Sunday, November 05, 2006

Wonder Woman's Greatest Stories: comfortable with multiplicity


I've been having a look at some of the reactions to the news that DC are releasing a Wonder Woman's Greatest Stories volume, particularly this one, and I can't help wondering why it is we're worrying so much.

Of all the heroes, or perhaps more specifically of DC's big three, Wonder Woman is constantly argued as the hardest to define, the one thats harder to find a voice for. From that kind of argument we get all the others, the constant disagreements about Pre and Post-crisis Wonder Women, invisible planes, the age of Steve Trevor, the disputes concerning Perez' run. I know where I fall with the discussions, I know where my pereferences are. That doesn't change the fact that, even though there are a number of interpretations of Diana I'm not a fan of (Byrne's run being particularly unfavoured for me), what I can't help loving is the way that there have been so many. I'm sorry, I know this probably doesn't help the argument, but I genuinely like that there are so many conflicting aspects to the Wonder Woman story, and I like it even more when they are expressed as part of the character, rather than explained away by writers ignoring each other and retconning things out of existence.

As I've discussed before, Diana's identity has always been something of a fiction. She was made from clay, she was invented and crafted in a really explicit way. Even from the outset, waaay back with Marston, she was depicted as straddling two cultures, she was characterised in terms of what were, at the time, problematic issues concerning gender differences, and Marston played up the conflicts between masculinity and femininity, patriarchy and his own interpretation of feminism. And from him and onwards, those kinds of issues have always been present, Diana has always been a part of some political battle, has engendered contradiction and conflict in her storylines. Is it really any wonder, with that in mind, that we find ourselves wondering just what the best Wonder Woman stories should be? It seems, when it comes to Diana, this isn't just a matter of taste, its an argument that stems from the fact that Diana has always been something of a mystery, hard to pin down, always skirting different boundaries, sometimes breaking them. Interpretations with Wonder Woman have tended to be radically different from each other, and I can't help thinking that suits her just fine.

Thats why I'm really looking forward to the volume, to see the eclectic mix of writing, and to marvel at just how much ground Wonder Woman as a character has covered.

alex x

1 comment:

Neal Summers said...

I thought Byrne's run was wonderful. Being a BIG BIG JSA fan, getting our Golden Age Wonder Woman back was like manna from heaven. Of course, the problem became that Hippolyta was starting to oveshadow Diana and in some respects was a much better Wonder Woman than Diana. But as much as I love Hippolyta as the JSA's Wonder Woman, it made me smile to see Diana Prince Trevor in Infinite Crisis.