Wednesday, April 04, 2007

How to Bring Your Wonder Boy up Gay

The name ‘Wonder Boy’ is one suspiciously absent from the current comic book world. Wonder Woman has never had a young male sidekick, and in light of the families of her respective DC trinity associates, that fact is curious in its conspicuousness. For both Batman and Superman, there is a recognisably distinct family of characters, from both sides of the gender spectrum, sharing panel time, and often their own titles, with their patrons.

Wonder Woman’s family, by contrast, has primarily been a female-only space. Along with the two Wonder Girls, fellow Wonder Women Hippolyta and Artemis, as well as Nubia, have been touted at times as members of the Wonder Family. Attempts to incorporate men into the adventuring cast of the Wonder Woman title are often hampered by their status as love interests. So, why no Wonder Boy?

Is it because of gender discomfort? By this I am referring to the gender connotations that having a young male hero inspired by a female icon like Wonder Woman might generate. In the current masculinist culture of comics in general, it is easy to see how a Wonder Boy character would be picked on for being the male sidekick of a female superhero. Yet all around the DCU, young women have and are taking up arms in the name of their male icons. Supergirl, Batgirl, Miss Martian, Speedy, Aquagirl…all of them have been at times accepted as legitimate heroines without questions to their femininity. Clearly we are comfortable with female interpretations of what were started as male traditions (though not in all cases, as Stephanie as Robin stands to prove), yet I am not sure the same would be the case for a Wonder Boy.

The recent introduction of a Power Boy is one of the only examples I can think of where a Heroine’s title has been taken and applied to a male, yet even there the urgency with which he has been disassociated from Power Girl as a namesake, and also turned into an obsessive and abusive ‘himbo’ is a worrying example for how seriously male interpretations of female traditions might be taken in the DCU. And the fact that Karen is herself a take on the Supergirl character as derived from Superman would pretty much undermine Power Boy as an example anyway. Which leaves us with…not very much.

The problem here isn’t that a Wonder Boy would be necessarily effeminate because he had a female namesake, but because it’s imaginable people would joke about it anyway, both within the text and outside it. I can just see the whispering during his first outing with the Teen Titans, or the questions about whether he’d wear a tiara too…And moreover, I wouldn’t place the line at being a questioning of his masculinity, but also his sexuality. I daresay a Wonder Boy wouldn’t just be the focus for joke about femininity, but for homosexuality as well. The way in which we live in a culture that still predominantly views gender and sexuality as collapsible categories makes it inevitable that expectations about femininity will become linked to the desire for men as a love-object, and vice versa. If Wonder Boy were questioned about his masculinity, questions about his sexuality would go hand in hand. It’s infuriating, but I daresay an annoying truth. Moreover, Wonder Woman’s status as something of a ‘gay icon’, while seemingly free from affecting her female co-stars, is something that I would hazard a guess would come to affect the attitudes towards a Wonder Boy.

Here’s the rub for me: what would be the problem if Wonder Boy were effeminate? And moreover, what if he was gay as well as effeminate. Would that be a big problem?

In an article I was reading the other day to which this post owes its title, Eve Sedgwick looks at how the image of the young effeminate male has become the spectre of the adult gay rights movement. Consistently in gay and pro-gay literature, there is a cultural emphasis and value placed on the gay male who isn’t feminine, who is masculine and takes part in a typically ‘masculine’ ontology. This move is important because it seeks to debunk the supposed link between sexuality and gender by maintaining that it is possible to be masculine and still desire men. The downside in that move, and the placing of value on this breaking of stereotypes is that the effeminate gay man becomes marginal within an already marginalized group. In psychological literature, where homosexuality has been removed from the DSM as an example of mental disorder, Sedgwick notes how there is still an apparent need to identify young male femininity as ‘Gender Disorder’. While various aspects of society have been able to move forward with regards to an open view of sexualities, the transgression of gender lines still seems to evoke discomfort, and returns to speak about what is ‘natural’.

Taking it back to Wonder Boy, if we were to introduce a Wonder Boy who is masculine and heterosexual, we would do a good job of debunking the presumed link between gender and sexuality, but we would also perpetuate the value judgement that relegates femininity in males to being an example of disorder. Because it is such a predictable outcome that a Wonder Boy would be a prime subject for questions about his sexuality and his masculinity, any attempts to contradict a stereotype would have the adverse affect of reinforcing the stereotype as something we fear.

Generally, whether or not a Wonder Boy is a big manly man or not, and whether or not he desires men, women, both or none, isn’t something that would usually concern me. However, since Jimenez introduced the character of Bobby Barnes into the Wonder Woman mythos, a character who was then not only ignored from any future issues but also met a great deal of fan scorn, I’ve been left mulling over the concept of a ‘Wonder Boy’ for some time.

For those who weren’t around for issue 188 of Jimenez’ run on Wonder Woman, Bobby Barnes was introduced as the nephew of Diana’s then love-interest Trevor, and was a young African American boy who idolised Wonder Woman and was blown away to finally meet her, receive an honorary ‘Wonder Boy’ t-shirt, and be invited to Themyscira where he could be seen sharing his panel position with Cassie as Wonder Girl. The potential for taking this optimistic young boy further in the Wonder Woman mythos and actually making him a real Wonder Boy was hampered by the fact that his uncle was killed off in the very next story-arc after Jimenez’ departure. Yet the potential for conflict between Bobby and Diana over Trevor’s death seems like a curious dropping of the ball as far as creating an interesting Wonder Boy character. Bobby could easily have returned as a newly empowered Wonder Boy to take issue with his uncle’s death, or perhaps to honour it by fighting by Diana’s side.

In any case, Bobby was forgotten from his one-issue appearance, though not without some conflict on the DC message boards. The issue of Bobby’s debut was also Jimenez’ final issue, and was a tribute to Lynda Carter. Jimenez has always been open about being a young gay man inspired by Carter’s on-screen superheroics, and how important watching the show had been for him. As a result, the strong reactions against his work, and this issue in particular, were often hard to distinguish from the general homophobia he could often receive on the message boards. Fans picked on the issue for being action-lite, and for Diana’s radical amount of costume changes throughout. It was pretty, optimistic, and some might say a little thin on content, but in the spirit of the show it honoured, it was a fun issue. Nevertheless, the readers came out in force to chastise Jimenez for fulfilling his childhood fantasies on the page at best, and promoting some kind of ‘gay aesthetic’ at worst. Attacks on the content of the issue were a thin veil for some of the homophobic abuse levelled at Bobby as a projection of Jimenez within the text, and gave a good indication for the kinds of controversy I feel writing a potentially gay Wonder Boy could arouse. The example of Jimenez’ introduction of Bobby provides another problem with the investments of a Wonder Boy; the idea that the character might become a vehicle for the politics of his creator, or will be accused as such.

As with the issues discussed earlier concerning Wonder Boy’s masculinity and sexuality, there is an almost inevitably political component to introducing a young man into the Wonder Woman mythos, one that would be difficult to avoid for any writer at the helm. If Wonder Woman is till to be considered a feminist symbol or icon, does that apply to her protégé’s, and would that include a Wonder Boy? If the double-w has become a symbol of Amazonian heritage and courage, can a man wear it and what are the connotations if so? Does DC have the current creativity and subtlety to explore those issues without resorting to stereotype; to introduce a male character with a female mentor and primary companions, without resorting to stereotypical tropes? Would the avoidance of stereotype simple reinforce them anyway? The questions I have raised above, along with the rest of this discussion, are just examples of the kind that could take place. Yet despite the hotbed of connotation, I am even more inspired that a Wonder Boy is something the Wonder Woman mythos needs, possibly because of the symbolic implications his absence currently represents.

Any thoughts?


Saranga said...

My first thought on reading 'so, why no Wonder Boy?' was, well, Wonder Woman is from an all female place. Men cannot take up her mantle because they don't belong there. Superman, Batman etc have female members of the family, which is all right and good, but they do not exist or come from an exclusively male place. End of story.
However, on further reading of your entry, I would just like to say, I really enjoy your blog! Good thoughts, good ideas, and very valid points.
I don't think DC would be able to create a good Wonder Boy character, as you imply, no they do not have the subtlety or talent to deal with the subject and its connotations in a mature way.
A last thought from me, I personally would only accept men wearing Wonder Woman's sigil if we lived in a truly equal society. And lord knows we don't! I accept women wearing the S because it symbolises, in essence and ideals, (in my head at least), equality.

Tina Anderson said...

Wow, a Wonder Boy. Hmmm. I write BL for a living, before that, it was strict homo-erotic comics, and so, objectifying gay men in my work, is a second nature I'm always fighting. Right now, I'm not doing a very good job of it...I think Wonder Boy and I think of a young man born on Themyscira. Considering the rules, I see him coming from a home where he was likely disguised as a girl until he got older--and even then, his sisters and mother likely had to enforce secrecy on him, making him hide who he was, just to keep him safe. Living a lie as a teen is tough, trying doing it with gender issues, and it’s bound to be tougher--a set up like that, does promise to promote a complicated character.

On that note, it would be a good examination series on just how socially, Themyscira works, without a bunch of women in armor, fighting and dying. Wonder Boy coming into the world 'off Themyscira' could be as simple as his mother dying, and his sister[s] not knowing what to do with him--so they offer him 'life in the man's world'.

It's certainly interesting. You should write something, and query a pitch. [not being sarcastic, being serious.]

Anonymous said...

I found your column to be a very interesting read. One thing though, doesn't positing african-american Bobby Barnes as a potential "Wonder Boy" kinda miss the obvious racial problems with the character name? "Wonder Guy" maybe as an alternative?

Ami Angelwings said...


I rly liked this :)

It's interesting.. and also true. :\ I think the problem with living in a world with so many stereotypes is that ppl dunno where to jump. ESP since the majority of characters (and the "default" character) is the white straight male age 18-49. >.>;;

So when you want to make a character that's not that, you're on your own :\ In that if I made an gay, or minority character, there's not a lot of other characters out there to balance what I do out. :\

If he's effeminate, he's a stereotype. :\

It's like if Superman was the only white character in the DCU. Ppl would accuse him of being a stereotype of the whitebread farmboy, and accuse DC of thinking that white ppl were all naive small town hicks. >.>;;

Many gay characters, all interacting with each other, however would mean that you can't rly have a stereotype, b/c 1 effeminate character wouldn't be taken as being representative of what DC thinks of gay ppl. :o

But yah... it's kinda like writing any minority :( If you have a black person from the ghetto, then it's a stereotype, if he's basically Superman but given black skin, ppl will say "so you dun think black ppl from the ghetto can be superheroes!?" And like... you can't just avoid one part of society to make heroes just b/c of negative stereotypes tho. B/c that just perpetuates the stereotype that those things are undesirable.

The problem also is a "Wonder Boy" would prolly come under fire from so many ppl before it's even 5 issues old, and then get cancelled. :\ The writers would feel pressure to "define" the character as fast as they could, and it would lead to him being a 1 dimensional character (kinda like Supergirl as a teenage girl), rather than being a fully realized character :|

I would like to see more effeminate male heroes tho! :D Also effeminate gay characters :)

But I think heroes are important too, b/c it's one thing to have a diverse back up cast. But it's another thing to have heroes that dun all act like tough boys and girls. :o

I think another problem that you kinda addressed is that Wonder Woman was created as a "female hero" to be a role model to women. That's her raison d'etre and she still kinda exists for that :(

Superman represents good. Batman represents justice.

So these symbols can be put on nebody, but Wonder Woman represents female empowerment (in theory neways xD) and so it's a lot harder to use her in the same way that Superman and Batman are used :\

However, why can't men represent female empowerment!?

I'm tired of the idea that men can't be feminists, or that they shouldn't be. :\

What if a small boy washed up on Themyscara and was raised there? :O


Neways... :D

Sorry for the ramble... :]

Anonymous said...

Sounds like someone should immediately start one of those art memes!

Jeremy said...

i think the real point missed here is that Wonder Woman is an amazon warrior. she grew up and fought with women. she has an amazonian code she lives her life by. all of this is female centric and shoehorning her some male sidekick is counter productive and silly.

introducing a male into that role would create a quagmire of politics, sexuality, and gender roles that would be impossible for pretty much anyone to write without some sort of agenda. it's the sort of "mature, topical, important" garbage that needs to stay out of comics.

it's not as if there aren't a hundred ways to introduce a male character into the role, it's just it has no real place. it is a story that is engineered to beat you over the head. a story so obtuse and unwieldy i hope it's never let out of the bag.

Anonymous said...

I think it would be a good idea. It might fail on the first try, but subsiquent Wonder Boys/Men would be easier to do. Just throwing that out there.

AlexinWonderLand said...

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to say thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog, and to offer such kind words. Its wonderful to hear, and very gracious in this somewhat anonymous context where its easier to chastise than compliment. And now, on to the comments!

Saranga (hello again) – I can see what you mean about men not belonging to the Wonder Woman context, and I can see many others agree with you. I guess the issue for me is that the Amazon nation now, and Diana for some time, have become important influential figures in the DCU. Often enough we can’t help who we have an effect on, and I do find it curious that men have been somewhat excluded from being shown in that context, other than to find Wonder Woman or her fellow Amazons attractive. I suppose the symbolic implications of a man wearing the double-W would be huge, and perhaps yes, Wonder Woman’s is that last place free from being inhabited by men in the DCU. Do you think perhaps having a male take on the ‘Wonder’ mantle might be a step towards the equality you want, in the way that it would show how important women can be as influential figures and heroines in the DCU?

Tina – wow, that is so far from what I had envisioned, but not in a bad way! That’s coming into some true transgender issues there, and I reckon it would be amazing to read as you’ve described, but probably more the realms of a DC ‘elseworlds’ story than a mainstream one, as again I doubt there could be the subtlety for such a discussion in the DCU at present. Seriously, you have me pondering loads!

Believe me though, one day I will sit down a pitch some ideas, I have so many brewing its crazy! Thanks for the support!

Anonymous – I may be incredibly insensitive or simply uninformed here; in what way do you find ‘Wonder Boy’ racially connotative? Wonder guy sounds too cliché ‘trendy’, and Wonder Man is taken…I remember waaaaaay back in an old Superman story, Kal got stuck on an alternate world where everyone had switched genders. Wonder Woman had become Wonder Warrior. Any better?

Hey again Ami! – ooooo, your rants really are super-cute (lol), but all so well placed. Its horrible that we can’t simply move from the relatively lacking in diversity DCU to one where we have such a range of characters that the introduction of gay characters doesn’t have to worry about issues of stereotype. If Wonder Boy were to be one of the first headlining mainstream new gay male characters, I wonder if people would be willing to ‘put up’ with stereotype in order for future intricacy? Or if we have to be cutting edge first of all, and then address our stereotypes later? Oooo, I think I sort of made my own head hurt there!

I second your vote for more effeminate men, if only for some difference!

I fully agree with you on the speculating about men being symbols, or representatives of female empowerment. I wonder if it’s possible, philosophically, to have that. I certainly am fine with the idea of men as feminists, but I think some huge binaries would need erasing in order for men to appear as symbols of female empowerment. It begs the question though, how do we essentially define what female empowerment is? Are we talking empowerment of females, a female kind of empowerment, empowerment that pertains to the situations specific to women? Again with the brain ache.

Never apologise for the rambles!

Anonymous – If I had a scanner or a decent art program, I’d sketch up a wonder boy right now. If anyone else fancies starting a meme however, I’d love to see what people could do for Wonder Boy!

Jeremy – Thanks for taking the time to give this a read, even if you do find it quite so objectionable, I appreciate the criticism! I think perhaps you and I are destined to disagree on what is to be considered relevant to the content of comic books when it comes to issues of politics. To define something as topical, mature or important is as idiosyncratic as what is to be considered fun. I don’t think it is beyond the scope of comics to be both ‘mature’ and still enjoyable, and I’m perplexed as to why you question those terms with derision.

As for introducing a quagmire of politics, that really depends on where you stand. Politics is surely what you read into the comic. For me, and perhaps many others, Wonder Woman is already a story involved in a ‘quagmire of politics’, where issues of feminism, sexuality, cultural diversity, are all present and suggested simply in who this woman is. That doesn’t mean every reading of her story is a political one, just that it’s possible to do so. Introducing a Wonder Boy needn’t be an overt metatextual discussion of issues of gender; it could still be simply a kick ass story about a new sidekick. Connotation will be what it will; symbolism will be what is inferred, and what is read.

In terms of that symbolism, I also don’t see bringing a man into the Wonder role as counterproductive, because I don’t agree anything is being undermined here. In fact, if to press the point firmly enough, I think that there is something important to be said about Wonder Woman’s importance as a heroine for being able to encourage a feminist legacy in men as well as women. I wouldn’t want to beat you over the head with that point, but I would love for readers to be able to see a Wonder Boy and to take that kind of positive meaning with them. Do you not think that kind of message does have a place in the Wonder Woman story, perhaps more there than anywhere else?

As far as Diana having an Amazon code and history, I think it’s important to see that her legacy actually extends beyond that as much as includes it. Diana has lived and fought alongside men in ‘Patriarch’s World’ for some time now, and her ideals as an Amazon Warrior are no doubt informed by that experience. Wonder Girl, or at least the Cassie version, is severely lacking in that same Amazon context (being raised with as opposed to taught by the Amazons are two very different things) yet her ability to represent that legacy is not undermined, but in fact is stronger because she comes from ‘Man’s World’ and takes on those beliefs. Is it not an equally strong statement to see a male do the same, to legitimately embody in his deeds and beliefs those of the Amazons, in spite of being raised as a man in ‘Man’s World’? Isn’t that also kind of kick-ass? I don't mean to be too forceful in my disagreement, I'm just very curious in your point of view.

Alexandra – I agree, hence my desire to see the ball rolling. What I can’t figure out is what would have the best potential for a starter Wonder Boy.

Kate said...

Playing off of Tina's idea of how would you write a boy coming from the Amazonian island, I'm suddenly thinking how interesting it would be to have Wonder Boy be a person who was born on the island as a girl, but who strongly identified as male and takes testosterone to transition...perhaps being *thrown off* the island for his decision? The first ever transguy superhero!

Jason A. Quest said...

The racial issue with "Wonder Boy" is the "boy" part: back in the Bad Old Days it was standard for white people to address any black male as "boy". With a child, it dismissively implied that his name and individuality didn't matter, and with an adult, it further insultingly implied that he was less than a man. I don't think it'd be that big a problem in this context, though. Lots of white superkids have been called "_____ Boy", so it's obviously part of that tradition, not the racist one.

I don't have a problem with a female hero having a male sidekick. I don't think butch or femme would be an issue, but I do think he'd have to be pre-adolescent or gay, seeing her as either a maternal or big-sister figure. That's because with a straight male teenager and an attractive female hero, there'd have to be some kind of romantic or erotic element to it. Heck, you can't get away from that in fiction when both crime-fighting partners are adults (e.g. Moonlighting, X-Files, the original Steve Trevor); why would this be any different?

The one issue I see with a Wonder Boy is the effect it would have on the Wonder Family as a traditional feminist "female space". Part of the appeal of women's colleges, girls-only schools, segregated sports, etc. is that they provide a space where "girls" and "women" become simply "children" and "adults", where their gender no longer defines or limits them. As soon as you make the Wonder Family co-ed, it looses its appeal as that kind of fantasy milieu. Just something to think about.

Tina Anderson said...

Hey Kate. I dunno about being born a girl--but being born a boy obviously had ramifications, even in 'real' Amazon society. Boys were either abandoned in villages, or...worse. I can only imagine what an Amazon in DCU's Themyscira would do, if she had birthed a boy--I thought the idea of her hiding him as a girl, with only she and his sisters knowing about it, led to a more realistic take on a male character from Themyscira. ^^;

One could even have him 'fall from grace' so to speak-- his days as a 'woman' on Themyscira beind noted as a young, yet great tactician [like, during Pfeif's Amazon War], only to come home and have his identity exposed--and then a subsequent expulsion from Themyscira. But alas...I write BL comics for a living, and no one from DC is calling my agent. LOL!

Saranga said...

I think that if it takes a man putting on the WW mantle to show how influential she is, something is very very wrong.
I see what you are getting at, I think. But I would be concerned that it would be portrayed as "Look, Wonder Woman has a man follower! Now we can take her seriously! We couldn't before, cos it's just, like, chicks, dude". And I think that it would be seen as that, no matter how it was written. I would rather Wonder Woman be written well and get the equality etc, and be established for a long time, before they put a male supporting character in.
(And there's also my small bitter thoguhts inside going "No! Mine! You can't steal her!" But I;'m trying to get over that and be more progressive ;-) )

AlexinWonderLand said...

thank you for letting me know what you meant, that was an issue i wasn't aware of. I'm pretty big on the effects of linguistic labels, and would be worried about any negative connotations in a Wonder Boy title, especially since Bobby Barnes is the most likely current Wonder Boy candidate.
I have to say your comment about all-female space does strike a chord, and I am starting to come around to the symbolic implications of inserting a male into the all-female Wonder space. I think in my most optimistic, I look on including a male into the Wonder moniker as a move towards inclusion and unity, rather than an invasion of privacy or protected space, and speaks to me of the marginalisation that arises from excluding people from places where they feel an affinity. Where does a man in the DCU go when he idolises the ideal of the Amazons, or Wonder Woman, and wants to follow in that tradition? I think there's a difficult bind here I can't quite work out, between preserving women's space, and allowing men a place to express the ideals you find therein.

do you write fanfiction at all? I reckon a transgender Wonder Boy would make for an absolutely amazing tale, and would cast him in an interesting place regarding some of Wonder Woman's villains (Doc Psycho in particular strikes me as a rather loathsome mysogynist, and it wouldn't be a stretch to see his twisted attitude to a trans Wonder Boy). I do rather miss Elseworlds now. Or maybe we need a Vertigo interpretation?

if you find the time and a break from BL, write me a premise for your wonder boy in full, i'd love to read it!

lol, yeh as I said before, I am starting to see what people are saying about the implications of a Wonder Boy in the family. I certainly don't think a man lends any more legitimacy to Wonder Woman as a character, rather it simply makes an important statement that Wonder Woman is a heroine that has universal appeal, whose mission, while empowering for women, does not render her obsolete to men. Does that make sense? Its that difference between saying Diana 'needs' men to be legitimate, or that men are capable of being included under the banner of her messages in a way that doesn't undermine her cause.
I think my attitude comes from my own interest. I couldn't underestimate the influence of Wonder Woman in my personal philosophies, and in the spirit of wish-fulfillment, find it a little disheartening that her status as a symbol of female empowerment overshadows what she represents to men as well.
I think perhaps a lot of this is timing, as some have implied. That the time for a Wonder Boy is contingent on a general equality in comics where the symbolic implications of the relationships between men and women aren't so fraught with the mysogyny and inequality we currently have.

alex x

Tina Anderson said...

Dude, I wish I had time. =_=; On teh subject though, did you see Glen Hanson's 'Wonder Man' for the upcoming Toonfetish show in Hollywood?
This entry is relatively safe for work. ^^ I can't say that for the rest of the blog.

AlexinWonderLand said...

SO glad i didn't check that out at work! Not quite sure thats a Wonder Man who'd go down very well in the DCU, but I have to say, LOVE the tattoos

andre said...

i just typed a really long comment and it disappeared!
but i found the post through a friend's blog, and linked it on livejournal. it's very smart, and so are the comments.

i only have to say that at a certain point, it becomes absurd to think Wonder Woman's legacy has to stay locked into normative, binary gender. i think that point takes place somewhere between the part where Wonder Woman can fly an invisible airplane and the part where Wonder Woman can fly *without* an invisible airplane.

Legion said...

hey, i stumbled over here from livejournal. wow, fascinating discussion. there are many valid and varied points made. however, i think some are overcomplicating things a little.

if you're going to make a Wonder Boy based on the Amazonian universe, you can start by going to the origin mythology for one thing. Diana always related to Hera and Athena, while Cassie got her lasso from Ares, for instance. Perhaps a Wonder Boy would resonate with some of the gods with the more fluid sexuality, say Apollo, Dionysus, or Hermes to name the most obvious, and build from there. hell, his father could have been a priest of Aphrodite or somesuch, even, lol. hence his 'chosen one' status. go crazy!

again, it is said in some sources that Amazons took male lovers for the sole purpose of producing offspring, and that baby boys were left with/returned to their fathers or otherwise abandoned. So what if this one Amazon couldn't bear to abandon her boy child and stayed with him instead, raising him with Amazonian ideals and dreams of "Paradise Island"? just an idea off the top of my head that might be more believable in the long run than the boy raised as a girl scenario (which is all kinds of cool in its own way, don't get me wrong).

AlexinWonderLand said...

Andre - thank you for linking me, though i can't seem to find your livejournal (because your profile is all hidden!).
You do make me giggle, in an ironic, and possibly meloncholic way. sigh. I think the poststructuralist in me would love to have the 'Wonder' moniker develop a sort of gender elasticity, but i think there are simply too many vested interests in the symbolism of a 'Wonder Woman' to make that an easy task without alienating a ton of fans. The feminist in me understands those vested interests and is fighting tooth and nail with the poststructuralist, and often it hurts!

Legion - I love your ideas!! I have always relished the mythology in the 'Wonder Woman' story, it is very much part of the draw for me. To have a male hero with a link to that tradition would be wonderful to see, provided it wasn't achieved with too much stilted dialogue. To be honest, I am thinking of writing down a whole host of origin precepts and posting them up here, would you care to contribute one?

alex x

Manofevil said...

I recently raised the idea of a 'Wonder Boy' on DC's own message boards and found my way here to your facinating little discussion. I think creating a character to fill this role might be easier than you all think. You'll all remember that it was recently revealed that Cassie Sandsmark is in fact the product of a union between her mother and Zeus. What if that's not the whole story? What if Mrs. Sandsmark, in fact, gave birth to fraternal twins? (boy and girl) What if one of the nurses fell in love with the baby boy and falsified a crib death in order to take him home and raise him herself? (It has happened! No REALLY, It's happened!) Suppose these many years later the young man finally learns he was kidnapped and adopted and comes around looking for the family he never knew. There would have to follow a very powerful bonding and indoctrination experience for the young man to step into his role as an apprentice/student of Wonder Woman but it's likely that DC's writers could rise to the task. You've all raised many legitimate issues that this character would face in the course of his career. Also, I wonder if as a hetero- or bi- sexual, he wouldn't also have to deal with issues of attraction to Diana, Donna, and all the others. He IS only mortal after all. :D An enemy like Dr. Psycho, for example could remove his inhibitions towards the women as a way of using him as weapon against them. He would have to heroicly overcome his desires in order to save their lives. :)Anyway, this young man's life would clearly be very complex and confusing in many ways. I wonder if he also shouldn't be drawn as every teen girls fantasy the way Batgirl and Supergirl were every teen boys fantasy. All the accusations of homosexuality would have the ring of those made by teenage boys against boy bands and pop stars and movie stars when their girlfriends are all mooning over them. I remember similar charges against Robin and Burt Ward both and Burt Ward had more woman than the show 'Batman' had episodes :D

Jack Berry said...

Hey, first off, I just want to say that I agree with everything you’ve said. There really should be a Wonder Boy. While people make fine points about Wonder Woman being a feminist icon, that should not mean that a young man couldn’t possibly believe, and strive for, the same ideals that she stands for.
I found this because I was searching for any information on the previous Wonder Boy, who was a member of the time displaced Team Titans. On wikipedia, I found out that in National Comics, there was both a Wonder Boy and a Wonder Man.
Reading over the previous comments, I was thinking that the male child born to an Amazon would be more of a Wonder Man character. He’s in hiding, until Hercules (who I know has used the title) or some other villain attacks and kills people while searching for him. He eventually becomes blessed by the Gods, though none of the ones that blessed Diana. (Iris, Goddess of Rainbows and Oath-taker of the gods for example.)
My reason for Amazons son being Wonder Man is that the idea seems very reminiscent of Achilles, who, for me, is an adult.
Wonder Boy, however, would best be Bobby. Maybe a villain (possibly the same as wonder mans, or an ally0 has been slowly working mind control over him, feeding on his feelings about his uncles death. They send Bobby, with powers, to attack Diana. He eventually regains control after an impressive fight, and maybe sacrifices himself.
But that’s not his end. He’s revived by Baron Samedi (voodoo loa of the dead, sex, and ressurection). He reveals that Bobby’s mom was (for a time) a practitioner. She summoned him while pregnant. He mentions that he owed either her or Bobby, but won’t be able to help again as Bobby’s with the Greeks now.
These are just my ideas, and I hope you find them interesting.

AlexinWonderLand said...

Manofevil and Jack Berry - i am sorry it has taken me so long to reply to your comments, i hope you're still floating around somewhere! i am going to bring together some of the ideas posted here about 'Wonder Boy's' origin and put them together in a sort of 'Wonder Boy Presentation' post for people to comment on, is that cool? i am going to reference the comment section of this post and blog ids, because i am not much for stealing unfairly!!!!! and thank you both for being so inciteful, i'm loving the ideas!!!!!


Anonymous said...

I feel the need to point out to people who claim a male addition to the Wonder Woman doesn't work because Wonder Woman comes from a culture of strictly that Cassie Sandsmark, the current Wonder Girl, is not herself an Amazon but a demi-god child of Zeus. Donna Troy is an Amazon, but originally her origin had her a regular child raised by Amazons. Even her current origin (which may have changed while I'm posting this) has her an Amazon of sorts through magical creation, but not one in the strictest sense. Why can a male character not be raised and taught Amazon ideals while not being an Amazon or even a woman?

seriousfic said...

Maybe because a Wonder Boy would seem a bit Gary Sueish? It does sound a little like the beginning of a Diana/OMC fic, having some random guy be picked up and plucked down among the Amazons, getting phenomenal cosmic power, then helping Wonder Woman fight crime.

To be honest, I'm not sure how this article got from "Wonder Woman should have a male sidekick" to "Wonder Woman's male sidekick should be gay" to "Wonder Woman's gay male sidekick should be effeminate." At the very least, most female sidekicks of male heroes tend to get criticized for being reductions of said hero, having no identity of their own... Batgirl instead of Batwoman, as it were. Having a Wonder Boy could just compound the issue, or serve as unflattering commentary on it.

Gerald C said...

I love your post! I had to link it to my blog.

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Darci said...

If you're interested in seeing a character like this, check out Kit (Kit Weston), very much like Robin was to Batman for Harvey Comics' Black Cat. He was introduced in Black Cat #28 (April 1951).

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