Aug. 12th, 2017

glaurung_quena: (golden age wonder woman)
The backstory for Wonder Woman's people has always been a bit strange and never made all that much sense. Attempts by DC to "modernize" the Amazons in the 80's and more recently have fixed some cosmetic issues but the underlying lack of sense has continued or even gotten worse.

Let's start with the Greeks )

America has the Wild West of the 1880's, Japan has the era of the Samurai; similarly, the ancient Greeks had their Heroic Age, roughly corresponding to what archaeologists today call the Mycenaean period in Greece (1500-1100 BCE). While the Scythian culture with its warrior women seems to have emerged in the 9th century (around the same time as archaic Greece), in fiction, the Greeks backdated Amazons to make them contemporaneous with their beloved legendary heroes and demigods. Which had the unfortunate effect of making centuries of classics scholars dismiss the whole concept of Amazons as a myth, despite the very level-headed accounts of them in surviving Greek non-fiction.

Amazons in the comics

Enter William Marston, who needed a particular kind of backstory for the character of Wonder Woman. His goal was propaganda, pushing for a vision of the world in which women were seen as superior to men and their right to rule the world was self-evident. Which meant Wonder Woman had to be an outsider, someone from a culture where women were powerful and in charge, who could look upon American customs of sexism as quaint and silly. What better background to give her than to make her an Amazon? Warning, bad mythology next 500 meters )

Next time, I'll continue by looking at the revamped origin story that the Amazons got from DC in the late 80's.

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