Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wonder why, Wonder Woman?

I'm going to borrow a page from one of my favorite bloggers, Chris Bird, and do a bit of a writing exercise where I put my spin on a property that could use a little work, or that I just love and wish I could take a swing at.

First up? Wonder Woman.

Why her? Because she is THE female comics hero, and she's boring. Her defining characteristic is her gender, and she remarkable mainly for who she hangs out with (the JLA). She's basically the First Lady of comics. Famous, influential, powerful to a degree, but not really for her own sake.

Wonder Woman has had so many editorial directions thrust upon her, there is barely any "definitive" version of her to be had. About the closest we can get is the modern version: A golem crafted from clay (a la Pygmalion) and empowered by the greek gods to bring peace to Man's World. She has super strength, durability, reflexes, divine wisdom and intelligence. She has a lasso that forces people to tell the truth, and an invisible plane, and she can fly herself. She also has hazy sometimes-powers over animal life.

The biggest problem with her is that she's not relateable. She has no "but...". Superman is incredibly powerful, but he is honorable and bound by a strict sense of morals and ethics that severely reign him in. He is invulnerable, but he is weak to kryptonite, and magic. He can see and hear almost everything, but that makes him feel duty bound to help. Batman is the world's greatest detective, unsurpassed in martial arts, but he's only human. He can't really go toe to toe with Superman's bad guys. He has money and gadgets galore, and a family that loves him, but he's still lonely because of what he lost, and won't let himself get close to anyone.

Wonder Woman doesn't really have any "but" statements. She's an emissary from the gods with a mission of peace. That's pretty much where the character ends. There's no depth, no characterization.

So my idea? Reboot time. Or if you were really clever about it, large scale retcon. (But worth it.)

Imagine Wonder Woman not as a person, but a heritage. Imagine that Pygmalion's golem was immortal, and lived on after the death of her lover. She wandered the earth after his death, and in time, fell in with the Amazons. Hipployta takes her in and in time, comes to call her daughter. Hipployta sees the loneliness of the golem, and intercedes with the gods to do something about it. The gods in turn give the golem the ability to merge with a mortal woman and live her life, lending her the golem's powers, and the experience of many lifetimes, but allowing the golem to experience life anew, to live and love and see the world with fresh eyes every generation. The golem, when merged with a mortal woman becomes a light in the darkness, a source of inspiration to men and women alike. A Wonder, even.

So this brings us to Diana Prince. A college student in the United States, of Greek parentage. She's a happy, energetic young woman who has big plans for the future, and a variety of boys that interest her. There's the handsome young Airman at the base nearby, Steve, as well as the quiet artist, Paul. In her small amount of free time besides pursuing her law degree, Diana tries to figure out which one, if either, she really likes.

So we have a normal, approachable girl who assumes the mantle of Wonder Woman. It's important to note that while she has the experience of a dozen lifetimes, the wisdom of the gods, she's not obligated to use it. She's still a twenty-something girl. She's going to make mistakes, both in life and in heroing. She'll be a newbie hero and a vet, all at the same time.

This opens up a variety of storytelling options. First, it leaves the current style of Wonder Woman story still open. I.E. normal superheroics with a mythic twist. Second, you have the sub-plot of the golem's search for Pygmalion (she's convinced he's been reincarnated). Third, you have Diana trying to not let the JLA in on the secret (she's totally new at this, and isn't the Wonder Woman they've known all along). Fourth, it allows for some fun Highlander style "past life" stories. What was the golem doing in Victorian times? Or during the Renaissance? Fifth, it opens up something similar to the Dax concept on DS9, in that mulitple lifetimes give one a somewhat different perspective on events. It's easier to take the long view.

Up Next: Villains.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations, Midas.

    You've taken a boring, borderline-insulting character, and at the very least, brought up some intriguing concepts. I never thought I'd read a full article on Wonder Woman, but damn if you didn't manage to get me to do just that.