[identity profile] bluefall.insanejournal.com posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Alright, both by request and because I myself feel something at a loss with it gone, here commences the repost of my When Wondy was Awesome series from our LJ incarnation.

We'll begin, as is proper, at the beginning - the origin of the character as she is now. The concept of Wonder Woman, of course, is one of the oldest in Big Two comics, as she was first created by Marston back in 1941. However, once the Golden Age ended and the character passed into other hands, she became something of an albatross to the company - they were under contract to keep publishing her, but they didn't really know what to do with her, and her title quickly devolved into a miserable sexist mess from which it never entirely recovered.

Thus, with Crisis on Infinite Earths, Editorial completely erased Wonder Woman from past continuity, deciding she would enter the DCU for the first time in the late 80s - allowing them to start over and try to really do her justice. After a long (and terrifying to read about for fear of what might have been) process, they finally found a team that they thought could both create a new and viable character, and preserve the essence of the one who came before; thus Diana passed into the hands of Greg Potter and the now-definitive George Perez.

It isn't a perfect beginning, of course. Despite Perez' moderating influence, there's some really problematic gender stuff buried in there. And Perez himself, I never found most of his individual story arcs that inspiring or even particularly memorable. Plot was not a strong point, and he has a tendency toward deus ex machina (or artifact ex machina) that somewhat diminishes the accomplishments of his protagonist. But the world-building was stupendous, and he made Wondy a force to be reckoned with - in no small part, as we'll see here, by making her enemies forces to be reckoned with. Diana's life-long purpose, you see, established in her very first issue, is to defeat Ares.

Yes, that's right, Wonder Woman was custom-designed to thwart a god.

It all begins when Athena, being the god of wisdom, realizes that worship of her pantheon will not last forever. She and some of her sisters propose the creation of a new race of humans, meant to strengthen the gods, and to evangelize through example. Zeus thinks it's unnecessary and Hera won't oppose him, but most significantly, Ares strongly disagrees with the idea, and basically says "fuck you all, someday I'm going to rule the world myself."

And so the amazons are born. I'd like to point out the art here because I think it's kind of incredible. The different goddesses are all distinct and appropriately rendered - Athena looks wise, Demeter looks like a mother. And even more incredible, you've got naked women bursting out of the water and they look joyful and not even remotely exploitative or titillating.

Anyway, the goddesses set up the amazons with a nice home and bless them with godly wisdom and skill, and put Polly and her sister in charge and explain that the amazons are blessed and their job is to lead mankind by example. I'm not entirely sure why this requires that they all be women who were cut down by men in their prior lives (apart from the obvious meta consideration that it undercuts their power and makes them less intimidating)*, but I can fanwank it - they more than most know both the value of self-defense and the cost of thoughtless violence? Regardless, they're given a purpose - sustain the gods and screw with Ares just by existing.

* There's also the issue of why they need to be all-female at all, but that's quite a bit more complicated. If only we had records of the comments from our LJ incarnation, we had a great conversation about it there on one of the 0-day Wondy posts. -_-

Sadly, Ares kind of wins the first round, because he gets Heracles to sack the Amazon city, and when the amazons strike back with furious vengeance, they slaughter Heracles' men with no mercy and no heed to surrender, and basically forget the whole "we're supposed to be better than that" thing. Athena ships them off to Themyscira as a punishment.

Note, though, that she doesn't say she's changed their purpose - they're still supposed to be better than the rest of us, still supposed to be an example and the bridge between god and man. It's just they also have this other responsibility now too.

Flash forward three thousand years, give or take.

You know, now that I look at it again, that bottom right panel's a little porny, isn't it?

And yeah, it strains credulity that of all the amazons (at my best guess, roughly ten thousand in number before the Exile), only Polly was pregnant when slain. But hey, that's what Perez gives us. Gail's more recent take seems to suggest that Polly having Diana was more about her being the only amazon with the right/pride/sense to actually take the issue up with the gods than her being the only one with the longing, so if you want to take that and run, you could soft retcon that Diana wasn't the only pregnancy, just the only pregnancy that didn't get reincarnated (either as another adult amazon or elsewhere).

Worth noting: it's hard to tell here, but Perez' amazons swim naked. They also sleep naked. I am a huge fan of that fact, because really, swimming suits and nightgowns don't make sense for a culture in a temperate paradise with none of our weird sexual hang-ups. It adds a tremendous amount of verisimilitude to the Amazon world, for me. Although at one later point it does result in a naked Polly-Diana hug, which I really could have lived my life happily without ever seeing.

Anyway, Menalippe's freaking out about Ares.

And so the story goes, as old and as mythic as falling pearls and rocket ships; the amazons hold their great tournament, and in order to compete, against her mother's wishes, Diana disguises herself behind a mask and armor. Through test after test, victory after victory, no warrior can stand against her, as she is truly the finest among them. And so it is she who is chosen champion, and sent away into Man's World, to the queen's great sorrow.

More pretty art. I love Diana in that lower left panel. This woman, whose life experience amounts to less than one percent of her mother's, who has never known anything but obedience and respect for Polly and never known a world bigger than her island, defies her queen and leaves her home with neither pride nor regret because of her god's urging and the wisdom in her heart. Diana = awesome.

So the patron goddesses have Hephaestus forge the lasso from the Girdle of Gaea, and hand it over to Diana as the ultimate weapon against Ares (and check out Diana's cool getup here. Much as I hate the bathing suit, I really like her various hoplite-inspired armor sets that build off it).

Unfortunately, no one knows where Ares is hiding, so Hermes shuffles Diana off to find his daughter Harmonia, who has an artifact that will help locate him.

Meanwhile Ares has USAF pilot Steve Trevor on a collision course with Themyscira. This is his idea of dramatic irony, as we discover next chapter. At any rate, Hermes zips Diana back to the island and she saves both her people and Steve (but loses the million-dollar prototype plane, whoops). They all go back to Boston together, Steve to the Air Force and Diana to Julia Kapatelis, a history prof who will teach her to speak English and help her decipher the talisman.

You know, I fell off a ladder once. I was not caught by a tall, ripped, gorgeous Amazon who needed me to guide her in a strange new world. Instead, I slammed spine-first into the carpet and got so badly bruised I couldn't lay on my back for a week, and also my brother laughed at me.

Some people have all the goddamn luck.

Julia then takes Diana home (because honestly, who wouldn't?), and Diana meets her very first teenager. She's immediately smitten, which is cute, and makes me wonder how many rabbits and kittens and baby deer she brought home and wanted to take care of when she was little.

Julia and Diana do some research on Harmonia's talisman, and elsewhere in the world, the sons of Ares make trouble. This is Deimos ("Terror" for those not in the Greek myth know), spreading dissent in Russia. He gave this exact speech, like word-for-word, to some Americans earlier in the same ish. Ah, the Cold War.

Ares' other son, Phobos ("Fear," the more Vandermaresque of this little pair), mails a little present to the Kapatelis home, where it busts in on Vanessa and melts through the ceiling (in that order, actually).

Decay mauls Vanessa, steals Diana's tiara, and flies off, with Diana in pursuit.

This is just really, really nice art. Wondy should always look like this.

And finally, after three and a half issues, we get our first Wonder Woman fight scene.

"It's all Greek to me," she says. I can't decide if that's funny or dumb. I go back and forth.

Anyway, Diana wins, of course. And the Boston press?

It probably shouldn't be important, but I really like that it's a woman who actually names her.

Despite this minor victory, though, Ares' influence on the world only grows.

Oh, yeah, I should mention there's been some Trevor drama where he's being framed for murder and terrorism. He, this guy Michaelis, and Etta Candy have kind of stumbled on Ares' military conspiracy, at least the US half, so they're being hunted; they track down Diana to get her help.

Once Julia translates the talisman, Diana is able to figure out Ares' plan. Pretty much it amounts to "push the button, watch the fallout." Did I already say "ah, the Cold War"?

Course they still need to find Ares, which means they still need the other half of the talisman, so off they go to find it.

The mirror thing works because the talisman is one-dimensional, I guess (you can see in the scan where Harmonia gives it to Diana, it's only visible from Harmonia's perspective). It's very random and McGuffin-y and doesn't make a whole lot of sense, and an example of what I mentioned about Perez and his ex machina tendencies. But Diana gets to be snarky here, which makes up for a lot.

On the other side of the mirror, there are tentacles snakes!

Also Phobos!

Apparently, as per my Psych 101 textbook at least, humans are supposed to have a deep-seated, primordial fear of cats because of our days as apes running away from lions; this is theoretically part of the explanation for the cross-cultural ubiquity of dragons (cat faces and paws + snake bodies + bat wings + fire = all instinctive terrors in one easy package). True fax. I... don't think I buy it, frankly, and I kind of prefer to think that Michaelis got mauled by the neighbor's calico when he was six. (Plus that's a pretty damn funny image if I do say so myself.)

Where was Diana when they were handing out power rings, eh? (Actually that would make a good Elseworlds. We've seen Clark and Bruce as GLs, why not Diana? Particularly since who better meets the second original requirement of honesty?)

So they fight off their manifest fears. And then Diana kills a god.

Yeah, take a moment, y'all. Diana just killed a GOD.

Okay. So, Phobos runs off, and the motley crew collects the second half of the talisman, allowing them to teleport directly to the missile silo where Ares is hanging out.

This is the second time in two issues that cult guy uses that Shelley verse, and I really want to smack him and tell him to not quote stuff he clearly hasn't read. I mean, I guess it's sorta prophetic in a meta sense, but mostly it's just bad writing.

Misquoted moral parables aside, our crew rushes General Tolliver in an attempt to get the launch key before he can use it, and naturally chaos ensues.

Ah, for the days when DC treated "protagonists killing their enemies" with some kind of reason and sense. Like when Steve saves the day in the nick of time!

For those wondering where the zombies in the animated DVD came from (sorry, spoiler!), there you go.

Meanwhile, what about Diana and Ares?

No, Ares, that prophecy was about Athena. But that's a few chapters ahead, yet.

Anyway, Diana tries to fight him. She is significantly less successful than she was against his sons.

But - and here's the key to Wondy, and the thing that makes her cooler than Supes or Bats or anyone else in the primary colors set (though admittedly much harder to write for in this genre) - Diana generally finds that punching the crap out of the other guy isn't always the best way to end a battle.

(Check it out - Diana's mission of teaching and peace was actually given to her by Ares. This is something no subsequent author will remember,* but that doesn't make it any less cool.)

* Okay, except Jimenez, who remembers everything.

And there you have it. Diana of Themyscira, Wonder Woman, whose very first act in Man's World was to prevent nuclear armageddon and stop a god. Whose very purpose is to stay among us and find a way to save us, not from space aliens, not from meta freaks or megalomaniacal industrialists or psychotic clowns, but from ourselves. To teach. To heal. To lead. To make the world better.

It's an impossible task, of course. But then, if it weren't, she wouldn't be Wonder Woman.

Scans from WW v2 #1-6, collected in Gods and Mortals.

Next time: The nonsensical American flag bathing suit is made to make some small sliver of sense, we learn what kind of person inspires an amazon and why we should care about Steve Trevor, and Diana kills a hecatoncheries, as we tackle the second, less prominent but no less awesome half of Wonder Woman's origin.

Date: 2009-03-05 11:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mullon.insanejournal.com
They need to bring back Decay. There are just not enough creepy female villains. There's just Doctor Poison and Mist.

Date: 2009-03-06 12:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] filbypott.insanejournal.com
Yay, glad to see this back!

Date: 2009-03-06 12:10 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
De-Lurking to say I'm really glad you are reposting these. They were some of my favorite parts of S_D, and let me know a lot more about wonder woman. / re-lurk

Date: 2009-03-06 12:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aegof.livejournal.com (from insanejournal.com)
's weird.
The first time you posted this, I didn't much care. It was just something to read.
Now that you've long since converted me, I am totally into it.

Date: 2009-03-06 01:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ebailey140.insanejournal.com
One of my favorites runs of any comic. It was called, at the time, "the thinking person's superhero book." It's hard to understand, now, how big a deal it was that it wasn't until the 4th issue that our heroine had her first fight scene, or the decapitation of Deimos. I loved that she had to learn English, and that we'll get an explanation of the American flag colors and how she got a Roman name like Diana.

A little trivia, the woman who picks the name "Wonder Woman" was modelled on Jeanette Kahn.

Also, I'd like to give the editor some credit where it's due: Karen Berger, who encouraged her creators to take comics places they'd never been. There was already this and Alan Moore's Swamp Thing. Before long, we'd see others added to her line, like Hellblazer; Grant Morrison's Animal Man; Neil Gaiman's Black Orchid and Sandman; and Milligan's Shade, the line that eventually became Vertigo. Wow. All those classics that re-defined comics coming from that one office in just a few years.

Diana hasn't been quite the same since she was taken from Karen, especially with her villains. Since they were part of the proto-Vertigo line, the Cheetah and Dr. Psycho were legitimately dangerous and scary. The last page of issue #8 (Note to Grant Morrison: That's how you do a mostly prose issue) establishes that the post-Crisis Cheetah is very different than the pre-Crisis one, with what she does to that guy (It was a real "Oh, crap!" moment of it's day), while the introduction of the post-Crisis Dr. Psycho was downright chilling (and very Vertigo-ish). When that issue ended with him approaching the very pregnant woman, I thought "Surely, they're not going to go there..."

I don't understand why Dr. Psycho had to be toned down by the later editors, though. It's not as though they tone down the Joker. Or, was there some rule established that no one could be more nightmarish than the Joker?

Thought you'd like to know.

Date: 2009-03-06 01:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nefrekeptah.insanejournal.com
Atop the Fourth Wall is doing a multi-part review of Amazons Attack.

Here's a link to the intro:


Godspeed, Linkara. Godspeed.

Date: 2009-03-06 02:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] magus_69.insanejournal.com
Firstly: thank you so much for reviving these. WWwA was what really made me a Wonder Woman fan, so I'm glad to see this back.

Secondly: I've added a world of wondy tag. I would have done it for s_d if I could have, if only because it would have made it so much easier to find all of your megaposts if there was one tag for them all. I only hope that the poster who did the Hiketeia post will repost here, because that is a great Diana story and deserves to be here.

Date: 2009-03-06 04:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] longhairedlady.insanejournal.com
This kicks ass! I like how the Ares thing sets up that strange disconnect with Wonderwoman, that she is always fighting but her mission is to bring peace, really well .

Date: 2009-03-06 07:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] volksjager.insanejournal.com
What did become of wonder woman from Earth 2 after she got beamed up to Olympus ?

Date: 2009-03-06 08:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] luxshine.insanejournal.com
When I read this in spanish, I totally loved Wondy. Unfortunately, when I got to see issues in English, it was four or five authors after Perez, so I was completely lost and dropped the idea of collecting her. Thank you so much for this great recap.

Date: 2009-03-06 08:57 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
That is quite possibly the most awesome thing I've ever read. (Well, strictly speaking, it's not, but right at this moment it feels like it.) There are just so many things here that I think we need more of. Like: superheroes and "normal" people fighting side by side, rather than the patronizing only-the-hero-can-do-anything-important; it being presented as justifiable to, y'know, kill someone who is shooting at you and/or on the verge of sending the world to nuclear oblivion, rather than spinning into the dogmatic Killing Is Always Wrong Because Justifiable Homicide Does Not Actually Exist What Are You Talking About; Diana's strength of will and honest conviction when she chooses to become a hero; the moment when Julia calls Diana "sister" and demands to participate in saving the world; solving the problem of an enemy too strong to defeat by not physically defeating them rather than by getting mysteriously stronger...

*grabby hands* Waaaaant--!


Date: 2009-03-06 10:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carylerg.insanejournal.com
I didn't comment on these posts previously, but I just had to say something this time. This series of posts brought me back to comics. Seriously. I read these issues during their original run when I was still a kid, and seeing them recaptured reminded me of how much I loved Diana. Now I'm reading Wonder Woman again, and thanks to Scans_Daily, I've started reading the Green Lantern books again, as well.

So, thanks for putting the time, effort and love into these posts. They are very much appreciated. :)

Date: 2009-03-06 12:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aaron_bourque.insanejournal.com
A ha ha ha ha. Ares charges her with her Peace mission, I like that in a Gaimanesque "Dreams define Reality, Death defines Life, Destruction defines Creation" sorta way. Which means that Ares, being a god of war, must also be a god of peace. Athena, having wisdom, figured that out long ago. Yes, me likey.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; I do sort of wish they'd left the Steve Trevor/Diana romance continue--not because Wondy "needs a man" but because maybe if they left a canon romance, people wouldn't have felt the need to saddle her with bad romantic leads over and over again (I'm pretty sure Perez could've done the subject justice) and also to cut off the ridiculous "not human enough" argument. What's more human than love? Not that anyone could have foreseen such a stupid argument back then. Only a decade or so of bad writing could have produced such an argument!

Date: 2009-03-06 02:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janegray.insanejournal.com
Awesome post! :D

I have just three questions...

1)What happened to Vanessa? Was she saved, or did she stay old and/or die?

2)What happened to this version of WW? Was she retconned away, or is she the same as current Wondy?

3)...Is there some good Wondy/Ares fanfiction? Just because I like Diana/Tom, it doesn't mean I can't like other pairings as well :P

Date: 2009-03-06 03:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janegray.insanejournal.com
(Check it out - Diana's mission of teaching and peace was actually given to her by Ares. This is something no subsequent author will remember, but that doesn't make it any less cool.)

Btw, that's not true. I was just reading "Gods of Gotham" a few days ago (you actually got me to start buying Wonder Woman... I never, ever thought I'd become a WW fan XD), and Diana reminds Ares that he himself gave her his mission.

Since Diana in GoG references something that happened in this story you posted, I'm assuming they are the same version of the character. I wonder, are these stories still canon, or have they been retconned away from the current version of the character?

And speaking of Areas, what's the deal with he and Cassie? I know little to nothing about Cassie, but apparently he corrupted her with an evil lasso? I thought he said he wouldn't oppose Diana anymore, even gave Diana her mission, so why the heck did he mess with and harm her sister?

Date: 2009-03-06 05:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] omimouse.insanejournal.com
Ahhh, it's good to be home again. :)


Date: 2009-03-06 08:45 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I normally read the site via RSS feed and I have never commented. I had to come out of teh lurk just to say that this site (and this entry in particular) has completely re-ignited my interest in comics. I haven't read them in 10-15 years and every time I walked into a store and saw the prices I left disappointed. The posts here show HOW to enjoy comics, something I never really could do when I read them as a kid. The posts here show the subtlety in the stories and art. I am sorry that you guys lost your original site, but I am glad you're back.

And I am very glad I found you!

Date: 2009-03-07 11:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bariman1987.insanejournal.com
Man, I'm so happy that I get to read these again. I missed a few of them the first time around (I planned to read them, I really did. I have them bookmarked!) but this one I distinctly remember. (This and Space Pirate Wondy. See icon.) Thanks again!

Also, there was one Elseworld that I know of where Diana got a ring, but so did Superman, Flash, and Batman. In "Batman: In Darkest Knight," Bruce Wayne gets Abin Sur's ring, and when he refuses to leave Earth, the Guardians recruit Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash to take him down, giving them rings. They don't actually fight Batman (he's too busy defeating Katman Tui, Tomar Re, Killowog, and Arisia at the same time), they fight Sinestro and powered-up versions of Two-Face and Catwoman.


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