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Wonder Woman's Vanishing Boyfriend

Joshua J. Bell | 6 Oct 2011 09:00
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Whatever happened to Steve Trevor?

Many of you may not have heard of Steve, but comic book aficionados, along with everyone who watched the old TV show remember him as Wonder Woman's one and only steady boyfriend, and one of the most prominent members of her supporting cast. On top of being the love of Wonder Woman's life, Steve was also the reason Diana became Wonder Woman in the first place. And yet, the character has barely seen publication in the last few decades. A surprising number of comic book fans are unaware that he ever existed at all, and those that are aware regard him as nothing more than a silly relic of Wonder Woman's earlier days. So what happened to Steve Trevor? Why is such an important character, one vital to the character's origin story, so ignored by the comics of today?

Under Kanigher's new direction, Steve suddenly started complaining about feeling small and threatened by how powerful Wonder Woman was.

First a little backstory. Thanks to The Escapist's own Moviebob, many of you are probably aware of the strange lifestyle and beliefs of Wonder Woman's creator, Dr. William Moulton Marston, specifically his theory about the superiority of the female gender. Given that, it's unsurprising that he would take the rescuer/rescuee dynamic of Superman and Lois Lane and switch it around. First appearing in 1942, Steve was an Air Force pilot who inadvertently crash-landed on the island of Themyscira, home of the Amazons. Princess Diana fell in love with him and volunteered to take him back home, as well as become the Amazons' ambassador to the rest of the world. She took up a secret identity as a nurse at the Air Force base were Steve worked, and the two fell into the usual Clark and Lois routine: Diana Prince wore glasses and was in love with Steve, but Steve was only interested in her alter ego and constantly got into jams only to be saved by Wonder Woman.

Then in 1947, Dr. Marston passed away. Famed Sgt. Rock creator Robert Kanigher took over writing the Wonder Woman books, and with Marston out of the picture, it soon became apparent that nobody else really liked Steve Trevor ... at all. Under Kanigher's new direction, Steve suddenly started complaining about feeling small and threatened by how powerful Wonder Woman was. Worse still, rather than telling Steve to get over his insecurities, Diana almost seemed to feel guilty about it, as if her boyfriend's insecurities were somehow her fault. It was clear that no other writer at the time was really comfortable with Marston's "superior woman" philosophy, and as such had no idea what to do with Steve, a character so heavily influenced by those ideas.

After about 11 years of this, they finally killed him off outright ... then brought him back, then killed him off and brought him back again. Eventually, when DC Comics' Crisis on Infinite Earths intercompany crossover event rolled around, they took the opportunity to erase him from the picture completely. He still existed - after all, Diana wouldn't have left the island otherwise - he'd just never been romantically connected to her. Wonder Woman has been single ever since. She enjoyed an occasional romance once in a blue moon, but none that ever lasted very long, certainly none that anybody remembers.

It's not as though Diana needs a man in her life; we are talking about a feminist icon, after all. But at the same time, it seems sexist that she's never allowed to have any lasting love interests of her own. Most other major superheroes have huge supporting casts of memorable love interests and several have at least two primary girlfriends they bounce back and forth between, à la Betty and Veronica. Yet Wonder Woman hasn't had a lasting, memorable relationship in years. The closest thing she's had to a well-known boyfriend is Superman and even that's largely confined to non-canon stories.

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