Note: This review contains descriptions and images of things from this book that include (but are not limited to): Nazis, sexual assault, the whole MRA and negging plots Morrison writes and Paquette illustrates, and all the misogyny that really has no place in a Wonder Woman Book
If you thought that two years would lead Wonder Woman: Earth One creators Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette to figure out that maybe their approach to a reimagined version of Wonder Woman in the previous volume wasn’t acceptable and was in fact frankly misogynistic, well… you’d be wrong.
I talked about all of the issues in the previous volume two years ago (including a comment where I described Paquette as having a “Greg Land-esque art style, incredibly sexualized”), but there’s literally no sign of growth or an awareness of what feminism actually is in the second volume of DC’s Wonder Woman: Earth One series.
It isn’t that there are zero men that can work on Wonder Woman well and in a way that aligns with the evolving concepts of feminism in our world. I can name a bunch of guys , some of whom have already worked on Wondy’s books, that get that women aren’t a “one-size fits all” being to be smushed into a shaky and single-minded idea of what feminism is and what feminists are like.
It’s that for all that Morrison and Paquette probably even call themselves feminists on some level and like some women, their work on Wonder Woman tends to an uncomfortable set of repeated issues with women, female characters, and intersectional issues.
DC has women working for them. They did even when they were first tossing around the idea of introducing Wonder Woman to the Earth One line of comics. And they chose no women. No women on a comic for the most famous female character this side of the world.
Not on the writing (Grant Morrison, again).
Or the art and cover (Yanick Paquette, again).
Or the colors (Nathan Fairbairn).
Or the letters (Todd Klein).
How is that possible?
How is it possible to go backwards all the way to 1940-whatever when William Moulton Marston first created the character. This book came out in 2018 and yet, it’s creative crew has the same gender makeup of a comic older than my mom?
The summary for this second volume of Wonder Woman: Earth One is as follows:
For years, Diana of Paradise Island yearned to leave the only home she knew behind for adventures that laid beyond its shores. Now, after a fateful meeting with Air Force pilot Steve Trevor, the Amazon Warrior finds herself in Man’s World. And she is ready for anything that it may throw at her.
But is the world ready for Wonder Woman? An American government, fraught with dissension and conflicts foreign to Diana, has deemed her a danger to society. How will Wonder Woman carry out her mission of peace and love in a world that can’t get out of its own way? That is, unless there are more insidious forces at play…
Not exactly the most illuminating synopsis, but whatever.
Let’s talk about how WW:EO Volume 2 opens with a sexy Nazi.
The nazi that shows up (with Paquette’s typical and unnecessary Land-ish sexy-face) is wearing thigh high, high-heeled boots, leather pants that stop a few inches under her breasts, and a rakishly undone white shirt that shows off her cleavage to full-effect. It’s like Paquette and Morrison couldn’t imagine a world where they presented an evil woman as anything other than an object of desire.
Not only is the sexy Nazi (Paula Von Gunther AKA the Uberfraulein) not killed in the conflict, but the opening of the book has her being taken on to be converted into someone that no longer needs conflict. It literally rewrites her mind so that she’s… obedient.
First of all, the only good Nazi is a dead one.
Second of all, this feels like it’s just a way for Morrison/Paquette to get their femdom fantasies on the page in a canonical Wonder Woman book.
It’s gross, it’s creepy, and it doesn’t work (considering that, spoiler alert, she kills Hippolyta near the end of the book because “men made her” more or less).
The female Nazi is given the Venus Girdle, a tool of the amazons that “charges every body cell with vitalizing currents and harmonizes the brain, encouraging obedience”. Once it’s on, Paula the Uberfraulein goes through a literal change of heart, telling Hippolyta that:
“My Nazi ideals – slipping away – they – they don’t make any sense now… I thought – I thought I was strong. What’s wrong with me? I’m so weak – I must be weak to wish to serve weak, cruel men – like Herr Hitler – I – I –”
And she appears to turn to the side of the Amazons especially once Hippolyta is all “we can find you a loving mistress that will enslave you properly once you’re done with Improvement Island”. (But again, this fails seventy ish years later.) She also develops a major thirst for Diana and that’s… ugh.
First of all, this acts like women weren’t (and aren’t) eager agents of Nazism and white supremacy because they just hate people of color.
It is a fact that white women have always been active and eager participants in atrocities that allow them to maintain their position in the status quo. The crimes of female Nazis, colonizers, and slave mistresses are documented in detail in the work of historians. They were complicit or active participants in atrocities and for the most part, did not (and do not) overwhelmingly turn against the patriarchy to fight for marginalized women.
To show up and frame this female Nazi, even for a short while, as a victim of the patriarchy instead of a tool of white supremacy is… peak white dude writer and it shows that some people really need to learn their history.
Next, WWEO skips forward a few years to a room full of men trying to figure out the best way to get through to the Amazons who they see as a source of information about the Orgone relationship that the US has yet to harness: Doctor Psycho, a supposed expert in female psychology who is really just one of those pick-up artists that thinks telling a woman how fat and emotional she is is like… the best way to get in her pants, who says “She may be strong and tough and smart and beautiful… but she’s just a woman. I never met one I couldn’t break.”
Want to bet money this will be Hercules 2.0?
Instead of images of men undergoing loving submission to dominant women, we’ll be subject to more of the same: sexualizes images of women subjugated by men who think they own these women.
One of the biggest problems with Wonder Woman: Earth One as a series is that the men working on the book have no idea what feminism really is or what it can be.
Instead of an honest, intersectional, and introspective look at what a world run by women who have NO experience with the horrors of western civilization (imperialism, racism, antiblackness, transmisogyny, and the like), they just… replace the capital-P patriarchy with an “M” and don’t apply any nuance to well… any of it.
It’s like The Courtship of Princess Leia only… worse because the thin veneer of “this is for feminists/empowered women” wore off quickly in the previous volume.
Morrison and Paquette also seriously don’t seem to understand the history of feminism in the US. Namely that there was feminism before Wonder Woman and there’ll be feminists long after her last comic has faded to worm-eaten ash in in the aftermath of whatever apocalypse we bring upon ourselves.
So Wonder Woman here plays the part of the ultimate white lady savior: she’s framed as responsible for giving women the room to have louder voices and fight back against the patriarchy.
Except… there’s literally no way that she can be?
Or should be.
Wonder Woman Earth One is supposed to be feminist. It’s supposed to be a positive portrayal of womanhood and feminism that would be a worthwhile successor to Marston’s original work and the message of Wonder Woman itself.
What it actually is?
A series about how women are weak as a fact of nature.
The Amazons are literally awful people. Not just from all of the fat-shaming and frankly dehumanizing language they use to talk about mortal women, but in their view of the best way to “manage” humanity is to… rewrite and enslave them.
To remove what makes them individuals and turn them into supposedly willing slaves for the Amazons.
(Again, white people with literally ZERO understanding of how traumatic and unacceptable slavery was and STILL IS should really stop trying to make it into something that heroes do and that the narrative doesn’t find flat out abhorrent.)
But then there’s the other thing: that men are one of the Amazon’s main weaknesses. Both volumes of the series show Diana and her mother as being weak to men. Hercules enslaves, rapes, and impregnates Hippolyta in the first volume and Diana’s weakness for a good man is first seen in the racebent Steve Trevor in the first volume and then with Doctor Psycho (who probably isn’t even a real doctor…) pretending to be one in the second.
WWEO constantly portrays Diana as too naïve to know what she’s doing and the other Amazons as too cruel and set in their man-hating ways to effect change. The most powerful women in the world are literally too useless – because of their ~emotions~ – to do anything and change the world in a meaningful way.
That’s literally how the dudes in charge portray them.
There’s literally a series of pages (about 4) where Doctor Psycho basically mansplains like… life at Diana as she listens eagerly.
What the entire fuck?
And at one point, we see him literally call other dudes “losers, cucks, and gamma dudes” while talking about how all women are the same. And considering how Morrison and Paquette have portrayed women throughout this series so far? You know… all the same?
Do Morrison and Paquette think this is like… actually embodying the spirit of Wonder Woman?
By “evolving” Doctor Psycho into an PUA who gets to win (even for a little bit) and who dismisses a childish Diana who explicitly is portrayed as someone that wouldn’t last a day in the real world if not for the buffer of her beauty and assumed whiteness?
What is the point of this Earth One series?
I’ve read the Superman and Batman books in this line. I even enjoyed them.
Neither series goes to the lengths that Wonder Woman: Earth One does to diminish the main character and make reading about their adventures actively unworthwhile and painful. While both Superman and Batman are finding their footing in a world thoroughly unprepared to deal with their existence, neither is actively robbed of their humanity and subject to public and private humiliations as a facet of their identities.
At one point, Diana goes full “Lifetime Movie Heroine”, fighting back against her friends who points out that DP/Zeiko has changed her and basically pulling the “you’re just complaining because you’re jealous” routine at them…
Before the next page shows her being all sexy and svelte as Zeiko prepares to shoot at her on a target range and complaining about how her friends don’t get her/how Zeiko is just amazing and blah blah blah.
I’ve put up with a lot from Morrison (and a lot less from Paquette) but like… what even is this shit?
There’s literally a page or two where Zeiko is literally tempted by Diana and “has” to kiss her. He has to fall for her.
She’s a temptress… but also framed as a giant child that needs a man to guide her?
What the hell, Morrison and Paquette?
Did you take your cues from the folks that originally translated the Iliad and Odyssey?
Because that’s how good y’all did when it comes to portraying women.
I mean, really?
Then Diana, who doesn’t “get” marriage, decides to lay a sensual smackdown on this supposedly married dude because he doesn’t kiss her well enough? Like one thing Diana has always done is respect other women and having her fling herself at that scruffy wreck of a man without even considering his wife is… weird and another way that the dudes in charge show that they don’t get Diana.
The whole Zeiko/Doctor Psycho plot (that really is a build up to the Ares plot they’re going to try and slog through in the third volume they don’t deserve) is a hot mess of manipulation and MRA mischief that only serve to show us that Morrison and Paquette don’t get women.
That they don’t get Wonder Woman. And that they definitely don’t get what Marston would’ve wanted, the logical evolution of his ideal world, or feminism from the forties.
I kept pausing my read through of WWEO to shudder and mutter nasty things about men. As someone with like eight brothers, I don’t usually do that. But this book? It makes me rage beyond belief. It makes me feel sick to see Morrison and Paquette replay hateful and frankly gross portrayals of womanhood in their book to try and claim that they’re doing this for feminists.
Also: while there are queer women in this world, they’re presented via objectifying and male gaze-oriented ways. One page, involving Hippolyta and Nubia (who was her daughter/Diana’s sister in previous comics) literally ends with Paula the Uberfraulein being led around on a leash like a sexy pet.
Lovingly rendered images of Diana bound by Zeiko and subject to humiliation (again, I called it like 1300 words ago) aren’t feminist.
The way Morrison writes Diana and other Amazons and how Paquette draws them aren’t feminist.
Nothing about this book is even vaguely close to an intersectional view of feminism.
And they need to just… stop.
At the end of the day, it’s obvious that the main goal of this second volume of Wonder Woman: Earth One is to remind us that men (justifiably, apparently) think women are weak and easily manipulated beings who can’t figure out how to do the right thing on their own.
Reading this book as a non-dude comic fan, I felt flat out disgusted. I felt, once again, alienated from a property that should be welcoming to me. In this second volume of Wonder Woman: Earth One, Morrison and Paquette have done a story that’s more about men winning and women suffering for how weak they are than anything else.
And fuck them for it, honestly.