Relating Heroically

Thinking Of You

I just recently discovered this exchange between Wonder Woman and Power Girl. It’s not quite real. Quite. Most of the exchange appears verbatim in the The Brave and the Bold #7: Scalpels and Chainsaws,. I don’t know how long the edited version’s been around, but long enough to cause plenty of squee from both Wonder Woman and Power Girl readers.

The exchange happens after a fight against mummies. Wonder Woman disabled the power source driving the mummies, after which the remaining ones collapsed. Then:

Power Girl: Huzzah…brains wins this round, but brute force awaits its rematch…<Picks up Wonder Woman’s magic lasso> Hey, your rope. Don’t want to lose your lie-detector.

Wonder Woman: Thanks again for the assist. Where are you off to now?

Power Girl: <Lasso still looped around her hand> To masturbate while thinking of you.

<Expressions of shock, dismay all around. Roll opening credits.>

One might imagine, or expect, or want sex to ensue. But that would take a storyline momentarily still within the threshold of plausible canon, and fling it far into the abyss of absurdity. Besides which, a cut-to-sex is completely unnecessary. We are in the internet age. Rule 34 is strictly enforced. It’s not too lengthy a web-search to find Wonder Woman and Power Girl together in various stages of physicality, if that’s where our fearless reader is looking to go.

If, instead, our reader wants to stay within the realm of credible (sober) human relationships, if Wonder Woman and Power Girl are to stay true to their characters, and if they are to behave as emotionally mature fairly-well-adjusted adult human beings, then, to the contrary, we are a long time away from a scene in a satiny bedroom with bass-heavy Motown funk.

Moreover, Wonder Woman is a paragon figure, like Superman or Jesus. You can ask What would Wonder Woman do? in much the same way you can ask WWJD? (Or WWSD?). Given any situation, Wonder Woman will do the right thing, and will have a good sense of what the right thing is.

This means Wonder Woman and Power Girl are going to have an adult conversation.

Adult conversations between superheros — especially ones well considered and well written — are a kinds of things worthy of fanbase revelry. We have plenty of artists (skilled and otherwise) to provide us with ideas of what the last mile of relationship (that is, the Rule 34 part) might look like between Wonder Woman and Power Girl. But we need writers and producers in DC who are brave enough to ponder the first mile, even if — the way it is with real human intercourse — there’s no commitment to continue on to subsequent miles of the proverbial journey. (Yes, I’m using a non-baseball analogue for sex.)

And since Wonder Woman is part of this process, it presents an opportunity to present a model, an exemplar of how to handle this kind of situation, much the way Mufasa showed dads a model for disciplining their kids.

Of course, that takes more forethought and probably a bit more research than a story in which WW and PG smack the tar out of a scheming super-powered baddie.

To Murder Superman

I want to take a moment to address the original sequence (warning, minor spoilers of TB&TB#7). Instead of confessing intimate personal interests, Power Girl instead says she’s off to murder Superman in his fortress. Even she’s surprised at her response, and Wonder Woman quickly figures out Power Girl is under a post-hypnotic suggestion. Later (I assume) they go figure out who the hypno-mentalizer is, track him (her?) down and smack the tar out of him, because that’s how comic books so often go.

This is one of the frequent failings of comics (and it’s not a failing particularly unique to comics) in which it’s easy to set up dramatic tension only to drop the implications disappointingly with an escape revelation. Mind-control is so common a device to get our heroes to consider unthinkable acts that it’s become a cliché fallback whenever an easy cliffhanger is required. And it’s disappointing every time once the page is turned, or the new chapter appears on the shelves.

So, I, as a reader, am much more interested in what circumstance that might drive Power Girl to genuinely feel her only recourse is, regrettably to annihilate her brother in his own home.

What Needs To Be Said

This, is (I opine) why so many fans have taken to this fan-modification, and have demanded a moment just to imagine what could have been. What was a pedestrian cold opening to a Wonder Woman / Power Girl team up was turned into something that spurred imaginations all over the internet, of an amazing thing. And it could happen if the folks at DC dared. Of course PG could still be under some spell of control, but then the intents of our scheming wizard are a bit nuanced. (There are too many easy reasons to want to kill Superman)

It’s not that we want Wonder Woman and Power Girl to have sex (we do, but that’s beside the point.) It’s that we want them to have intimacy. To connect. To relate. By showing each other (and by extension, we the readers) pieces of their true selves, we see something that so rarely surfaces, rather than than the public faces they wear while smacking down their quota of mooks.

And since the reader relationship with Wonder Woman and Power Girl is entirely non-physical (intellectual / emotional) these glimpses into their inner selves give so much more than would a spread of nudity and sexual positions.

It’s also not like they can run from this moment. Well, they could, but not for long. The heroes of DC comics live in a small and incestuous community in which avoidance of the issue would be impossible. Power Girl is going to have to confront that she’s exposed more of herself than what feels safe. And while fan infatuation is known to Wonder Woman, instances are unusual that involve her peers and colleagues.

So when Power Girl implies her desire for Wonder Woman, what happens then? What does that conversation look like? What would Wonder Woman do?

The easiest and shortest resolution would be to give Power Girl an out:

Wonder Woman: Thanks again for the assist. Where are you off to now?

Power Girl: <Lasso still looped around her hand> To masturbate while thinking of you…

<Shock. Dismay. Opening credits.>

Power Girl: Wow. This just got awkward.

Wonder Woman: Only a little. You just met Gaea’s Circle in earnest. The lasso will compel the slightest passing fancy to your lips …and it favors impropriety. It is why Aletheia and Ossa gather so often in the dales of Tsipiana.

Power Girl: Who?

Wonder Woman: Truth and Scandal go hand-in-hand… I won’t tell you all the times I have disgraced myself by mishandling the lasso.

Power Girl: I don’t know. Perhaps you should.

Wonder Woman: <Gives a delphian glance> Not today …and not here. We still have evil to thwart.

This exchange, about a page’s worth, would be enough Lez-yay to keep DC fans squeeing for years, and it demonstrates a good, socially acceptable way to deflect awkward confession.

Maybe at some point I’ll examine what Wonder Woman’s council might have been if they weren’t in such a hurry. Fortunately, Wonder Woman and Power Girl have rapport enough to risk talking candidly.

A pretty good rundown of the issue can be found here

And yes, it can be argued that super powers are absurd in and of themselves, but superhero stories that work (that are popular and well-liked) are ones in which the rules of nature are consistent with themselves, and the characters are both relatable to the reader and plausibly believable as human beings. Yes, even the Kryptonian ones.

By an Incestuous community, I mean one that is uncomfortably and claustrophobicly interconnected, not one in which family members are engaged in an inappropriate amount of physical intimacy, though incidents of that sort would be — realistically speaking — inevitable.

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