Here at DC Histories, we try to make sense of the continuity that perplexes, befuddles, and intimidates. We discuss what worked and what didn’t. This week, we’re talking about the relationship between two icons, Superman and Wonder Woman.
Although Superman had been around since 1938 and Wonder Woman first debuted in 1941, the pair didn’t cross paths for several years. The two first shared a comic book page in All-Star Comics #36 which was published in 1947. There, the Justice Society of America, of which Wonder Wonder was a member but only as a secretary, met up for a special story with guest-stars Superman and Batman. A crime was thwarted and two of the most powerful beings on Earth kept their relationship purely professional. It certainly helped matters that no one really had a distinct personality. Everyone sounding the same tends to not lead to much passion.
Thirteen years later, the Justice League of America formed. Here it was claimed that the previous JSA adventures took place on something called Earth-2. These JLA tales took place on Earth-1. In the pages of The Brave and the Bold #28, Wonder Woman and Superman became allies once again for the first time. A few adventures later, the two actually interacted when Superman helped Wonder Woman out of a tar pit.
Again, their relationship was completely platonic. They were just a pair of heroes who just happened to be of the opposite sex.
Both would be associated with the Justice League on and off again for much of the next few decades. Whenever they were in the same adventure, things were kept strictly professional. After all, Superman had both Lois Lane and Lana Lang back in Metropolis while Wonder Woman had Steve Trevor. Neither were looking to get involved in another relationship.
Of course, DC’s writers and editors knew that some readers wanted to see these super beings pair off. Occasionally, they’d play with that idea though nothing came of it.
Alan Moore would provide a bit of commentary as to why Wonder Woman and Superman never became more than friends in his famous story ‘For the Man Who Has Everything’ from Superman Annual #11. Here, Wonder Woman claimed that their kissing would be “too predicable.” Superman agreed.
Still, readers (and several writers) wanted to see this pairing happen. Over the next few decades, they would get their desire in spades. In the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, DC published a series of stories labeled ‘Elseworlds,’ which used to be called ‘Imaginary Stories’ during the Silver Age. These were out-of-continuity stories which took DC characters and changed them. In quite a few of them, Wonder Woman and Superman were an item. No story did this more memorably than Mark Waid and Alex Ross’s excellent Kingdom Come story which ended on the revelation that Wonder Woman was pregnant.
Other stories would take a slightly different tone with this relationship, like when Frank Miller had the two go at each other like horny Greek gods whose love making caused earthquakes.
While Superman and Wonder Woman had their most passionate relationships outside of official continuity, that’s not to say that they never tried bumping their relationship up a level in the pages of an official DCU book.
As many of these DC Histories mention, 1986′s Crisis on Infinite Earths reset the DCU’s storyline. Wonder Woman was wiped from existence after that event ended and she was relaunched shortly thereafter. In the post-Crisis universe, Princess Diana of Themyscira made her Wonder Woman debut in the pages of Legends while battling some of Darkseid’s minions. During this appearance, she saved various male heroes’ bacon.
After she first arrived on the scene, many of the men present during the battle were smitten, not the least of which was Superman. He and Lois weren’t yet an item, and Lana had never had a true relationship with the Man of Steel. He was single and he couldn’t get the beautiful Amazon out of his mind. After dreaming of Wonder Woman and getting her to agree to meet him somewhere to talk, Superman went straight for the kiss. She was decidedly not into it.
As tends to happen during these sorts of moments, Hermes suddenly showed up and told Wonder Woman that Darkseid was attempting to overthrow Olympus. An adventure immediately ensued. Superman and Wonder Woman were only able to talk about that awkward kiss after again defeating Darkseid. Seeing Wonder Woman’s world and understanding that she was truly a god gave Superman cold feet. This post-Crisis Superman was Clark Kent first and Superman second. He was a small town boy and couldn’t wrap his mind around Wonder Woman’s world. The two agreed to be simply friends and confidants.
That’s where the two left it for the next twenty four years.
Now, the New 52 has reset continuity. Those earlier adventures never happened. In the pages of the latest Justice League #3, Wonder Woman was introduced to Man’s World during a battle against Darkseid’s minions. During this appearance, she saved various male heroes’ bacon. Sound familiar?
Once again, it seems that she’s caught Superman’s eye. But this New 52 Superman is not the same Superman as the post-Crisis version. Does he have the same hangups about how he fits into Wonder Woman’s role in the universe? When the two begin a relationship, will it get beyond the first date? This could lead to some interesting stories and while it may be something that the official DCU has never seen, it is an echo of what has come before.
Will this be a permanent relationship that changes everything? Well, no. Probably not. But, it could be something fun.
Jeff Reid hopes the PDAs in this article didn’t make you uncomfortable. He promises not to do any kissy stuff on Twitter.