A short while ago I mentioned I was going to read Gail Simone’s take on Wonder Woman. I expressed my personal challenge of being able to immerse myself in comics in general (the picture/words – words/picture toggle is uncomfortable for me) but my love of Wonder Woman and the genre of comics is a lure too great to not try again.
Well. There is some good news and some bad news.
I started out reading Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman with some pretty big expectations. The foreword alone would ramp anyone up, but my partner Mike is also a very big fan of Simone. Then, of course, it is WONDER WOMAN, so who wouldn’t have big expectations. Certainly not this woman who used to twirl along with the 70’s Linda Carter version, who faithfully watched the Justice League cartoons every Saturday*, and who to this day is still pissed off at her sister for teasing her Wonder Woman doll’s hair into a snarled and unfixable mess well over 30 years ago.
I will first mention that reading through the collection I was inspired to read more. I’m actually interested in reading all the Wonder Woman comic books that are out there (daunting, I know) just for a comparison of stories. So something very positive came out of this in that respect (i.e. the good news). I had a little trouble in the middle, but once I got through that middle point the story really picked up speed and when I came to the end I was disappointed it was over .
The problems I had (here comes the bad news) were around the idea that an island of women were descending into madness because they could not bear children. I found that particularly depressing and didn’t feel like something any woman should write. I also was disappointed four trusted women who were supposedly loyal and devoted to the queen were so overcome with jealousy that they would plot to kill her child. I can’t help thinking that if you are going to attribute the male perception of how all women yearn to bear children and are jealous of each other, then why wouldn’t you also assume that a woman would never harm a child. To me the latter is actually more accurate than the former where women are concerned (with exceptions to the rule of course). It makes me wonder if the author had to write it this way or if this was her take? I know of a couple of other versions of how Wonder Woman came to be and I plan to do some investigating.I also have to say that having the art work change so dramatically through the issues was a big let down. At one point I think she looked a little too Jersey Girl for me and it was hard to try to mentally set that aside and concentrate on the story.
Having said all that… What I did like was her strength, her desire and talent for diplomacy and peace, a show of genuine admiration and respect for a female colleague, her display of humility and the ability to set aside pride to plead for assistance in a worthy cause, and the affirmation of not compromising on being the embodiment of her (The) ideals – even when vengeance would seem justified. I liked that we also got to see her interact with the Justice League however briefly – my inner nine-year old was squirming with excitement! And finally, I liked that Wonder Woman was drawn as a woman instead of a man with giant boobs (even the Jersey girl version); some versions I have seen looking over Mike’s shoulder over the years have really been frightening.
So I guess I am going to turn into a comic book reader after all. I will surely be at it for quite a while since she has been around for 70 years.
* I also used to watch the Saturday morning show Isis. Does anyone else remember that show? It was very Wonder-Woman-esque. That’s her in the pic.