Welcome to Comics THORsday! Today we’re going to talk about the origins of Wonder Woman, a feminist. Wonder Woman, aka Princess Diana of Themyscira, is one of the most famous female superheroes of all time. She was born on a paradise island and used her powers to help people and to send a strong message to girls. She first appeared in 1942 in Sensation Comics #1. She tried to smash stereotypes at the time, a time when women were left believing that they would be children and incompetent for the rest of their lives because men were there for the rescue, responsibility, and all that matters. Despite being a child of her time, most of her stories are uplifting for women. Granted that there are inconsistencies even during the Golden Age comics, but all in all, the main message was positive.
Wonder Woman stresses strength, peace, sisterhood and self-reliance for women. However her image and her message have suffered greatly. Not all stories of Wonder Woman are good ones, in fact, her morality is broken many times in many stories, especially after William Marston died in 1947. Here she started to be submissive to men. By 1968 her lasso was gone, her other gadgets were ignored, and she was but powerless. However, stories from the 40s have a great message for women: to respect themselves, to not think of themselves as less valuable to men. In short, to have the same status as men have in society.
As a feminist symbol, Wonder Woman has been also attacked of being a radical feminist. She was, perhaps, too much for her own time, and was punished by losing her status, her strength and ultimately her sexual freedom. Think about it, the rest of heroes had affairs, she could only be the good girl. And that’s awful.
Her outfit has suffered greatly, and the sexist approach to her is still there. New 52 Wonder Woman depicts her shying away from her feminist origins. It is the audience who must tell out loud what type of Wonder Woman we would like to see and read. She is not a doll to pose for the male audience; she is a strong character who bears a strong message. Ultimately it is us who will decide which version of the many Wonder Woman that have seen the light we like best.
The classics from the Golden Age are still great sources of inspiration. Remember that are also children of their times, and some of the stories might sound offensive to us. However, when you read the comics, take the essence, the message that it’s hidden within them. As happens with all old superheroes, they were born in times of necessity. Comics are also a great source to discover who we were, where we wished to go, where we are now, and how we can solve the problem if we missed the target.
Sources and recommended readings:
- Introduction to comics.
- The New Creative Team On New 52 Wonder Woman Turns The Comic Into An Utter (Sexist) Disappointment
- Wonder Woman is totally rocking that motorcycle look
- Gloria Stein, “Wonder Woman” in Charles Hatfield, Jeet Heer, and Kent Worcester Editors, “The Superhero Reader“
- Scott McCloud, “Understanding Comics, the Invisible Art,” William Morrow Paperbacks 1994.
- Randy Duncan & Matthew J.Smith, “The Power of Comics. History, Form and Culture,” Bloomsbury, 2015.
Copyright: Images on this post (C) depepi.com (C) DC Comics / Image of Wonder Woman via Kotaku.com