Surprising very few people familiar with comics, Wonder Woman was officially confirmed as queer in canon by Greg Rucka last Wednesday. Rucka, who wrote for DC’s Wonder Woman comics throughout the 2000s and is the current writer for the new Rebirth series, revealed that the character had “obviously” been in relationships with other women in an interview with comics news website Comicosity.
For those unfamiliar with the comics, Wonder Woman (aka Diana) comes from an all-woman utopian land known as Themyscira. She has canonically had romantic relationships with men, particularly her main love interest Steve Trevor, and according to Rucka also having romantic/sexual relationships with women is a certainty for Diana.
As Rucka explains: “when you start to think about giving the concept of Themyscira its due, the answer is, ‘How can they not all be in same sex relationships?’ Right? It makes no logical sense otherwise.” “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.” However, while news sites and social media blew up at the “revelation” that Wonder Woman isn’t straight, even Rucka admitted he’s not the first person to break the news: “I’ve said elsewhere that I feel like this has been asked and answered. If Grant Morrison writes an Earth One book where Diana is calling Mala her lover, I don’t think one can get more definitive than that […] all the Earth One books thrive on a distillation of the fundamental truths of these characters.” Grant Morrison himself, in an interview with CBR.com earlier this year, said: “The Amazons lived alone on an island for 3,000 years and I don’t think they gave up sex when they gave up men.”
And, of course, the creation of Wonder Woman would not have been possible without the bisexual polyamorous relationship of William Moulton Marston, Elizabeth Holloway Marston and Olive Byrne. With both Elizabeth and Olive (who lived together as a couple even after Willian’s death) being the foundation for Wonder Woman’s character.
The references to same-gender relationships and associations with queer culture go back so far she was referred to as “the lesbian counterpart of Batman” in Dr Frederic Wertham’s 1954 polemical book Seduction of the Innocent.
So why the fuss all of a sudden? Well, heteronormativity is one hell of a drug, and like real-life bisexuals Diana seems to have to keep reminding people that she is attracted to women and men on an ongoing basis. Even with her declarations of love for women and physical affection towards them in the comics, and living in a colony where heteronormativity does not exist and young girls engage in suggestive rope games, some folks still assume that Wonder Woman could only be romanced by men unless explicitly stated otherwise. Despite Wonder Woman’s narrative practically necessitating her being bisexual, there’s no shortage of close minded people claiming that “Wonder Woman is gay” and we should be all baffled and horrified by this, with some going so far as to call Rucka’s admission as being “liberal propaganda”.
Hetero is the assumed default, which is especially a problem when you have multiple comic continuities spanning decades, as Rucka observes, some savvy comic book readers would say “well, Earth One is not the New 52 or Rebirth” to justify stating their own vision of Wonder Woman is not queer. Which is why it is often seen as essential to make a formal announcement that a character is queer, even if it is blatantly “obvious”.
Anyway, I’ll see you all again when Wonder Woman is once again revealed to be bi, perhaps we can also finally find out that the pope is catholic.
Alex Liddell is the deputy editor of Bitopia and a non-binary bisexual with a love of pop culture. They also blog at obscuricom.com and tweet from @obscuricom.