Beating a Dead Horse

The editor who had allowed the final plunge into mediocrity of Wonder Woman, Alan Gold, edited The Legend of Wonder Woman, co-produced by Kurt Busiek and Trina Robbins. In effect, this series was a Golden Age version of Wonder Woman, a look back at the kind of Wonder Woman story Busiek and Robbins liked to read. It featured the typical Golden Age elements: female armies, chains, and so forth; but this time Steve was a lot more helpful and understanding, even self-sacrificing.

Confusingly, this wasn't the Golden Age WW. This one wore the new double-W logo, and her story was presented as a flashback of the Earth-One Wonder Woman, as Hippolyte and the Amazons prepared to move from Paradise Island following WW's death during the Crisis. But Diana hadn't died during the Crisis; there we had seen the Amazons and Paradise Island thrown back through time to start anew. Any Amazons who remained should have been the new, post-Crisis Amazons.

Basically, the series was just plain bad. It was Robbins's most uninspired art in years, and the storyline was too cutesy for words. When, at the end, Aphrodite took Hippolyte and the Amazons and placed them in the heavens as constellations in anticipation of the new DC reality, Wonder Woman fans were too tired to care.

Is it possible to come up with a Wonder Woman who doesn't change from year to year? Not without a strict editorial policy. Part of the problem is a self-fulfilling one. Wonder Woman has been through so many changes that everyone has a different vision of how Diana should be, including her writers, editors, and artists -- so when the creative staff prints their new, purified version of WW, it doesn't mesh with the readers' conception. Then other staffers are brought in with their new concepts, etc., etc.

Will the new Wonder Woman be the definitive one? Perhaps, for the new generation of comics readers, but certainly not for the older fans. Can the new version survive unchanged? We'll see.

This article was copyright 1986 Fantagraphics Books, Inc. and reprinted (sorry) without permission.

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