[Katie Noble | Entertainment Editor]
Earth One is a new Wonder Woman origins story written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Yanick Paquette. I will admit that I haven’t ever read any Wonder Woman comics. Earth One was my first foray into the world of Diana and her Amazonian sisters. However, I am aware of what Wonder Woman stands for; she’s an image of female power in the significantly patriarchal world of superheroes. Unfortunately, you could totally miss this when reading Earth One.
The Feminist Bandwagon.
It is clear throughout that Earth One is trying to jump on the feminist comic bandwagon. And it’s treated like a bandwagon, there is no real thought here, and the comic is rife with heavy-handed and problematic plot devices. Feminism is actually mentioned: Beth Candy (basically Fat Amy), refers to Amazonia as a feminist utopia. Of course, a feminist utopia would be a world with equality between the sexes, and although this cannot really be compared to an eternal race of only females, it definitely shouldn’t be compared to an angry raving group of body-shaming misandrists. Which is how the Amazons are portrayed in this book.
Don’t get me wrong; I totally love that Beth calls Mala out but damn, there is a lot of body-shaming in this book, and I really can’t look past it. Any reference to a non-Amazonian woman is a negative one. The Amazonians look down other women as weak, having let themselves be ‘dominated’ by patriarchy. How is this a feminist outlook? It may be true that problematic characters don’t necessarily make a problematic book, but when the vast majority of female characters (and the ones that have power) are arseholes, what are young readers meant to think? That being a powerful woman means bringing down other women? I don’t think so.
Diversity…. Um, jk.
If you’re unaware, within this Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor is reimagined as a black man. Cool, I have no issue with that. However, I did begin to have an issue when this happened:
Yep, the white woman pulled out a BDSM-style slave collar and asked the black man to get on his knees. Come on now, really? And there was no backlash from this whatsoever, the next panel just moved into a completely new dialogue between Diana and Beth. It isn’t even addressed, which is ridiculous, considering the fact that in the comic, Steve cites black people’s history of slavery as the reason that he is helping Diana. So, writers, you want to bring a seriously base-level discussion of slavery into the conversation, but you don’t want to talk about the white woman making the black man wear a freaking slave collar? And why are we even attempting to compare the brief capture of a superhuman god-like race to the legacy of slavery?
Totes Sexy Lesbians.
I’m all for a bisexual Diana; she’s pretty awesome. However, there is this really uncomfortable ‘hyper-sexual lesbian’ trope all through this book. BDSM elements are used by the Amazonians to show love and submission, which again is fine, but nearly every mention of this is shadowed by creepy sexual poses and face-pulling. It’s brought completely outside of its ‘cultural’ context and placed into a space that is undeniably sexual.
Notice how Diana is simply observing here but her body is bent in such a way that is sexually suggestible? Why is everyone sticking their arse out?
This is also apparent in more ‘everyday’ tasks such as when Diana is piloting a plane… I shouldn’t even need to spell out why this is inappropriate.
So yeah, this book wasn’t for me. It’s marketed as a jumping-off point for those who haven’t read Wonder Woman before but I would argue that it completely skews everything Wonder Woman stands for and represents. It’s also definitely something to miss if you’re looking for a feminist comic. This is how it can go wrong when a man tries to write a comic that is 100 per cent about women – be warned.
Images: DC Comics