The three big iconic foundational comic book superheros that every other superhero is a variation or refinement of are Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. The ultimate superhuman hero, the ultimate detective/physical elite hero and the ultimate female hero.
Not just the ultimate female hero, Wonder Woman is very specifically the ultimate expression of the feminine principal and ideal. She was created by an ardent male feminist and psychologist, the inventor of the lie detector William Moulton Marston with the pen name Charles Moulton.
Unambiguously Wonder Woman was the first attempt to create a comic book with more ambition than to break into the business or just make some money. Moulton came to the publisher with a fervent desire to use comic books and their awesome hold on the childish imagination to promote his beliefs in not just egalitarian feminism but feminist supremacy. Remember, these days a wildly successful comic might sell a few hundred thousand copies. In the 40s and 50s kids were buying literally MILLIONS of comic books every single month. It was a reasonable thing for an idiosyncratic, imaginative psychologist to view this as a huge opportunity to influence a whole generation of children
But Wonder Woman didn’t just promote feminism, peace and justice.
Among other things Moulton was kinky. He lived in a threesome with his wife and their girlfriend. Some of his ideas about dominance and submission sound like the kind of power exchange language of ethical kinksters today, and not to put to fine a point on it Golden Age Wonder Woman was kinky as hell.
Every single issue people are getting elaborately tied up, spanked, wrestled into loving submission, dressed in fetish deer costumes and hunted - and these were the hero and her friends! The bad guys usually just got a sock to the jaw or tied up in the golden lasso that forces honesty and submission on anyone tied in it. (!)
So in the last few years Superman and Batman have been repeatedly rebooted for a new age. Usually by returning to the character’s roots, Superman with less powers and Batman less constraints. When it comes to Wonder Woman the last two major reboots George Perez’s awesome take in the late 80’s and Brian Azzarello’s brilliant but problematic recent run return to her mythological roots. But nobody has ever tried returning her to her fetish roots.
Imagine a rebooted Wonder Woman that embraces Femdom. Bondage and fetish Wonder Woman. Strongly and unsubtly presented sapphic Wonder Woman.
The problem is that the character is captive to a corporate icon and the political implications of any portrayal of a character adopted by the feminist movement as a political icon. You could do a really stellar, strongly feminist and ideas based Wonder Woman comic - that was also kinky as hell - George Perez, a creator linked with her in the past is also involved in the super heroine costume fetish movement, I’d love to see his editorially unrestrained Wonder Woman.
Grant Morrison has been trying to do a Wonder Woman book true to her kinky roots for years and is supposedly finally coming out by the end of the year but expect it to be restrained when it comes to restraints. It’s now been shoe-horned into the Earth One continuity and will be released in the hardcover format that has been burning up the New York Time bestsellers list and has proved a cash cow for both DC and writers and artists. I suspect the prosepct of that kind of pay day may tone down Morrison’s ambitiously kinky plans.
The days of gimp masks, pet play and fetishized submission in Wonder Woman comics are probably over.
Reworked from a post at my own blog: