Time to move. New Year has brought many digital wonders with it, not the least of which is a shiny new Wonder Woman comic, Wonder Woman ’77, that features the unmistakable visages of Lynda Carter and Lyle Waggoner in some all-new 1970s-set weekly adventures. I’ll be looking at the first issue of that after the jump and wondering if this is the TV series in comic form or something slightly different.
On top of that, alternative-reality, punching Wonder Woman has just woken up in Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Three and the formerly missing in action Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman has also returned, but in a change of schedule, it’s now out on Tuesdays.
All of which means that Tuesdays and Thursdays – with Wednesdays for Wonder Woman, Superman/Wonder Woman, Justice League and any other comics featuring our heroine – are chockablock with Wonder Woman comics, which makes a Tuesday ‘Weekly Wonder Woman’ look a bit silly. So from this week, WWW is moving to Fridays – in fact, you’ll be getting another one of these this Friday to take in today’s releases (which I haven’t read yet).
How wonderful. Reviews after the jump.
Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three #15
Wonder Woman is still asleep thanks to whatever magical ally John Constantine has invoked. What’s she dreaming of? Superman/Wonder Woman apparently.
Except all good things must come to an end, thanks to an unholy/holy alliance between Hippolyta, Ares and Hera – something for which Ares has exacted a price.
Of course, a lot has happened since Wonder Woman fell asleep, quite a lot of it to Clark, and it’s going to take a while for Diana to get up to speed with it all, I suspect…
Is it any good?
It’s hard to say. It’s obviously good to have Diana back, but not quite like this and many of the issue’s faults aren’t self-created but emerge from the problems of the overall Injustice: Gods Among Us universe.
So for starters – apart from the usual ‘boobtastic’ artwork of Injustice – we have the problem that Diana has been asleep for months and despite, presumably, inhabiting a fantasy world of her own creation that she’s supposed to be enjoying – cf Superman’s dream in issues #13/14 – all she appears to have been dreaming about is Superman and they’ve not even got as far as a kiss.
Inherited from Year One we also have the somewhat problematic notion that Diana, the exemplar of womanhood, is willing to be whoever Superman needs her to be. It’s not exactly the most feminist of storylines, is it – nothing to dream about but a man she’s willing to passively metamorphose for and even then nothing ever happens? Where’s Wonder Woman’s id in this dreamworld? Where are her desires? Where’s even her dream of a reformed and peaceful world?
Still, maybe we’ll get that in later issues and the interactions between the two are at least romantic in places. It’s also interesting how now that Superman/Wonder Woman – and indeed Superman-Wonder Woman – has been established as canon for a couple of years, this dream pairing feel like a reversion to normality, to the way things should be, rather than the universe of Injustice which had Lois and Clark together and felt like the alternative, incorrect continuity.
We also have the return of Ares, who had been given a clobbering by both Superman and Wonder Woman last we looked. Clearly, gods are still gods in this reality, thankfully, so isn’t dead. However, the issue also establishes that this isn’t just an alternative to a previous DC universe, but effectively an alternative to all DC universes. As well as Wonder Woman’s outfit being an amalgam of her Volume 2/3 outfit and her Odyssey outfit and Ares looking like he did in Volume 2, too, we also have the notion that Hera isn’t quite the goddess to call on for help, particularly by the blonde Hippolyta. These latter two notes are more in keeping with the nu52 universe than those previous universes, since Hera was something of a benefactor to Diana in those, with no animosity to the then-dark haired Hippolyta. Will we be getting more bleed-in from the nu52 in later issues I wonder?
All the same, despite these flaws, it’s good to have Wonder Woman back. Let’s see what she’s going to make of the new world order – and Sinestro – in the next few issues.
Wonder Woman ’77 #1
Wonder Woman is fighting some Russians, including Mother Russia (no, not the one from Kick Ass), so she can save a defecting Russian scientist from being abducted.
Back at the office, ‘Diana Prince’ and Steve Trevor discuss this and other attempted abductions with I.R.A. – no, not terrorists: the office computer.
In an effort to protect another scientist, the two of them go undercover at the disco Studio 52.
But who should be welcomed to the stage while they’re there but the Silver Swan… and her band!
Is it any good?
A while ago, I was wondering who was going to buy this particular title. My answer was that DC was after ‘Silver Surfers’ – older readers who might remember the original TV series and who are ready to read digital comics. And to some extent this first issue confirms that suspicion.
However, I can’t help but wonder if DC really knows who it’s aiming Wonder Woman ’77 at. For starters, if you’re a fan of the original series, you’re probably going to find the artwork a little off-putting. While the cover Nicola Scott and Annette Kwok is a magnificent portrait of Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman and Drew Johnson’s interior likenesses are almost as good, Johnson’s Waggoner/Trevor is at best a decent facsimile that doesn’t quite match up to his appearance in seasons two and three of Wonder Woman.
Secondly, this doesn’t feel like it’s written by someone who was around in the 1970s, but someone who’s ‘just visiting’ for the sake of kitsch. While the TV series itself wasn’t immune from the occasional Russian storyline, this was the era of detente and it wasn’t until 1979 and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that the Cold War resumed in earnest. Defectors and Mother Russia are a bit too soon for a strip set in 1977.
Add on top of that the disco setting in the very first issue (named in a direct head nod after both the famous Studio 54 and the nu52) and we have something that feels touristy – like someone heading to the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty as soon as they get to New York, rather than settling down to their old haunts in Brooklyn.
Thirdly, we have the question of which Wonder Woman we’re actually seeing here. Now, it’s worth remembering that TV Wonder Woman was different even from the Volume 1 Wonder Woman of the comics being printed at the time, not to mention later versions in the 80s and beyond the Infinite Crisis reboot. Probably immortal and not born of clay, she couldn’t fly and her strength came largely from her golden belt, rather than from her Amazon training or blessings of the gods. That meant that when she was ‘Diana Prince’, she didn’t have the strength or abilities of Wonder Woman.
And yet we have this scene, in which Diana Prince jumps up to a balcony in Studio 52.
And while she could merely be jumping, this looks very much like a flying Wonder Woman.
Indeed, so while we have many of the trappings of the show, including I.R.A. and the famous costume change spin…
… this doesn’t feel so much like a comic targeted at fans of the old show, particularly ones who were alive at the time, so much as those with a passing familiarity with the show and Wonder Woman fans in general.
Indeed, the most likely target for the issue are members of the latter group who regard Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman as both the Platonic and platonic ideal of the character and the nu52 version as little more than a ‘Xena Warrior Princess knock-off’. As well as the kind of worthy expressions about peace for which the TV series and Volumes 1-3 Wonder Woman were noted (“My pleasure, sir. We need men like you on the side of good”), we have long-term Wonder Woman villain Silver Swan.
Now the Silver Swan has changed considerably over the years, but it’s first worth noting that she didn’t show up until 1982, five years after this comic is set and three years after the TV series finished. Her original, Volume 1 incarnation was a ballet dancer, Helen Alexandros, descended from Helen of Troy and who’s given her special abilities by Mars, but she’s best known from her Volume 2 encounters with Wonder Woman (particularly the Vanessa Kapatelis) version. Indeed, this Silver Swan’s costume with its crop top, while arguably in keeping with the 1970s setting, is clearly a nod to those later versions…
…rather than to Helen Alexandros’s ‘helmeted’ outfit*:
So while the Silver Swan is clearly a crowd pleaser whose appearance will delight the fans, she’s not really there for fans of the TV show, so much as fans who remember the 1980s and later, and who wish more of Wonder Woman’s ‘old’ foes were in the nu52 – or perhaps even wished that Volume 2-3 Wonder Woman could have been drawn as Lynda Carter.
Is this a winning strategy? Maybe. Perhaps a combination of the name-check value with the general public, the good will of all fans (including nu52-haters) and general interest will be enough to make it as popular as even Batman ’66.
That aside, how does the issue stand up? It’s brief, to say the least, with just a fight of not much note, a couple of pages of plot explanation back at the office, and the later ‘undercover’ infiltration of Studio 52. But rather than be lots of plot development, the issue is more about build up and introduction than about story. It also enables writer Mark Andreyko to put his cards on the table and show the reader what kind of comic he’s writing, how the characters are going to be and generally reassure readers that this isn’t the nu52 and that the TV series is definitely at the back of his mind.
The references, if you spot them, are fun – if you don’t, you might be a little mystified, unfortunately. Who’s this (or even who are they?), for example?
And the fact the first issue includes an old villain from the comics also suggests that Andreyko is going for a TV-comic hybrid, rather than simply telling the same stories as the TV show, in an effort to get the best of both worlds.
If you were expecting the TV series in comic form, think again, but Wonder Woman ’77 is decently crafted, should appeal to most fans at least and has the capacity to build on that foundation to perhaps even fix the TV series’ flaws. I can’t imagine it’ll get a huge audience and it won’t please everyone, but it’s a worthy addition to the weekly Wonder Woman line-up.
* Admittedly, Alexandros’ costume does change in later issues, but she still maintains the ‘helmet’ look for the rest of her run:
Disclaimer: Owing to the small fortune it would take to buy every single DC comic each week, this is not a guaranteed rundown of all the comics that feature Wonder Woman. If you know of any I’ve missed, email me or leave a comment below and I’ll cover them the following week