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Wonder Woman And Change: A Brief History

Change is not unique to superhero comics. That’s just an expected way of going about things. Change not only forward, but change that even goes back. This is textbook stuff, everyone who has read comics for maybe over a month and has had some knowledge imparted onto them knows this. A little longer and they may discover perhaps one of the biggest victims of this: Wonder Woman.

 

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Wonder Woman has gained a reputation of being a really tough character for people to get. That it’s hard to write a fully realized and genuine portrayal of a character that has this immense weight on her shoulders – in the cultural sense. It’s a weight that can seem daunting and can even be describes as a hindrance to inexperienced writers. It doesn’t help that this challenge tends to bring out the inexperienced writer in most who get to be on Wondy’s ongoing. Or if not inexperienced, then the over-controlling writer in this somewhat naïve scribes. Writers who don’t really have any ill-intentions, but merely fall into the same old pitfalls.

 

The problem, put bluntly, is that people either don’t know what to do with Wonder Woman – falling into the same old rut of leaning on other characters and the DCU to showcase instead of her – or something potentially more disastrous. They decide to reinvent her. Now this doesn’t sound bad, characters get reinventions all the time, and it doesn’t even have to have a reboot to get going. Its part and parcel with events and runs. The difference with Wonder Woman is that writers usually go the full monty when it comes to this. They go with their visions of what Wonder Woman SHOULD be, instead of what she COULD be. It’s just another consequence of writers disregarding what came before (which happens way too much) and implementing new stuff all over the place. It’s not moving forward, it’s staying stagnant but in another way.

 

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More or less Wonder Woman has been set back to point zero with each new writer. From Marston’s time to the present day, the series could be the poster child for “checkered history” in terms of narrative. The original tough and bondage laden stories to the ill-fated kung-fu “New Wonder Woman” revival of the Pre-Crisis era being pretty much emblematic of everything that has gone on. It says a lot when you would need more than one hand for every time Steve Trevor and/or Paradise Island has been killed or written off at the start of a run. It’s less of a straight path and more of a patchwork mosaic. Something of this sort one would think would have come to an end with the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, but in fact it only got worse. In a way that still continues to this day.

 

The famed George Perez run on Wonder Woman is, obviously, another example of this. Of course it has the excuse of being the run that would redefine Wonder Woman for the modern age – so it could very well just throw out whatever it pleased. Then the old habits settled in after Perez left and when sometime later John Byrne crashed onto the scene.

 

Byrne’s run can be described in few words: chaotic, confused, and overall destructive. He had the tendency to believe that he was the one who could “get it right”, they all do in their own ways. Naturally his run became a mess of tragically connected plot-lines and story beats which made it a slog to get through and set Wonder Woman back into her whirlwind of re-creations.

 

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The only good bit was his introduction of the Cassie Sandsmark version of Wonder Girl. What came next were variations on this same birth and death cycle for Wonder Woman as a series. Your Amazons Attacks, your ignored new characters, and other such things. In fact one of the last story-arcs before the reboot was gearing up for an in-universe Wonder Woman reboot, again. Maybe one day Wonder Woman will get a streak of runs that complement each other for more than a decade, but who can say?

 

My only goal in bringing this up was to bring perspective to the upcoming debut of Meredith Finch and her husband David Finch onto the title after Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang end their run. Runs get ignored or mis-characterized all the time, so while the Finches have their work cut out for them – they don’t have that high a bar to meet in the overall sense. It could just be bad and it wouldn’t be the worst. Thoughts and comments would be appreciated below.

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