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Sunday, May 13, 2012

If Shawn Wrote DC Comics' Wonder Woman

A long time ago in a ghetto far, far away…
I wanted to become a comic book writer.
When I was a teenager I studied the histories of the Marvel and DC Universes. Heck, I even studied the Archie Universe. I knew every character history, every secret identity, every major event in comic book history like the back of my hand. I wanted to be prepared when I finally got that writing job at a major comic book publisher. Back in the day I wanted to be able to jump right in and take over where my favorite creators left off..
But since I'll probably never get that chance, I'll share with you some of the concepts and ideas I'd implement for comic series or two. 

One of my strengths is writing female characters. Whether they be the daughters of Egyptian gods, Downtown Brooklyn Bakers or faded former child stars and their Television alter-egoes, or She-demons at a cross-roads in their life my female characters leave a lasting impression on the reader.

Wonder Woman is one of DC's Most iconic and recognized superheroines. But most writers these days have a hard time writing her or establishing a “voice” for her.

I’d love to bring the depth and multi-dimensionality of my previous female characters like Isis, E’steem, Cassandra Lee and Marilyn Marie, to the Amazon Princess from Themyscira for a run of issues.

Personally, I feel that Wonder Woman needs to be redefined for the 21st Century. While William Moulton Marston’s characters and premise are rock solid, Women have changed so much over the past 50 years. Many women have surpassed Moulton’s ideal of a woman coming into Man’s world to prove she’s the equal to a men and the superior of a man.

Now women who are the equal men are pretty commonplace. Moreover, we now have women who now act like men in some cases. Some actually think they are better than men.

So where does that leave Wonder Woman? Is she just another pretty face? Or can she still be a role model to those women of what they could aspire to be?

My primary focus of a Wonder Woman run would be to establish her as a heroine finding her place in a post-feminist world. A world filled with powerful women. Women who are the equal of Diana on a variety of levels. Women who may or may not have the best interests of men and women at heart.

Wonder Woman would be dedicated to protecting man’s world from those menaces. And trying to save women from themselves.
In a world of violent women like the ones who assaulted Rayon McIntosh, sexually perverted women who post videos of their graphic sexual escapades on WorldStarHipHop, to female teachers who are sexual predators in their classrooms, the menaces to women and the image of women in society are all around us. How would Wonder Woman fight these problems when she was confronted with them? And would she even be effective against them? I feel there’s a dearth of great material in the headlines and in viral media that could be explored in the pages of Wonder Woman comics.

Character wise, I’d like to establish Wonder Woman as someone struggling with her place in a world where the role of women has changed so dramatically. Paradise Island is a place where women have learned to live in harmony together. That’s a nice ideal. But in the real (Man’s) world, women just hate other women. For absolutely no reason. And Diana will be trying to figure this out why as she adjusts to life in the real (Man’s) world.

Most of the action of a Shawn James Wonder Woman run would be grounded in realities of life in postmodern, post-feminist America. I know comic fans love the fantasy elements of the Greek gods, and they’re essential to Wonder Woman, but I want to use them sparingly like I used Egyptian mythology in Isis. I feel focusing primarily on Diana’s experiences the contemporary real world makes the stories a bit more relateable to young female readers and makes a commentary on the human condition to older female readers.

If I wrote Wonder Woman, the Diana Prince identity would be back. I feel Diana Prince is to Wonder Woman What Clark Kent is to Superman. Coming from Paradise Island, Diana is alien observer studying a world of women who live with men in Man’s world. She needs a set of human eyes to give her the perspective to understand people’s problems before she goes into action as Wonder Woman.

I would also bring back a strict code of honor for Diana. I know the Post-Crisis version used deadly force when necessary, but I feel superheroes are held to a higher standard than ordinary humans. They have extraordinary abilities. They’re supposed to find a better way to do things. Besides, I feel all that gore and excessive violence have no place in a comic book targeted towards tweens, teens and young adults.

If I wrote Wonder Woman, Diana Prince would probably running her own home-based business like a consulting firm or event Planning .(something that would allow her to be on the go all the time and go into action quickly, use that invisible jet) Or I’d probably put her on a college campus as a Women’s studies professor. (Again, another place where she could go into action and travel a lot. Besides, who better to teach women about women than Wonder Woman? And where better to learn more about women than a college campus?

Plus a College campus is a place full of ideas and ideas for bad guys. And it’s a great place for me to explore storylines like sorority pledging, domestic violence, date rape, and female teachers who are sexual predators. While it’s often seen as a joke and a sexual fetish in American media, female teachers who abuse their position and have sexual relations with students are pedophiles. It’s time the media started treating this sexual abuse more seriously. I feel a Wonder Woman storyline could change people’s minds about the issue.

I would love to explore male/female relationships in the pages of Wonder Woman. How would men relate to Wonder Woman? Would they be intimidated by her beauty? Her size? Her intelligence? Or would they respect and appreciate her? How would she perceive them?

I would also love to explore the politics of feminism and postfeminism. I feel this should be a key theme in a Wonder Woman comic. Diana comes from Themyscira, a place where women are warriors, but they’re peaceful and nonviolent. But women in today’s world aren’t. The ideals and beliefs Marston had about women being the equal and superior to men have been achieved for the most part in the 21st century.

My Paradise Island would be a mix of Silver and Modern Age concepts. It’s a place filled with advanced technology, that contrasts the natural beauty of the island.

In terms of supporting cast, I’d love to bring back Etta Candy. She’d be the friend who helps Diana connect with the world. Most women have one BFF and I feel Wonder Woman should have one as well. Someone to hang out with, someone to talk to. Someone to have fun with. I feel that most modern incarnations of Wonder Woman lack because they really don’t show her having close long-term relationships with other women.

Hippolotya, Diana’s mom would be a major supporting character. Similar to the relationship of Isis/Queen Isis in Isis/Trial of the Goddess, She’d be her mentor and her role model. The woman she’d go to for advice.

Artemis would be around in my run of Wonder Woman as a major supporting character. Like Seth in my New Heliopolis/Isis series, she’d be a top ranking military officer in the Themiscerian army. She’d be a rival to Diana, the Veronica to her Betty on Paradise Island, a woman with a brilliant tactical mind and a skilled fighter. But because of her aggressive and hostile demeanor, she’d be denied the opportunity to go into Man’s world by Hippolotya as their ambassador. This would lead into future storylines.

Nu’bia would also be one of the Amazons on Paradise Island. She’d be a diplomat similar to Diana, her liason between Paradise Island She’d also be a computer whiz, engineer and scientist. Yeah, I’m turning her into Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats, but if I wrote comics I’d really want to encourage girls to get into things like computers and science, male dominated industries.

I see Paradise Island as a place where women are of many races, colors and creeds. It’s supposed to be a utopia where women are free of the constraints of man’s world and allowed to be all they can be. In my vision of Paradise Island They’re not just warriors who carry spears bows and arrows. No, they’re into computers, science, engineering, medicine, and the arts. Throughout the past twenty years of Wonder Woman stories, I feel there’s been too much focus on the warlike nature of the Amazons and not enough on their arts and culture. If this is an advanced civilization of supposedly superior women I’d like to see their contributions to the areas of science, technology and medicine. Instead of bows, arrows and spears, I’d like to see some high-tech stuff or some enchanted weapons that are a fusion of science and magic that are on par with Diana’s magic lasso. Maybe I’d give Nu’bia an enchanted suit of armor or Artemis some AmazonTech weapons.

I’d also like to bring in an Asian Amazon as a supporting character. Maybe a Pacific Islander or a Filipino.

I would also like to bring in Donna Troy as a major supporting character as well. I see Donna Troy in as a teenage/tween Amazon. A curious young girl who is inspired by Diana’s heroic deeds and wants to be a hero like her. But Hippolotya doesn’t think she’s ready to go out into man’s world. Neither does Diana. In the beginning she’d have a lot on her plate right now adjusting to America and would be trying to get settled. Over time Donna would sneak around (backup stories, subplots) and do things to prove herself. Eventually she’d become Diana’s apprentice as Wonder Girl with the cover of a “kid sister” As she transitioned into life in America, Donna’s interests would include photography, basketball, and social media.

Yeah, In the case of Donna Troy I’d be dumping all that continuity to start fresh with her. I feel that the Wonder Girl character is a great opportunity to connect with tween/teenage readers and I’d love to give those younger readers someone they can relate to and identify with. Donna’s always been the girl next door more so than Cassie Sandsmark. (I know I’m gonna catch some heat on this, but that’s what I got from what I read.)

When it comes to villains, Wonder Woman has one of the most underrated and underutilized rogues galleries in comics. I feel a lot of them are excellent concepts, just that they haven’t been excuted properly.

I really like the concept for Dr. Cyber from the 1960’s Diana Prince: Wonder Woman issues and I think she’d be a great villain who would work well in with a 21st century update. A female computer genius sort of like an evil Steve Jobs or Carly Fiorina.

I also like the 1980’s Cheetah. A great character with an origin that needs no changing. Plus I love her design. (It partially inspired my design for E’steem)

Along with some of those classic bad guys I’d love to add some new villains to the mix, some based in feminist theory, some based on pop culture. I have some ideas for a bad guy based on Gina Carano and Ultimate fighting. Diana in the Octagon would sell a boatload of copies. I really see a whole bunch of casual readers picking up that issue.

Design wise I’d love to go softer with a more elegant look. Back to the iconic classic costume with the red and white boots. I feel Wonder Woman’s design has gotten too muscular, too butch, and way too manly. I’d like see her looking more feminine. I feel it’d make it look more credible when she does something superhuman. The togas will be around on Paradise Island, but the designs will be a bit more modernized. In the city Diana would wear street clothes until she went into action.

A Shawn James Wonder Woman run would be a mix of social commentary, feminist theory, politics, superhero action and adventure and even a little humor. I’d explore different political viewpoints in a world where women are free to be whatever they want while presenting Diana and her supporting cast (Hippoloytia, Nu’bia, Artemis, Unnamed Asian character and Donna Troy) as a role models of the best of womanhood.

And maybe if I could I’d love to slip a Manga-styled storyline in there for two to three issues.

Audience wise I’d be writing a Wonder Woman comic for a core female audience of readers. I’d love to make a comic that was accessible to tween and teen girls and young women. From what I’ve seen, women love comics and are looking for stories that relate to their experiences. I want Wonder Woman to be the gateway to girls and women reading comic books and developing an interest in superheroes. 


  1. This is a real goodie, Shawn. Your ideas are the best and it is sad that you cannot use this tremendous gift to entertain and enlighten those of us who would like to read about these characters.

    I'm sure you've done all you can to contact those in the comic field about your vision. But, of course, if theirs is so limited and jaded, it stands to reson they won't appreciate yours, and moreover probably will be envious.

    Keep prayer, Shawn, and thrusting your vision forward where someone at some point will have sense enough to take you up on it.

    I wish you all the luck you could possibly need with this. You certainly set forth a master plan for wonderful comic books

  2. I skimmed through this article to make sure that Donna was preferred over Cassie(that tells me whether it's worth reading or not)...and THEN I read the entire thing, lol. Great ideas. I've never been a big WW fan and I also think the "every Amazon is a warrior" thing is stupid and very typical of the white male mindset at DC comics(an associate of mine was a "friend" of a writer/artist at DC*who actually worked on WW* who told me some of the behind the scenes crap. I also had aspirations of writing comics but then I grew up. I would never work there or at Marvel.