Thoughts on JMS’ New Wonder Woman Direction

Today, DC released some major Wonder Woman news: a new costume designed by Jim Lee and a new direction for the series as J. Michael Straczynski takes over.

To sum up: Persons unknown have altered Wonder Woman’s history so that Paradise Island was wiped out 20 years ago. Diana has no memory of the original timeline, doesn’t have her full powers yet, and needs to survive, help other refugee Amazons, find out who destroyed Paradise Island and find out whether the timeline can be restored.

All-New, All-Different!

I’m always apprehensive when a new writer picks up an established character and the first thing he does is to remove some key element of the character. Like the Flash’s speed (Geoff Johns’ first Flash story, “Wonderland”). Or Superman’s flight (JMS’ first Superman arc, “Grounded”). I understand it might help the writer get inside the character’s head: what is he or she like without the powers? But it always feels like shoehorning some other idea onto the character. Why did you want to write the Flash if you didn’t want to write about a guy who runs fast?

That said, for all that DC is pushing this as a “new direction,” to me this description reads more like a major story arc. I mean, there’s an end point right there in the description: find out who did it and see if it’s possible to change things back. Given the timing of the comics themselves and the time-travel elements to the story, I suspect this is going to be linked to Flashpoint. [Update: Comics Alliance asked JMS about this and he said it’s not related.]

Retcon Fever

It’s worth comparing to Flash: Rebirth, actually. In both cases, someone within the fictional universe has gone back in time and altered the main character’s history. With Diana, we know before the first issue is out. With Barry Allen, only long-term readers knew anything had been changed to begin with. It wasn’t clear that there was an in-story explanation for it until the miniseries was almost over. Even then, the prospect of undoing the changes was only floated long enough to be dismissed as impossible.

Most importantly: changing Diana’s history drastically alters who she is today. That’s a story. Once you get past the doom-and-gloom Barry of Flash: Rebirth #1-3, the changes to his history don’t seem to have made much difference in the present.


12 thoughts on “Thoughts on JMS’ New Wonder Woman Direction

  1. collectededitions

    I really want to see DC update Wonder Woman’s origin now that she’s retroactively back having founded the Justice League. But I tend to think, like you, that this is a story arc or Flashpoint tie-in, and not a permanent change (and, I sooner think this will complicate the JLA founding, not add to it).

    And, unfortunately, I tend to think this is just what Wonder Woman doesn’t need right now. If DC wants to make a big splash with Wonder Woman, changing everything in a way that seems somewhat gimmicky isn’t the answer — the answer is demonstrating once and for all how Wonder Woman works the way she is, like they’ve done for Flash Barry Allen and Green Lantern Hal Jordan.

    If this turns out to be an arc and it’s all reset in the end, as time travel stories often are, that just cheapens Wonder Woman’s “rebirth” — anyone who came on for this arc would be left with a “fool me once” mindframe.

    Certainly, I hope it all turns out well.

    1. Kelson Post author

      Hmm, yeah, I can see it being taken as a bait-and-switch approach if they don’t stick to it, and throwing out the baby with the bathwater if they do. These things are never simple, are they?

    2. West3man

      Wow. Damned good point.

      If people really like the change and it sticks, I guess that’s that. But if they like it, which I assume is the goal, and it doesn’t stick, I could see a lot of unhappy people being turned off the character and/or the medium.

      Hm. Yeah, every way I look at it now, it seems quite a mistake. Yet, I’m still digging her new look. Hm… I wonder how similar,it is to that “Ultimate DC” Wonder Woman from Wizard magazine a few years, ago.

      If it wasn’t a challenge on this device, I’d Google it and try to provide a link.

      Got it (I hope):

  2. Kelson Post author

    I realized there’s a flaw in my Flashpoint theory: JMS left Thor because he didn’t want to get caught up in crossovers.

    On the other hand, it’s still possible that JMS said, “I want to do a story where Wonder Woman’s history gets rewritten by a time traveler” and DC said, “Not a problem. In fact, we’ve got a big time travel story coming up. We could tie them together” at which point JMS said, “Sure, as long as I don’t have to make any major changes on this side.”

  3. mbish

    I will certainly be getting this. I never read Wonder Woman before but this looks exciting. I don’t really want to touch on the issues of redesigning everything about a well established character like this because I am actually rather excited that I have to chance to begin wonder woman and not be tied up with… stuff (like it seems to me)

    I just want to say that this outfit is RAD! TOTALLY RAD! It’s kick-ass and pretty and damn I love it. (no really thought breaking comments here. its just brilliant)

  4. Fastest

    I know this is a Flash based forum, but can I just say that I have never purchased an issue of Wonder Woman before because I could not in my right mind support the character wearing that ridiculous costume. I know it’s supposed to be sexy to have a girl wearing just bikini briefs and nothing on her legs, but I really hate that about super-heroines (cough:newjessiequick:cough). In a world of flying men and catching bullets, being a strong symbol of feminism and walking around in underwear as a sex symbol was too unrealistic to me.

    And tomorrow, I will buy my first issue of Wonder Woman ever. Because she did the one thing I always wanted her to do: put on pants.

  5. Devin "The Flash" Johnson

    Loving the new redesign. Something tells me this might also be an experiment to see how fans may react to a different looking Wonder Woman in the possible film. A little test drive perhaps?

  6. Mark Engblom

    I wasn’t so much put off by the costume (it’ll be changed back in a year or so), as I was by JMS dumping on so many of the teams before him in several of his interviews. Never by name, of course, but the implication was that previous teams were far too short-sighted and fan-oriented to know what needed to be done to make Wonder Woman relevant and popular. This guy’s got one hell of a healthy ego.

    1. West3man

      What about that opinion seemed ego-driven, besides him expressing it? Was it that he aired that critique publicly, which might be perceived as professional discourtesy? If he didn’t mention names, …I dunno.

      1. Kelson Post author

        Well, JMS said it. Isn’t that enough? Everyone knows he has a huge ego, just like everyone knows that Grant Morrison is confusing!

        Of course I could have missed one, but in the interviews I’ve read, the closest* I’ve seen him come to “dumping on” previous creators is this:

        – Sales on Wonder Woman are low and falling.
        – Comics have become insular, targeting the same ever-shrinking audience rather than trying to bring in new readers.

        Fans and critics say the same things all the time, but since they’re not in a position to change it (other than by voting with their wallets), they don’t get called egotists for their trouble.

        *Not counting a crack about the 1960s “mod” look, but I doubt that’s what people are complaining about.

      2. Kelson Post author

        I should add that there are some things that I’ve thought were a bit off in JMS’ statements. For instance, Wonder Woman’s costume has been tweaked at least as much as Batman’s, and more than Superman’s, over the years (and I’m not counting Electric Blue Superman or Azrael Batman).

        Even so, what I see in those interviews is “Here’s why I think things didn’t work, and here’s what I’m going to do to try to make it work” — not “Everyone who wrote this book before me is a failure, but I’m going to save the book because I’m the great Straczynski.”

  7. Perplexio

    I almost started getting into WW when DC first brought the title back and for at least an issue or two featured Donna Troy as Wonder Woman instead of Diana. I’ve never been able to get into Diana as WW and being a fan of the The New Teen Titans/New Titans back in the 80s I was hoping that Donna’s stint as Wonder Woman would last a bit longer than it did… For that matter I’m hoping that DC drags out the Return of Bruce Wayne for quite awhile as I quite like Dick Grayson as Batman and I’m not in any rush to see Bruce’s return.


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