From Dirt to Divinity: Examining Azzarello’s ‘Wonder Woman’ Part 2

Hippolyta-makes-Diana-out-of-clay-Wonder Woman #2 This is the second of a multi-part examination of Brian Azzarello’s current run on “Wonder Woman.” It’s recommended that you go back and read the series from the beginning

SPOILERS for Wonder Woman #0-20 ahead.

From Dirt to Divinity

Wonder Woman #3 introduces us to Azzarello’s first major change to the Wonder Woman mythos: the revelation of Zeus as Diana’s father.

To say that this has been a controversial choice would be an understatement.

The basic argument against the change revolves around the assumption that a biological father somehow lessens Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman #2 birth of Diana by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang

I firmly reject this notion. There’s no reason to believe that a Wonder Woman with a biological father is a less perfect woman or feminist figure. Every real life feminist I know has a biological father.

Wonder Woman talks to Siracca

I actually think that this new twist is a good thing.

female glaze falls on a nude Zeus in Wonder Woman #3

Zeus and his, um, spear.

As a plot device, Diana’s revamped origin allows for a greater incorporation of Greek mythology into the series. From a feminist perspective, it literally escalates Wonder Woman’s importance from a superheroine to that of a goddess. That’s powerful stuff.

But it’s not all about Diana. In addition to opening up some exciting story telling opportunities, it also allows Azzarello to do some really interesting things with Hippolyta.

I absolutely love the way he handles Hippolyta and Zeus’s relationship as it’s framed entirely within the context of Hippolyta’s sexual agency and is soaked with a strong sense of the female gaze.

The Queen’s dominant role is also a wonderful nod to Golden Age Wonder Woman’s theme of “loving submission.”

Hippolyta sexually dominates Zeus in Wonder Woman #3 by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang

The sex scene in particular alludes to and subverts William Moulton Marston’s problematic belief that women (who he believed to be the superior sex) ought use their sexuality to control men. However, unlike Marston’s beliefs, the scene respects Hippolyta as both a woman and as an individual rather than objectifying her as an ideal, and provides an example of an egalitarian relationship between a man and a woman.

Next week, I’ll tackle the second controversial change to Diana’s backstory in Trained in the Ways of War!

1 Response to “From Dirt to Divinity: Examining Azzarello’s ‘Wonder Woman’ Part 2”

  1. 1 Malcolm September 10, 2014 at 1:36 am

    Hi Daniel, we met at Dragon Con. I voiced some concerns about the current run of Wonder Woman and you referred me to you blog. I thought I would throw in my two cents.

    I agree with you that having father does not diminish Diana as a person, however I am concerned by the loss Diana’s traditional female benefactors. Prior to the the reboot, Diana was granted life by Gaea and empowered by the Olympian goddesses (+plus Hermes). Now the power that makes her remarkable largely comes from her paternal line.

    Over the years I have seen a multitude of characters gain their exceptional abilities from their father; I can count on one hand the number of characters, be they male or female, who were empowered by their mothers. Diana may have gained a father, but she lost a part of her uniqueness.

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