Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It´s Wonder Woman Wednesday !

Today Lynda Carter, the one true ( and as far as live action adaptions the only ) Wonder Woman of tv celebrates her 62nd birthday so I thought it´s about time to put the spotlight on DC´s amazon princess.

I already did a post about the Wonder Woman tv show and one about Lynda Carter´s other tv and movie appearances on her 60th birthday and since there´s nothing I could add to it let´s talk about the comic instead.

Right now the new incarnation of Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang ( occasionally ) is one of the few good books of the NEW 52 and I´m eagerly awaiting the third hardcover which comes out in September so there´s really nothing I could say about that which I haven´t already said. But, as coincidence would have it - and I really don´t believe in coincidences - just Yesterday I started re - reading John Byrne´s WONDER WOMAN issues upon which I stumbled ( and I really almost stumbled over them the way the comic boxes were piled ) while putting my brother´s comics in order. I know, I probably shouldn´t do that but since he´s in Spain at the moment that´s a rare occasion I just had to use - think of it as an additional birthday gift if you will. Now, as with most comics my brother collects they are kept in several places so there still are some missing issues of John Byrne´s run. One of the main reasons I wanted to give it another go was that I wasn´t sure what exactly happened in those issues but I also wanted to see if they would hold up after all this time.Or rather if the reading experience would be different with a bit of distance.


John Byrne came onto the book after a phenomenal run by William Messner - Loebs and Mike Deodato that was really all about fan service and booty. Not that there´s something inherently wrong with that. I mean, FINALLY somebody who could draw hot women was working on a book with a female lead character. And it was selling like cupcakes.

Who would have thought ? Here the two big comic companies were fighting against babe artists drawing books with female leads for decades as if their life depended on it and suddenly if happened.

And the ground didn´t break open and swallow all life on the planet, the earth didn´t stop spinning and the sky didn´t fall and no other apocalyptic scenario was played out. I guess it all was just superstition on part of the publishers. Well, it still is when you look at most of the output Today but while there didn´t happen too much storywise ( at least in the single issues ) there was enough eye candy in the issues to keep the readers happy. And I´m not excluding myself in the least bit. Heck, I have the original issues AND the german translations and I really didn´t need them to read again or compare both versions. It was just printed on better paper. But we all were enthralled. Even the german publishers - which at that time was DINO - started with those issues and closed the collection before reaching the Byrne issues because " they could not hold up to the high standard of the previous run " or something along those lines.

And that was what a lot of people thought about the John Byrne issues. For those not familiar with the storyline by William Messner - Loebs, the story started in THE CONTEST where Diana lost the title of Wonder Woman to Artemis in a contest. Artemis went out into " man´s world " to enforce peace by any means necessary while Diana donned a new black costume ( why have all new costumes to be black ? ) and did her own thing. After issues of Diana wondering if she really helped to promote the idea of peace between the sexes in man´s world the grand scheme behind all was revealed. Diana´s mom Hippolyta, queen of the amazons, rigged the contest because she had a vision that something would happen to Wonder Woman. It was also implied that Herakles was her father.

Which made more sense than her father being Zeus like it is in the NEW 52 since there already was an established history with Herakles and the amazons. What I always found a bit hard to swallow was the different approach to this part of Herakles´ or Hercules´ story by DC and Marvel.

I mean after Dan Slott defamed Starfox as a rapist in one of the most ridiculous stories in a long line of ridiculous stories in the She Hulk series I halfway expected him to tarnish Hercules next. Although because there was no equivalent to Wonder Woman in the Marvel universe I don´t know who would have sued Hercules. But they mostly keep quiet about it and I think the only time it was really addressed was in issue 2 of AVENGERS / JLA by Kurt Busiek and George Perez ( which is really required reading for any fan of the Avengers, the Justice League or comics in general ) when Wonder Woman is all gun ho about opening a can of whupass on Herc and he´s all : " Hey, what´s the big deal here ? I didn´t do nothing wrong. "

I mean the way Hercules is always written in the Marvel universe I doubt he would even realize it if he had treated the amazons badly. Or if he had he would just downplay the whole bit as just a minor jest.

Anyway, back to Wonder Woman and John Byrne I have to say I really didn´t like it when I first read it. Because when John Byrne takes over a book he´s not gonna do the same thing the guys before him did. John Byrne´s doing his thing when he´s doing his thing. And in the case of Wonder Woman it meant using all the shiny Jack Kirby toys like Darkseid and the New Gods and Metron ( who is neither of Apokalips nor of New Genesis as the Byrnster himself never gets tired of reminding readers in later runs ) and Etrigan and dozens of other guest stars.

And I was really not that impressed by the whole storyline. Although I have to say that even upon the second reading and now with me having much more appreciation of the whole Jack Kirby stuff and John Byrne as a creator the first five to six issues are still kind of a hard sell. Byrne needs a few issues before he really starts to get a feeling for the characters and he has a direction for the whole thing.


The whole exodus from Paradise Island seems more of a statement than really story relevant and I think it could have been achieved without destroying Paradise Island and such a high body count for the amazons. You can just realize that it´s not your thing at the moment and just walk away to search for your place in the grand scheme. It doesn´t always have to be life and death and doom and gloom even if it´s comic books.

Another thing I didn´t like was the new costume John Byrne gave Wonder Woman. I had expected a more traditional costume after the flashdance outfit she got from Deodato but this new costume was just - well, lazy. Just two stars on each side of the pants, a tiara that´s much to big to be anything than a distraction during fights and the new size of her bracelets was just ridiculous. Now I know that drawing all those stars on the pants really takes a lot of time and John just wanted to do his own thing but back then it just looked lazy to me. What I DID like very much was the way John Byrne drew Wonder Woman in her civilian threads when she goes " undercover " in the first issue. For all I cared she could have worn jeans, a t - shirt and the ponytail for the whole issue. It really is strange how the biggest differences in her looks has to do with her hair.

Deodato´s black costume aside, the only other time her look changed drastically was when later on they cut her hair. It sounds sexist and ever since India Arie we all know " I am not my hair " but it´s also true. 

But as I look on the clock it´s once again time to wrap things up. I wanted to write a bit more but for some strange reason my security program had to do a full scan which slowed things down a bit.

So, let´s get to the meat and potatoes right away. I really did enjoy the whole run much more so far which could have something to do with the fact that I was explicitly reading because of John Byrne and was ready for all the usual tropes he uses. In fact I was strongly expecting it. I relished appearances by characters like Cave Carson and hisspelunking crew going to the center of the earth or the Phantom Stranger and Etrigan although I have to say I liked him much more in the BLOOD OF THE DEMON series John Byrne did a few years later. Initially I even thought new Wonder Woman supporting character officer Mike Schorr appeared in that series but it was just another guy who looked like him. Mike gets a lot of play in John Byrne´s run ( even knowing that his main purpose is providing exposition for the readers ) and he´s just fun to read.

Another delight is reading the letters pages especially with the hindsight of knowing what will come in a few decades down the road. So, sorry, partner but you will have to suffer the new Wonder Girl for quite a few decades. She will be in Young Justice and eventually even become a full fledged member - and for a time even leader - of the Teen Titans.

Or, like a great philosopher once said : Sorry about your damn luck !

Wonder Girl says : " This is just the beginning. Suffer, dude ! "

Last but not least I have to mention the covers. During the run by Mike Deodato - and at least 30 issues before that - Brian Bolland was just churning out one brilliant cover after another.

He really doesn´t do much interior work anymore so losing this parade of instant masterpieces in favor of John Byrne made the transition just more painful for me. As big a fan as I am of John Byrne, give me a Brian Bolland cover any day. But this is a bit eased once Jose Luis Garcia Lopez takes over as regular cover artist. Like Brian Bolland he really should do more stuff and that man can´t draw a subpar picture - ever. I mean, just look at this cover below. My god, what a master of perspective and composition. He even makes Kyle´s threads and the Zapp - Superman costume look good which is really no small feat in itself.

So maybe I can read more Wonder Woman issues Tomorrow. I´m slowly coming to the part with the missing issues which is right in the middle of Hippolyta´s new / oldadventures as Wonder Woman with the Justice Society and the whole re - re - re - writing of Donna Troy´s origin.

Why do they always have to do that ? It´s like a scab and the writers just keep poking at it and poking at it until it pops. And it gets worse and more convoluted each time. I know that it´s probably a tradition or a rite of passage for writers to write one WHO IS DONNA TROY ? story but that´s one part of John Byrne´s run I´m really not looking forward to. I just wonder into how big of a trainwreck DC is going to turn this storyline into in the NEW 52 continuity now that they seem to have run out of new ideas and started to milk old stories like the death of Robin.


No post is complete without some covers from my DEJA VUE section and since I mentioned the whole " Who is Donna Troy / Wonder Girl ? " thing I wanted thise covers but then I remembered that I already did that. So instead here´s Donna Troy making a splash with her new costume.

Anyway, I wanted to put this on the blog Today since while it was a really exhausting day with sudden bouts of rain during work - and at the last minute - and all Tomorrow ( or better Today since it´s already past three o´clock ) is my special day and I want to just chill. I just hope I have bought everything I need and that the only time I have to leave the house is to go to the ice cream parlor for an extra big ice cream bowl. I hope you have a great Wonder Woman Day, you all.

In my last post I put a video of a Roger Corman video at the end and since it will probably take a while longer than planned before I can do that post here is another one that is really worth watching. It´s an adaption of Edgar Allen Poe´s THE PREMATURE BURIAL in which a few changes have been made that don´t distract from the enjoyment of the movie.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest

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