My take on the Evil Amazons

April 8th, 2012 by |

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.

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12 comments to “My take on the Evil Amazons”

  1. Don’t they kind explain away the knowledge with the fact that they do their ‘hunting’ 3 times a century and Diana is younger than 33. So there would be no place to bring that up. Also the book to this point has been about how everything she has been told is a lie.

  2. @Rick: But there would have been children growing up at the same time as she was. They all would have been of the same age. They all would have been girls. And she was under the impression, I thought, that Amazons didn’t have sex, which is why it was such a scandal that her mother had had her with Zeus.

  3. So how does Aquaman feel about the reveal of who been dumping baby males into his sea?

  4. I think that one of the challenges of writing Wonder Woman is keeping the character unique – even compared to her Amazonian sisters. Making the Amazons evil however goes too far, in my opinion. Maybe poor judgment would be a better way of differentiating them. Maybe a lack of perspective would be better. Making them generational murderers… Is just too horrible. There’s no possibility for redemption.

  5. What’s even dumber about this whole set-up is the Amazonian population can only regress with that type of system. They only go out once a generation, have sex ONCE, give up the male children… I mean there’s no guarantee that you can get pregnant if you’re not wearing a rubber, unless the Amazons have super-fertility powers or something. And then they’d be giving up roughly half of their children. And then there’s the complications with child birth, disease, accidents…
    The only way the population can sustain itself is if Amazons having twins or triplets is the norm.

  6. @Joe H: Yes, that is a guarantee of extinction. Which, considering, would be a good thing.

  7. There are a dozen logistical reasons why the “thrice a century rape fest” story doesn’t work, which makes me hopeful that the story, as told by Hephaestus, is exaggerated or even incorrect.

    Also, it should be pointed out that the Amazons DID find a way to not kill their male offspring, which seriously cuts down on their monstrousness. If Hephaestus weren’t available to sell their males to, what would they have done? Hard to say, but I bet it was the Amazons who contacted Hephaestus in the first place (“Hey Festus, we got a shipment of baby boys we’re trying to move, you interested?”), which would mean they would have figured something else out if they had to.

  8. I wasn’t too offended by this because of a couple subtle things. It appears to be more of a corrupt societal way than something that all amazons loyally give into without second thought. For one, Diana didn’t know about it, which means nobody else her age knows about it until it’s their turn to do it. Also, there’s a panel that shows one of the sons being taken away from an amazon as she desperately reaches out because boy or not, it’s HER CHILD.

    It hits me as a giant terrible flaw in the amazon way and not something that defines the people. The more I look at it, the more I see Wonder Woman as the Captain America of Paradise Island, representing the best of what they have to offer while denouncing and being better than all the terrible shit that’s gone on.

  9. It’s one thing to thing to be the best of a group of fairly average or even very good people. It’s another to be the only good one out of an entire civilization. It effectively turns the Amazons into supervillains, because this time around there’s no reason why Superman, or Aquaman and a GL wouldn’t notice this time and come to the rescue.

    And honestly just because Diana doesn’t know doesn’t mean no one her age doesn’t. She has been off the island for about five years after all. It seems strange to me they’d decide to only do it when an Amazon is in her early 30s.

    Plus only going out once means maybe Hippolyta just made a poor choice. The Amazons could have been turned into stone and snakes because the guy she went with was sterile instead of her.

  10. There are probably many legitimate reasons to be bothered by these developments, but nitpicking their logistics in the most purposefully mythological of DC’s fictitious books of superpowered beings seems, to me, pretty silly.

    And while Esther doesn’t really seem to be a fan of noir in her superhero books, I’m also not really sure I understand why that means this book doesn’t have “energy.” This is easily the most interesting Wonder Woman’s been to me since… Well, ever, maybe. I’m wary of all the HGGH GRIMDARK stuff too, but this book hasn’t quite struck that chord with me yet.

  11. Also, I’m beginning to wonder if the constant fan outcry over creative decisions like this doesn’t have something to do with the reputation Wonder Woman has for being a difficult character to get right, but hey.

  12. The logistics matter because the situation is Amazons venturing forth from their timeless magical world, into the world of Western civilization. The Amazons seducing then killing a boat full of men, and leaving no witnesses (?), was possible 2000 years ago. But it wouldn’t have been possible in the past century, so I smell a rat.

    In other words, it works as fiction or as ancient history, but not anything like recent history.