Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Redefining Wonder Woman's Sexuality in 2016...Are We Sure She's Not Bi?
Greg Rucka, you magnificent bastard.
Even if you're not an actual reader of comics, you're probably aware of the big news out of Themyscira. We know who you are, that obtuse demographic who shows up at the cape films under baseball caps and oversized jackets, pretending not to be one of us. Meh, let your freak flag fly already, huh? We hear you buzzing about this topic beneath the hiss of your office Keurig machine.
Letting their freak flag soar with crackling snaps amidst the winds of change, DC Comics, who are freaking killing it with Rebirth, dropped a bombshell (I'm not talking about variant covers or the all-femme period piece comic series) upon the world. Wonder Woman, who is enjoying her 75th year in comics, has come out of the closet.
This game-changing announcement comes courtesy of the Amazon princess' Rebirth chronicler Greg Rucka. Truth.com, Rucka is currently writing DC's best book (along with Dan Abnett's equally brilliant revamp of Aquaman ) with alternating storylines, "Year One" and "The Lies." One writer, two sublime artists of varying styles (Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott) and a gorgeously-depicted Wonder Woman brought into a brave new world--rebranded by her scribe as gay.
Now, before I say anything else, let me state I have quite a few friends in the gay community, not that I'm asking for a pass or a pat on the back. I've had the pleasure of interviewing two musical figureheads who are way open about their homosexuality, Rob Halford and Otep. Halford is a king who, after all these years as heavy metal's sovereign voice, still doesn't know he wears a crown. He's a wonderful human being, a gentleman, and I'll always treasure talking with him about his niece, who was giving a violin recital after our interview. Otep, mad respect for that lady. She gave me an hour-and-a-half interview for a book I'm currently writing, and she let a hetero male in the door...at least to the interior welcome mat with open arms and hung-out stories.
While Otep is far more full-frontal (outright confrontational if you piss her off) about her sexual preference, I don't feel it wholly defines who she is, nor does it for Rob Halford. Neither, then, should Diana Prince's sexuality define the character. Wonder Woman is an icon, like Halford is to Judas Priest and the heavy metal community. She was borne from William Moulton Marston as a symbol of American fighting spirit and ultimately a civil rights leader in comic book form. In a wonderful article for The New Yorker by Jill Lepore, the suggestion is made Wonder Woman was made out of free love as much as hardline feminism. Lepore's article also shows Moulton Marston in a different light than we all might've thought.
Otep has a new song from her Generation Doom album called "Equal Rights Equal Lefts." Not for the timid, especially if you're homophobic. Let it be said in the midst of Greg Rucka's core-shaking revisionism, and on the heels of Lepore's poly amorous proposal, that Wonder Woman has long preached equal rights regardless of which fence she could stand on to get her itch scratched.
Okay, so with Rucka's implied refashioning of Wonder Woman's orientation, my run of the New 52's Superman/Wonder Woman can go to the shredder, since the ramifications are kaput. Gee, thanks. Likewise, Steve Trevor means dick to Diana, pun intended. Right out the gate of Rebirth, Cheetah and Diana have something broiling beneath the surface to tap into once Wonder Woman helps her best friend shed her curse, particularly as sex slave to a male demoniac. Liberation or reform, you be the judge. I mean, look, anyone who knows me knows I judge people strictly on character, not sex, race, creed or sexuality. In this case, without meaning to offend Greg Rucka or anyone, I judge Wonder Woman to be potential victim of a publicity scam.
Don't get me wrong. I have no problem whatsoever if we're to assume that coming from an island of all females, Diana Prince would have more than a latent desire for someone of the same sex. It's a viable thesis, even if we've had to play the suspension of disbelief game for decades that not a single lick of male sperm went into forging Paradise Island's female-only populace. Well, there was Zeus, who got the ball rolling with Hippolyta...oy, please excuse me.
Yet, let's consider how long Wonder Woman has had an affair with Steve Trevor during the course leading to her quarter century mark. This love story of a goddess forsaking her immortality to help humanity and going the next step further by opening romantic ties with a mortal man... Sheesh, this has been as timeless as Superman and Lois Lane. It's superhero ethos. The consummation that was Superman/Wonder Woman was enough of a shakeup, even if the two momentary lovers have long flirted and kissed over the years.
Steve Trevor has been a figurative linchpin in Wonder Woman's life since World War II. He represents her sexual awakening, even if it's largely been innocuous through the golden, silver and bronze age comics and the Linda Carter t.v. show. The New 52 Justice League America strained their relationship to the point of a painful breakup, while Greg Rucka has reunited them in both of his story arcs. There's a decided before-and-after pining for one another in both of his arcs, which leaves a glaring question mark.
Yes, it's pliable Diana Prince would fancy a woman, and yes, long-standing characters are subject to revision in response to the times around them. Yet, given all we've been taught about Wonder Woman's legacy, wouldn't this daring update coming into harmony with the character's past actually constitute her as bi?
DC has done a sharp job over the years instituting gay characters into their progressive universe. Kyle Rayner had a hell of a run as a fan-beloved Green Lantern. Kate Kane is a valiant Batwoman. Poison Ivy these days has let it be known she wants her Harley and no else. Changing up Wonder Woman's sexual persuasion, though? If she were real, she'd have to feel some sense of lockup of emotions. As the god of war, Wonder Woman stands to be hella-pissed if she can't get a grip (cough cough) on which way her creators want her to swing. Doomsday? A pussy in comparison to what wrath Diana could wreak at full-tilt with muddled hormones.
I grew up with a crush upon the following stars (marking me as hopelessly old school as the Pinto I once drove): Barbara Eden, Yvonne Craig, Julie Newmar, Catherine Bach and of course, Linda Carter. I never saw Carter, even to this day, as sexually explosive, though she indeed was--and still is. Carter is a perpetually beautiful woman who has stood the test of time as durably as her claim to fame. Getting real, though, the 1970s Wonder Woman show was family-oriented, so it's not like Linda Carter and Lyle Waggoner were ever going to do more than make googly eyes at each other.
Not once in my lifetime of reading Wonder Woman have I ever gotten that dorky "turn on" feeling like I have with, say, Red Sonja, Tank Girl or Catwoman. Wonder Woman is a symbol of strength, an instrument of justice for all, a gift to humankind. I feel guilty if I ogle her contours when reading her. Seriously. I just don't feel any real need for Greg Rucka or anyone else to confirm which sex she prefers in this day and age, or whenever.
On the flipside, the gay community couldn't be happier Wonder Woman has been announced as queer. That makes me smile for my friends who apply. Bob Dylan is always proven right by each generation that the times, they keep on a-changin' but would Linda Carter, a conservative woman of grace, want to play a controversial Wonder Woman? It would be interesting to get her thoughts on whether or not she felt Wonder Woman had a libido at all, much less pro alpha or pro omega. With Gal Gadot already redefining the character into gladiator form as the meager gleam of hope in Batman v. Superman and her subsequent solo film, is she expected to cozy up to a female character since the new film is reputedly set in World War II, a less-enlightened setting?
I dunno, man. My mind is far more open than much of my horndog hetero ilk, but Greg Rucka is already knocking out a home run with this character. Was generating a hype machine really necessary? This new revelation comes off like a shock tactic to spike sales and that element is what sucks. To his credit, though, Rucka explains that he has a distaste for writers blatantly writing about character sexuality instead of dropping subtleties and letting the reader ponder to him or herself. That much, I agree with and salute him for. Sometimes the tease is better than the payoff.
If Diana adopts a full-on ladies-only policy, I'll still read her, absolutely. She'll always be the sensational best of us, no matter what designs her future creators have for her.