A controversial scene from Perez's Wonder Woman
We've talked a lot about the classic Perez run, it's beautiful storytelling, the dense plotting, the complexity, the rich characterization, and the many subjects it covered; including gender issues, war and peace, addiction, Battered Person Syndrome, sexual orientation, and teen suicide. All of these issues were handled with great care and sensitivity.
It's sometimes been said that Wonder Woman is actually more of an alien to our world than Superman. Clark was from another planet, and Diana is from Earth, but Clark was raised in modern America, in it's culture and with it's values. Diana was raised in a 3000 year old Pagan culture isolated from the rest of the world. And, well, 3000 year old Pagan cultures weren't what, in modern terms, is considered "Politically Correct." We've seen this, more recently, in how Diana doesn't have Clark's and Bruce's "no killing" rule.
Which brings us to a flashback sequence from Perez's run, drawn by Tom Grummett, that got them some angry letters. Anyone who was familiar with Sir James Frazer's or Joseph Campbell's studies of ancient cultures, their myths, and their rituals, understood, completely, as would anyone familiar with mid-90s Disney animated films.
What event marked the young Diana's coming of age? It wasn't a Bat Mitzvah.
While this scene did outrage Vegans, they also got supportive letters on the subject. You may be wondering why Artemis was both Goddess of the Hunt and, as we saw in another post on the Perez run, Goddess of Midwives... http://asylums.insanejournal.com/scans_daily/70369.html
It's because, to the ancients, Life and Death were part of the same cycle, and everything in Nature was connected. It wasn't something that we, as humans, were separate from, or above, but very much a part of. It was explained very well in, interestingly enough, two mid-90s Disney animated films, The Lion King...
Mufasa: Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.
Simba: But, Dad, don't we eat the antelope?
Mufasa: Yes, Simba, but let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connnected in the great Circle of Life.
I found both those kid's movies among the most thoughtful and moving films produced in the '90s. But, as the great Madeleine L'Engle said, "You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children."
To the ancient cultures, the hunt was something sacred. Native Americans believed that, if they didn't honor the buffalo with their Dance to resurrect them, they would leave. Sure enough, when outsiders came along and began slaughtering the buffalo without respecting the cycle and honoring the sacrifice, the buffalo almost disappeared. Here's the myth of the beginning of the Buffalo Dance...
Our modern culture has made these things less... bloody, without animal or, in the case of some cultures, human sacrifice. Now, the Rite of Passage where you are considered an Adult and part of the Tribe is something like Communion. But, what it all means is still the same, even though we've mostly forgotten. It was put nicely on Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Anya, an 1100 year old former vengeance demon, when she explained the American tradition of Thanksgiving...
Anya: I love a ritual sacrifice.
Buffy: It's not really a one of those.
Anya: To commemorate a past event, you kill and eat an animal. It's a ritual sacrifice, with pie.
Scans from Wonder Woman #32. "Colors of the Wind" belongs to Disney.