Friday, April 11, 2008

Wonder Woman #19: Working to Close The Disconnect

So, you know how Batman tries to protect the people of Gotham city, and it is his success if Gotham's water supply isn't poisoned, and it is his failure if a single Gothamite is murdered?

You know how Superman tries to protect Metropolis, and the Flash protects his city, and Manhunter protects her city? You know how much it sucks when your entire city blows up?

Well, it's really easy to come up with villains for superheroes who want to protect their city from harm. Intergang has rigged a series of bombs that will explode in the heart of Metropolis, and only Superman can save the day! Superman saves the day, and that's his job.

When the Flash stops one of his Rogues, he's doing his job.

Wonder Woman is different. What is her mission? It's not to protect Paradise Island, or Boston, or wherever the heck her embassy was. It's not really to fight bad guys, the same way Batman's or Manhunter's is.

Wonder Woman's mission has always been -- in some form or another -- to be Paradise Island's Ambassador of Peace in Man's World. Sound's great, but what does that actually mean? Who is your enemy? How do you know when you are actually doing your job? In 1942, it meant "Fight Nazis!" After 1945, though, it got a little murkier.

When the Silver Swan swoops in, or the Cheetah attacks, putting down these assaults are a distraction from pursuing her mission of peace, they are not the mission itself. So, does she ever actually DO her mission?

Well, once Diana called a Peace Conference on Paradise Island, and was thwarted by Eris, the goddess of Discord, who -- as best as I can recall -- somehow turned Wonder Woman into a tree until Lois Lane rescued her. I'm a little fuzzy on the details, and this cover image isn't sparking my memory much.

Okay, that's a fair take. A lot like fighting Ares, you are the emissary of Peace, you fight a big fight with the goddess of Discord, the embodiment of your opposite, and your peace summit is a "success" (whatever that means). Good for you. Have you actually caused any peace in Man's world?

Not so much.

Maybe I'm just being a Circe sympathizer, but when she accused Diana of traipsing around fighting supervillains, instead of actually helping people she kind of had a point. And that's not even counting the "very special Blossom" issues about teenage suicide and whatnot.

So, okay, being the Ambassador of Peace can mean fighting the god of War or Eris. But the irony of "fighting for peace" has to wear through pretty quickly. Who should a good Wonder Woman villain be?

Well, hey! Look at Wonder Woman #19.

A Green Lantern, intent on an all-out war against the Khund. What is Wonder Woman's mission? To be an Ambassador of Peace. How can she accomplish this? By convincing the Green Lantern to oppose the war. How does she do this? By beating him up, and then offering her hand while she allows him to beat her up.

"You shame me," the Green Lantern says.

"That was not my intent," Diana responds. A small lie, of course. She knew he had honor and could be shamed. Otherwise, she would not have allowed herself to be beaten after she had already won the fight.

A make-shift peace conference, some off-screen Etta-action, and some sort of new sub-section to the Book of Oa about part-time work, job sharing, and emergency family leave, and . . .

Holy Coherent Narrative Structures, Batman! The Ambassador of Peace to Man's World has actually gone out into man's world and acted as an ambassador of peace.

What will Gail think of next?

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Blogger Stephen said...

so wonder woman is supposed to be a uniter not a divider

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You and I are in total agreement as to the mission of Wonder Woman. For me, it's not about how much ass she can kick, but how she can turn conflict around. I can't wait to see how Gail continues to develop her character because, where she's going, I'm liking lots.

3:07 PM  

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