“Be glad of your many sisters”; the insular and the exceptional in Wonder Woman: The Circle

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A couple of months ago, I reached out to Osvaldo Oyola of The Middle Spaces about the possibility of a collaboration. After many edits and drafts, I’m proud to display the introduction of the finished article on Gail Simone and the Dodson’s Wonder Woman: The Circle, the full version of which can be found on his site.

In both publication and fiction, Wonder Woman’s creation is unique.

In 1941, following an interview in The Family Circle expressing the untapped “great educational potential“ of comic books, psychologist, feminist and polygamist W.M. Marston, along with artist, Harry Peter, established the iconic superheroine (assisted by Marston’s wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston and the pair’s mutual lover Olive Byrne) in All-Star Comics #8. Yet despite the bold declaration Wonder Woman’s first appearance made against a male-dominated genre, the development of her character’s fictional origins are quite staggered. Within All-Star Comics #8, she is simply the Amazon’s Princess, unique by hierarchy but not biology. In Wonder Woman #1 (June 1942) her origin of being born from clay was introduced, but it was not until Wonder Woman #105 (1958) that her powers were depicted as a blessing from the gods. A more cohesive origin was granted by George Pérez in Wonder Woman #1 (vol. 2, 1987), solidifying the origins of both Wonder Woman and her Amazonian society. That is, until her clay origins were eradicated completely in DC Comics’ 2011 company-wide New 52 Reboot. All this is to demonstrate few heroes have had their minutiae reworked as much as Wonder Woman (including a brief stint without powers or a superhero identity, just a woman in white pantsuit who know karate). These reconstructions are important for a character as symbolic as Wonder Woman. They show how she has alternate been made to fall in line with or resist patriarchal notions power and legitimacy. She is emblematic of the unique and radical concepts her all-female Amazonian society embodies, but her origins also mark her as separate from it. Through her immaculate conception at the behest of exclusively women, Diana is both “of” women and “distinct from” ordinary women. She is both “Woman” and “Wonder” incarnate. Most superhero origins occur within the lead character’s life. Generally, they begin as ordinary people, but then through accident (Spider-Man), or puberty (Superman), or destiny (Captain Britain), they become something extraordinary. But for Wonder Woman, her origin comes not only from birth, but from the very act of birth itself. Her mere existence is miraculous.

Again, the rest can be read on Oyola’s site The Middle Spaces

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