"When you need to stop an asteroid, you get Superman. When you need to solve a mystery, you call Batman. But when you need to end a war, you get Wonder Woman."
Gail Simone, Wonder Woman: The Circle
Yes, let’s imply that Wonder Woman “deals with” all of her villains by killing them. That is 100% good characterization of Wonder Woman and not a distortion of her personality and ethics at all. I am so pleased to see everyone on my dash celebrating this idea.
Originally, Diana “dealt with” her enemies by turning them into allies. And then came Countdown to Identity Crisis. And THEN came the new 52.
Just because you don’t have a code against killing doesn’t mean it’s your go-to solution.
God, I hate this panel so much. I hate even more that someone’s decided to pair it with a Gail Simone quote that’s been taken completely out of context. There are elements of Simone’s Wonder Woman run I dislike, but if there’s one thing she understood about the character, it’s that Diana — although prepared to fight, and even to kill if there’s absolutely no other way — will always look for a peaceful resolution before anything else.
"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.’" — Wonder Woman #25 (2008)
In Wonder Woman #19, Diana is attacked by an enraged Green Lantern who believes her to be his enemy. She fights back, to defend herself and to give her friend Etta a chance to get away, but once she’s knocked him down, she extends her hand in peace.
He rages at her. He throws punch after punch, and she stands there and lets him. And when he’s exhausted himself—
She extends her hand again. And she talks to him, and she listens, and she appeals to his sense of justice and compassion. And in doing so, she gains an ally.
This isn’t unique to Gail Simone’s run; it was a key characteristic of Diana throughout post-Crisis Wonder Woman. Back in 1989, in Wonder Woman #33, we have Diana’s shame at the realisation that she’d been fighting Cheetah as much out of a desire for revenge as a need to protect others:
Looking on the imprisoned Cheetah, Diana feels pity; she sees a woman maddened by pain and bloodlust, deserving of help as much as punishment. Where Cheetah’s captors would kill her just to shut her up, Diana tries to help.
Hell, we can go back further — to Golden Age Wonder Woman, where the Amazons sought to rehabilitate villains on Reform Island. Golden Age Diana sees the potential for good even in her enemies. Recognising that Priscilla Rich’s evil Cheetah personality is brought out by feelings of inferiority, she offers Cheetah praise and affirmation. “You’re a born dancer — your dancing could attract millions of admirers! Oh, Cheetah, why don’t you dance and make people love you?”
Like later versions of the character, this Diana is able to make friends even out of bitter enemies. Her first recurring villain, Baroness Paula von Gunther, eventually repents and comes to live with the Amazons as their top scientist.
So don’t give me this “When I deal with them, I deal with them” crap. That’s not Diana and it’s never been Diana.
Because while she is capable of showering devastation on her enemies, what makes her a true hero is her restraint and compassion. She doesn’t raise a fist until she’s first extended a hand in friendship.
And that’s how Wonder Woman wins the war. Not by wholesale destruction, but by forging understanding, turning would-be enemies into allies, even friends.
That’s what makes her Wonder Woman.