The main triad of DC Comics are two very easily definable, binary characters (Batman, the vengeful man with no powers, and Superman, the kindly man with godlike powers) and a chick. I feel writers have often struggled with defining Diana in that triad. Too often she comes across as the fierce, unsmiling virgin — the good girl, the Strong Female Character in the simple way that men often define strength (seriousness, grittiness). In clumsy hands, she comes off as harsh, lecturing, joyless. And Paradise Island? Really, that place doesn’t look like much fun.
I think the reality — as much as one can talk about reality with a made-up character — can be much more complex, and much more satisfying. My Diana is based more on modern figures like Beyoncé, who I love, because she is an idealised version of the woman I want to be — beautiful, graceful in her dealings with the public, incredibly talented, and somehow able to keep a handle on an extended family full of strong and difficult personalities. Diana knows who she is, knows what Instagram is, and has to manage her public personality as any female in the public eye must. She is kind and patient with her fans. She knows the fame game, and navigates it well (even though, privately, she may find it not much fun.)
(If I ever did a Diana series, in the first few pages she’d be walking in to the Justice League to work in the morning with a BFF, like Vixen, in skinny jeans, a jacket, and a t-shirt that says “Social Justice Amazon”… probably with a gift for the girl on reception — tickets to Into the Woods— because she knows it’s the girl’s birthday and Diana is nice like that.)
SHE IS CONSIDERATE, AND HER FEMINISM IS BROADER THAN WESTERN WHITE FEMINISM. When the preview of my Sensation story went viral on twitter, a couple people took me to task for having Wonder Woman wearing a hijab while doing rescue work in Pakistan. I was throwing women under the bus, I was not feminist, etc. I didn’t answer those people because that’s not an argument I wanted to get into in 140 char chunks… though I can summarise my views very succinctly: feminism is wearing whatever the hell you want, and supporting and respecting the choices of anyone who defines themselves as female to wear whatever the hell they want. Feminism isn’t slut-shaming. Feminism isn’t denigrating our muslimah sisters. Feminism isn’t telling modest girls or girls who like boy’s clothes that they need to dress more “attractively” to be successful. Feminism isn’t insulting a curvy girl for wearing a bikini or leggings or taking pride in her curves. Feminism isn’t shaming teen moms, or sex workers. I can go all day listing the isn’ts, but let’s focus on the is: feminism is supporting a woman to be however she wants to be.
Diana is also PRACTICAL, and gets the job done. She wants to save villagers from a flood in Pakistan? Damn straight she’s going to wear a hijab, because then the people she needs to deal with locally are going to be a lot more likely to trust her and listen to her than if she rocks up in an outfit that is very shocking to local sensibilities. Also, people: stop being afraid of the hijab.
I have issues too with Diana’s origin, as it’s evolved of late. I reject the idea of Diana being the daughter of Zeus, from an island of white chicks. (Seriously, I find all those Greek god storylines so fucking boring. Comics writers: you’re not Ovid.) For me, Paradise Island is like Valhalla… the greatest female warriors from all around the world go there when they die. So of course they can’t reproduce, because they’re all technically dead. This brings Diana back to the wonderful (and creepy) Marston origin of her being a statue the women made and brought to life to amuse themselves. (That also gives a similar origin to Nubia, who I view as Diana’s twin, and who needs to be in a lot more books because she’s amazing.) So my Diana grew up in a really cool place, hanging out with female Samurai and Sikh warrior-princessesand Kublai Khan’s daughter, whose father promised her to marry the first man who could beat her in wrestling, but if he lost he had to give her 1,000 horses, and who died unmarried, but with 100,000 horses. And Diana learned from all of them.