In in an interview with Comicosity yesterday, current Wonder Woman writer Greg Rucka confirmed that Wonder Woman is queer. It’s kind of a well, obviously in two ways but it’s still a big deal. For one thing, Greg Rucka’s thing at DC has been taking established badass women superheroes and making them gay. And for another thing, Wonder Woman has always been gay. In Tim Hanley’s brilliant book, Wonder Woman Unbound, he devotes serious time to talking about how Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, was all about the matriarchy and all about the sexual subtext; if women were wrestling and tying each other up on Paradise Island, it was for sport and also because they were totally doing it. And Martson’s successor, Robert Kanighe, straight up called the Amazons lesbians. (In a good way.)
The problem is that the Comics Code Authority, which regulated much of the comic book industry starting in 1954, strictly prohibited gay characters. They couldn’t be drawn or written about, and if gayness was even hinted at too strongly, the character had to be put to death. (It’s no surprise that the CCA informed so much of what also happened on TV in its early years; it is father of Bury Your Gays.) DC didn’t fully turn their backs on the CCA until the ’90s, right around the time the Moral Majority went in on Ellen DeGeneres, and so they decided to steer clear of the gay controversy by steering clear of gay characters.
So Wonder Woman has certainly engaged in very queer behavior over the years, and many writers and artists have walked right up to the line in talking about and depicting her queerness, but Greg Rucka is the first modern writer to spell it out so plainly. And his name means business; he’s responsible for Renee Montoya and Kate Kane’s lesbianism, after all.
In Rucka’s mind, Wonder Woman has always been queer: “You’re supposed to be able to live happily. You’re supposed to be able — in a context where one can live happily, and part of what an individual needs for that happiness is to have a partner — to have a fulfilling, romantic and sexual relationship. And the only options are women.” And he’s not interested in skirting around the question: “This is important to me, too. By our standards where I am standing of 2016, Themyscira is a queer culture. I’m not hedging that. And anyone who wants to prevaricate on that is being silly.”
The rub is that he’s not exactly sure how that’s going to translate to the page. He calls it “The Northstar Problem,” having a character just blurt out I’M GAY to signal to audiences that they are, in fact, GAY. Which, you know, yeah, it is lazy writing, but queer women especially have been so burnt by subtext in comics, TV, and movies that they’re just looking for something to hold onto (that hopefully won’t die in their arms). DC and Marvel have made big strides over the last few years as they’ve been forced to compete with award-winning big-sellers in the indie comics market, which has always been better at diversity, but they’ve still got a long way to go. Bombshells is awesome, but I’m still burnt up by how they squandered Batwoman’s solo title (a thing that started with — surprise! — Greg Rucka).
Rucka saying categorically that Wonder Woman is queer is a big deal, but will we see it on the page? Will we see it on TV and in film? Rucka addresses the worry at the end of his interview: “It doesn’t matter if I say, ‘Yes, she’s queer.’ Or ‘No, she’s not queer.’ It matters what you get out of the book. Can you find it? Is it there? Is it on the page in action or in deed?”
The answer, then, is to be determined.