ByBrad Barnes, writer at
Author of PEANUTS PIRATES PATRIOTS on Amazon Kindle, illustrator and screenwriter
Brad Barnes

Let us consider Wonder Woman (created in 1941) as easily the most popular super heroine ever created!

Without Superman (created in 1938), there simply would be no super heroes, so Superman is the inescapable foundation of the comic book industry.

Without Batman (created in 1939), there would be no bridge between the Bloody Pulps (The Shadow and his ilk) and comic books, so Batman made comic books accessible. That's why Batman is the best selling title at DC Comics, today!

Without the Joker (created in 1940), the modern serial killer (extrapolated from Jack The Ripper) would not have become a staple of modern fiction.

Sigmund Freud died in 1938, so the popular understanding of psychology did not permeate American culture until the 1960s, when [The Fantastic Four](movie:34667) ushered in the Marvel Age of Comics. DC Comics characters were created without benefit of psychology, they sprang from the Right Stuff that fueled the Greatest Generation of American Life. This WWII Generation might not have been empathic or reflective, but without them America would have never become a Superpower. Without Hiroshima and Nagasaki, America would still be scant more than a former British Colony.

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Superman reflects the raw power of America, Batman the can-do spirit of America, but, Wonder Woman?

Wonder Woman (created one year before America entered WWII) reflects that the American Dream was not built on the institutional fear of women of every great civilization before it. America is the first civilized country where women could own their own property without benefit of clergy, where a woman could live her entire life in comfort without being married to a man, which is a remarkable thing.

This is because America was still a frontier country when it entered WWII, women were left on their own devices to homestead, and their claims were protected by the rule of law. The American need to control new territory was greater than the instinct to maintain a patriarchy.

Wonder Woman reflected that America had, by necessity, shattered the glass ceiling by affording land ownership to women outside of marriage. Women were free at last to live their lives as they saw fit, and Wonder Woman embodied that exhilarating freedom.

I have written elsewhere why Wonder Woman does not translate well into movies. Basically, the Amazonian mythology created by William Moulton Marston fails to hold up to history or to scrutiny. Amazons are simply not logical in a narrative sense.

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But, like the exploding planet of Krypton for Superman, or the mean streets of Crime Alley for Batman, Paradise Island still serves as a primal touchstone for Wonder Woman and is ignored at her peril.

There is a reason that Gloria Steinam has always extolled the virtues of Wonder Woman as a feminist icon. Wonder Woman works because she was the first, and the first is never perfect but is always better than anything that comes after her. Wonder Woman radiates all that is perfect in femininity and has no equal in any other fiction.

But Wonder Woman is best understood in REFLECTION by another character, not by direct observation. Why this is might be mysterious, but consider that Wonder Woman's sidekick was Etta Candy (also created in 1941), a thick, chocolate-loving rabble rouser, everything that an Amazon was not. Even Marston understood that Wonder Woman was at her most vivid in stark contrast to a character like Etta Candy. The truth of Etta Candy might not be pretty, but without her, Wonder Woman has proven a less-durable character in the last half century.

Another reason is that [Wonder Woman](movie:45787)'s title has not embraced diversity.

Marvel Comics have embraced racial, sexual and cultural diversity, mostly within the pages of their X-Men titles, but throughout the rest of their comics line as well.

DC Comics have been less adventurous than Marvel in this area and Wonder Woman has suffered from this timidity in a multitude of ways.

Nubia, her twin sister introduced in 1973 in issues 204-206, could have proven as effective a partner for Wonder Woman in the last 40 years as Etta Candy was in her first quarter century but, alas, such was not to be.

But Nubia is the solution to making Wonder Woman accessible in the 21st century because she bluntly contrasts the Utopian Amazonian mythology with the harsh realities of Slaughter Island. Nubia is under the rule of Ares, as opposed to the benign rule of Aphrodite for the Amazons. Nubia's mother is also Hippolyta, which is just wild enough to work. Basically, Nubia is the bad girl that Wonder Woman could never hope to be, and that's a very good thing!

That's why Nubia makes the Wonder Woman possible, because she makes Wonder Woman relevant, relatable and vivid!


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