Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wonder Woman #288 (February, 1982)

I thought I owned DC Comics Presents #41, which featured the 16 preview premiere of "The Sensational New Wonder Woman" creative team of Roy Thomas, Gene Colan, and Romeo Tanghal. If I do, it's gone missing, so it's a good thing their recap explained that Captain Diana Prince and Colonel Steve Trevor had been attacked by enemy agents. Trevor was injured, but managed to pass a briefcase of secret documents for Prince to escape with. Wonder Woman dealt with the spies, only to be surprised by representatives of the new (unauthorized) "Wonder Woman Foundation." In order to gain financial backing to spread their message of equality, they asked the actual Wonder Woman for a show of support in the form of a newly designed (and undoubtedly copyrighted) breast piece. As Trevor was carted away in an ambulance, Diana flew to Paradise Island to consult her mother on the matter. Once there, she found the Amazons in chains, and had to outrace Mercury to recover Queen Hippolyta's magic belt of immortal strength. To free the Amazons, the Amazing Amazon bested the main schemer, Hercules, in a match of strength. Finally, Hippolyta advised Diana to abandon her classic eagle breast piece for the new double-W halter, to see if it would do some good in the world.

16 pages, and only 14 for the story. That would be at least one story arc today, and the recap alone would take up an issue.

Back in the States, Wonder Woman learned Steve's injuries were more serious than previously thought, and paid an in-costume visit to Metro General Hospital. This meant she had to brush past insensitive autograph hounds, Dr. Prescott that Trevor was slowly perishing from an unknown cause. Angling for the 1982 Least Credible Doctor Award, Prescott claimed "It's almost as if he-- I don't even know how to put this in medical terminology-- as if his body and his soul are struggling to get out of this world-- into another one!" Sister, I'd look cross-eyed at Zatanna over that line, so you might need to defend your license in the near future. Better yet, Prescott thought Trevor was dying an hour ago, but now "I just don't know." Diana cried and told Steve that she loved him with a kiss, and he woke up briefly for his angel. That's sweet, but nothing says I love you like a Purple Healing Ray, which never came up. Maybe Diana forgot about that along with her knowledge of having loved a previous Steve Trevor who died but had now fallen for this parallel Earth version that she had only known a few month. Yeah, the Crisis happened exactly because of stuff like that.

Cheerfully racing through the streets of the District of Columbia at super-speed, Wonder Woman ran smack dab into some bank robbers. Playing bullets and bracelets slowed her down enough for one thief to escape in a helicopter, until a woman dressed in white with artificial underarm wings flew after the chopper. The seeming heroine tossed a hood out of the helicopter, to be rescued by the grounded Wonder Woman. The vehicle lost stability, and the Amazon Princess noted, "Whoever she is-- she's apparently willing to let the pilot die! With my Magic Lasso, I can guide the 'copter down," into some sort of large water fountain. "Now to find out who that bird-lady is, 'cause she sure isn't Sacajawea... or the Black Canary!" The Silver Swan landed to thank Wonder Woman for her assistance and beguile every man on the scene with her beauty. "I must leave now... but remember my name, won't you?"

Wonder Woman continued on to the alleyway where she had hidden the briefcase full of classified government documents in a trash can, "Zeus knows" how many hours ago. The rubbish remained, and held an indention from the briefcase, but that was it. Wonder Woman mentally called for her Robot Plane to fly to the Pentagon and report her blunder.

Landing her invisible vessel nearby, Wonder Woman became Captain Prince with a spin of her lasso, and asked Etta Candy if their superior was in. "For you, roomie, he's always in." Even under the circumstances, General Darnell was gentle, welcoming, and totally skeevy, offering to protect Prince from inquires into her foul-up while caressing her hair. "I don't want any special favors, sir. May I go now... General Darnell?" Etta was eavesdropping the whole time, and drove her roommate home in her big orange sedan. "Whatever Darnell wants, Di, you sure got it! I haven't heard so much heavy breathing since my last obscene phone call." Prince didn't find it flattering, "since I made it clear I'm not interested in his attentions... or his 'protection.'"

Arriving at their apartment, Etta had forgotten to mention that she was soliciting a third roommate, since their $300 a month rent had just gone up by 50%. Diana was of course worried about her secret identity being compromised, but couldn't let on to Etta that she had vast Amazonian wealth. Their first prospect had already spoken to Etta on the phone, and came by to properly introduce herself. Helen Alexandros, a shy girl with a poor complexion, brought with her the gift of a lost briefcase. Helen had heard Diana and the General's names mentioned after witnessing the aftermath of Steve's attack, and connected her to the found briefcase. It was in fact the reason that she had contacted Etta, with the roommate proposition then offered by Etta. "I... I hope I'm not being pushy, coming over like this. But rooms are so scarce in the Washington-Arlington area...!" Helen specifically sought out Prince because "Men frighten me a little... They always have. I suppose it comes from being so plain all my life... not to mention this skin problem." Diana agreed to accept Helen as another roomie, and planned to make a "middle-aged general very happy" in the morning.

I must say though that based on this one story, Diana Prince is the worst secret agent ever. She left top secret documents in a trash can, had an impromptu meeting with her booster club, blew off Steve in the hospital to run to Paradise Island for a random battle, returned to visit Steve, had a team-up with Silver Swan, was actually surprised when the documents went missing, and then, upon retrieving them, decided to take a shower straight away while they sat unguarded in her living room. How did we ever beat the Russians?

Lieutenant Candy showed Helen to her room, and told her that she used to have zits, too. "My skin cleared up; there's just a lot more of it now." After the door closed, Alexandros laughed with "a malignant triumph... and a lingering, half-stifled bitterness." Helen grew up constantly berated by her mother for taking after her "dirty" father. Her one chance at being beautiful was through ballet, leading her to join a troupe that toured to an Ancient Greek theatre in Athens. The company was in need of a new prima ballerina, and while Helen had the talent, "In real life, the ugly duckling never really gets to play the swan. We'll give Karina a try, eh?" Furious at the injustice, Helen cried out to the heavens while alone in the amphitheater. "Why did you make me so plain-- in a world that values beauty over everything? I-- who was named for Helen of Troy, most desirable woman of all time! Oh, how I hate men-- men, and this cruel and horrible world they've made!! Do you hear me, you gods! I HATE MEN!!"

Helen's own immortal ancestor did hear her, but did not return the hated in kind. "I am he whom the Ancient Greeks did call Ares-- the Romans, Mars, God of War!" Zeus had come to mate with beauteous Leda in the form of a swan, and Helen of Sparta was born of that union. Helen's abandoning of her Greek husband for Prince Paris and Troy ignited the Trojan War, and caused much death and destruction. Helen had heard these stories all her life, and Mars sensed the depths of hatred within her that he hoped would drive her to cause even greater misery for human males. Mars bestowed upon her beauty that could turn strong men into "stammering fools," enhanced strength, the power of flight, and a devastating voice. For now, Helen Alexandros could only become the Silver Swan for an hour at a time, but she would be graced that form forever upon the death of Mars' arch-foe, Wonder Woman.

The Invisible Robot Plane flew the Amazing Amazon toward the Pentagon, and was trailed by the Silver Swan. As Wonder Woman leaped out to deliver the recovered briefcase, it was stolen from her by the Swan. Princess Diana slapped the briefcase from Silver Swan's clutches, though she retained the busted handle. Wonder Woman tossed the case to General Darnell and his men, who had been awaiting her outside. Silver Swan didn't care about the briefcase, preferring the life of the "star-spangled fool!" The flying Swan seemingly had the advantage over the earthbound Amazon, but amazing acrobatics leveled the field. "I'm tangling with that killer parakeet-- right now!" Wonder Woman launched herself high into the air at the Silver Swan, only to be blasted by "the soul-piercing cry of the Swan," which buffeted her about "like a straw caught in a whirlwind." The soldiers below were pained by the sound, yet also delirious for more. When the Silver Swan unexpectedly broke off the attack, she was acclaimed upon landing by the soldiers for her patriotism and aid in retrieving the briefcase.

Meanwhile, Dr. Prescott looked over the documentation of another physician who would be taking over the care of Steve Trevor. "...One must be doubly trustworthy, doesn't one-- when one has a name like-- Doctor Psycho!"

I'd never read Silver Swan's debut, but happened to buy the original comic a few months back. Swan was much more interesting in this first incarnation, even if the ugly duckling aspect of the character is as believable as the hawt geek girl from '80s movies, with her big blue eyes, lush lips, and "blemishes" that more resemble freckles. Silver Swan as I've known her since 1988 has been a bore. This story not only gives her the ol' ominous foreshadowing, but follows it with a well thought out origin that provides the character with strong motivation and a hook perfect for a Wonder Woman adversary. It also reminded me how much more effective a foe Swan could be when the Amazing Amazon is grounded. Since Wonder Woman can't just fly herself, you get a great display of physicality as she relies on acrobatics and her lasso as she's forced to adapt. It's fun hearing her trash talk, as well.

I'm not typically a fan of Romeo Tanghal's heavy handed inks, but I think Gene Colan's usual moody style needed the conventional polish to perk it up on an assignment like this. Tanghal necessarily tarts up the super-heroine, but is wise enough to get out of Colan's way where it counts. Thomas' plot is nice and dense, recapping a sixteen page preview comic in two pages, advancing subplots left over from the previous creative team, and still working out his own material.

Reading this story also made me realize what a huge mistake ditching the Diana Prince identity and divorcing her from the military were. I'm sorry, but "peaceful ambassador from an island nation" isn't the best story engine. Wonder Woman was far more iconic and motivated while managing a dual identity as an agent of military intelligence working out of the Pentagon than hanging out with a widow and her daughter in Boston. I don't fault Perez for shaking up a tired status quo, but I do fault all the writers that followed him for not restoring some of the elements once Perez's angle grew stale. Steve Trevor's spy games and General Darnell's sexual harassment really draw a reader into the soap opera. I really enjoyed how much information was packed into 26 pages, and that's before the cliffhanger that reintroduced one of Wonder Woman's best villains after a fifteen year absence. Good show!

The Bronze Age

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wonder Woman #6 (Late May, 2007)

Wonder Woman kept having to remind herself who she was, both her super-heroic role and her new cover identity as government special agent Diana Prince. She and Tom Tresser were assigned to bodyguard the new Maxi-Man, who had gained his powers from a reality television show competition. Tresser was bitching about the lameness of it all, including getting stuck with the inexperienced Prince as a partner. At an amusement park where Maxi-Man was doing a signing, a rollercoaster spontaneously fell apart, with a piece of track nailing Maxi-Man on the head. Wonder Woman showed up to save the day. Tressor was a fan, and was happy to buy his niece an action figure from the gift shop at a 75% discount, since the Amazing Amazon was still a national pariah. Diana seemed put out by the Wonder Woman Milkshake having been given over to Black Canary.

On the drive back to the Department of Metahuman Affairs, Diana demonstrated that she didn’t know the price of gasoline or how to pump it, making her look like an idiot in front of her partner. Sarge Steel once again put the agents on the trail of Wonder Woman, who despite being cleared of wrongdoing in the World Court for her involvement in the death of Maxwell Lord, was still wanted for questioning by the U.S. government. The agents had coffee afterward, where Diana expressed her concern that her attendant didn’t speak English when she kept repeating “Venti, duovent, grande, or uber.” Diana had a good cry over her detachment from humanity on a park bench with Tom. After Tresser left, Wonder Woman saved a girl from a mugger, who told her she had previously praised the princess as her subject in a paper for Feminist Theory class.

Outside a super-villain bar Tresser was staking out, he was seduced by a Wonder Woman who turned out to be Circe in disguise. A pair of authentic Amazonian bracelets stolen from the defunct Wonder Woman Museum were left behind for implication. Sarge Steel soon assigned Diana Prince to track down her kidnapped partner and the Amazing Amazon.

"Love and Murder, Part 1" was by Jodi Picoult, Drew Johnson & Ray Snyder. I thought people were ganging up on Picoult over minor fanboy details when these issues were coming out, chalking it up to the problems inherent in the starboinking assignments going out around that time. Having finally read the issues for myself, I now realize that they are in fact crap. Aside from the Maxi-Man reference, there is no indication that Picoult had ever read any comics prior to Allen Heinberg’s yet unfinished five issue run. I thought the whole point of “Who Is Wonder Woman” was to reestablish who the heroine was and relieve doubts in herself and others about her role. I guess because that point had yet to be made, Picoult restates the same concerns as was found in Heinberg’s scripts in such a way that you feel like she’s merely paraphrasing stuff readers would have just read. I’m also super duper sick of this Pinocchio “If only I were a real girl” bullcrap. Not only is it one of the most hoary of genre tropes, but it demonstrates an enormous misunderstanding of the central concept of the character. Diana is an immaculate conception based in feminine creativity, superiority and desire, not a friggin’ golem. Finally, the “comedy” and “human drama” is so awful and melodramatic, it makes me question Picoult’s abilities as a writer, period, rather than just how they translate to an unfamiliar medium.

Brave New World

Thursday, August 25, 2011

2011 Wonder Woman Movie Fan Casting: Peter Dinklage as Doctor Psycho

After seeing The Station Agent, I had a man-crush on Peter Dinklage. He's a really handsome and charismatic guy who should be the first choice in a super-heroic little person movie. However, the Dink deserves better than Puck of Alpha Flight, so if he wants a plumb comic book role, he'll have to walk on the dark side. I like my Dr. Psycho googly eyed and ugly as sin, but since Villains United, he's tended to be modeled pretty close to Dinklage. Either way you go, I don't believe there's a better choice to be found for the part.

Diabolic Movie Fan Casting

Monday, August 22, 2011

2011 DCnÜ Wonder Girl Design Sketch by Brett Booth

Click To Enlarge

"So this was sort of the 'final' costume we did of her. I has been slightly modified from this, specifically her right hand and the amount of red on the costume. Andrew's doing something cool with the star starting in issue 2 so I think I might go back to a darker look for issue 4, which I'll be starting in a few days. I just finished up 3 and need a few days off to recharge:) Issue 4... epic!



Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Top 20 Wonder Woman Covers of the 1960s

The sixties were probably Princess Diana's worst decade in comics. The evangelical fire and brazen oddness of the Golden Age was gone, as was the sweet romance of the fifties. In its place were gimmicks, endless love dodecahedrons, a Steve Trevor you wished terrible ill upon, and closing out as a non-powered Emma Peel knock-off. Hopefully you don't weary just over the course of the top 20...

Honorable Mentions:
Wonder Woman #112 (February, 1960)
Wonder Woman #185 (November-December, 1969)

20 (tie) Wonder Woman #183-184 (July-October, 1969)

While there are elements of each of these covers deserving of attention, they are equally weak. The seeming death of Diana's mother is strong material, but the execution is rather weak. Meanwhile, Diana falling in battle is potent, but not when she and her all-male cohorts are indistinguishable from any random sword & sorcery comic.

19) Wonder Woman #122 (May, 1961)

A King Kong-sized Wonder Woman has run a normal sized one up to the very tip of the Empire State Building. Do I have to explain this?

18) Wonder Woman #177 (July-August, 1968)

The Amazing Amazon and her opponent Supergirl look great, but then you've got this dillhole in the middle taking up valuable space. This is an A-B throwdown, so see your way out, K?

17) Wonder Woman #176 (May-June, 1968)

This is another one of those "let's show Wonder Woman humiliated in the most misogynistic and sexualized possible under the Comic Code" cover, and yet it works.

16) Wonder Woman #118 (November, 1960)

Nice to see dudes in distress, but how the hell did Mer-Man get on top of a plateau in the first place?

15) Wonder Woman #126 (November, 1961)

I find that one of the easiest ways to validate my choices is to simply say them aloud. Wonder Tot punching a meteor while riding Mister Genie. Who needs to elaborate on that?

14) Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #93 (July, 1969)

On the one hand, it's kinda wicked to see Diana Prince judo-up Lois Lane while Superman cheers her on. Yet, since when is Diana a trained monkey, and where's the honor in walloping a perpetually imperiled reporter unskilled in the martial arts? Finally, Diana's only really recognizable attribute is her hair, which is not a progressive means of identification.

13) Wonder Woman #155 (July, 1965)

She married a monster. It's kind of a big deal.

12) Wonder Woman #181 (March-April, 1969)

I love the skier's P.O.V. and the weird masks, but the nondescript Diana Prince is the weak link of the image. I Ching seems awfully tall, as well.

11) Wonder Woman #175 (March-April, 1968)

There's something very weird and wrong about a comic where Wonder Woman attacks a child, even when the child is in fact Diana and the Wonder Woman is a serious see you next Tuesday from another dimension. I did a lengthy write-up of this story years ago for another blog, and haven't run it here because it would take forever to remove all the foul language and angry tirades.

10) Wonder Woman #124 (August, 1961)

Another great metatextual image, as the Amazing Amazon had to juggle all manner of contrivance across the decade, including competing with her own toddler and adolescent selves for page space.

9) Wonder Woman #151 (January, 1965)

Possibly the most striking non-Titans Wonder Girl image of the decade, though I believe this is the Diana version, or else it would have run in Donna's countdown.

8) Wonder Woman #179 (November-December, 1968)

Kind of a wimpy Diana, and this image would have had a lot more impact without the tears or coming before her heralded "permanent" reversion to Diana Prince, rather than after.

7) Wonder Woman #159 (January, 1966)

Pure salesmanship. The art is simple and buried in text, but the hype compels you to read on.

6) Wonder Woman #129 (April, 1962)

An excellent image to sum up oodles of stories from this decade. Wonder Tot and Wonder Girl in the foreground, Wonder Woman way in the back, all in peril, and the latter failing to save her mother. The only way it could be more representational is if Hippolyte was dropping Diana instead.

5) Wonder Woman #156 (August, 1965)

Deeply uncomfortable symbolism here, especially with Diana's splayed legs and vacant eyes. Still, you'll never forget it, right?

4) Wonder Woman #180 (January-February, 1969)

Somehow, both in-your-face sensational and subdued. That lime green border really makes it pop in a way only the sixties could get away with.

3) Wonder Woman #125 (October, 1961)

Only a Wonder Woman comic could revolve around a physical and emotional tug-of-war between Steve Trevor, Mer-Man, and Amoeba-Man over marriage. Again, a dick, a fish, and a giant sentient amoeba are romantic rivals. Just to bring it all home, let's stage all that before a fuchsia background.

2) Wonder Woman #160 (February, 1966)

Cheetah swung by the tail into a mass of monkeys with damned ugly human faces. So much awesome in one cover, including an advertized rare Dr. Psycho reprint. Such a glorious Golden Age throwback. Finally, one word: purple.

1) Wonder Woman #178 (September-October, 1968)

Despite the misgivings of some, can you honestly say that this wasn't the most shocking, iconic, and memorable Wonder Woman cover of the decade? No more secretarial work, pining for Steve, or running around in circles under mommy's command. There may have been a lack of outright wonder, but for the first time in too long, there was a woman behind the wheel.

Top Character Covers Countdown

Thursday, August 18, 2011

2006 Green Lantern & Darkstar Commission by Darryl Banks

Click To Enlarge

Green Lantern Kyle Rayner <3 Darkstar Donna Troy... at the Parthenon, I guess.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sensational Comics for November, 2011

Wonder Woman
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
1:25 Variant cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
1:200 B&W variant cover by JIM LEE
On sale OCTOBER 19 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Combo pack edition: $4.99 US
Retailers: This issue will ship with three covers. Please see the order form for more information.
The superstar team of writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee continue to make history as they unleash the amazing Amazon, Wonder Woman, who joins the battle against a bizarre threat! And the not-yet World’s Greatest Heroes need all the help they can get!
This issue is also offered as a special combo pack edition, polybagged with a redemption code for a digital download of the issue.
I've been complaining about the last two covers being a forest of funky sausage, so this one is a big deal. The Amazing Amazon takes center stage, and I guess Dan finally decided that she would do so with bare legs. I actually like the pants, although I would prefer blue to black, but the classic gams are also perfectly fine. The red boots need a comeback, though. While there are still elements I could do without, this is Jim Lee's best cover so far, and I appreciate the lack of a swordplay.

Art and cover by CLIFF CHIANG
On sale NOVEMBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Hippolyta, the queen of the Amazons, has kept a secret from her daughter all her life – and when it’s revealed, Wonder Woman’s life will shatter like brittle clay. The only one more shocked than Diana by this revelation? Bloodthirsty Hera herself – so why is her sinister daughter, Strife, so eager for the truth to be told?
When a person has really bad constipation, their feces become impacted. What that means is that they have such an old, hard, dry turd in their bowels, it's like a cement block. Typically, their only relief is diarrhea that can seep around the impaction. I mention this because the "Wonder Woman as living statue" angle is the fecal impaction of her ongoing continuity. Coupled with the "Hippolyta is full of secrets" bit and the high probability that Brian Azzarello would never in his life read a Wonder Woman comic on purpose, my interest is stillborn before the first issue ships.

On sale DECEMBER 14 • 520 pg, B&W, $19.99 US
It’s another value-priced collection of Wonder Woman adventures from issues #157-177 featuring Supergirl, Cheetah, Egg Fu and many more!
Damn it, how did I manage to miss Volume 3? Hope they offer it as a backstock Star item so I can order both to play catch-up.

Cover #17 by DOUG MAHNKE
#17 On sale NOVEMBER 16
#18 On sale NOVEMBER 30
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Hal Jordan is seriously conflicted as he and the Green Lantern Corps arrive at Korugar to “contain” the war between Sinestro’s Yellow Lanterns and Brainiac – but can they save the planet of innocents caught in the crossfire? And how desperate could things possibly get that would see Hal team up with Sinestro for one final battle?!
Then, in issue #18, following the cataclysmic events on Earth and Korugar, the Justice League regroups and begins an exploration of Brainiac’s abandoned scout ship...will it finally reveal answers or will it be the final stroke of Brainiac’s plan in conquering Earth? And how far will Luthor go to clear his name and save the planet?
Favorites Wonder Woman and (an) Atom (a blue eyed Ryan Choi or Ray in the wrong outfit?) are cover featured, and I still ask when is this thing going to end already?

Wonder Girl (Cassie Sandsmark)
Art and cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
On sale NOVEMBER 23 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
It had to happen! A new Teen Titan shows up without so much as an invitation – and here Red Robin already had his hands full trying to get Bugg from Los Angeles to New York by train! Don’t miss the dazzling debut of The Wall! Meanwhile, Kid Flash is trying desperately to flee the arctic N.O.W.H.E.R.E. prison with a mysterious young woman who is unable to control her own super powers. And Wonder Girl investigates a lead that is going to bring her face to face with a certain halfhuman/half-Kryptonian clone!

Wonder Girl (Donna Troy)
Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR
On sale NOVEMBER 30 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E
What happens when Robin is called away on a secret mission with Batman? The team will need a replacement! Enter: The Protector! Will he be welcomed with open arms? Or will someone like, say, Talon, have something to say about it? And where does Nightwing fit into all this?

Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR
On sale DECEMBER 14 • 128 pg, FC, $12.99 US
In this new collection of issues #33-38, the Tiny Titans take a look at look-alikes, meet their counterparts from another world, travel to the center of the Earth and more!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

2011 Wonder Woman Movie Fan Casting: Jessica Biel as Diana Prince

Now that the TV show is in the dead pilot pile, I felt like taking another swing at a potential movie fan casting. I'm sure that in the event a Wonder Woman movie finally gets made, all of my selections for the cast will be in Depends, but I'd like to coast on the mental images of what could have been.

I've gone through a lot of Princess Dianas of choice over the years, but Jessica Biel has managed to top my list for a good five years or more, and still has time left at 29 to get the job done. Besides having a perfect athletic body and the desperation to run around in star-spangled panties, Biel has a sweet smile and an inviting manner that reminds me of Lynda Carter. I know some folks want bigger muscles or greater ferocity, but I think that once you lose sight of Diana as a being motivated by love for humanity and endless compassion, you miss the point of the character. Of course the Amazing Amazon should kick all kinds of ass, but if you ever get the feeling that she's just biding her time for that opportunity, you end up with Xena: Warrior Princess with a worse tailor. I don't think Biel is all that great of an actress, but she seems to be a sweet person with solid moves, and that makes her perfect in my book for Wonder Woman.

Diabolic Movie Fan Casting

Thursday, August 11, 2011

2006 "Princess & King" Wonder Woman and Aquaman Commission by Eric Canete

Click To Enlarge

From the artist's blog:

"1) Aquaman is such a pretty boy - outside of the fact that he's 'King of the Seven Seas' and I crack on him for being one of the most useless characters ever created (calm down, you Aquaman freaks...I'm only kidding. I like him enough), he's also a pretty boy. And he knows it. Useless and vein, the Aquaman is. 2) Again with the bad planning. I gave ol' pretty boy a tuning fork but didn't leave enough room to draw the whole thing. I could say that I only had 90 minutes and I was worried more about the composition than the trident, but that's a crutch and almost a lie. I saw the mistake about ten minutes in and I didn't care.

Suck on that, Aquaman.

Oh hey, remember the old 'Superfriends' cartoons? If memory serves me right, 'King of Shrimps and Seahorses' here used to ride a whale in the opening credits before he sends out a telepath(et)ic call to arms to the other fish? Point is, he used to ride that whale like a a HORSE! Do you know how wide he's got to open his frikkin' legs to be able to mount a humpback like that?! Oh well, I guess he's the 'King of Liar Characters Who Are Useless' too. "

Preliminary Sketch

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Wonder Woman Annual #1 (2007)

So yeah, Wonder Woman killed a guy, but he needed killing, the World Court backed her up, and it was about time Princess Diana moved on and got back to the good fight. In fact, when you’re in Circe’s temple surrounded by an army of your enemies, whose powers have been enhanced through sorcery, it’s probably a little past due.

I have to applaud artist Terry Dodson for page four, where he overcame a logistical problem with Giganta by having time progress as a series or “stories” down the villainess’ body. For instance, Queen Clea and Gundra the Valkyrie were still trying to follow through with Circe’s plan to talk Diana into joining the collective against Man’s World. Diana took them both out, as well as The Mask, all while encircling Giganta and dodging the caption boxes with one-sentence biographies of each villain.

Kung, Cheetah, the Duke of Deception, Angle Man, Silver Swan, Doctor Cyber, Doctor Poison, Minister Blizzard, Doctor Psycho: an orgasm of Who’s Who information as each took their turn with Wonder Woman. A lesser artist would have folded as the writer tried to reintroduce decades of forgotten super-villains in the span of seven pages. Just when things started to get ridiculous, there was a two page spread of heroes led by Wonder Girl Donna Troy, come to save the day. Included were Green Arrow, Stargirl, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Robin (Tim Drake,) Wonder Girl Cassie Sandsmark, Supergirl, Starfire, Red Tornado, Black Canary, Power Girl, Zatanna, Nemesis, the Golden Age Flash & Wally West, Liberty Belle, Dr. Mid-Nite, Green Lantern (Alan Scott,) Wildcat, Hawkman, Superman and Batman. Someone (Robin?) made the connection between the vegetation discovered at the scene of Donna’s kidnapping and the moly used to defend against Circe’s magic.

There was lots of fighting, and lots of yapping amidst the melee. Donna confessed that she never felt comfortable as Wonder Woman, hence her regressed costume. Cassie made it clear that old suit or no, the “Wonder Girl” name was taken. Batman somehow wrangled Cheetah. Heat Vision took out Minister Blizzard’s gun. Angle Man < Robin’s Batarang. Meanwhile, Hercules was trying to kill Circe, but Wonder Woman made it clear “If anyone does any killing today… it’ll be me!” Hercules didn’t believe that it was in her nature, so she kicked him in the head. “If only that weren’t true. When I killed Medusa, no one batted an eye. That was my job-- slaying mythological monsters-- putting malevolent gods in their place-- and you’re both.” Um, then it is true that you are a lethal agent, but we’ll forgive the grammar. Hercules then tried to woo Diana, followed by threatening to take her by force, “the same way I took your mother.” Diana bit his lip, head-butted him, and held a sword to his throat. Circe didn’t have faith in Diana to do the deed, so she renewed her attack, although what stopped her for the past four pages eludes me. “For now I’ll bind him with chains stronger than those that bound Prometheus,” for reasons that also elude me. Even though Circe had just finished killing oodles of people as Wonder Woman, while simultaneously getting a lot more done in that role than Diana, the Princess let her go off with Hercules. In the least perceptive line regarding Wonder Woman since she claimed to not really like women back in the ‘70s, “…I’m not even a real person. I’m a golem. A clay statue brought to life. I have no idea who or what I am. All I know is, I’m alone.” Circe punctured Diana’s emo bubble, pointing out all of her buddies fighting for her outside, and offered her a bit of humanity as a present.

Nemesis was given all the credit for the arrests at the Department of Metahuman Affairs. Agent Prince was assigned to catalog all the weapons collected from the scene, and was shocked when she cut herself on Gundra’s sword. Of course, Diana could always bleed, but the writer was so fixated on his Wonder Woman Encyclopedia that he seemed to neglect reading any actual comics. Anyway, Wonder Woman could now really become Diana Prince, a normal human, who still looked exactly like Wonder Woman in glasses. DC supporting casts have 20/120 vision, I guess.

Donna and Cassie had a girl power session with Wonder Woman, pretending that their relationship was like that of Batman, Nightwing and Robin. Okay, so how come Wonder Woman only pays attention to either girl when they finally get developed in best-selling team books so that their guest appearances can help buoy her own sales? Batman offered a final pep talk with a smile (*shudder*) after already giving Wonder Woman her new human identity, a job as a secret agent, an “invisible” plane, and limited use of his teen sidekick. That had to be worth at least a handjob. Can’t this bitch do anything for herself?

Speaking of bitching, I gave an overview of my complaints long ago in a trade paperback review, with a fair amount of axes ground in the previous two issue synopses. To keep this brief, Allan Heinberg, Terry & Rachel Dodson’s answer to the titular question “Who is Wonder Woman?” was “an ingrate.” Beyond the straw man arguments around which the slight plot pivots, it boils down to Diana being incredibly powerful and broadly loved and still pitying herself. Three-quarters of a century in, you don’t decide to take your shot at being Alan Moore by redefining Wonder Woman through the Pinocchio/ “I want to be a real girl” trope. Not only is it hoary as hell, but it is quite simply not what anyone wants from Wonder Woman (especially if they suffered through seven seasons and four motion pictures of Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation.)

Writers, for Gaea’s sake, stop playing the clay card. Diana was a sculpture of a child brought to life by the gods so that she could be born completely outside the influence of man. It’s no different than the bible casting Adam out of earth. Wonder Woman grew up, sprouted tits, and bleeds ever twenty-eight days. What part of “woman” was unclear? It’s in her friggin’ name. What isn’t? “Golem,” a product of Jewish folklore regarding a misshapen manmade creature instilled with a terrifying caricature of life through magic (not unlike a zombie) whose name translates from Hebrew as “dumb/helpless.” You want to humanize Wonder Woman? Address the fact that she was raised as the only child on an island full of rape victims who is so traumatized that she remains a virgin well into adulthood and casts untouchable figures like Superman and Batman in her sexual fantasies. There’s your Alan Moore moment, you cowardly, unimaginative dorks. Alternately, write an inspirational super-heroine without resorting to literal feet of clay and storytelling devices from 1960s Stan Lee scripts that were only considered sophisticated in comparison to Mort Weisinger-edited Superman comics written at a second grade reading level.

Brave New World

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wonder Woman Day by Cat Staggs

Click To Enlarge

Cat Staggs has done more fantastic pieces of the Amazing Amazon than I have the space/time to spotlight individually, so I thought a solid link post was in order. The headliner above features the Invisible Plane, which we need to see more of (*ahem*.) It's from 2006, and measures 11" x 13". You know you want more...