When I was a freshman in high school, about 14 or 15 years old, my younger brother and I wandered into a comic book store. It was located between Mililani, our home town, and Waihawa, the dead-beat-town-that-we-briefly-lived-in. We stopped there because my mom would visit her friend’s Thai grocery store. And like every other time, we kids tagged along because she had errands. We usually had to wait a very long time for her to talk and do her business.
The store was tiny, shelved with mostly cans, bottles, jars and preserved food from Thailand and SE Asia. There was a time when she stopped at that little store quite often even though the one in Chinatown had much more because it was closer to home. Also because she could buy a copy of her Thai newspaper and soap opera/movie star magazines.
Sometimes Auntie asked us some polite questions, like, how is school? or even worse, tried to engage in longer conversations that adults do before what I imagined to be getting into another catch-up gossip session with my mom. Other times, we’d wander around the little store staring at the foreign labels, bored, or we’d stare outside looking at the cars speeding by. Other times, we’d just wait in the car.
So when the comic book store opened two shops down, we were in bliss. It was an ambitious store, too, stuffed with boxes and boxes of comics, and organized immaculately as these kinds of things need to be. There was a section where you could see the top selling comics like a Barnes and Nobel bestseller list with numbers and all.
Larry gravitated towards X-Men, becoming a connoisseur. And I, Wonder Woman.
This was interesting because Wonder Woman got a reboot from DC during the time I discovered the comic at around 1987-1988. George Perez was the artist, and the storyline focused more on her relationship with the Greek gods which was right up my alley since the only library book I ever stole (because I wanted it so much) was D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths.
I suppose I chose Wonder Woman because I knew her from the 70s TV show staring the lovely Linda Carter. (Who didn’t spin around and pretend to turn into Wonder Woman, right? Actually, I’ve decided I need to integrate this move into my morning routine. Hahahha.)
You know, there were a lot of 70s reruns on TV when I was growing up and the ones I watched were: Happy Days, The Brady Bunch, The Love Boat, MASH, Good Times, The Jeffersons, Laverne and Shirley, Fantasy Island, WKRP in Cincinnati, Bewitched, Mork and Mindy, Sanford and Son, Alice, and of course, Charlie’s Angels.
With Wonder Woman, I think I wanted to see and read about a female character. I think it’s natural. Even though the X-Men are about a mixed cast of mutants, something about Wonder Woman caught my eyes.
It was probably her boobs.
But I loved the idea of a woman being super feminine, stunning, smart and kicking some major ass. I find it sort of odd that the UN hired and fired her for being a ‘too sexy’ role model. I mean, I guess if they are really trying to find a woman that represents all women from all over the world, then no, good luck with that. I think it has to do with identity politics. She’s not PC enough. Ironically though, by claiming she is a certain ‘type’, I think she becomes one.
Sort of like Marilyn Monroe, forever type-casted as a sexy siren that could never be smart, maybe a little witty and charming, but nothing three-dimensional, nothing with real brains. And that’s a shame, tragic, really, that we pigeonhole women into an either-or category.
Wonder Woman was the only female superhero in a sea of male superheroes. And I’m not opposed to my male superheroes, by any means. Love them. There is a fantasy in that and the ways in which they receive their powers, their storylines, are all fascinating and every person will inevitably gravitate to the one they feel most represents them. I know Batman types, the vigilantes, the Supermans, the other-worldly, the Spiderman “accidental” heroes and so on. Which superhero are you?
I’d have to wait until college to discover a female Asian superhero in X-Men’s Psylocke when I found my friends, who like myself were into comic books. Although, in my opinion, she embodies the hyper-sexualized comic book character that boys drool over more than Wonder Woman does. When my friends wanted to dress up as their favorite X-Men ladies (Storm and Rogue) for Halloween, I couldn’t bring myself to join them and dress up as Psylocke. Jeeeez. Have you seen her costume? Do you know how cold it gets in Colorado?
Wonder Woman, on the other hand, is a GODDESS, a warrior princess. She’s one of the good guys, as well. And let’s face it, she, like Superman, are not of this world and there is something mysterious, magical and magnificent about that. Just the words ‘Wonder Woman’ evoke strength and confidence.
Girls need role models. And it’s tricky business. Different girls will want different role models. I was never into sports, so no athletes for me. I wasn’t really into much yet, just starting to read and dream about the future. There weren’t many Asians on TV or the silver screen yet, so nothing there (unless you count Arnold from Happy Days). Even seeing Thai movie stars did nothing for me, it was another culture, another land, far away from my American sensibilities.
So, look, I’m not saying Wonder Woman changed my life or something. She was in comic books that I bought, collected and stared at when I was a teen. She was a fictional fantasy character and she was cool. She was part of a collection that I was building, although I didn’t know it at the time, of amazing women doing small and great things.
And over time, I think those stories of these strong women, instilled in me – a wonder woman attitude.
Who’s your favorite superhero?