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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Wonder Woman Musings:

Over on comicbloc, there's a casual debate about Hippolyta as the Golden Age Wonder Woman.

Of course I chime in.

Anyway, my thing about the Earthiness of the Golden Age versus the Silver Age in the last post really plays into why I'm very much in support of Hippolyta as the Golden Age Wonder Woman.

Basically, as much as I love Diana, I think Marston would be very disappointed with the direction his character has taken. He designed a character full of casual strength and earthy sexuality. But our Diana really doesn't fit that. She's justice on high, pure and lofty. She's the embodiment of high ideal.

But that's not the Wonder Woman I see in the old Golden Age comics. Golden Age Wonder Woman looks like a GI Pin-Up to me. Betty Grable posing for the soldiers. She's curvy and sultry and empowered in her casual sensuality. Sure she left Paradise Island to go kick the crap out of Nazis, but that cute bit in uniform that crash landed on her little Paradise played a good part of it too. She wanted a piece of that hot little number.

Diana doesn't have this anymore. She's a bit too much like her Earth-1 counterpart, I think. They really didn't know what to do with Steve by then. I think Steve probably was partly Marston playing with a bit of wishfulfillment, being this cool suave dashing fellow that's not afraid to chat up this hot chick who could bench press his ass. Marston could write it well though because he understood the appeal, I don't think later writers did. So Steve kept getting written out while Diana evolved through her white-suited Avenger-esque incarnation and so on.

But by divorcing her from Steve Trevor and then post-Crisis removing him as an interest at all took away an important part of the original character. The new Diana is a crusader and a paladin. A holy warrior.

But the Wonder Woman that beat up Nazis...she was no lofty warrior. She was a rough and tumble, salt of the earth brawler, unafraid to get down and dirty with the boys. She was fun.

Hippolyta, at her best, embodies those qualities a lot more than Diana does. She's got that fierce, rough, hard-edged battle fury. She's sexual. Her relationship with Wildcat had the same casual power and warmth as E-2 Diana seemed to have with Steve. She's not pure like Diana, who's biggest crime, killing Max Lord was completely righteous and justifiable at the time. She made some ghastly mistakes. She's got blood on her hands and split knuckles in spirit.

In that link, there's the argument that having Hippolyta come first cheapens Diana and makes her into a copycat. I disagree. First, inheriting the role from her mother doesn't cheapen any of the fantastic things Diana's done, any of her sacrifices. Second, I seriously believe having Diana as the first Wonder Woman, ignoring the Marston original, or *worse* supplanting her with the idea that this pure, lofty ideal was fighting those nazis instead is a cheapening of the original Wonder Woman.

Hippolyta feels like Marston's design, I'm perfectly happy letting her be Marston's design. What's in a name?

Though I'd like to replace the time travel with "left the island to go fight nazis (and possibly get laid) and came back to be Queen again". It's much simpler really.

And really...who's to say that Diana is actually the counterpart of the E-2 Wonder Woman. I mean, when I saw Diana Prince giving the wise words of advice to our Diana, telling her to embrace her humanity. I didn't see Diana getting advice from herself, I saw Diana getting advice from her mother. E-2 Diana was Hippolyta in that scene more than she'd ever be our Diana.

Really...it's not like names stayed completely constant across the multiverse. If E-2 Kal-L's counterpart is named Kal-EL, why can't E-2's Diana's counterpart be named Hippolyta.

There's a deeper symmetry too...on Earth-2, you have Diana and her daughter Hippolyta. On post COIE Earth, you have Hippolyta and her daughter Diana. I've described the similarities between E-2 Diana and Hippolyta...if you think about it both Lyta/Fury and our Diana have some interesting similarities as well. They're both unusual in their births (Lyta as daughter of Diana and Steve, Diana in her clay origin), they're both very young compared to the other Amazons, they're both more academically/scholarly inclined than their mothers...

Maybe that's why Lyta ended up killed off in JSA. It's not that her backstory was too confusing...it's that, basically, she's a redundant parallel, when Diana is as much a counter of the original Fury as she is, in a way.

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12 Comments:

  • At August 26, 2006 4:18 AM, Blogger ASK said…

    "I think Steve probably was partly Marston playing with a bit of wishfulfillment, being this cool suave dashing fellow that's not afraid to chat up this hot chick who could bench press his ass. Marston could write it well though because he understood the appeal, I don't think later writers did. . ."

    According to Les Daniels book on Wonder Woman, Marston was a bigomist. I doubt he needed much help talking with the girls.

     
  • At August 26, 2006 4:24 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Oh I'm not saying the wishfulfillment was in the talking to girls part. I've read the man's interviews. Even in text form decades later, the charm he oozes is appallingly effective.

    I'm saying the wishfulfillment is in landing Diana. Because she is his absolute ideal of feminine power. And is fictional.

    The dashing machismo-laden, yet secure in his masculinity soldier/war hero might be a bit of that as well. :-)

     
  • At August 26, 2006 8:34 AM, Anonymous Mark Engblom said…

    You make some good points, Kalinara. I liked the "continuity patch" of making Hippolyta the WWII era Wonder Woman, but now with continuity all re-jiggered, it's still not clear what they're going to do with Hippolyta's role.

    I'm really pleased that Diana is once again a founding member of the JLA, but with the JSA's own history still so murky (the Earth-2 Batman was remembered as a JSA member in a recent story), I really don't know where Diana OR her mother fits into it.

    As for Hippolyta, I enjoyed her run as Wonder Woman, but at the same time I thought it "diluted the brand" somewhat, especially since they were so visually similar (unlike the multiple versions of Flash and Green Lantern). Still, one of the Best Comics Moments Ever: When Hippolyta realized the dress she was wearing was actually Plastic Man! (from a Mark Waid JLA story, I believe).

     
  • At August 26, 2006 9:49 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Well, it seems that they remember E-2 Batman and don't at the same time, which sounds complicated, but I don't think it actually is. Essentially, they remember both.

    Basically, what I'm arguing is that E-2 Diana is Hippolyta. So whether you call her Hippolyta or Diana, she's still the same character that they remember. They just remember her by two seperate names. :-) She's Hippolyta, sometimes called Diana, that's all. :-) It makes it easier in a strange way.

    I think the visual similarity depended on the artist though. Some artists drew them exactly alike, some however did utilize differences. Hippolyta tended to be drawn as thicker/more muscular, with a more armor-ish costume and sword.

    But it did get annoying when they were drawn too alike. (Also I tended not to like when Hippolyta was in the JLA. I preferred her in the past or with the fogeys in the JSA...that was where she tended to get drawn differently and she always seemed to be less in the way, if that makes sense.

     
  • At August 26, 2006 10:43 AM, Anonymous J. Kevin Carrier said…

    Mark: That was Big Barda "wearing" Plastic Man, not Hippolyta.

    I like Hippolyta as the Golden Age WW just fine, although I would prefer if they dispensed with the sword (for the sake of authenticity if nothing else). Have you ever read that '40s story where Hippolyta impersonates Diana? It's a hoot... Di can't figure out who this woman is who keeps kicking her ass!

    Good point about Steve Trevor being Marston's self-insertion -- I never thought about it that way before!

     
  • At August 26, 2006 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I liked Hippolyta as the Golden Age Wonder Woman as the universe is post-Crisis...and I'm talking about post-every Crisis, including Crisis on Infinite Earths. It makes sense to me and I enjoyed Hippolyta.

    But, I disagree that our Diana now is like the Earth-1 Diana. The biggest problem I had with the post-Crisis re-boot of this character was that they took away her humanity by making her too much of the holy warrior that you talked about. She had no real touchstone to humanity. In the first few issues, she's introduced to the Kapatelises (sp?), Steve and Etta Candy, which would have been a great place for her to learn to become more human. But, they went more the route of ambassador, princess, and warrior than hero. Don't get me wrong...I've loved the stories that have come out since Crisis on Infinite Earths, but she never was the Diana that I came to love as a child.

    Despite what people might think about the I-Ching era of Wonder Woman's life, I think it was an interesting era that is similar to what Clark did in "Up, Up and Away" -- discover that they are heroes despite the costumes. I think it's interesting that they're going back to this era in the new series to help give her a touchstone to humanity.

     
  • At August 26, 2006 11:13 AM, Anonymous Loren said…

    Eep! That anonymous comment was from me. The blogspot comment think is being all jangy at the moment.

     
  • At August 26, 2006 10:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Silly idea of mine,but...If Amazons are,in effect,super-women,where would mere,mortal men fit in their world?

     
  • At August 27, 2006 2:36 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Loren: I suppose you're right. Diana's not like Earth-1 Diana either, though I do think she's closer to that Diana than to the Earth-2 one.

    That said, I did like the white-costume arc, and am enjoying the homage now. :-)

    Anon: Why would the nature of a superwoman mean there'd be no place for men? A woman can be great with or without the support and partnership of men.

    ...in other words, I'd advise reading Marston's Wonder Woman. :-) Or watching Lynda Carter Wonder Woman with Lyle Waggoner as Steve Trevor. :-) That is, after all, what the Diana and Steve relationship is supposed to be about. :-)

     
  • At August 27, 2006 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Still...Wonder Women is an Immortal,or,at least,likely to live MUCH longer than any man.

     
  • At August 27, 2006 7:47 PM, Anonymous Ununnilium said…

    That's a good point; but then, from all sources, so is Superman.

     
  • At September 12, 2007 4:33 PM, Blogger Agent Orange said…

    Your post could've used some hot Wonder Woman pics

     

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