“Damsel” in distress
A classic theme in literature, film, art and video games is the damsel in distress, a beautiful young women who finds herself in peril needing the help of a dashing hero in order to be extricated from the situation. Lois Lane is a perfect example. She is a strong-willed, independent career women, expect for the fact that she can’t seem to avoid trouble. Luckily for her there is a big, strong superhero around to keep her safe. Superman is always on the lookout for an other one of Lois’s schemes since he knows that she is unable to avoid danger.
Wonder Woman creator William Mouton Marston reversed the scenario. Now the woman was doing the rescuing of the poor, clueless man. Steve Trevor, much like Lois Lane, was constantly putting himself into situations that required assistance. Wonder Woman, having fallen in love with Steve, decides that she must stay around and protect him (mostly from himself, I think). While Wonder Woman’s mission is to protect democracy and liberty, maybe the biggest threat to freedom is Steve’s efforts to stop the war. If he is the best the military has to offer, then the United States is doomed. Good thing Wonder Woman is around to make him look good and clean up his messes.
It was interesting to see how Marston portrayed Steve. His use of the jargon of the era, “Angel” and “Beautiful” when he referred to Wonder Woman was very interesting. Although she had usually just saved his life, he still did not really see her as an equal but focused on her as a woman who must be admired. His treatment of Diana Prince was even more telling. Calling her “kid” and constantly praising Wonder Woman showed how clueless and insensitive he could be. Diana did everything she could to make his life easier yet he could not see that she was madly in love with him nor could he see past her flimsy disguise.
Moulton, Charles. “Wonder Woman: Sensation Comics Vol 1”. Wonder Woman Archives. Print.
Image 1: Wonder Woman #101 (1958) written by Robert Kanigher; art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito
Image 2: Wonder Woman #130 (May 1962), written by Robert Kanigher, Art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito