DC Histories Extra: Wonder Woman and Superman’s Relationship

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.

From Action Comics (Vol. 1) #600 (1988)

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.

From Justice League of America (Vol. 1) #1 (1960)

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.

DC Comics Presents #32 (1981) Cover

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.

From Superman Annual (Vol. 1) #11 (1985)

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.

From Kingdom Come Collected Edition (1997)

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.

From The Dark Knight Strikes Again #2 (2002)

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.

From Legends #6 (1987)

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.

From Action Comics (Vol. 1) #600 (1988)

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.

From Action Comics (Vol. 1) #600 (1988)

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?

From Justice League (Vol. 2) #3 (2012)

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.

Justice League (Vol. 2) #12 (2012) Cover

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.

Comments

  1. sunhero sunhero says:

    fun article I’m looking forward to seeing where this is going, moore is right when he says“too predicable.”
    though I do like the union of a science based hero and a magic one. it just seems elitist, heartless and like eugenics.
    …but they do look good together.

  2. Smasher says:

    It’s kind of crazy that it took 40 yrs for DC to publish an issue that seriously addressed this topic. Makes sense that it’d be John Byrne who wrote it though.

    Crazier that they haven’t attempted to tell it again.

    Thanks Jeff !

  3. AmirCat AmirCat says:

    Don’t forget superman red son. :D

  4. tarunbanned tarunbanned says:

    Frank Miller along with art by Jim Lee revisited this again, in the ALL-STAR BATMAN (AND ROBIN BOY WONDER) story. It is my understanding that this is in Miller’s Dark Knight Strikes Again Universe. and acts as a sort of prequel,
    many years before the events that took place in TDKSA, with a much younger Batman, a fresh-in-costume Robin, and an inexperienced Justice League.

    Although people had ALOT of issues with this story, myself included,but, I really enjoyed the ONE Justice League meeting scene in the whole story, in which a very volatile version of Wonder Woman starts a fight with Suprman, which sort of evolves into a very aggressive lip-lock (if I am not mistaken). What I enjoyed about the scene is the OTHER JL members sort of reacting around the two horny demi-gods.

  5. This article points out how great the dcu was in the mid 80s. Superman had a real fleshed out character at that point. His rationale for not feeling worthy of dating a god was great stuff. The two dimensional stuff Johns is doing in Justice League now would never show that much depth of character.

    • Noto Noto says:

      It’s kind of an apples/oranges comparison. Byrne owned Superman at that point and had control over his entire direction and characterization. Johns writes Superman in Justice League and is kind of restricted by Morrison’s Superman in Action and whomever is writing Superman this month in the solo title.

      I do believe that Superman could do with a singular vision directing him though. That said, I will take any page of New52 Superman over anything that came a year prior to the relaunch.

    • I don’t buy that argument at all. If that was the case, Superman would be bland and boring across all of his titles, not just Justice League. I find him interesting in Action Comics. And almost all of the characters in Justice League are in multiple books. Batman is in six books a month and I only find him uninteresting in Justice League. johns seems to be writing these generic versions of all the characters with no depth or complexity to any of them.

  6. Djinn says:

    Another interesting aspect of that romantic relationship, see Wonder Woman V2. #140 and #141….Sneaky Superman was dreaming about WW during Legends and Action #600 …yeah right….read the above WW books….

  7. Sorry to be a dork, but minor correction: “For the Man Who Has Everything” is in Superman Annual #11, not Action Comics Annual #11. Just figured it out trying to add it to my wishlist!

  8. CharlieRock CharlieRock says:

    If we ever get a Wonder Woman/Batman relationship history, be sure to include all the hints in the animated series. LoL