I’ve been enjoying the recent comics related editions of the Nerdist Writers Panel podcast. It is kinda funny how Len Wein (the creator of Wolverine) name-drops Hugh Jackman every chance he gets.
The strategy is always to find the part that speaks to me, which may not be the bit that the character is most famous for.
I am currently working on a hugely popular character that I have never really written before (sorta kinda a tiny bit a long time ago). And many of the aspects that the character is most famous for are not that interesting to me.
But you dig just a little bit and you dig until you find an ‘AHA!’ moment, some piece of that character that you find endlessly fascinating. And you push that bit and pull at it and test it, and suddenly you love writing that character and never want to stop.
Wonder Woman is hard to write well, because there is no definitive Wonder Woman. I’ve written about this before, but think about it for a second. There’s a definitive Batman, now: he’s been arrived at over decades. There’s a definitive Superman, a definitive Spider-Man, and we’re only just starting to hit definitive Wolverine over the past few years and even then there have been mis-steps.1 Definitive Daredevil took, what, 180 issues until Frank Miller showed up? So it can take time. In Wonder Woman’s case it has taken over sixty years and counting.
Like: Who’s a “must” member of Wonder Woman’s supporting cast? Supporting casts are important: they define your character’s milieu (assuming they aren’t a lone wolf like Wolverine is). Superman has Lois and Perry and Jimmy; Batman has Alfred and Dick and Commissioner Gordon; Spidey has MJ and Robbie and Betty and Flash and Jolly Jonah. Who’s Wonder Woman’s supporting cast all-stars? Etta Candy? Only shows up occasionally and has no definitive role. Steve Trevor? Hasn’t been prominent for years, even decades. I-Ching? Please. And so on.
Alternatively, who are Wonder Woman’s most notorious villains? Look at this list of Wonder Woman “adversaries” from Wikipedia:
Angle Man, Ares, Baroness Paula Von Gunther, Badra, Bizarra, Blue Snowman, Captain Wonder, Cheetah, Children of Ares, Circe, Cyborgirl, Dark Angel, Decay, Devastation, Doctor Cyber, Doctor Poison, Doctor Psycho, Duke of Deception, Egg Fu, Eviless, Genocide, Giganta, Hades, Hypnota, Jinx, Mask, Mavis, Osira, Queen Clea, Queen of Fables, Shim’Tar, Silver Swan, Superwoman, Tezcatlipoca, Trinity, Veronica Cale, Villainy Inc., White Magician, Zara
So, to sum up: Cheetah, Circe, Ares and Hades? Maybe Dr. Psycho, but then again Dr. Psycho is a character better known for his stint in Villains United than for his classic Wonder Woman stories. Really, this is not the most inspiring list. Of all of those characters, I think Ares ends up being Diana’s archenemy by default mostly because he’s always been the most powerful, but there is no definitive Ares/Wonder Woman story like there are Batman/Joker or Superman/Luthor or Spidey/Doc Ock2 or even Wolverine/Sabretooth, for crissake.