Saturday’s Wonder Woman Spotlight panel with Gail Simone, Aaron Lopresti, and Greg Rucka was one of the two I’d most been looking forward to (the other being the Kids and Comics panel later that day). Rucka and Simone began by talking about the challenges and rewards of working on Wonder Woman. For Simone, it’s writing her as a character with a message instead of a character who is a message. Rucka didn’t exactly disagree, but added that Wonder Woman is inherently political. She’s the only woman in DC’s big three characters and you can’t ignore that.
Simone built on that notion by saying that because Wonder Woman is the first female adventurer, she has a lot of weight on her shoulders. Characters like Xena and Buffy – any strong, female, adventure character you can think of today – are here because Wonder Woman paved the way. So while Wonder Woman may not have to be a feminist (an idea Rucka doesn’t accept), she does have to carry that weight of her historical importance. She has to be strong and keep up with DC’s male characters, while not just being written as a male in a woman’s body. She needs her own motivations and personality.
At that point, Lopresti joined the conversation by acknowledging Wonder Woman’s inherent attractiveness and sex-appeal, but arguing that you can make her attractive and athletic with dignity and without needing to “sex her up.”
Rucka jumped right on that. He said that it’s been so nice to have a string of artists who make Wonder Woman attractive not because of how she looks, but because of what she’s doing. He can put Simone and Lopresti’s Wonder Woman in front of his daughter and that’s a change from 10 years ago when Wonder Woman wore a thong and featured gratuitous shots of her crotch.
Simone and Rucka also talked about the love for Wonder Woman by her creators and their wanting to do right by her. Simone talked once again about how cooperative Rucka and other former Wonder Woman writers like George Perez and Phil Jiminez have been. Rucka agreed and claimed that – at least from his experience – there’s no other comics character for whom writers are so willing to put aside all other differences or agendas. He’s had writers not only not refuse to help him when he took over a series, but outright to their darnedest to break all the toys before he got to play with them.
But getting back to cooperative creators, Simone and Rucka both say that Phil Jimenez’s Wonder Woman Encyclopedia is going to be freaking awesome. I’m looking forward to it because as much as I love Wonder Woman now, I’m a recent fan and don’t know much about her history yet.
Speaking of Wonder Woman’s history, Rucka talked about his regrets for not using more of her classic villains and trying to find good angles on them. He stuck to just a couple of them before finally deciding to use Cheetah and discovering that he has a deep fondness for her. He wishes that he might have figured that out earlier so that he could have mined more of Wonder Woman’s history for interesting characters.
He still feels though – and Lopresti agrees – that Wonder Woman’s only got three or four really good, memorable villains before you get to Angle Man and the Condiment King. Maybe that’s why Simone thinks Wonder Woman’s villains need to be brought into modern times along with Wonder Woman herself. In order to do that, Simone is concentrating on adding to Wonder Woman’s mythology by creating new villains for her, like the being she calls “Wonder Woman’s Doomsday,” a being called Genocide who was created by a bunch of mad scientists from the soil at the sites of Earth’s worst genetic cleansings.
Another tease Simone was willing to give about upcoming events in the comic was that Wonder Woman’s going to lose something that she’s always had and is very dear to her. I’m officially guessing that it’s her lasso, but that’s all Simone would say about it. She also confirmed – as hinted at in DC Universe #0 – that there will be a new, male Wonder Woman. And that the gorilla knights will be around for a while. Simone is creating a whole new corner in the DCU for the character. As possible evidence of that, on the DC panel Friday, someone mentioned that Ethan Van Sciver is doing a Wonder Woman project with Gail, but that’s all anyone’s saying about it.
Next, Rucka and Simone talked for a while about Wonder Woman’s place in DC’s “trinity” of her, Superman, and Batman. Simone’s immediate response was that Wonder Woman is the tactician/strategist of the group. If you want to stop a war, she’s the one you call. She also brings extreme compassion to the group.
Rucka calls Wonder Woman a warrior/priest. He wasn’t necessarily contradicting Simone, but he emphasized that in addition to stopping a war, Wonder Woman will also go to war. She’s the complete soldier. She has honor and she acts on it. She also has a unique relationship with violence.
Batman’s relationship with violence of course is very personal. Superman can pretty much ignore the concept because he’s from Kansas and can’t be hurt. Wonder Woman however was raised with it. Rucka compared her to Special Forces guys saying that violence is just part of her and her culture. She doesn’t need to talk a lot about it or how badass she is.
Rucka is angry though about the lack of ramifications from Wonder Woman’s killing Maxwell Lord. He feels that DC swept that event under the rug with One Year Later and chose to run away from it. It bugs him because she killed a guy and that’s a huge deal. There’s a story to be told there that won’t be and I agree that it totally sucks. I loved where that was going and really wanted to see Rucka play it out, but that wasn’t in DC’s plans. In fact, according to Rucka, DC specifically instructed Wonder Woman’s next writers, Allan Heinberg and Jodi Picoult, not to deal with it.
Simone explained that DC hasn’t given her any mandates, but stressed that even though she hasn’t mentioned Lord’s murder yet in her run, she sees importance in acknowledging everything that came before her. Because of that, she’s thought about the killing and thinks Wonder Woman would see it as a failure. As a soldier, Wonder Woman would’ve preferred to handle Lord a different way.
As the panel wound down, someone asked Simone what it was like to be one of the first women to write the character. Simone said that she can’t write the character from that specific perspective, but her experiences growing up definitely shape her take on Wonder Woman and the kind of stories she wants to tell. As a kid, Simone disliked fairy tales where the princess always needed rescuing by a knight in shining armor. In Wonder Woman the princess is the knight in shining armor and that’s what makes her so cool.
Another fan asked how Rucka and Simone strike a balance between the Wonder and the Woman. In other words, how do they tell fantastic stories about Amazons and magic lassos while keeping the character grounded?
Rucka referred to an earlier comment of Simone’s and said that he likes her calling Wonder Woman an “adventurer.” With superhero comics, you’re writing adventure stories and Rucka feels that he was too talky in his run. He and Simone agreed that the trick is to really know the character and then tell the most exciting stories possible about her.