Greg Rucka is the writer at the helm of DC’s Wonder Woman. As a comic book writer and novelist he is no stranger to working on well-known and beloved series, having contributed to the likes of Wolverine, Star Wars, Batwoman, and Punisher.
He recently guest starred on Spirits to discuss the mythology behind Wonder Woman and the challenges of writing this classic hero today.
“Comics are modern myth,” Rucka says when recounting his early love for mythological figures like Medusa and Athena. “This is our continuation of that kind of storytelling... We’re always talking about the same things. In many ways we just find a new way to say it.”
Tasked with retelling Diana’s origin story as a part of the Rebirth arc of the DC Universe, Rucka and his fellow writers needed to rethink where Wonder Woman came from: the mythical island Themyscira inhabited by a tribe of Amazonian woman.
The Rebirth writers wanted to establish their Amazons as warriors without falling into the sensationalism and sexualized male gaze of the original Greek myth. At the same time, Rucka explains these Amazons must be, first and foremost, a paradise in order to function properly in Diana’s origin story.
The writers also took Rebirth as an opportunity to commit a crucial, unspoken element of Wonder Woman’s character into the series canon: her queerness.
“If it had been possible at the time, when Wonder Woman’s creators first wrote her 75 years ago, there’s no question she would have been queer. There’s no doubt,” Rucka says. “The society wasn’t ready for it, but clearly her creators were.” Wonder Woman was created in 1941 by William Moulton Marston. He and his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston were polyamorous, living for decades with their girlfriend Olive Byrne, who is thought to be the inspiration for Diana Prince (aka Wonder Woman).
Rucka sees queerness as an obvious feature of the society in which Diana was raised. Themyscira is an isolated paradisal island of immortal women that have lived together for upward of 3,000 years. “I cannot imagine a paradise that doesn’t allow for a full and loving relationship between consenting people,” he says. “That can be platonic, if platonic is what you want; it can be romantic, if romantic is what you need; and it can be sexual, and any combination of these things.”
Wonder Woman is defined by her acceptance and empathy. To Rucka this implies that the Amazons of Themysicra must not only tolerate queerness and flexible relationships, but value and celebrate them. “No Amazon looks at another Amazon and says that they are Amazoning wrong. That is the root of that paradise.... [and] Diana has to come out of that. If that’s paradise, [queerness] is an element of it, and that’s her world.”
Rucka was the first writer of Wonder Woman to acknowledge her queerness, in a much-publicized September 2016 interview. But he does not see that act as a revolutionary one. “I fully acknowledge that I did not say anything that we didn’t already know, but the fact that we finally said it matters enormously. The visibility matters. One wants to be able to see oneself in these stories.”
Listen to the full episode with Greg Rucka here. Visit SpiritsPodcast.com learn more about the show or the team, and follow the show on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, & Goodreads. Get in touch with the team here or via email.