comics? The fact that Batman has Detective Comics, Batman and Red Robin, Batman Inc. and Batman but Wonder Woman doesn’t have a Sensation Comics says a lot about what DC thinks of “the trinity.”
Namely that it’s not at all important to DC; more specifically that Wonder Woman isn’t all that important to DC.
Wonder Woman is an add-on, in-name only, just there to “diversify” the true DC Trinity — Superman, Batman and Money. If Superman were God and Batman a fucked Jesus then Wonder Woman should count as the Holy Spirit, right? But just like the Holy Spirit no one gives a shit about her exist.
It’s no more evident in the fact that we’ve had two Superman movies in the last decade, eight Bat movies in twenty years and zero Wonder Woman movies. (Oh we had a half-ass show all right — one that failed before the pilot came on. But so did Superman — and not only did his show live** but he STILL got two movies.)
And again, Sensation Comics isn’t a thing anymore which is just gross given the numerous JL books, Bat books, etc. Wonder Woman is a strong enough character to carry more than one book. If anyone could ever decided on a characterization for her that is. Which is one of the primary problems?
Who is Wonder Woman? Did she fight in World War II against the Nazis as a sort of Captain-America-but-from-lesbo-island? Or was she an upstart capitalist with a heart of gold (somewhat similar to Green Arrow but not as sexy). Or is she a low-down street fighter? Is she a man-hating whore (whore whore whore) as Frank Miller depicted her in his timeless piece of art All-Star Batman and Robin***? Who is she? Is she Diana Prince? Or is she just Princess Diana?
Who is Wonder Woman? Moulton knew but everyone after him seemed to go, “Girl?! GIRL MAKE ME GO CRAZY!!!” And then just kinda screamed and threw stuff at the screen.
I mean, I assume this. I can’t really verify it myself as the first published Wonder Woman comics are out of print. (Batman and Superman’s aren’t though! Because the DC trinity is really, really awesome… except when it comes to Wonder Woman.)
Here’s what I knew about her before I read Azzerelo’s comic — she wore short-shorts, she was firm, sometimes she made-out with Superman because you know awesome, and uh… her wrists deflected things? Something something invisible jet (except sometimes she could fly)? And then she had a lasso she would use to do… something glowy?
Here’s what I knew about Batman growing up — “I AM VENGANCE! I AM THE NIGHT! I AM BATMAN!” Batman has been on screen for the majority of his existence. Same with “It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s — faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to move small planets with a single push — Superman! Both of them have been inside our pop-culture for decades.
Everyone can describe Superman in one or two sentences and capture at least an iteration (Gold, Silver, Modern Age) perfectly. Same with Batman. Someone walks up to you on the street and goes “Quick, name Superman’s most famous enemy.” You go, “Uh, Lex Luthor. Or, no maybe Braniac. Zod? How about Doomsday. Apocalypse?” Same with Batman — “Joker! Two-Face. That guy whose name I can’t pronounce that Liam Neeson played. Black Glove [if the person is an awesome Morrison fan].” But with Wonder Woman?
Hell, all I knew from even the Justice League show was that like Cheetah? Cheetah person? Cheetathing? Girl Who is a Cheetah? (Apparently not; it’s Tigress. Tigress… Right. Cool. Okay then.) And I only know that from the WB show Justice League… which was in continuity for the Batman show and the Superman show. There was no Wonder Woman show.
Which, I’m not a girl by the way, but I imagine that sucked. I like Batman and Spider-Man and Superman because I’m a boy but when I watch Buffy I side more with Spike or Angel than Buffy because (sexy vampires; I mean no –) they’re boys and I’m a boy, so, you know. I relate more to people who remind me of me. So being a girl and not having a girl role-model to look up to must have sucked.
(Cue everyone who is PoC or Queer saying, “And it sucked more for me!” To you I say, “Yes. Yes it did.”)
Brian Azzerelo who is writing Wonder Woman created with Lee Bermejo a wonderful loose series with Luthor: Man of Steel and Joker, two dark books focusing on the main villains of the male members of the trinity. Despite the fact that Azzerelo is now writing the Wonder Woman comic there is no news about another “villain spotlight” on her archenemy. … Want to know why? Because Wonder Woman doesn’t fucking have one. She has no singular Big Bad — which, as Leslie Vernon says, is needed. There needs to be an evil for good to fight against or the good can’t rise to it’s truest and most singularly powerful potential. Heroes are defined by their villains and Wonder Woman doesn’t have a good one. Not a single fucking one.
In the last issue of Action Comics by Morrison (forever… weep) Supes fights against a global monster entity created and controlled, a franchise monster doomed to be nothing but a heartless machine to create money. It takes him like three issues to best him. (But he does, because, you know — spoiler alert — he always wins. He’s Superman! He defeats evil and stuff.) But the thing is, let’s flip this —
Say Wonder Woman fought the positively evil parts of her as a corporate entity. That battle’d be over in a panel. There’s no fucked-up fascination with her. No one has considered creating a “Man of Steel? Woman of Kleenex” type of essay about her. No one thinks of the physical and sociological effects of a lasso of truth — aside form Moulton, who, you know, created one. She’s not thought about. She’s not talked about.
For fuck’s sake, Green Lantern got a movie before her. And he’s an asshole.
So what’s the problem? I think we’ve seen it. No one gives a shit about her. From the lack of a Sensation Comic, to the fact that her first few adventures are hard to find/out of print, from the lack of push and books for her to star in, to the fact that she has no interesting bad guys, to the fact that she’s had one good show instead of a bunch (and no good movies). No one cares. She’s not a part of the trinity.
And why is that? Because of what Moulton thought of as the best part of her — the truest and best part of her.
Why does no one give a shit about her? Because she’s Wonder Woman.
* Shush. It’s just a world, gentlefolks. Moulton often said that the world should be lead by women. He wasn’t exactly for equality; he just wanted the patriarchy to be replaced by a matriarchy.
** But oh god why did it have to?!
***Featuring the Goddamn Batman.