Diana Doesn’t Need a Misogynist Ally : Examining Azzarello’s ‘Wonder Woman’ Part 1

Wonder Woman #1 (2011) cover almost textlessIn the comments of my previous post about Wonder Woman’s feminist origins and how changes in the character often resulted from historical changes in the social role of women, several readers expressed an interest in my interpretation of Brian Azzarello’s controversial Wonder Woman series.

Well, I’m glad you asked.

Before I go any further, I should address the giant misogynist elephant in the room.

SPOILERS for the New 52’s Wonder Woman #0-20 from here on out.

Diana Doesn’t Need a Misogynist Ally

Orion is by far my biggest criticism of the series. I can’t think of a single redeeming quality about him or his presence in the series.

His constant sexual harassment and down right sexual assault is disrespectful, played for laughs, and takes far too long to be addressed. Thankfully, Diana finally addresses it in Wonder Woman #19.

Wonder Woman asks Orion, "I can live without your disrespect. Can you live without these?"Sadly, even this encounter is tainted by Diana and Orion’s gods awful kiss that precedes it. The kiss is demeaning, contributes nothing to the story, and seems to exist solely to appease DC’s WTF Month editorial mandate.

Orion sexualy assults Wonder Woman.

Orion sexualy assults Wonder Woman.

I understand what Azzarello is trying to do with Orion but he fails with it on ever concealable level. I acknowledge the need for characters with conflicting personalities but setting up a misogynist ally as a foil for a feminist icon and then playing it for laughs isn’t the way to go. It makes me seriously question Azzarello’s grasp on Diana’s character and the themes of Wonder Woman.

Now that we’ve got that particular bit of awful out of the way, next week I’ll be tackling Wonder Woman’s revamped origin in From Dirt to Divinity!

7 Responses to “Diana Doesn’t Need a Misogynist Ally : Examining Azzarello’s ‘Wonder Woman’ Part 1”

  1. 1 Slam Adams October 11, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Its played for laughs but not at the expense of Diana, but at the expense of Orion, who comes off as an antiquated fool. I’m probably just biased because I think the new 52 Wonder Woman is the best book DC is currently publishing but every criticism of it just sounds like “Diana is amazing, so everyone and everything should be amazing by extension.”

    • 2 Daniel Amrhein October 11, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      Thanks for commenting!

      Overall, l I really like Azzarello’s Wonder Woman (even if this post isn’t a great representation of that). It’s definitely one of DC’s best books (I’d rate it second to JH Williams III and W. Haden Blackman’s Batwoman). I have a lot more positive things to say about it that I’ll explore in subsequent posts.

      However, I disagree about Orion. He does come off as an antiquated tool to the morally upstanding reader, but Azzarello seems to go out of his way to justify Orion’s actions. For example, the story suggests that when Orion slaps Diana on the ass (i.e. sexually assaults her) it was OK because it allowed Orion to secretly collect a DNA sample which allowed him to later teleport in and save Diana’s life. So basically, the assault was Orion pulling a fast one on Diana “for her own good.” In this instance, WW is the butt of the joke rather than Orion who got to outsmart Diana AND play white knight all because he violated a woman.

      • 3 Slam Adams October 11, 2013 at 3:09 pm

        Just because he saved the day does not make it ok. Clearly, he could have held her hand or tapped her on the shoulder and gotten the DNA sample. But he’s a jerk, so he acts like a jerk. It would be weirder if he didn’t cop a feel. That’s just consistency of character. It is unfair to think that Azzarello thinks that its justifiable behavior. When reading a character with traits that can’t be empathized, it is unfair to assign them to the author (or more so in this case that he is an enabler of such behavior). Most times that are just creating jerk characters.

        • 4 Daniel Amrhein October 11, 2013 at 4:35 pm

          I didn’t mean to imply that you can automatically attribute undesirable traits of characters to their writer. I seriously doubt Azzarello actually thinks it’s 100% OK to slap women on their asses. I do, however, doubt he understands the seriousness of such an action since he created a scenario in which the act is downplayed.

          It’s also not fair to just claim that the assault is needed for character consistency. This was one of New 52 Orion’s first few appearances. Azzarello got to define this character and he consciously chose to have one of his early character defining acts to be sexually assaulting a feminist icon.

          I wouldn’t hate Orion as much if he was just suppose to be a jerk character but Azzarello seems to be steering him in the direction of becoming more sympathetic and important (e.g. showing his daddy issues during their recent trip to New Genesis, having him save WW more than any other character in the book, etc.).

          I hope he’s either meant as a dynamic character destined to see the error in his ways or that he really is just a jerk character who will fade in importance as the run progresses.

          • 5 Slam Adams October 12, 2013 at 11:57 am

            Characters deserving of hate are not the same as bad characters. This whole post basically says “Orion shouldn’t have done it, and how dare Azzarello even think of it.” But you are only half right, Orion shouldn’t have done it, but that’s precisely why Azzarello included it, I guarantee. Hate him! That is an appropriate response, but to claim he needs to be sanitized because his actions are beyond excuse in reality only serves to make fiction more boring.

            • 6 Daniel Amrhein October 17, 2013 at 9:22 pm

              I very much doubt that we’re going to come to a consensus on this particular issue but that’s OK. Overall, I like what Azzarello is doing in Wonder Woman so you’ll probably care more for most of my future posts in the series.

  1. 1 So you have a “woman problem”, now what? | Building Multiverses Trackback on October 23, 2013 at 2:21 am

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