Pacifism is a topic rarely treated in comics. The concept of finding an alternate solution to violence is one which is rarely used when characters are specifically designed to be adept at fighting. My comic book reading is not encyclopaedic but the only time I know of when pacifism is referenced directly is ways back in 1974 in an issue of Wonder Woman (# 213 of the original run to be precise) in which an alien descends upon Earth and makes humans into “pacifists.” In this issue humans are starving because they can’t hunt or defend their crops from locusts and crimes (though presumably not violent crimes) go unchecked because police are unable to use any force. This is unfortunately the concept of pacifism which most people in the world have, that they oppose force at all means. Such pacifists do exist, and while I identify myself as pacifist, I view this outlook as unpractical and idealistic.
Instead I view pacifism as rather an outlook which regards violence as the last possible outcome of a situation, there are cases when it is necessary. As Kofi Annan said in reference to a Security Council resolution against in 2006: “ War is not, and I repeat, war is not the continuation of politics by other means. On the contrary, it represents a catastrophic failure of political skill and imagination – a dethronement of peaceful politics from the primacy it should enjoy…” This is my interpretation of what pacifism entails. War or armed conflict is unfortunately one of mankind’s most common forms of interaction, and one which if we get to that stage represents a failure of reason and rationality, but if we get to the point where everything has failed then it is still something which has to pursued (that is to say you should still defend yourself.) Suffice to say that stopping locusts from eating your crops is something which does not entail real violence.
So in terms of being a pacifist, how does this apply to Diana? She is after all one of the most capable fighters in the DC Universe, even without her superpowers. It is the fact that she chooses not to resort to violence as a first resort but rather as a last resort which makes her a pacifist. There was one issue in volume 2 (#81) in which Wonder Woman confronts Tony Sazia because one of his henchmen has neglected to pay child support payments to one of Diana’s co-workers at Taco Whiz. Although she is attacked she does not retaliate except to stop further attacks from happening. Instead she sits on his desk and answers his phone for him (most of the people who were calling him would not want to talk to Wonder Woman.) Eventually he agrees to pay all the back payments just to be left alone. Diana could have just punched a hole in his wall and held him upside down waiting for the money to fall out of his pocket, but this way utilized a reasonable amount of imagination and reasoning to solve a problem as opposed to violence.
Of course many heroes comprehend this and regard Wonder Woman as something separate in terms of heroes. In fact this in my mind is why she is a member of the DC Trinity, her pacifistic message meshes well with the idealism of Superman and the realism of Batman. Both of those characters wished they lived in a world where violence does not exist. Diana tries as much as she can to make this a reality.
(This is my 200th blog on CV by the way)