Wonder Woman gets a dubious New 52 retcon

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Updated on December 10, 2021

Wonder WomanOn top of the revelations in the current DC Comics “new 52” revamp that Starfire’s a brainless sex fiend and that Aquaman chows down on his sea subjects comes this doozy: Wonder Woman’s losing her 70-year-old origin of being a clay statue of a baby sculpted by her mother (Queen Hippolyta of the all-female Amazons) and magically brought to life by the Greek gods. Instead, she now has a biological father, Zeus, who she’ll have “issues” with.

Can’t say I think much of this change at all; if anything, it’s probably one of the dumbest superhero comic retcons I’ve heard. To delve into my reasons against this origin rewrite:

  • Yes, in actual Greek mythology, Zeus is quite, well, sleazy/awful, but I’d rather not see Wonder Woman’s origin possibly become “the result of Zeus raping Hippolyta.” The fact that DC has no problem with having their superhero characters involved in stories centering around rape (“Identity Crisis”) makes me particularly wary.
  • Wonder Woman’s origin is already one of the most unique in comics, and losing it to such a generic idea as this seems a shame.
  • If her origin really *is* “Zeus rapes Hippolyta” (or even a somewhat-more-benign “Zeus has a consensual one-night stand with Hippolyta”), it doesn’t seem very kid-friendly or new-reader-friendly, especially given the point of this reboot’s to get new readers on board.
  • I don’t see a need for a male presence involved in Diana’s origins (save maybe Hermes/Mercury showing up to grant her his gift of super-speed, as shown in some origin retellings). If anything, it seems to take away from the appeal (and originality) of the unusual-but-entertaining circumstances of her birth, plus its feminist aspects.
  • I wonder if Wondy’s old origin going by the wayside is for the same reasons as other older DC elements (such as Aquaman actually communicating with fish versus merely commanding them) being ditched, to seem less “cartoonish”/”silly” and more “dramatic”/”realistic.” Not sure how one makes a woman who can likely throw a Buick into low Earth orbit “realistic,” however…
  • As some online (such as DC Women Kicking Ass and others) have noted, this probably raises some gender/sexual orientation issues. For starters, Diana has never needed “daddy issues” in her entire existence to make her an interesting character. Moreso, given the rising number of single-parent households or families headed by same-sex parents, Wonder Woman was *already* relevant to today’s world—she was born to, and raised by, an all-female family! If anything, these elements could’ve been played up more for future plot ideas (maybe Hippolyta could’ve had a wife?), which would’ve been more interesting than “Diana vs. Zeus.”
  • Diana’s already grappled with members of the Greco-Roman deities for decades, particularly her long-time nemesis Mars/Ares (the Roman/Greek god of war). Not sure how making her Mars/Ares’ half-brother will make things more interesting.
  • “Zeus as a Wonder Woman Family member’s parent” has already been done a few years ago—when Zeus was shown as the father of the current Wonder Girl, Cassie Sandsmark.

The above said, I will acknowledge that Wonder Woman, more than Superman or Batman, has been messed with eight ways to Sunday (and back). The changes made to Wonder Woman over the decades have been often drastic, with changes including her mother’s name’s spelling (“Hippolyta,” “Hippolyte”) and hair color (black in the Golden and Modern Ages, blonde in the Silver Age); whether Diana was ever a founding member of the JLA and/or JSA; her supporting cast; the extent of her powers; and most infamously of all, whether Wonder Woman even *has* powers (as seen in the early 70s’ “Diana Prince” stories). I suspect this might be the result of Wonder Woman having had a heavily rotating group of writers over the years, other than her Golden Age stories, George Perez’s run, and possibly Robert Kanigher’s run during the Silver Age.

Still, if DC’s looking to make Wonder Woman more new-reader friendly and raise her profile in the DCU (and to the public as a whole), I don’t think an ill-conceived (and dumb) plot idea as “Zeus is Wondy’s father” is the way. Perhaps Wonder Woman would do a lot better if she had more visibility in terms of promotion—more Wonder Woman direct-to-DVD animated films? Or her own animated series, if Time-Warner can overcome its knee-jerk “churn out yet another Batman cartoon/movie” mentality long enough? Or actually do more to get her comic out to the public via Wal-Mart, bookstores, etc., and make sure it appeals to all-ages (not just a Johnny DC style kids comic or something seemingly aimed at creepy, emotionally-stunted adults)?

Anthony Dean

Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.

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