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Exploring Radical (And Kinky) Idealism: “Wonder Woman Earth One Volume Two” Review

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When “Wonder Woman Earth One: Volume 1” came out in 2016, it was groundbreaking in how it re-imagined Wonder Woman while reconnecting her with her kinkier roots. For years, she’d been moving away from the unique brand of feminism that her creator, William Moulton Marston, had once defined her. This culminated in her 2017 movie in which all the BDSM connotation were purged from her persona.

While many creative forces over multiple decades turned Wonder Woman into someone very different from her creator had intended, Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette went in the opposite direction. They dared to embrace the kinks and reshape Wonder Woman’s story in a way that works while retaining Marston’s original themes.

That story remains one of my favorite Wonder Woman stories of all time and one I’ve gone out of my way to praise. Finally, after a two-year wait and a prolonged absence of kink from superhero comics, “Wonder Woman Earth One: Volume 2” has arrived. Fans of warrior women, feminist utopias, and not-so-subtle bondage themes can rejoice.

Like any sequel, it faces the inescapable challenge of matching the high bar set by its predecessor. On top of that, it also has to dig deeper into an aspect of Wonder Woman that generations of writers have tried to overwrite or ignore. Even with an elevated profile, thanks to her movie, this is a part of Wonder Woman’s persona that is largely unknown or undeveloped.

The greatest challenge of Volume 1 was to reintroduce Marston’s radical concepts of love, submission, and domination in a way that didn’t feel like bad fan fiction. Morrison and Paquette succeeded by building the story around this dazzling, techno-feminist utopia on a mythology built on ideas that seem antithetical to the world dominated by lies, mistrust, and cynicism.

If the goal of that story was to affirm the potential of these ideas, then “Wonder Woman Earth One: Volume 2” is built around how those ideas are challenged. It’s one thing to defend them on an island paradise populated by immortal warrior women of unyielding compassion. It’s quite another to defend them in a world where gay frogs inspire conspiracy theories.

Wonder Woman’s situation is considerably different this time around. She’s not insulated on her island paradise. She’s well-known public figure, an established superhero, and a vocal proponent for her radical ideology. She presents it as a viable way of achieving peace and justice in a world full of suffering and hatred. Unlike other wide-eyed idealists, she comes off as entirely genuine.

Not surprisingly, the world isn’t eager to sign up for her novel approach of peace through submission to a loving authority. It doesn’t just come from grumpy old men who only want women to make babies and sandwiches, either. Even among other women, her ideas are challenged and deconstructed throughout the story.

What does it even mean to submit to a loving authority?

Why is she so sure that it’ll work in the world outside her idyllic homeland?

How are men supposed to approach this concept?

How far is she willing to go to implement her ideas?

These are all difficult questions that get asked throughout the story. Wonder Woman doesn’t avoid these questions, but she doesn’t get a chance to answer them either. Even though she is celebrated by many, nobody seems capable of embracing her ideology as completely as her.

To further complicate this challenge, Nazis enter the picture. Trust me, it’s not as shallow as it sounds. The story isn’t built around Wonder Woman acting like Captain America, traveling the world and punching Nazis. In fact, the way she handles her enemies in this story is very different to the methods she used in the “Wonder Woman” movie. However, that’s where the story gains both complications and nuance.

Through a few flashbacks and side-plots, we get to see how Wonder Woman’s ideology confronts something that’s completely antithetical to everything she stands for. Initially, it looks like her approach works. She’s so compassionate and so empathetic that she can take violent, hate-filled Nazis and redeem their souls. That’s where the complications come in.

In both the events that unfolded in the past and those that play out in the present, we see shortcoming of Wonder Woman’s ideals. It’s not that someone taints or disproves them. As the conflict plays out, we see how the components necessary to make her ideology work aren’t as abundant as they are in her homeland. As a result, Wonder Woman pays a price for her idealism and it’s a steep, heartbreaking price.

Not all of it is a direct result of her ideology, though. Wonder Woman also deals with a devious adversary in Dr. Psycho, who effectively turns her ideals against her. He doesn’t just question or deconstruct the merits of submission to a loving authority. He manipulates them to his own ends, which plays right into the hands of her critics.

It’s tragic in that it leads to heartache for Wonder Woman and her friends, but it stops short of breaking her. This is Wonder Woman, after all. Loss, defeat, and criticism do not break her. No mortal or God can break her. Those are her words, not mine. These challenges, however, put her in a difficult position where she has to confront unpleasant truths.

Without spoiling too many plot points, I’ll note that Wonder Woman comes to realize that there are grater complexities to loving submission than she ever could’ve realized. She sees first-hand how difficult it is to get someone to willingly submit in a world where weakness can invite harm, exploitation, and injustice. Just preaching her message isn’t enough. By not doing more, it costs her and those she cares about.

In terms of the larger narrative, “Wonder Woman Earth One: Volume 2” is a wonderfully effective evolution of the world that Morrison and Paquette created. Along the way, the story continues to embrace the unique principles of the original iteration of Wonder Woman that Marston crafted in 1942.

Not entirely, that is.

If there’s any shortcoming to the narrative, it’s how incomplete it feels at the end. It’s not a cliff-hanger, but there are many lingering plot threads that don’t get resolved. Granted, it says on the final page that there is a Volume 3 planned for this series. Given the two-year gap in between this book and its predecessor, the wait seems nothing short of agonizing.

Even with those dangling threads, “Wonder Woman Earth One: Volume 2” is still a complete Wonder Woman story that’s unlike anything you’ll get in the movies or comics. If I had to score it, I would give it a 9 out of 10. The lack of resolution at the end is the only thing keeping it from a perfect score. It still gets so many things right about who Wonder Woman is and why she’s so endearing.

The fact that she can be endearing while retaining the radical spirit that Marston had envisioned helps make “Wonder Woman Earth One: Volume 2” all the more remarkable. She’s not just a fierce warrior woman. She’s the personification of a different approach to gender, power, and love. It may seem bizarre and kinky to us, but it has powerful implications for people of any gender.

It doesn’t go overboard with the BDSM undertones, nor does it focus heavily on gender politics. They are mentioned, but not forced into the plot. There are things Wonder Woman does that feminists, conservatives, and BDSM fans can get behind. At every turn, she carries herself as someone who is willing to embrace everyone. It’s that unconditional, universal compassion that makes her Wonder Woman.

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Professor Marston & The Wonder Women Trailer (A Non-Traditional Love Story)

When we look back on 2017, I think it’s safe to say that many will see it as the year that Wonder Woman shined and the year that the “mic drop” officially became overused.

There’s no doubt about it. This has been a damn good year for Wonder Woman. Her movie was a hit with critics and fans alike. Her comic raised the bar for female heroes while also letting her get laid. She’s on a winning streak right now that we don’t usually see unless the New York Yankees and the New England Patriots are involved.

However, 2017 isn’t done with Wonder Woman just yet. It’s not enough that her movie may have single-handedly saved the DC Extended Universe, established Gal Gadot as an A-list actress with A-list sex appeal, and raised the bar for female directors like Patty Jenkins. Wonder Woman, being the iconic female hero that she is, just has to go the extra distance.

That brings me back to the man who created this sexy female icon, William Marston. In a sense, Wonder Woman is one of those characters that could never have emerged from a traditional mind looking to create a traditional hero. For her to become the icon she is now, she needed an unconventional mind and William Marston was definitely that.

I’ve talked a bit about the origins of Wonder Woman and the not-so-secret BDSM elements within that origin. A lot of that is a direct result of the non-traditional thinking that William Marston used in creating Wonder Woman. It was also the product of a very non-traditional life, some of which had some very kinky connotations.

The story behind that kinky life is now about to get some overdue attention and at the best possible time. Wonder Woman’s star couldn’t be flying higher. Why shouldn’t the man behind the sexy icon get a little attention? It’s 2017. Kink is already mainstream, thanks to internet porn and best selling novels based on Twilight fan fiction. The timing couldn’t be better.

That leads me to the upcoming quasi-biopic on William Marston, “Professor Marston & The Wonder Women.” Admit it. You probably didn’t know that a movie like this was being made. Even ardent Wonder Woman fans probably didn’t know.

It’s happening, though. This is not some weird fan film or parody to poke fun at Wonder Woman’s BDSM origins. This is a real movie starring Luke EvansRebecca Hall, and JJ Feild. It’s even being directed by a woman, Angela Robinson, who was a writer/producer on the sexy bloody spectacle that was “True Blood.” This movie is coming out later this year and last week, the trailer dropped.

It’s a very different trailer compared to “Wonder Woman.” It’s supposed to be different. It might not have as many warrior women. It might not have a naked Chris Pine. However, it does have some sexy, but kinky connotations.

Unlike Stan Lee, Bob Kane, or Jack Kirby, who are icons in their own right for the characters they created, William Marston kind of gets forgotten. Granted, he didn’t create nearly as many iconic characters as Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. However, it was his non-traditional views and the non-traditional life he lived that might have made it easier for people to dissociate the man from his creation.

As the trailer shows, Marston was an unusual voice at a time in history before the modern feminist movement and before the sexual revolution. He believed in peace through submission, seeing submission as an act of love. He also believed that women were more honest than men in certain situations. He never said they were superior, but he made it a point to highlight female strengths, as often revealed in Wonder Woman.

On top of those unusually progressive views at a time when women were still seen as nurses, teachers, and baby-makers, Marston had a non-traditional view of love. He was married to Elizabeth Holloway Marston, but theirs was a somewhat open marriage in that he also had a relationship with a woman named Olive Byrne.

It was not at all akin to the kinds of open relationships that make for raunchy TV shows about Mormons or the kinky softcore porn series that used to play on premium cable. It was a real relationship and, as the trailer showed, it was very different in terms of substance and approach. In a sense, you can say that Marston had a non-traditional relationship to match his non-traditional views.

Even today, his views on men, women, and the ways they relate to one another would be odd. Chances are, he would evoke protests from the overly politically correct crowd. That probably wouldn’t dissuade him, though. If anything, those protests would prove a part of the point he was trying to make, which was reflected somewhat in the trailer.

He claimed that there was peace and happiness to be found in submission. To the ardent individualist, which is very much at the heart of western culture, that sounds abhorrent. That sounds like something slave-masters would say to keep their slaves content, which was a thing, sadly. However, that’s not the kind of submission Marston was talking about.

In Marston’s kinky world, to submit to someone willingly is an act of love and to accept that submission with love is the apex of human connection. He sees the endless struggle to dominate everything around you, be it a person, a job, a pet, or World of Warcraft, as the source of conflict.

He also labels that kind of dominating persona as a very masculine trait. While it’s not exclusively masculine, he sees it as a common thread among male-driven narratives. Conversely, he sees women as having a greater capacity for that kind of loving submission. Wonder Woman is, in his point of view, embodies the greatest capacity for that kind of love.

Wonder Woman loves and embraces everyone around her. Her capacity for love, regardless of gender, is well-documented over her 70-year history. Sure, the kink has been largely filtered out with a few notable exceptions, namely “Wonder Woman: Earth One.” That only makes the elements Marston used in creating her all the more profound.

In some ways, William Marston was ahead of his time in creating a female hero that emphasized what he saw as female traits. He never tried to make Wonder Woman as strong or as capable in the same way as Superman or Batman. She wasn’t supposed to prove that women could be as strong as men. Just being a woman gave her a unique strength all her own.

You could also say he was ahead of his time, with respect to how he conducted his personal life. He didn’t bother with the ideal of monogamy, one man and one woman being in love until the day they died. He and the two women in his life forged their own brand of love and family. They followed their own romantic path.

They never claimed their non-traditional brand of love made them superior. That would’ve defeated the point. In Marston’s kinky world, any effort to dominate others through force, shame, or debate was pointless. In the end, the best way to bring peace is to conduct yourself in a way that makes others want to submit to your loving authority.

That’s not just my interpretation. When he was once asked by The American Scholar in 1943 about why Wonder Woman would appeal to men, he said this.

“Give them an alluring woman stronger than themselves to submit to, and they’ll be proud to become her willing slaves!”

As a comic book fan, a fan of beautiful women, and a fan of female strength in general, I whole-heartedly agree. The success of the “Wonder Woman” movie, over 70 years of comics, and a top place in the pantheon of iconic female heroes says a lot about our willingness to submit. Perhaps “Professor Marston & The Wonder Women” will help us appreciate that even more.

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The Sex That Alters Your State Of Mind (Yes, It Involves BDSM)

Let’s face it. We all have bad days. We all go through periods in our lives when we wish we could just alter our state of mind. I’ve come home from a long, arduous day wishing I could just bang my head against the wall until my brain matter reconfigures itself into a state that’s less miserable. It rarely works, but it’s not like we have much to work with.

Sure, there are mind-altering drugs, but the legal varieties only go so far. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a few glasses of whiskey or a six-pack of beer like anyone else, but between hangovers and lung cancer, there are plenty of risks. The risks for the more potent, but illegal drugs are even greater. Despite these risks, the desire to alter our state of mind is still strong because some days will just be that bad.

Surely, there’s some way of getting to an altered state of mine. Surely, there’s a way that’s legal and doesn’t involve damaging our liver, lungs, and brain. If we’re to believe that nature isn’t stupid and understands that human beings need to re-arrange their brain matter every now and then, then surely it has a natural way for us to do so.

It turns out that such a way exists. It’s legal, but it’s not something you can do on a school playground. It’s natural, but it sometimes involves accessories that aren’t found in nature. It also has an abundance of instruction material, some of which I’ve written.

Yes, I’m talking about BDSM, or Bondage, Domination/Submission, and Masochism. Yes, this is going to be another one of those articles.

I’ve written about it before. I’ve even incorporated it into some of my books. We already know, surprisingly enough, that BDSM has health benefits. We also know that BDSM played a big part in the creation of Wonder Woman. Surely something that helped create an icon like Wonder Woman has merit.

Well, it may actually have more than just merit. It may actually do more than just do more than just improve your mental health. At this point, I don’t think BDSM needs any more appeal. I think the success of “50 Shades of Grey” and the babies born as a result of it have proven that beyond any reasonable doubt.

Despite this, nature decides to go for broke and gives it yet another benefit. It turns out it can actually alter your state of mind. It can do for your mind what a cocktail of illicit drugs and alcohol also do, but with less damaging side-effects. Nature isn’t usually this overt so I think we better listen.

So what exactly is going on here? How is it that BDSM can significantly alter your mental state in a way that doesn’t involve risking a raid by the DEA? Well, the fine folks at ThinkTank lay it out once again. As is often the case with issues of intimacy and sex, it follows a perverse, but understandable line of logic.

One of the key components of BDSM involves stressing the mind and body in ways that don’t typically happen at the office, in the fields, or in the mines. It can turn the powerful into the weak and the weak into the powerful. It can take a mind from one extreme to another and back again.

Think about it for a moment, but in a way that won’t require clean underwear. You come home stressed. You’re upset, anxious, and unable to relax. Then, your lover enters the room. He or she offers to tie you up, lay you out, and make it so you can’t focus on any of the crap that’s stressing you out.

Or maybe your lover has a different approach. Maybe he or she enters the room in handcuffs wearing nothing but a mask, a gag, and leather boots. They offer you a chance to dominate and control them in ways that you can’t do in any other aspect of your life. Can you see how that would be a powerful rush for someone?

It’s a power that can affect both men and women alike. Both genders can be submissive. Both genders can be dominate. Both can do so in their own unique way, crafting their own unique strategy. It gives everyone the power to mold their own experience. That’s something you’re just not going to get with whiskey, cigarettes, or other illicit drugs.

If we’re going to apply this to caveman logic, as I’m prone to do on this blog, we can see why this mind-altering appeal is there in the first place. Our brains are not precise tools. They’re blunt instruments. That’s why they’re prone to malfunction in bizarre ways. That’s also why they’re prone to have multiple types of orgasms.

It’s because the brain is wired for both pleasure and pain that BDSM has a naturally broad impact. It takes a mind to multiple extremes, from pleasure to pain, in a very intimate setting. Being such a crude instrument, that’s bound to alter someone’s mental state. It’s also bound to impact brain chemistry, hence the mental health impact.

This means that feelings like love, intimacy, pleasure, and pain are all going to be mixed into one potent pool of experience. Our brains, being so crude, aren’t equipped to process every one of them individually all at once. There’s bound to be some mixing and mashing going on. There’s bound to be a flood of chemical cocktails swarming around in our brain matter. Like the chemical cocktails we drink, smoke, or inject, it alters our state of mind.

Like any mind-altering experience, chemical or otherwise, it can be abused and misused. People can overdue it. People can get hurt. Then again, people can drink too much and get hung over. People can smoke too much and get lung cancer. It all comes down to moderation and understanding what you’re doing. Like being a mechanic or a brain surgeon, it helps to learn and refine your craft.

I like to think I offer some help with my books, but I understand that only goes so far. As BDSM becomes more mainstream, the taboo that keeps people from exploring it will become less an issue. If people can more freely discuss their intimate needs, then I say that’s a net benefit, especially to those exploring their kinky side.

There’s still a ways to go. We’re still not at a place when we can openly discuss how we like being tied up or what sort of whips we enjoy without getting awkward glares at Starbucks. We’re on our way though and I do hope some of my books will help with that. Using BDSM to enter an altered state is just one of the many benefits that our capacity for intimacy offers. On top of that, the side-effects are way less painful than hangovers.

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