ICYMI: Wonder Woman Dates Women… Maybe?
Wonder Woman #2 is the first chapter of "Year One" by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott, with colors Romulo Fajardo Jr. The whole issue alternates between scenes of a young Diana living on Themyscira and a young Steve Trevor in the military, leading up to the famous moment when they meet. But we learn a lot more about their lives before we get there, and that's led to a particularly strong fan reaction to Diana's life among the Amazons.
When we first see Diana, she's talking to an Amazon named Kasia. They walk arm in arm. Kasia kisses her very affectionately on the cheek and says that if Diana ever leaves Themyscira it will break Kasia's heart. Of course, she also calls her "my friend," and refers to the Amazons as "sisters." It's deliberately vague, but it definitely leaves you with the impression that there's something deeper than friendship between these two women. It's reminiscent of the portrayals of queer relationships in superhero comics from the 1980s, when they were still limited by a homophobic Comics Code Authority. After all, Mystique used to refer to Destiny as her "friend" in Uncanny X-Men, and we all knew what their deal was.
Later in the book, there's a montage of panels showing alternating moments from Diana's and Steve's lives. In a fight with an Amazon named Sofia, Diana makes a loaded joke about "getting lucky," which reads like a double entendre. Then there's a scene in which a group of Amazons watch Diana emerge nude from a lagoon. One of them with short hair (I suspect it's Io from Rucka's previous Wonder Woman run, but her name is never said here) says, "She emerges like Aphrodite. Gods, she's killing me." The implication is extremely clear that what she means to say is that Diana is unbearably attractive.
Another Amazon responds, "I thought she and Kasia...?" The dialogue is pretty vague, but especially since we saw Diana with Kasia earlier, it's clear to anyone who's listened to people talk before that the rest of her sentence is, "I thought she and Kasia were sleeping together," or at least "...were dating." If these were American Millennials, the line would be "I thought she and Kasia were a thing."
The woman who is probably Io replies with "...and Meghara and Evrayle. I don't even know..." Princess Diana it seems has had more than one girlfriend. Too many to keep up with. And of course she would --- she has the beauty of Aphrodite, and lives on this island full of other beautiful women. And it only makes sense for everyone on Themyscira to be queer.
So that's that then. Wonder Woman, at least when she was still on Themyscira, had relationships with women. So she's queer -- presumably bisexual or pansexual, since we can safely assume that even with her history altered by Rebirth, she's also been involved with at least Steve Trevor and probably Superman.
Except for one problem: none of this is ever actually said. Greg Rucka walks a very careful line. It's a line we saw in the old comics I mentioned before, and all across pop culture in the era before there was room for the direct portrayal of queerness in media. It's clear that Rucka wants to write a queer Wonder Woman, but it's equally clear that he's not entirely free to do that. He put it in the comic, but indirectly. It's not hard to read between the lines, but reading between the lines is still what we're doing.
And look, I'm speculating here, but if someone is putting limits on Rucka's portrayal of Wonder Woman, it has to be DC editorial, and/or the larger corporate forces of Warner Bros looming above them. Wonder Woman is a big deal, after all. She's part of DC's Trinity, she has a movie coming out, and she's part of a new line of toys and apparel being marketed to little girls. If Diana kissed a woman on panel, or directly stated that she's queer, it would make national news. Anti-gay conservative groups would call for boycotts. Some parents would feel weird buying DC Super Hero Girls stuff for their daughters. A few people might not go see the movie. And Warner Bros might lose money, which is what it comes down to.
So Greg Rucka is ready for a queer Wonder Woman, and he knows readers are too. But DC/Warner Bros is clearly not ready. So it's great that we can read this run, which is also excellent in so many other ways, and see Diana's history with women there on the page, even if we have to squint a little. But we'll always know that the next writer can put it back in the bottle and say that Wonder Woman is 100% straight.
Subtext is great, but until DC Comics is willing to stand up and say that Diana is queer, I wouldn't go so far as to call it representation, and it's certainly not equality.