Well. That’s an interesting assumption.
I’ve gone into this more than a few times before but basically I have no connect with this Diana under Azzarello. This is less my gripes with not liking how much more brutal and bloody Diana is — though that’s part of it — but it all circles back around to feeding directly into how this characterization of Diana is really the best you can hope to get from the fundamental changes of her background.
It comes down to the fact that Diana and the Amazons were once a subversion of what the societal expectations for women, heroism, and feminism were — whether you agree with Marston’s vision of empowerment or not he took the classic trope of “submissive women” and based an entire best selling comic around the idea that because of womanhood’s nature and submissiveness and kindness, they were stronger and more powerful than “the patriarchy.” Filter that by 50 years of women’s rights movements and the evolution of narrative story telling, you have a fusion of classical mythology and the unending problems of society in several courts, especially sexism, racism, and that oh-so-terrible “p” word.
Diana’s power was always derived from her sisters and goddesses. They raised her, taught her, and inspired her to be the hero for not just womankind but the world. And the Amazons themselves were a multifaceted and complex culture — yes men were absent from their society on Themyscira, but that was because the women were all reincarnations of women who had died at the hands of abusers and domestic violence, Hippolyta herself being the first woman to have ever died from an abusive husband (Diana’s soul being that of her unborn child).
I use this quote from Simone’s run a lot but I can’t help but feel that it’s the perfect summation of not just Diana but of the Amazons as a whole.
We have a saying, my people. ”Don’t kill if you can wound, don’t wound if you can subdue, don’t subdue if you can pacify, and don’t raise your hand at all until you’ve first extended it.”
The idea is never that women are better than men or that Diana herself is better than humanity (though you could debate whether or not that was Marston’s original purpose), but that sexism is so ingrained in our society and even the women of our world that the only way that Diana could truly be free from that is that her origins and her rearing are removed from those influences entirely. The sexism and poverty and racism of our world doesn’t make sense to her. And she wants to help because she’s seen and she knows that humanity is capable of better.
Never once is that apparent in Azzarello’s Diana, and that’s for a very interconnected reason.
I once read an article — I think maybe by Chris Sims — talking about how the author knows to be cautious when approaching a Superman story without Superman having the curl on his forehead. That curl is an “S”, a detail that was invented very early in Superman’s creation so that the iconic “S” is present from every angle, even close up panels. When a creator doesn’t realize that and doesn’t put that in the story, they’re not thinking through all the details.
Even before the Amazons were revealed to be rapist murderers and child enslavers, I couldn’t get into Diana’s character because of the change of that one detail — giving her a father — in the origin. Already, it told me Azzarello hadn’t thought enough about the character’s concept or personality to really “get” why such a detail was important.
But then you add to that the layer that the Amazons are unredeemable and arguably responsible for more vileness and evil than any of the admittedly fun villains Diana’s faced. Suddenly the framing is even worse because now the story can be summed up as “Wow, I’m really glad I learned that I had a god-king daddy where my real power comes from, because women supporting women and raising women are completely evil”
Basically, women independent from men are evil monsters. It’s a stereotype that’s old as dirt, but to put that awful stereotype on the canon origin of the embodiment of womanhood changes everything about that character from top to bottom.
To put it in similar terms, take the equally awful and untrue stereotype “men can’t raise children by themselves, they’re only fatherly with a woman by their side, so that man wanting to raise a child by himself is obviously a pedophile.” That’s awful. But it’s a very common stereotype still with no real basis. Bad enough that exists, but what if, to add extra angst and awfulness to his back story, that’s the canon relationship they gave Bruce Wayne with Alfred Pennyworth.
Or how about “people who live out in the country are ignorant, racist, and stupid — they’re more likely to be serial killers than pleasant people who aren’t Neo Nazis.” Again, as someone who grew up rurally, I can tell you this is not only not factual, but is rampant among people. Now imagine if that’s how they characterized Ma & Pa Kent.
It’s only “logical” then to make Bruce more paranoid and aloof in this version, or that Clark would be an ignorant asshole. They could still be heroes and even characterized good, but they’d have this harder edge you couldn’t get over because it reminds you of that unnecessary and vile addition to their characters.
That’s my relationship with Azzarello’s Diana. And it’s why Diana God of War will never be my Wonder Woman.
My Diana was the Goddess of Truth.