Right after Thanksgiving, Molly Jane Kremer reposted an article on TheMarySue (originally posted on DoomRocket) entitled “The New Creative Team on New 52 Wonder Woman Turns the Comic into an Utter (Sexist) Disappointment” (Thursday, November 27, 2014). Since I didn’t consider issue 36, “War Torn,” to be sexist, I thought the creative work deserved some defending and to call out some of Kremer’s finger wagging by applying my Voldemort Axioms.
Brian Azzarello writes a gripping story in The New 52! “Wonder Woman,” issues 1 to 35, which are beautifully drawn by Cliff Chiang (and other artists†). The new creative team includes a freshman writer Meredith Finch and her husband, David Finch, as the artist. The story didn’t peak my interest, but I do remember admiring David’s art work and the coloring by Sonia Oback. In Kremer’s article she points to comments made by the Finches as “ignorant,” Meredith’s “moody” story, and the “lechery” in David’s drawings among the book’s flagrant sexist sins. But Kremer’s critique makes me wonder if she’s just looking for someone to browbeat.
Ignorant & Lecherous
“… I’m really very visually attracted to Wonder Woman. She just looks great on the page.”
Out of context, this might sound creepy, but David is an artist and that’s the context in which he’s speaking. As a creative person, I would think Kremer could identify with the language and perceptions of a creative mind. Creators love to have great subject material and Wonder Woman is that for David. It’s like if you were given the option to write a Wonder Woman story or a story about a dog named Spot.
Kremer links to the full interview but makes no further explanation as to why this quote is a gaffe on David’s part. She simply leads the audience to believe he is some sort of lech.
Throughout the CBR interview with the Finches, there is a pattern in the way they refer to Wonder Woman:
- “a person”
- “a human being”
- “a quintessential superhero”
- “has a lot of character”
- “courage of her convictions”
- “willing to take a flying leap”
- “a female icon”
- “a beautiful, strong character”
They admire and respect her. These are not the perspectives you’d hear from sexists. When people ask, “How do you write a female protagonist?” we answer, “like a human being.” The Finches goal is to do this and yet Kremer calls them sexist.
The first five pages of issue 36 are a transition from Azzarello and Chiang’s storyline (issues 1 to 35) to the Finches’. Kremer, a long time comic reader, doesn’t make the connection or appreciate the poetry, describing the shower scene as “inexplicable” and “lecherous.” Visually, there could not be a more tasteful shower scene that is obviously not about Wonder Woman being naked but being covered in blood from the literal blood bath of the god-level battles she lived through in Azzarello and Chiang’s series.
To Kremer, David Finch draws Diana like a “petulant teenager.” That’s subjective and Kremer has a valid right to it but David doesn’t single Wonder Woman out. All the (unmasked) heroes are drawn the same. If you compare Wonder Woman to Superman and Aquaman they all have the same expression. The guys look like brooding, Calvin Klein teen models. This is called style, not sexism, and is consistent throughout the issue.
Help from the Justice League
Kremer is correct that no one from the Justice League swoops in to assist Wonder Woman in the Azzarello and Chiang story line, but Wonder Woman rarely fights alone either. From the beginning of the A & C series, one or more Olympian gods fight beside Diana and even rescue her‡. It’s impossible to tell how involved the Justice League will be in the Finches’ series and it could be a valid issue but, Wonder Woman does seem to have her own set of convictions in the Meredith Finch plot.
On the surface, Diana’s agency in the A & C series is to rescue an innocent child, Zeke, and come into her own as queen of the Amazons by allowing men (Zeke) on Paradise Island. These are all symbols of her convictions: justice, defense of the innocent, and equality (feminism). This theme is carried over by Meredith Finch and is represented by the teddy bear.
The Teddy Bear Explanation
On the plane with Aquaman, Diana is holding a teddy bear (issue 36, page 17), which Kremer calls the further “infantilization” of Wonder Woman and that there is no discernable explanation of where the teddy bear came from and why Diana has it.
The teddy bear appears on page two in the clutches of a child that’s about to drown and on page ten where Diana is viewing the aftermath of the flood. After Diana goes to Thailand to investigate the flood, the conclusion would be that she found the child’s teddy bear there.
The teddy bear is a symbol of Wonder Woman’s convictions. She fought petulant and demented gods in the A & C series to defend the innocent and for the rights of the disenfranchised. This is Diana’s human side and what makes her exceptional among the heroes; she sees the victims and is angry for them (issue 36, page 7). She is their champion.
Yes, Meredith Finch is a new writer in the industry. And… she’s a woman! SUPPORT HER! Give her some constructive feedback. She’s made it into the industry and we need her there.
If you can’t tell, Kremer’s article really got under my skin. It was unjust and malicious and there’s no real basis for it. Each of her issues are so easily refutable you have to wonder if there is some other agenda involved. To stamp the Finches’ with a scarlet ‘S’ Kremer did a sloppy review where she was primed to be offended.
I’ll Give You A Topic
If Wonder Woman is drawn with large breasts, does that make the artist sexist? Only if the artist is a man? What if the man is a feminist?
Do large breasts appeal to the gay female gaze? Only if they’re drawn by a woman? What if the female artist is not a feminist? or gay
†Other artists include Tony Akins, Kano, Dan Green, Gordan Sudžuka, Amilcar Pinna, Jose Marzán, Jr., Matthew Wilson
‡Just to name a few issues, “Wonder Woman”, The New 52!:
#5, 6: In London, WW colludes with Hermes and Lennox to lock away Hera.
#8: WW needs Hermes to get her into the Underworld where he helps her defeat an army of undead souls.
#10: Strife rescues WW in the Underworld when Hades tries to consume her.
#11: The Scooby team is solidifying as Hermes, Lennox, and Zola join WW in their first encounter with Apollo and Artemis.
#12: The Scooby team fights again in Olympus where Hermes gives WW the ability to fly so she can save Zola.
#18: WW can’t match the speed of Hermes in battle. Orion swoops in and grabs WW out of Hermes’ clutches to escape.
#21: The Scooby gang now includes WW, Lennox, Hera, Zola, and Orion in their first encounter with The First Born and they all summarily get their butts kicked.
#23: War, with an army of soldiers-of-the-ages, joins WW to battle The First Born.
#26: In Chernobyl, WW, Hermes, Orion and Siracca fight Cassandra’s army where Siracca lands the final blow.
#28: Moon, Hermes, and WW face Cassandra’s army again.
#29: The First Born appears, subdues Hermes and Dio, and is on the verge of killing Moon and WW until Hera stops him.
The final battle spans the last 3 – 4 issues where everyone has a role to play.