So it seems that there has been a development in the Wonder Woman continuity, and it’s even more of a surprise than Wonder Woman’s not-so-secret origin. It has put the internet in an uproar. On the off chance that you haven’t seen the spoilers, I’m putting in a cut.
Wonder Woman #7 brought a startling revelation to Wonder Woman continuity. Instead of being immortal warrior women, the Amazons were quietly replacing themselves by luring over sailors, having sex with them, killing them, keeping the baby girls, and selling the baby boys into unending slavery. . .
Some people have noted that it syncs up with the myths of the original Amazons. Others have noted that it takes a book full, literally full, of female characters and replaces nearly all of them with men. Both of these opinions are right. Neither is my major beef with it at this time. It’s not like this version of the Amazons has a chance of sticking around.
What this development really fits is the tropes of the noir genre. I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, what characterizes noir as a genre is the guarantee that every person (with the possible exception of the hero) will follow, or regress to, their own worst natures. The freedom-fighting politician will be cowed and corrupted. The dame who swears she loves you will go back to her rich husband. Your best buddy has been stabbing you in the back all this time. And, in the comic, the community of noble warrior women, free and untainted by the outside world, will, since its inception, have been enforcing rape, slavery, and deception. It exactly fits with the genre that Azzarello is writing.
It just makes me feel tired. Part of the fun of Wonder Woman so far has been the energy and intensity of the characters. Some of the continuity tweaks – like Wonder Woman being conceived as an epic intercontinental battle that ended in equally epic sex between Hippolyta and Zeus – kept up that energy. Now the entire thing seems to be collapsing towards the ‘everyone is the worst,’ style of characterization.
And that characterization is not limited to noir or Wonder Woman, and hasn’t been for a long time. The entire Marvel Ultimates series, Damian continuing to be a serial killer, La Dama (who in the first Blue Beetle series was just a tough and slightly corrupt businesswoman) owning a rug made from the hair of ritualistically blinded orphans (Seriously. That happens.), and even the Amazons have been made evil at least twice before in the last couple of years. At this point, writing about the triumph of someone’s better nature – traditionally the point of superheroes – would be far more extraordinary than another book of dark atrocities that we never would have imagined of our heroes.
It’s funny, but this extended influx of misery has ended up in a state of meta-noir. After reading about the latest girlfriend of Batman who got killed, the latest miserable event, and the latest Evil Amazons, I find myself as disaffected as the average noir hero (though with less grit and no five o’clock shadow). What’s the use in reading. It’s all gonna turn out badly anyway. Why get involved?
ETA: Perhaps sometime I’ll point out how Wonder Woman growing up on the island without ever knowing or even thinking about this is ridiculous. But anyone can pretty much realize why it is on their own.