Weekly Wonder Woman

Review: Wonder Woman #2

Wonder Woman #2

Firstly, a little circumspection. It’s easy to view comics in isolation, particularly when you’re only interested in one series, so I should probably mention here that Wonder Woman #1 was one of the best of the “New 52” that DC produced last month. Having waded through the first issues of Batwoman, Catwoman, Supergirl, Batman, Justice League, Justice League Dark, Men of War, Superman and Action Comics, I’d say Wonder Woman #1 was probably the best of the lot, a clean story without endless amounts of continuity bogging it down, almost nothing that could be construed as sexually exploitative and while not going too far in explaining itself, did at least make the concession to potential newcomers that this might be their first issue so didn’t assume much of the readers in terms of backstory.

I still have reservations about it: Wonder Woman was a little underpowered and there’s no trace of Diana’s internal monologue, which has been in the comics since the days of Perez and possibly even before. I’m not so keen on the (literal) dehumanising of the gods and the loss of “the pants” I think is a step backwards. With Chiang and Azzarello coming from a background in Vertigo, DC’s adult/horror imprint, it was perhaps more adult and gory than the comic has been of late and – how shall I put this? – it was quite a macho/masculine take on Wonder Woman.

But on the whole, it was a great start to the run. Let’s face it: when Gail Simone was writing it not so long ago, it sunk to about number 89 in the charts. I have no idea where it was when JMS was writing it this past year or so, but I suspect lower. But Wonder Woman #1 was actually 13th in the charts last month and sold over 100,000 copies. So it’s certainly doing something right.

Now, though, we’re onto issue #2 and we’re launching into the story proper. Can Azzarello and Chiang add flesh to the pared-down, bare bones of #1 to keep us reading?

Continue reading “Review: Wonder Woman #2”

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Weekly Wonder Woman

Review: Wonder Woman #2

Wonder Woman #2

Firstly, a little circumspection. It’s easy to view comics in isolation, particularly when you’re only interested in one series, so I should probably mention here that Wonder Woman #1 was one of the best of the “New 52” that DC produced last month. Having waded through the first issues of Batwoman, Catwoman, Supergirl, Batman, Justice League, Justice League Dark, Men of War, Superman and Action Comics, I’d say Wonder Woman #1 was probably the best of the lot, a clean story without endless amounts of continuity bogging it down, almost nothing that could be construed as sexually exploitative and while not going too far in explaining itself, did at least make the concession to potential newcomers that this might be their first issue so didn’t assume much of the readers in terms of backstory.

I still have reservations about it: Wonder Woman was a little underpowered and there’s no trace of Diana’s internal monologue, which has been in the comics since the days of Perez and possibly even before. I’m not so keen on the (literal) dehumanising of the gods and the loss of “the pants” I think is a step backwards. With Chiang and Azzarello coming from a background in Vertigo, DC’s adult/horror imprint, it was perhaps more adult and gory than the comic has been of late and – how shall I put this? – it was quite a macho/masculine take on Wonder Woman.

But on the whole, it was a great start to the run. Let’s face it: when Gail Simone was writing it not so long ago, it sunk to about number 89 in the charts. I have no idea where it was when JMS was writing it this past year or so, but I suspect lower. But Wonder Woman #1 was actually 13th in the charts last month and sold over 100,000 copies. So it’s certainly doing something right.

Now, though, we’re onto issue #2 and we’re launching into the story proper. Can Azzarello and Chiang add flesh to the pared-down, bare bones of #1 to keep us reading?

Continue reading “Review: Wonder Woman #2”

Weekly Wonder Woman

Review: Wonder Woman #1

Wonder Woman #1

Poor old Wonder Woman. What a year – her 70th no less. She’s been having nothing but trouble. Let’s put to one side for a moment the problems of her intended TV adventures and look to her true home: comics.

Still trouble.

A year or so ago, lauded writer Gail Simone was just leaving the title. She’d left it in quite a nice state. Wonder Woman was getting to grips with “man’s world”, relationships, friendships, daughterhood, her new power (Zeus’s lightning bolts), et al. Achilles had settled down from his time as The Olympian. The Amazons were tickety-boo for a change. Everything seemed happy and all set for the next writer, J Michael Straczynski. They even reverted the numbering scheme for the comic back to #600 in celebration for the next issue.

Gail Simone's final page of Wonder Woman

(Forgive the gorillas – it’s a long story).

Then along comes JMS and everything gets shaken up. Everything Gail Simone did is thrown to one side. We get an alternative Wonder Woman with a new costume, who lives in a world where the Amazons are all dead, Wonder Woman is an orphan. Paradise Island is in ruins. The gods have gone. And she has a new costume, too. This wasn’t Wonder Woman as we knew it or her.

The cover to Wonder Woman #601

So lots of people stopped reading it, including me. By about issue #608, though, it soon became clear that Wonder Woman’s ‘Odyssey’ wasn’t exactly what everyone thought it was and in fact the major reboot was a bit more minor and Wonder Woman would in all likelihood get back to something like her normal self by the end of JMS’s run on the title. Which she did, although she got to keep her new costume.

The final page of JMS's run

I actually ended up going back over the run once it was done to read the earlier issues, because it was quite a clever subversion of the whole Wonder Woman mythos that led to something stronger. Trouble was, it took a year to do and at the end of it, turned out to be a little pointless.

Because DC had its own major reboot planned for no fewer than 52 of its titles, including Wonder Woman. Nothing was ever going to be the same again, just as at the end of the pan-DC ‘Infinite Crisis’ arc back in the 80s. The question was, how was everything going to be different? To be honest, no one yet knows and DC hasn’t exactly been forthcoming, beyond telling us everything was going to be different and every single comic was going to start from issue #1 again.

Wonder Woman senses the #52 are coming

It’s an easily satirisable position.

Now, four weeks into the relaunch, we have issue #1 of the all-new Wonder Woman. Has it all been worth it? Have there been many changes?

Well, Diana does have a new costume – again…

Continue reading “Review: Wonder Woman #1”

Adrianne Palicki As Wonder Woman
Weekly Wonder Woman

Review: Wonder Woman (2011) (US: NBC)

In the US: Made in 2011 for NBC (US) (never aired)

So I’m going to out myself as a bit of a Wonder Woman fan. I love her in the comics (with the right authors such as George Perez, Gail Simone and Greg Rucka), we have the whole 1970s TV series on DVD, we have the animated movie on iTunes and lovely wife has a Wonder Woman mug to drink from. I even have a couple of Wonder Woman encyclopaedias on the shelves.

I know. Sad.

But I’ll tell you for why. As well as Wonder Woman being one of the very few iconic and powerful female superheroes out there, the DC universe is such that while Superman is off fighting sci-fi enemies, Batman is fighting human grotesques and Captain Marvel is off beating up magical villains, Wonder Woman is the fourth iconic pillar: she’s the mythological hero, fighting gods and monsters. Her stories are unique and she has a necessary, irreplaceable area of the comics world to call her own.

But there’s still more to her: she is literally an emissary from the Greek gods, who are second to none in the DC universe (no Christian or any other monotheistic gods at the top of this pantheon), and they have imbued her with their powers to give their mortals a message: there’s a better way to live than patriarchy.

In other words, despite what you may or may not think about her costume, she’s just about the only feminist and indeed religious superhero out there and when she prays, her prayers are answered.

Wonder Woman's prayer is answered

Wonder Woman’s TV and movie career is a little checkered. There was a dreadful 1967 pilot that tried to do for Wonder Woman what the Batman TV series did for the caped crusader – camp it up. Then Cathy Lee Crosby did a quite awful TV movie version that preserved most of the trappings of Wonder Woman, but robbed her of all her powers.

Lynda Carter had a much better time of things from 1976, with three seasons of The New Adventures of Wonder Woman. The first season, set as the original comic was during World War 2, wasn’t bad and did a reasonably good job of presenting the Wonder Woman of the early comics.

However, the later seasons, set in quasi-modern/futuristic times, became very camp sci-fi affairs.

Nevertheless, none of these versions have really depicted the comics version of Wonder Woman, who can fly, is as strong and as fast as Superman, can talk to animals, has the wisdom of Athena and is a trained Amazon warrior. That means it’s largely been left to animated shows and movies to depict the real Wonder Woman halfway decently.

Recently, however, in this, Wonder Woman’s 70th anniversary year, NBC tried to make another TV version of Wonder Woman. For some reason, however, they got David E Kelley of Ally McBeal, Boston Legal and Harry’s Law fame to do this. It’s not been picked up for series, so will probably never get onto TV (just like that very first Wonder Woman pilot), but just for the sake of completeness and curiosity, I’ve watched it and, well, it’s exactly what you think it would be like: never has a superhero worried so much about the law, jurisdiction, search warrants and the difficulties of her love life, as well as the pressures of running a company and being a woman in today’s world.

Here’s the intro and a fan-made compilation-trailer – the full pilot is at the end!

Continue reading “Review: Wonder Woman (2011) (US: NBC)”

The original 1967 pilot for Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman is one of those comic book characters that everyone’s heard of, but not too many people know much about or especially like.

No?

Quick quiz: can you explain Batman’s origins? Superman’s? Spiderman’s?

How about Wonder Woman’s?

Probably not. You have to be a special kind of geek to know it (a princess from a hidden island of Amazons, imbued with the powers of the Greek gods).

Okay, there’s many a boy (and girl) who rather enjoyed Lynda Carter’s interpretation of the role in the 70s Wonder Woman TV series. But a previous attempt in 1974 with Cathy Lee Crosby in the role didn’t do especially well, recent attempts to get a film version up and running have fallen flat, despite Joss Buffy Whedon’s best efforts, and sales of the comic haven’t exactly been stellar.

What you may not know is that way back in the 60s, just as Adam West’s Batman had become popular, the powers that be tried to create another Wonder Woman TV series. Unfortunately, they tried to use Batman as a template, and turned it into a comedy.

Here, for your delectation, is the pilot episode in glorious YouTube vision. See if you can work out for yourself while it flopped – it’s only five minutes long. Enjoy!

PS If you ever want to be fascinated, read up about the original intent behind the character of Wonder Woman. William Moulton Marston – the guy who invented the lie detector and a Harvard-educated psychologist – created Wonder Woman to indoctrinate girls and boys, ready for the day he believed was coming in which women would rule the world. It’s true:

“Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world… Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.