Yesterday a promotional card for the Austin-based...
I’ve been posting all day about post-Marston Wonder Woman and that post goes into a pretty rich context when you look at my past several posts.
I do not support fat shaming. Nor do I support tall-skinny-shaming (there were two Wonder Women in that panel). And my comment shouldn’t be read that way. I’ve been trying to make a broader point all day about times when Wonder Woman was mistreated and humiliated by writers in the ’60s and ’70s. In my opinion it’s the writer who is trying to fat-shame there.
I hope it’s clear in the context of several other posts.
I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Grant Morrison (source may be NSFW)
By “pervy elements,” Morrison means the kinky themes of bondage and slavery, and the lesbian undertones of Paradise Island.
I must say, after reading Marston’s Wonder Woman I find it hard to get quite as interested in any other version. And I don’t think, in my case, it’s because of those “pervy” elements. Although I try not to be too judgmental of the bondage themes, they are there a lot, and it’s really not my thing.
So what keeps me coming back? First, a lot of unsung credit has to go to the whimsical and wildly imaginative art of H.G. Peter. His lines are clean and elegant, his Diana is dynamic and constantly in motion, and his designs are insanely original. He makes everything look innocent, energetic, and fun. He’s incredibly underrated.
Second, as one of the interviewees in the Wonder Women documentary put it, although there were other female superheroes at the time, Wonder Woman is the only one “who makes you feel good about yourself.” The ever-present core of Marston’s Wonder Woman is a message of empowerment, and specifically female empowerment. Wonder Woman exists, explicitly and implicitly, to make girls feel better about themselves. Yes, she’s obviously idealized, but it’s a very purposeful and relevant ideal. Even Marston’s bondage fetish, tied to the notion of “submission to loving authority,” is rooted in a logic of empowerment and betterment that goes beyond purely sexual kink. I never feel like dominance and power is the point, but rather kindness and peace.
Most of the time, anyway.
What Wonder Woman lost after Marston died was not only his unique and occasionally “pervy” bohemian worldview, but also that message of empowerment, independence, energy, imagination, and easy triumph over impossible obstacles. After Marston, and especially after Peter died in the ’50s, not only did her romantic interest in Steve Trevor become much more prominent, she also became a lot more stressed out, she worried a lot more and sometimes even despaired and cried. Her adventures in the ’50s and ’60s sometimes felt like chores. In short, she was a lot less fun.
When I read 1940s Wonder Woman, it’s full of both good and bad, or at least good and weird — thematic and artistic tensions and potential contradictions that the reader must reconcile — all wrapped up in a dizzyingly creative burst of enthusiasm and imagination.
It’s a reading experience like nothing else. And that’s why I love it.