Thursday, March 28, 2024

That Time Wonder Woman Disappointed War


Brian Azzarello's 2012-2014 run on Wonder Woman still stands out to me as the ultimate comic book Odessey. Our hero, Diana the Wonder Woman befriends a lost soul with her infant who is being hunted by the ancient Greek gods. The storyline delivers twists, cliff-hangers, and insights into modern philosophy and its roots in early Western Civilization.

Azzarello tends to refer to the gods by their elemental position in modern thinking, Poseidon is really just water, Zeus is Air, and most notably Ares is War.

In the middle of the end of this storyline, we are given a little backstory into the rocky relationship Wonder Woman has with War/Ares. You might think, duh - war is bad, right? But Diana is a warrior as well as an ambassador, so maybe her odd love/hate relationship with the whole concept of war needs a little more explanation. 

SIDE NOTE: Wonder Woman has been referred to a "Warrior for Peace." I'm not sure exactly how that works.

In the oddly numbered '0' issue of the series, we find Wonder Woman learning the ropes of fighting, and being a super hero or maybe just the ropes of being an Amazon, it's not really clear to me. Diana is approached by war, who tells her he will teach her how to fight. After all, most of our soldiers really learn what it means to fight only after they are sent to fight in a war.

War is pleased with Diana's efforts and her willingness to align with him. He is portrayed as a kind man who is doing what must be done. I couldn't help but think of when I was young and was taught that war was a glorious and necessary thing and I would vow to fight for my country while redefining Jesus's pacificism to make room for these 'manly' ideas. I remember those who never bothered to join the military telling me how important it was to have a strong Army and that we should never question military spending...and then I joined the military.

Small side note: I was never shot at, I never feared for my life or safety. I had it pretty easy when it comes to spending time in the military, so I don't feel qualified to comment on what it means to fight or to be in dangerous combat situations. I just know that everyone who did serve in that way are much more careful about wanting to start another conflict and hesitate to send their children into wartime situations. Because I respect those who have fought, I also respect their perspective on how inglorious war really is.

Diana's final challenge is to fight and kill a brutal Minotaur, a monster that seems to lack compassion or enterprise. Isn't that what we must do to kill? Don't we have to dehumanize those our leaders call enemy in order to kill them without regret? Maybe that's part of Jesus's commandments in Luke 6:27. Maybe we have to see our enemies as people first, and then the idea of hurting them becomes unacceptable.

SPOLIER ALERT: Of course, Diana refuses to kill the monster, and the monster returns the favor by giving Diana a glimpse into its humanity. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could see the humanity in each other? War, of course, is extremely displeased and sends Diana away - she is no longer an acolyte of War. She has grown empathy and cannot commit to the fog of War any longer.

Final thoughts. I don't have any real answers today.

 I understand the need to have an armed militia to protect our country's interests from reckless and greedy men. I understand that those who serve in this way sacrifice more than I can understand and that they deserve my respect and gratitude. I understand that I should live and work to prevent anyone from having to serve in that way. That I should be a 'Warrior for Peace' using the weapons of language, love, and liberty. 

While I don't have a magic formula for when we shoot other people or when we just extend our hands and let others hurt us, I do believe we can ask Jesus Christ to save us from the sins that cause us to dehumanize and desire war. I believe we can lean on Christ's teaching to love first, and we can pray to be delivered from situations that seem to require violence.

May we at least try to love and practice peace first, and let war be used as a last measure. 

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