WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Shade the Changing Girl/Wonder Woman #1, part 3 of the Milk Wars crossover, by Cecil Castellucci and Mirka Andolfo, in stores now.
The Milk Wars crossover event series is bringing the best of DC Comics and its Young Animal imprint together. It started with a clash between the Doom Patrol and the Justice League of America, it then continued with a disturbed confrontation between Batman and Mother Panic. Now we’ve reached reach part 3 in Shade the Changing Girl/Wonder Woman #1.
The event has been an absolutely crazy romp, as we witness our favorite heroes come under the influence of the evil, inter-dimensional organization Retconn’s reality-altering milk. We saw the JLA turned into a neighborhood watch group, and a Batman altered into a preacher leading a cult of young murderous sidekicks. This week, it’s Wonder Woman’s turn, and whereas both the League and the Dark Knight were turned into downgraded or extreme versions of themselves, Diana Prince is instead turned into the complete opposite of everything she represents.
Thanks to the effects of Retconn’s milk, Wonder Woman is turned into Wonder Wife, the ultimate house wife.
While Shade the Changing Girl is split into five different versions of herself — each one embodying one distinct emotion in a Pixar’s Inside Out kind of way — Diana is warped into a mirror version of herself where she is not a feminist icon, but a feminine one, circa 1950. Although this version of Diana is still a superhero, gone is her strong, independent woman persona that inspired a generation. Instead, Diana’s main concern is the happiness of Steve Trevor. Her iconic, cross-armed pose is replaced with oven mitts, and her babies are all manner of household appliances, like vacuums and dust cleaners. Wonder Wife bakes cookies, and she attends a women’s rally advocating for women to be inferior to the patriarch.
If this seems offensive, it’s supposed to be. Shade the Changing Girl/Wonder Woman #1 uses the catalyst that is Retconn’s milk to show the stride of progress of women’s place in society, but also how long a way we have to go still. The clash between the ’50s tone and the use of twists on modern feminists movements paints a shocking image that belongs in the past. The book uses what we know about Wonder Woman, from her origins to her status as a modern icon for strong and independent women everywhere, to show us the ills that still plague society to this day.
This book comes at a perfect time, when women everywhere are proving themselves louder, stronger and more unified than ever. By showing us a regressed version of Wonder Woman, we see that its purpose is to show us that Retconn’s conformity is nowhere near the answer. The answer, as always, is to move forward. Thanks to Shade’s efforts and Wonder Woman’s innate strength, the two heroes overcome the alternate reality of the milk.
The two superheroes stand together and support each other. They show us the power of their bond, and they leave us with a wonderfully inspiring message: “Every woman plus every woman equals Wonder Woman.” And that is exactly what this comic book is about. Strength, support and unity, in the face of a society that keeps trying to hold you down.
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