I bought my first Wonder Woman graphic novel when I was 13. Admittedly, I only picked it off the shelf because it was a Batman crossover storyline (the first issue of "Trinity" for those of you following along at home). I was skeptical to be honest (since we all know Superman is what happens when you give a Boy Scout a should-be-lethal dose of steroids) - how cool could this chick be? But as soon as I met Diana, Princess of the Amazons, I was smitten.
I mean, Diana is gorgeous, let's be honest. I don't think she was the first crush I ever had on a girl, but she was pretty close. But I was here for Batman!
I couldn't put it down.
On the surface, it can seem that she is everything Batman is not. Look a little closer, and you realize they're always fighting for the same thing. The difference is that Batman is fighting in spite of humanity, while Diana fights for the love of it. Batman is justice and mercy; Diana is grace. Grace is love and compassion that never has to be earned, because it is your birthright. Grace is help when you don't deserve it. Grace is the breath that brought you into this world, and the breath that never leaves you until the day you die.
There's darkness and light in all of us, something that Batman and Diana both recognize; but while Batman tries to save us from our darkest selves, Diana shines in the light and invites us to join her. You can't have one without the other, just like you can't have Batman without the Joker - and like Gotham or Metropolis or Paris, we live in the tension between the two.
When I lost my graphic novel collection almost four years ago, it was many many months before I could go into a bookstore again without feeling like I was just looking at piles upon piles of future ashes. And even longer before I felt like I could buy a comic book without serious indecision and anguish. Yeah, they were just books - but they were my books. I'd memorized every panel, every line of dialogue. I even had a couple of the super weird issues of Batman where he's one of the Knights Templar or a vampire. Even so, I only ever bought that one storyline that involved Diana. Her hope and love didn't seem like it could survive on a shelf, let alone in a world that also had Jokers and terrorists and people who stood by and did nothing. And when all those books burned, I wasn't sure I would ever buy another comic again - especially one that was filled with hope and love. Didn't suit the mood.
But I think that's the point. Grace and mercy have claws, too. And batarangs and lassoes and bulletproof armor. They'll sink into you and won't let go until you look them in the eyes and see your own choices reflected back at you. Darkness, or light?
So do yourself a favor - as much as you love Batman (and BELIEVE ME I get it, ride or die over here), get to know Diana. We need both of them, now more than ever.
Now if you'll excuse me, I think it's time to start rebuilding my collection - starting with some girl power.