Learn to Share:
There has been much ado in the halls of DC editorial about making Wonder Woman appeal to the perceived target audience of young males. Obviously this distaff counterpart of Kratos does appeal to that target audience (like the positive reviewer I cited last time) and I’m sure there are people outside that target audience that enjoy the stories as well. But why does the editorial staff think Wonder Woman has to appeal to men? She was created to appeal to women because men have tons and tons and tons of superheroes that were already created to appeal to them (Batman, Superman, Hawkman, four Green Lanterns, three Flashes, three Robins, Green Arrow, Arsenal, Martian Manhunter, anyone with “lad” or “boy” in the Legion of Superheroes, etc., etc.). Wonder Woman is also one of the few female superheroes who wasn’t created as a distaff counterpart of an existing superhero (Mary Marvel, Supergirl, Hawkgirl, Power Girl, Batwoman, Batgirl, She-Hulk, She-Thing, Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, etc.). Young (white) males are not lacking for superheroes that appeal to them.
Having a character created for someone outside the perceived target demographic doesn’t take anything away from the characters created for that demographic. For example, “Batgirl of Burnside” and “Ms. Marvel” are clearly targeted at teenage girls. Despite what my fandom for “Sailor Moon” may suggest, I’m not actually a teenage girl. This doesn’t mean I can’t and don’t enjoy those stories, and this doesn’t mean that the existence of Batgirl diminishes in any way my enjoyment of Batman. If I do not enjoy “Batgirl of Burnside,” the solution isn’t to make that comic more like Batman. The solution is for me to spend my money on one of the approximately 170,000 Batman titles available and let the teenage girls buy Batgirl. For the people who like Kratos, God of War, there are three video games already made to follow his story. For the people who like seeing a female barbarian walk around with a sword and slay all those who oppose her, there’s a comic book series called “Red Sonja” starring just that type of character.
This goes double for the writers/artists. Not every writer/artist is the right choice for every comic. While a professional team should be able to adequately handle a character they didn’t ask for, it is unlikely that such writing/art will be as good as if the character was handled by a team who (to use a technical term) “got” the character. This is not a value judgment on the quality of the creative team. For example, Larry Hama wrote “G.I. Joe” for Marvel for years and is credited for making a much better comic than a toy line tie-in deserved. He hopped over to the DC side to write for Batman, which pretty much everyone would agree is the premier DC character. And it, um, didn’t work out. He just didn’t “get” Batman. Geoff Johns is regarded as a good writer but he does not “get” Wonder Woman at all. So to creative teams who handle Wonder Woman (and indeed any DC character who is not Batman these days), don’t try to make her into something she’s not.
Wonder Woman shouldn’t be Kratos; Wonder Woman shouldn’t be Red Sonja. Wonder Woman is Wonder Woman and despite being created for girls, Wonder Woman clearly appeals to plenty of boys and has for 75+ years.
Good Business Sense:
Not that I’ve seen a lot of this from WB/DC, but there is a sound business reason to return Wonder Woman to her roots. This is the iconography that most people (especially outside of comic book fandom) will recognize. Why not build on that brand recognition? Building on brand recognition should be considerably easier than trying to not only build a new brand that appeals to new audiences, but building a new brand that will win over the former audience (and obviously that hasn’t worked on me). WB/DC is running full-tilt into New Coke territory here. Wonder Woman is already an outstanding (by which I mean literally stands out) female character in their pantheon. Here WB/DC has a huge advantage over Marvel. Marvel doesn’t have an iconic female character. Marvel is certainly trying to make one with Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel, but so much of that is taken from a previously existing male character – her association with the male character, the title, the costume, the Kree DNA (broadly), and even to some degree the powers. Mar-vell was Captain Marvel first and now Marvel is trying to re-define Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel (and in a bit of meta-fiction, that’s also what her earliest comics were about). But Wonder Woman is already an icon, star-spangled bathing suit and all.
The world of comic books are cluttered with dark, brooding, male superheroes/anti-heroes. Turning Wonder Woman into a female version of the same stock and trade has destroyed a unique and uniquely progressive character. Congratulations New 52 staff/WB executives, you are less progressive than a man born in the 1800s. The world of comic books is as expansive as the human imagination. Taking away characters designed to appeal outside of the assumed target demographic doesn’t enhance the medium. Uniformity diminishes the medium. Bring back uniqueness. Bring back the compassionate warrior who prefers love to violence, peace to war, and above all seeks the truth. Bring back the unabashedly feminist icon. The world needs Wonder Woman. Don’t believe me? It’s 2015 and Black Widow has been minimized in the merchandising for The Avengers and now “Avengers 2.” One-fifth of the team of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” had nearly zero merchandising, and you can bet that wasn’t the talking raccoon.
Wonder Woman is not out-dated. We still need her. Whether you are a male or female, the need for equality between the sexes still exists. We need Wonder Woman back.