Occupation: Amazon Princess
Occupation: Amazon Princess

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.

I had this one. I don't think I have it anymore unless it is saved under my brother's stack.
I had this one. I don’t think I have it anymore unless it is saved under my brother’s stack.

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.

Yup. Not too proud of this, but that's how bad I wanted it.
Yup. Not too proud of this, but that’s how bad I wanted it.

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?

X-Men #6 cover art by Jim Lee
X-Men #6 cover art by the great Jim Lee

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?

67 replies on “I am Wonder Woman (an Asian American woman reflects on childhood female superheroes)

  1. There was always “Arnold” from Happy Days, but, mostly he was just a role model for really obnoxious laughing. I believe he is the origin of the still popular, “BA HA HA HA”. And I think people use that laugh without knowing where it came from.

    Personally, I preferred the bionic woman to wonder woman, ’cause she was part machine, and that seemed more real to me.

    I have no idea what superhero I’d be. I only remember liking Japanese robots like Ultra-man and Giant Robot. But I did have fantasies about having a bionic eye, so, yeah, it would have to be the counter part to the bionic woman – the six million dollar kid with glass who makes drawings!

    However, I think Wonder Woman is more fun to pronounce with a German accent. Sort of, “Voonder Voomun”.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. 555+ I included Arnold now.

      Yeah, I pretty much tuned in to whatever was on the tube in those days. Bionic Woman wasn’t on during my TV watching times. 😛

      And even though All in the Family was, it was way too over my head. Regardless, I’m grateful that I grew up on diverse televison: working class, upper class, everyday folks, black, white, women, men, things felt pretty covered back then without it feeling like they had to fill a ‘quota’.


      Liked by 2 people

      1. I was surprised when my South African friend told me how much American TV she was raised on. We just have no idea how much our culture is piped through around the world.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s why many of my generation understood English, even if they speak using wrong grammar most times. The kids now aren’t so lucky as, although there are still many American shows/movies, a lot of them are now dubbed in Filipino and many times, they sound silly translated like that. Of course, I love my language. Just saying we learned English faster before, which made us a bi-lingual, even multi-lingual, country in the first place. Knowing more languages does have its advantages….Anyhoo, with regards to culture, yes, we know a lot about the American culture, sometimes, even more than we know ours, sadly.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I was actually never into the whole comic book or superhero thing while growing up. But like you, Wonder Woman actually caught my eye. Yes, her boobies did catch my eye as well as her fluid movements and ability to stand up for her own self. It was the Linda Carter version that I first came to know, what with all the re-runs on TV in the 90s and early 2000s for me. Bewitched was something that I watched too, though I don’t think I understood a lot of it given I was very young back then, lol.

    Xena is another superhero that I remember watching as a kid. I would watch that show every weekend and marvel at how Xena rode a horse with so much might along the guys and she took the lead in missions, and even had a female sidekick, Gabrielle, to boot. That show thought me to see that women can do anything, even together and there is no need to cattily tear each other down (the TV series does touch on that at some point, I vaguely remember).

    I also remember watching the miniseries Joan of Arc. And then there was Buffy which I was crazy about. I watched most seasons and even read the books. A lot of the Buffy shows were shown at 10, 11pm on Malaysian and Singapore TV and I was always annoyed I missed episodes, having had to go to bed early 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Somehow I missed the Xena and Buffy train, although I have great ambitions to watch the Buffy show from beginning to end one day. It’s been recommended.

      Xena, on the other hand, I don’t think I’ll ever watch, as it’s probably too dated, but she sounds like a lovely spin-off of WW.

      Yeah, I, too, have seen some Joan of Arc miniseries. Perhaps it was the same one?

      Gotta love reruns. There probably isn’t anything you can rewatch (or discover anew) these days. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think it was the same Joan of Arc series. It was a short one, and it has to be it 😛

        As and when you do a Buffy marathon, may I suggest you do a Charmed marathon as well. Another show with kick-ass females 😀

        Liked by 2 people

      2. It’s okay to like her, but I do think it’s harder for a guy to identify with the pretty girl. What does your boyfriend think?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. “I have great ambitions to watch the Buffy show from beginning to end one day.” Me, too!!!

        “Xena, on the other hand, I don’t think I’ll ever watch, as it’s probably too dated”..LOL, considering the setting, yeah, it is…He he, just kidding!

        Oh, and Mabel suggested CHARMED. Yes!!! that would be nice, too!!!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Xena, Gabrielle and Buffy!!! Oh, I love them! My friend and I even joined the Gabrielle fans club we found (we weren’t active, though). I did hate that they had to do a lesbian spin on things on the Xena show. Nothing against lesbians. Just that, can’t girls be tough and be together but not be lesbians? It’s like when people keep insinuating about Bert and Ernie’s supposed real relationship just because they live in the same house. Meanwhile, I’ve been keeping VCDs of Buffy’s first season. If I can, I’ll try to find a way to find copies of the next seasons. The kids will love it. And it’s good to show them that girls can kick a**, too, and even without showing too much skin.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I too have nothing against lesbians and have friends who are lesbians, but I just didn’t like that spin on Xena either. Felt that the romantic chemistry didn’t work between them, and Xena and Gabrielle are two different personalities.

        Enjoy Buffy. And Willow too. I loved her as a witch in Buffy 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Got to admit, I was not able to follow the show much after the second season, but I tried to be updated as much as I could. So I also knew about the Buffy and Spike thing. Also about Willow turning out to be a lesbian (or bi-? She did have the longest crush on Xander and fell for Oz). That change, I didn’t really mind. Willow had always been the awkward and confused character, so it’s not that way off-character.


      3. Yes! I always thought Willow and Xander were perfect together, and I thought the lesbian arc was very interesting, as was the one when she went a bit bad. I liked all the Buffy seasons, but there were a couple in the middle I didn’t feel were as good.

        Then there was the Buffy spin-off, Angel 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Oh, I know Angel 🙂 I would have followed that, too, if I could. I appreciated David better as Booth in BONES, though 😉


      5. Bones! Yes! David is perfect in that role. Not only good looking but with a good personality too 😉 Need to binge what that at some point 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. There was She-Ra, He-Man’s sidekick. Don’t laugh off WW’s spins from your morning routine just yet. I meant to do a post last yr on body gestures that affect self-talk, a stance of hers among them.

    And gee, we can’t be too sexy or too unsexy. Bum’s the deal.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahahha. I briefly thought about She-Ra, we had all the He-Man figures growing up. So funny, looking back at it all.

      I hope you still consider your body language post. Always a fascinating subject and often very true how we present ourselves and how bad habits effect our gestures too.

      Specifically, the use of phones. I’m a bit horrified by how many kids are hunched over from their phones, their backs taking on the curature of an old person. When I’m teaching the kids, I try to get them to stand up straighter 😛


    2. Was She-Ra he-Man’s sidekick? Not sure. I only remember her appearing sometimes in the show, and she did have her own show. Meanwhile, Teela could be considered as a sidekick.


  4. My brother had all the comic books. I borrowed them. I liked Wonder Woman, for sure, but I wasn’t drawn to her the way I was drawn to less powerful, more tragic characters. Like the Thing. Rogue is probably my favorite. Rogue could be anything, do anything, depending on who she touched. And yet everything she touched, she might kill. I just don’t like stories where there is tremendous power and no downside — they aren’t realistic.

    Which is a ludicrous viewpoint to have, really, when you consider that it’s all fantasy anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think this is why the Superman storyline was so fascinating because he was considered invincible, but he’s not.

      I don’t believe anyone likes to see someone win all the time. It doesn’t seem authentic, like you mention. I think this is why so many cartoons when I was younger, turned me off, they were predicable. Storytelling (at least on TV) has gotten much more sophisticated in this regard.

      Ahhh, Rogue, you’re just like my friend K. The X-Men are a rather tragic group, aren’t they?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m not sure I have a favourite superhero. Although I remember some of the characters you mention, I don’t readily recall what kind of influence they had on me. In addition to wonder woman, I vaguely remember Bionic Woman… Anyway I loved reading Mandy, Judy, Archie, and Betty and Veronica comics more than superhero comics. 🙂

    I enjoyed walking down memory lane with you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. 🙂 Cheers. Yeah, the Archie comics didn’t do it for me, but I’d probably appreciate them a whole lot more now that I’m older and more mature.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I was never big into comics or superheroes, although I did enjoy watching the Incredible Hulk on TV. I was always vaguely terrified during the show but somehow couldn’t look away. And although I was not a particular Wonder Woman fan, I did LOVE the Wonder Woman underroos that I had when I was six 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I didn’t read many comic books when I was a kid, only some Spanish ones. I didn’t start reading foreign comics until I was around 18! But I have never been a big fan of superheroes. My favourite character is Spider Jerusalem, from a series called Transmetropolitan. I guess he’s kind of an anti hero haha. Actually he’s a journalist.

    I had never seen that Wonder Woman tv show. She is so beautiful! But why women superheroes always wear so little and men superheroes are always covered from head to toe??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, they may be covered head to toe, but it’s skin-tight. 😀

      And the women are covered sometimes, too, but remember, it’s the men drawing them. 😛


    2. Linda Carter has become iconic herself. It’s funny that she had to be a part of the Sky High movie as Principal Powers. Everyone who knew her as WW knew the reason she’s there.


  8. Girls do need role models. And you were able to have one who not only literally kicked ass, but had a brain on her head too. Fictional or not, when we’re young, we need something to aspire to.

    I remember watching the Wonder Woman TV show. I gravitated towards her for a few of the same reasons you did—female in a sea of guys doing good. It’s strange, or maybe not, because my favourite character in the Transformers cartoon/movie in the 80s was Arcee—the only female Transformer! Heh.

    My favourite superhero? Tough question. I don’t know if I have one. 90s X-Men Rogue was one of them, back in the day. Loved her attitude.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cool! Right, ‘something to aspire to’, I like that. I should have mentioned that. It’s fun to daydream of having superpowers. I remember romanticizing that bit.Because we all did a bit of healthy escapism and something to lift us out of the mundane.

      Cheers, Jaina!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The upside to having fewer role models than little boys do is that girls can identify with both male and female characters. At least, I did. For example, reading Robert Louis Stevenson, you almost have to identify with male characters since there are no females. I think there are more taboos for boys about identifying with a female character.

    I don’t think I had a favorite superhero. Or maybe I did. It was a long time ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point. I don’t mind relating to male characters, especially if they are funny. It’s natural, I suppose, to want to ‘like’ someone in the story…although if the girl is pretty then it’s okay for the guy to like her, right? 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I am so unfamiliar with comic books and many comic book characters. My father, who was an avid reader, felt if we were going to read it all it needed to be a book or at the very least a magazine. He thought comic books were a waste of time. If he was still around to see the world of comic books exploding on the big screen I can’t even imagine what he would think. Alas, I’ve never really read them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting. I’m sure others feel the same way, that it’s ‘trashy’ reading. I think if my kid read comics and manga then I’d feel challenged at times, too. As much as I like them, I love books even more. But it’s a different kind of art form, comics and there is something redeeming in that, as well. Thanks for your honesty!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t actually feel that way. I sort of feel all I missed out as I am not familiar with all of these characters in the movies and even TV shows. Oh well…. I guess I can manage just fine haha!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Ooh, comics!!! You know I love comics!!! That’s why I’ve got section for them in my blog. I’m gonna reblog this, I will, I will!!! *excited much*

    I like how you told your story. You reminded me to share what it was like here soon, too. I don’t think I ever really did share anything about it in a post. In comment threads, maybe. Will double-check.

    Regarding the stolen book, I love Greek Mythology, too, so I can understand you, although I hadn’t tried stealing anything (too freakin’ scared).

    “hyper-sexualized comic book character”…I know. I think it’s too much. I mean a character can be sexy without showing too much skin. But it seems to be the culture in the comics world, which I don’t approve of. So far, I can only express this disapproval…

    I know about the Wonder Woman show and Linda Carter, but I don’t remember much from it since I was too young when they showed it here (and back then, American shows only reached local TV after, maybe, more or less two years after the episodes were shown in the US). But there were a lot of shows we watched especially with our dad, basically action and SciFi stuff. ‘Course, there were also the kiddie shows.

    “There weren’t many Asians on TV or the silver screen yet,”…Two do come to my mind. The great Pat Morita (although I don’t know if he ever did a TV show) and Fil-American Ernie Reyes, Jr. whom I first saw in “Sidekicks”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Asians are defintely showing up more on TV (and it feels like movies are sort of making an effort). But growing up, there weren’t many. Mostly blacks and whites and sometimes I think that’s how people’s worldviews are…

      I’m glad you like comics. I enjoyed them for a time, even got into Sailor Moon and now they are part of my past influences.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I didn’t get into comics until later in life. My mom was an english teacher and had me reading ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ while my friend were reading comic books. The moment I could buy my own books I headed right to the comic book store. But in all of my short time reading comic books, my ultimate favorite female character is from the ‘Avatar, The Last Airbender’ series. The cartoon NOT the movie! Katara is amazing. And I think the fact that we get to see her go from a girl to a strong powerful woman is why I love her so much. Especially when she learns blood bending and struggles with such a power!

    I loved this blog and want to thank you for sharing your story of Wonder Woman. It is awesome to see how these characters touch our lives and help us grow and dream and hopefully achieve great things, like they did! Well not saving the world in their way, but in some way! No pressure!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I appreciate it.

      I think in some way or another we each identify with a superhero or character in a movie, book or series and it’s nice to stop and recognize those moments.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m super excited for the new Wonder Woman movie coming out.. looks good. I just hope that stupid love interest of hers doesn’t end up being the real hero in the end, hopefully Hollywood isn’t that stupid.

    Does Wonder Woman get a love interest? Does she get with Thor? Haha, that would seem like a good match!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yesss, the new movie has a lot of live up to, but it should, right? Right?!

      It does look like she has a love interest in the movie. She’s still a woman, soooo, maybe she’ll do things for love…like save everyone’s asses. 😛


  14. “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.”

    I see W.W. as being quintessentially The American Woman. W.W. white woman. And yet at the same time- make sure to show my daughter images of her.

    My fave superhéro is Spawn. Idk what that says about me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmmm. Yes. I definitely can see that. American, very. It’s hard for us to get away from color, especially these days, even though we are truly getting all mixed up racially in traditionally ‘white Western countries’.


      Liked by 1 person

  15. The 1990s were a terrible time for female character design. We were living through the ‘edgy’ era, when everyone needed a thousand straps of bullets around their legs (even Superman had superfluous leg straps at one point). Female character design was super leggy and chest, which while women obviously have these proportions, were being drawn specifically for the male viewer.

    That time period was interesting. When I think of the 1990s, I think of Julie Winters (the Maxx), Elisa Maza (Gargoyles), and Aeon Flux. All three characters separately did something for me with regard to my young mind and how I conceptualized women. Julie Winters, although in character design probably overly sexualized in retrospect, was a sexual creature in her own right, which was a mildly stunning revelation for me. It created space in my head to perceive women as being sexual, and with that being okay, an important revelation when coming from a conservative background.

    Aeon Flux fit far more the concept of a kick-butt heroine, except with her world set in a bizarre far-future. This was another case of hyper sexualization in design but where the heroine could be unapologetically sexual, while at the same time being independent and capable of wreaking havoc as a kick butt heroine.

    But of all of them I’ll probably remember Alisa Maza the most. Half African, Half Native American detective serving in New York, she was a competent female lead that consistently helped resolve the issues plaguing the city (in the same world where giant gargoyles roamed the skies). Maza probably satisfies the image of the woman my mother was most like, a highly competent individual who excelled in her duties. It’s just too bad the series never had the legs or support to really give her a spotlight.

    Liked by 1 person

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