When Gloria Steinem and Samuel Delany clashed over Wonder Woman

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9 Responses to “When Gloria Steinem and Samuel Delany clashed over Wonder Woman”

  1. BDiamond says:

    The only bright spot during this arc, for me, was the introduction of Fritz Leiber’s characters, Fafhrd and Gray Mouser, to the comics (in issue #202). Their own series, Sword of Sorcery, ran for five issues beginning the following year (1975).

  2. SedanChair says:

    So the story went something like this:

    - Publishers grudgingly let Samuel Delany experiment with a bold new storyline, then start to get cold feet when real shit gets tackled

    -Meanwhile, Gloria Steinem rather casually writes something like “oh, Wonder Woman’s in civvies now? Darn, her iconic costume is an inspiration to generations of women”

    -Publishers seize on Steinem’s comment, say “AHA! THE PRIME MINISTER OF FEMINISM SAID THIS IS BAD, WE’RE PULLING THE STORYLINE AND THIS IS TOTALLY WHY”

    This just goes to show that you shouldn’t change your message because of assholes who do things in bad faith. They’re going to find an excuse to do what they want anyway

    • Halloween_Jack says:

      Comics–in particular, the Big Two comics companies, DC and Marvel–didn’t really deal with feminism very well at all, and even though one might be tempted to give them points for trying, there’s also a significant degree of self-congratulation implied in their efforts. Which, at any rate, could be quite bizarre: Marvel had Thundra, along with a number of heroines that were distaff versions of male heroes (Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, Spiderwoman), and Wonder Woman, during her pantsuited phase, tangled with THEM!, who although it’s not said outright, are heavily implied to be a lesbian gang that forcibly recruits young women into the lifestyle via S&M, and are defeated partly with the (again implied) help of the Mafia. No, really.

      I don’t know who wrote the issue or where it fits in with Delany’s and Steinem’s brief involvement with the title, but I think that it’s just as typical of what the Big Two were doing, or trying to do, with and to their female characters as their more enlightened efforts with better creators, and Delany was probably better off not being involved with superhero comics in the long run.

      • Tynam says:

        You mean, of course, that the Big Two don’t deal with feminism very well.  (DC is in some ways worse now than it was then.  Marvel’s doing better… but that’s “less badly”.)

        • Halloween_Jack says:

           Right; Matsuuchi’s paper (which I was disappointed to see didn’t mention THEM!) deals with some of the later developments in Wonder Woman’s character, and excerpts a panel that shows Gloria Steinem during her undercover stint as a Playboy Bunny, but it seems to have been put in more as an inside joke rather than for any substantive reason. More typical is the use of legacy characters such as Catwoman, Voodoo, and Starfire for some ridiculous and embarrassing fan-service moments in the New 52 reboot. Marvel may be less embarrassing, and genuinely interested in drawing in female readers, but there’s still the mindset among the overwhelmingly male staff that leads to things like “Her-oes.”

  3. Matt Jeske says:

    Delaney didn’t take away Wonder Woman’s traditional costume.  The writers that preceded him did.  Those writers would be Dennis O’ Neil, Mike Sekowsky and Robert Kanigher.  As usual, misattribution happens, and it favors the person who’s more famous.  Delaney did work on Wonder Woman, but he didn’t get rid of the classic costume.

    • mozucat says:

      Right, as Avedon Carol points out this was part of the Diana Prince costume-less era that began in 1968: http://www.amazonarchives.com/ww179.htm. I don’t think this was meant as a misattribution, but Cory’s wording is misleading.

  4. Avedon Carol says:

    I seem to recall it was Diana Prince, not Wonder Woman, who got a new look during the Delany run.

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