What does Wonder Woman have to do with Jane Austen? Nothing, as far as I am aware, but that was kind of the point when I wrote the following short story for Bad Austen a couple of years ago. Published by Adams Media, the book is an eclectic anthology of stories (some tasteful, some not so much) written in parody of Jane Austen’s style, themes, language, and characters. (You can read my other contribution – Miss Dashwood Gets Down and Dirty – here at Austen Authors too)
I used the opening pages of Northanger Abbey as my inspiration for Woman of Wonder, specifically Austen’s explanation of how the unlikely Catherine Morland had no choice but to become the heroine destiny had decreed. Then I let the silly side of my imagination go from there.
Upon further reflection, however, I’m inclined to believe this is exactly the sort of silliness Jane would have enjoyed. It makes me think of her adroit use of humor in her juvenile works, or the kind of thing she might have written to entertain her nieces and nephews in later years. So, all seriousness aside, here is…
WOMAN OF WONDER
No one who had ever seen Wonder Woman in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine. Her character, situation, and temper were all equally against such an eventuality. And fate seemed at first wholly disinclined to lend a hand.
A glimpse of little Diana – for so she was then called – surely conjured up no image of future greatness in the beholder’s eye. Indeed, as amazons go, her looks did not exceed the average by a single jot. A graceless figure, an awkward fashion sense, and a total want of complexion combined to ill effect. The resulting picture all but shouted that this was a child destined for mediocrity.
Equally unpropitious for heroism seemed the turn of little Diana’s mind. She greatly preferred reading to the more standard juvenile pursuits – swordplay, mastering the lasso, fending off lightning bolts – and rarely attended to the insinuations of her well-intentioned relations that she would be wise to cultivate whatsoever latent super powers she might possess.
Such were Diana’s youthful propensities. But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of every disobliging circumstance imaginable cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a call to heroism in her way.
By and by, her looks improved tolerably, and her other abilities developed apace, to the point that her martial arts master went so far as to call her efforts “satisfactory.” Then on the day of her eighteen birthday, she cast a most auspicious gaze across the mystical veil that hung betwixt her home on the island of Themiscyra to the sphere of Man. Diana happened to spy there a handsome mortal of a more than usually interesting aspect, whom she thereafter made the subject of her constant study.
During a mandatory warrior training class one day, she confided her observations to her best friend Anita, who is also know as Power Girl. “He is just what a young man ought to be,” Diana said, deftly evading the saber thrust of her male sparing partner. “Tall – a singular virtue to which every young man must by all means aspire – and I never saw such an happy union of noble character and physical perfection. Certainly, I’ve not encountered his equal in this place,” she said with a disdainful glare at the feeble specimen cowering at the point of her sword.
“Then I give you leave to like him… from afar, that is,” replied Anita, registering a hit against her opponent as well. “No doubt this man of yours is possessed of a little more wit than the rest, but mortals are by nature stupid and helpless creatures.”
“What care I for such trifles? I simply must be near him; nothing else will do.”
“Consider carefully, Diana! As you well know, the only way for one of us to cross over to the human world is in the guise of a super hero.”
“Then my course is clear. A super hero I must become. I will do it for him.”
And thus, Wonder Woman came into being.
What do you think? Would Jane have approved? Do you?
BTW, the featured image at the top of the post is a shot I took on Maui a few years back. We had driven up Haleakala, hoping to view the sunset from the top, only to find the mountain was wreathed in clouds. On the way back down, however, we came to a place where, right on cue, the clouds parted into layers – some above us and some below. So we watched the setting sun from there, suspended in the clouds. Magical! I thought of this view when I wrote that Diana “cast her gaze across the mystical veil” between her world and man’s.