Tuesday, January 03, 2006


This is an entry for everyone who was wondering, "Don't you have anything better to do than write essays about Wonder Woman's underwear?" Of course, most of you already know the answer.

While the basic design of Wonder Woman's costume has remained constant for the past seven decades or so, there have been some subtle changes that bear examination.

If you remember, there was a time before she had her own series when she fought crime in a skirt. That's cute and all, but if you're going to sell comics, you have to show a little bit more leg.

That's better. You see, this is the outfit that she wore in her eponymous series. It got her through World War II. Note the hot pants and fuck-me boots, which I assume were de rigeur for the WAC. However, the war ended and the fifties came, and the Powers-That-Be decided that they needed to update her image to make her more accessible to a new generation.

What do you mean, it's the same costume? Look again! Still don't see it? Here's a little hint:

Here's a less subtle hint: IT'S HER SHOES! That's right, she started wearing sandals to reflect her Greek heritage. Wait a minute - what Greek heritage? When was she ever in Greece? [EDITOR'S NOTE: Wonder Woman comes from Themiscyra, part of the island chain of Greece located on the river Thermadon somewhere in the mysterious Bermuda Triangle. Duh.] Anyway, these are MAGICAL sandals. Their power?

They can turn into ballet slippers when the artist isn't paying attention! This bold new look lasted her 18 years, until 1968, when the unthinkable happened.

What's this? A new Wonder Woman?! Well, really it was the same character, but she wasn't a superhero any longer. She lost her powers and got a job running a mod boutique, then became an apprentice to a karate master and solved crimes on the side. You see, Wonder Woman writers wanted to distance her from the superhero world to show that she didn't need fantastic powers to be heroic. They wanted to make her into a hero for the real world. Sure, the pressures of being a shop owner/kung fu detective were not what most women faced in the real world, but it's what passed for reality in comics.

And so, with a tearful goodbye, Wonder Woman Diana left her star-spangled hot pants with her mother, never to wear them again. But that was not the end of the story. Though some saw showing Wonder Woman Diana's heroism as a real woman rather than an impossibly powered demigoddess was a very progressive, feminist idea, it was not feminist enough for Gloria Steinem. Ms. Steinem was a Wonder Woman fan who was outraged that they took the power away from the strongest woman in comics, and was apparently not very good at following directions, like the clearly printed "FORGET THE OLD" on the cover of Wonder Woman #178. That is why Wonder Woman appeared on the cover of the first issue of Steinem's Ms. Magazine back in a superhero costume.

Some liberties were taken with the costume. For instance, some people with a fine eye for details will notice that on this magazine cover, Wonder Woman is really, really big. Also notice that she is back in the high-heeled boots, presumably because Gloria Steinem is racist against the proud Caribbean people of Greece. At any rate, Steinem and her followers' lobbying proved successful and in 1972, just a few months after Ms. Magazine was first published, Wonder Woman returned to the world of superheroics.

Yes, the Justice League needs you, Wonder Woman! The Watchtower is a mess!

Hey! Hold on just a second. There's something different this time. I can't quite put my finger on it...

HER PANTS! HER PANTS ARE GONE!!! Who could have stolen Wonder Woman's pants? This is not what Gloria Steinem had in mind when she put Wonder Woman on the cover of her magazine.

Actually, looking back on it, that's exactly what she had in mind. So, for those of you keeping track: GLORIA STEINEM STOLE WONDER WOMAN'S PANTS.

This journey of discovery started while I was looking at John Byrne's homepage. Byrne wrote and drew Wonder Woman for three years and even wrote a Wonder Woman novel called "Gods and Goddesses." When I was looking around the labrynthian chambers of the site, I found this:

The only explanation given was that it was a character sketch he did for Wonder Woman. Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions - perhaps this was supposed to be an alternate costume for arctic missions - but it seems like John Byrne had intended to give Wonder Woman new pants. It's just as well that he didn't, though, because hordes of feminists and adolescent fanboys would have murdered him before he finished the first issue.


Blogger Amy Stapleford said...

Did you see that the new Ms. magazine? http://www.msmagazine.com/fall2007/index.asp

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Ethan said...

Wonder women is the finest member of justice league and she has the charm with beauty

5:25 AM  

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