Balancing Continuity with Controversy

wonder-woman-concept-art-cover-dc-rebirthI’ve emphatically endorsed DC’s “Rebirth” event for months now. I was highly skeptical when it started, feeling that it might end up nothing more than another gimmick. What we got was DC backtracking from the wild changes of the “New 52,” returning to the old traditions which have made their characters so timeless. Each month has been a pleasant surprise. I continue to wait for the other shoe to drop, but we’ve lucked out so far. Some recent news from Greg Rucka might have changed all of that.

Here is what he had to say when asked if Wonder Woman was in fact gay:

“Yes. I think it’s more complicated though. This is inherently the problem with Diana: we’ve had a long history of people – for a variety of reasons, including sometimes pure titillation, which I think is the worst reason – say, ‘Ooo. Look. It’s the Amazons. They’re gay!’ And when you start to think about giving the concept of Themyscira its due, the answer is, ‘How can they not all be in same sex relationships?’ Right? It makes no logical sense otherwise. It’s supposed to be paradise. You’re supposed to be able to live happily. You’re supposed to be able – in a context where one can live happily, and part of what an individual needs for that happiness is to have a partner – to have a fulfilling, romantic and sexual relationship. And the only options are women. But an Amazon doesn’t look at another Amazon and say, ‘You’re gay.’ They don’t. The concept doesn’t exist. Now, are we saying Diana has been in love and had relationships with other women? As Nicola and I approach it, the answer is obviously yes.”

Now, before I go any further, I have to say this is sound reasoning. I should also emphasize that there really is nothing wrong with Wonder Woman — or any other character — being gay. Yet, in this circumstance, I think it might be a mistake.

The first problem I have is that it flies in the face of the character’s established history. In response to that, many will simply say that this is a reboot and, because it’s a reboot, all of what came before does not apply. OK, I’ll give a tip of the hat to that line of thought, but in doing so you invalidate what has come before. All of the glorious source material that is there for you to dig into and create new stories from needs to be rewritten each time now. From a continuity standpoint, blank slates are clumsy.

It diminishes one of the most compelling things about Themyscira and its resident Amazons: their constant conflict against the male-dominated world. In previous depictions, the paradise of Themyscira had one simple flaw to it — no men. This was something that was focused on by some writers more than others. It was considered a necessary sacrifice made to secure the harmony of Amazonian society. The Amazons struggled with the inequalities of the outside world, where the behavior of some men condemned them all in the eyes of the Amazons.

Some of the previous interpretations used this setup to discuss gender dynamics. Queen Hippolyta, Wonder Woman, and many other Amazons had lovers in the past. Many of them were with terrible men who turned out to be antagonists, though others proved to be positive relationships. This, in my opinion, has always been one of the most important underlying aspects of Wonder Woman comics; it is a great vehicle for exploring women’s rights.

Now I don’t think necessarily that Greg Rucka, or even DC, has chosen this direction to intentionally boost sales. They might be, but Rucka’s track record coupled with the publisher’s newfound commitment to restoring the roots of what makes their comics great leads to believe otherwise. This seems more to me like people making decisions before looking at what effects it will have, regardless of what has come before. I hope that this is not a sign that the creators and the management over at DC are starting to get lax, forgetting to take all the effects into consideration. The best of intentions can get out of hand if the results are not watched.

William Henry Dvorak
About William Henry Dvorak (87 Articles)
William Henry Dvorak has grown up around comics his whole life. He's worked in a comic book shop, owned a comic book shop and has been writing off and on his whole life. Over the years William has tried his hand at a number of different careers, from acting, to being a private detective, but always came back to his first love, comic books and writing. Starting in 2011 William got serious with his writing and founded Wicked Studios LLC, a sequential art and entertainment company and began work on his stories and novels.

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