Monday, April 30, 2012

Wonder Woman #100 Cover Silhouette art by Brian Bolland

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Since a bunch of DC Comics relaunched within months of each other following the Crisis On Infinite Earths, they also reached their hundredth issues in close enough proximity (to each other and the vapors of the speculator boom) to have themed prismatic foil covers. Each cover was black with bold shiny enhanced lettering selling the centennial story while a small silhouette of the hero ran ahead of the copy. Frankly, it was a pretty lame execution of a so-so idea, especially when Guy Gardner: Warrior joined in on Justice League America #100, but it's noteworthy for a validation the New 52 will never see. Does anyone believe a renumbering scheme won't screw up any possibility before reaching the monumental 8 year & change (?) publication point, assuming there's still a print industry by that point. Let's just say DC didn't have themed #200 issues, either...

Friday, April 27, 2012

I Don't Read Wonder Woman Comics Anymore

Pretty much the worst thing that can happen to Wonder Woman comics is their getting popular. For instance, the original creators' run on the series sold like gangbusters, which attracted the attention of Frederick Wertham. The good doctor told the mothers of America about what a deviant sapphic bondage fest the book was, so DC had Robert Kanigher whitewash everything that made it a success for twenty years. Contrary to common misconception, the "mod" Diana Prince stories sold well, which attracted the attention of television producers. This led to the book returning to ersatz World War II stories to ride the wave of 40s/50s nostalgia in the 1970s. George Pérez sold a flat, boring, sexless distortion of feminism and Greek myth in the conservative '80s on the strength of his detailed artwork. William Messner-Loebs ended his unappreciated sweetly humanist run on the character with a barrage of profitable bad girl cliché thanks to the late arrival of artist Mike Deodato Jr. That wave was continued (for a time) as the bland last hurrah of former fan favorite John Byrne before his ability to move units was officially pronounced dead. Allan Heinberg and the Dodsons (eventually) eked out six whole comic books devoted to the Amazing Amazon's take on the execrable but money-earning Batman "Hush" storyline.

Currently, Wonder Woman volume New 52 is a top twenty seller thanks to Brian Aregano, who is noted for his disdain for super-heroes and only one legitimate (if modest) long term successful series, and Cliff Chiang, a swell artist who will draw as many bisected centaurs as needed to get a gig worthy of his talents. I haven't read a single issue of their run, so I can't objectively critique it, but I've decided to keep it that way because it's friggin' garbage. You might take umbrage for my condemning them sight unseen, but I have empirical evidence to support my view.

A) The book is written by Brian Azazel, who is a hateful overrated hack.
B) It is published by DC Comics.
C) It is a hit with fans. I shall now elaborate...

Brian Azzarello wrote 100 Bullets, a book that I got bored with after just the first trade. It lasted a long time, so maybe it got better. He later wrote Hellblazer in a "back to basics" run, by which I mean he rolled back the development of the John Constantine character under writers like Garth Ennis and Paul Jenkins so he could do reheated Warren Ellis after the real thing got drummed off the book for being too controversial. I made it one trade into Loveless before falling asleep, and then  there was his mini-series Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, best remembered for being extremely well drawn by Lee Bermejo. He teamed up with Jim Lee for a yearlong Superman story "For Tomorrow," considered a disappointment after "Hush" (I say again, "HUSH,") and probably the dullest Man of Steel epic prior to J. Michael Straczynski's "Grounded" (and a fellow Moore-raper on Before Watchmen.) I don't read Brian Azzarello comics if I can help it.

I bought most every Wonder Woman comic produced from 1994 until about 2007. I have a complete run of the Post-Crisis volume, too many specials/mini-series/guest appearances, and scads of back issues from the late Silver and Bronze Ages. I own Archive Editions of 40s material and Showcase Presents covering the 50s. Out of all that material, I figure less than a quarter was worth bothering with. Even by the standards of the day, Wonder Woman was typically an underwhelming book. The earliest stuff by William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter is mindbogglingly awesome, and DC has run far from it ever since. Despite DC's firmest intention to make Wonder Woman as much of a safe, soulless commodity as possible, some interesting stuff has managed to get published over the years. The problem is that DC rushes to stamp out that kind of thing as swiftly as possible.

You see, Wonder Woman as a character is about female empowerment, kinky sex, and rampant weirdness. It's about a cowgirl who rides on a kangaroo, has an inherently passive arsenal, mommy issues, and battles goofy conceptual villains (often borrowed from radically Anglicized Greco-Roman mythology.) Dr. Psycho is an embodiment of short-dick misogyny. Cheetah is the champion of female cattiness and the destructive impulses of intrasexual competition. Mars is a physical manifestation of male aggression. The Amazons of Paradise Island are meant to be an example of women's inherent superiority over men. DC Comics hates the social politics Marston built into his franchise, and for decades have striven to obfuscate, corrupt, and bury them totally. In more recent years, DC has decided that the only thing Wonder Woman is "about" is being badass, so she's traded her lasso and invisible jet for a cleaving sword and the same exact power of flight as every generic heroine. Yay "progess." Yay Xena/Red Sonja in a gaudy costume.

I'm not going to say that everything popular in comics is bad and subject to future ridicule, but wait, yeah, totally. For instance, Daredevil was the height of deconstructionism a quarter-century ago thanks to "Born Again." Daredevil was the poor man's Spidey for years, so making him the noir punching bag of super-heroics actually gave the character integrity. However, that trajectory has a limited shelf life, and is not universally applicable. Matt Murdock can only go so low for so long before imploding, and his formula doesn't translate to aspirational characters like Wonder Woman. Daredevil is about surviving in Hell's Kitchen, subsisting on small Pyrrhic victories against the grinding machine of city life. Wonder Woman is about hope and the ultimate betterment of all humankind. It could be argued that stripping Wonder Woman's powers in the '60s was deconstruction, but in many ways it was a reconstruction, restoring her as an assured, capable heroine against all odds after too many years of chasing after Steve Trevor and being distracted by nonsense. Only a boob with no clue as to who Wonder Woman is at a basic conceptual level would strip mine her lore for a tired "everything you thought you knew was a lie" Cue Brian Tarzan Boy.

The truth is, Wonder Woman is a great character that DC undermines at every opportunity. Fans are equally culpable, because they'll read a book like Justice League of America and feel they "know" all the characters based on glorified monthly guest appearances. Many of these people then grow up to write Wonder Woman in comics based on a group dynamic bastardization which is in turn derived from a typically bowdlerized interpretation taken from bad Wonder Woman comics written by former JLA  readers. Those writers read the book during a time DC was promoting it heavily because some hot creator had arrived to "fix" the perpetually "broken" character, usually operating from the faulty understanding acquired by previous "fixes" and guest appearances. It's a cycle of suck.

Personally, I dropped Wonder Woman early into her aughts volume, and though I sampled some trades thereafter, the lack of understanding of the character left me cold. At least since Kingdom Come, there's been a trend toward debasing the character and her society by making the Amazons cold, calculating, murderous warriors. Actually, the Amazons have been relatively amoral and unrealistic bitches since about the 1960s, with their being inspirational only in brief spurts here and there. While DC has taken that to extremes lately by making them literal rapist killers, by allowing them to fluctuate between victims and misandrists for decades, there's nothing particularly new in the take. The Amazons are just horrible in a different way, while Wonder Woman plums new depths of ineptitude by association.

I enjoy good Wonder Woman comics, the character herself, and her world. I don't think DC Comics or their creators feel the same way. It's so disappointing when even quality talents have fallen far short of the mark, as has happened as recently as the Gail Simone run. I think calling the character difficult is a cop-out though, and expect better from creators than that. However, the New 52 has ushered in a revised continuity in which the Amazons are deplorable and Wonder Woman is a sap. So long as that's the case, and the relative success of the relaunch insures it, I simply won't be counted among the numbers of people who even bother to sample the Amazing Amazon from time to time. So long as this is Wonder Woman, I simply won't read Wonder Woman comics anymore.

Monday, April 23, 2012

2010 "Ladies of DC - Wonder Girl" art by Taylor Cordingley

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"They're fun, they're sassy and they all seem to have a mean right hook. For years, DC Comics has consistently created amazing female superheroes. I'd like to pay tribute to these amazing women of the DC Universe with one of my patented pin-up series -- Ladies of DC! Fifth in this series is the willful Wonder Girl!

Real Name: Cassandra "Cassie" Sandsmark
Other Notable Aliases: Drusilla
First Appearance: Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #105
Abilities: Flight, superhuman strength, speed, agility and durability

When I first glanced at Cassie when she was first created, I could have sworn she was a boy. I was confused as to why this boy was wearing a Wonder Woman t-shirt and why he chose to wore a black wig that made him look funny. When I finally began to read up on my Wonder Woman comics, I discovered that Cassie was indeed a tomboy who liked to pretend at being a superhero. Under John Byrne's pen, Cassie was a spunky young girl whose eventual identity as Wonder Girl was a refreshing addition to the book. As she grew older, Cassie grew out of her tomboy phase and became a fashion-conscious young lady. This, of course, attracted me immensely to the character. Her older teen self has some of the best costumes around! She's also part of the reason I gave the Teen Titans book a read when it came out. Unfortunately, Cassie's character devolved into a defiant character who knowingly kept secrets from Wonder Woman (um... let's try accepting gifts from Ares) and whose relationship to Superboy quick-stepped into badly written teen soap opera dribble. Although I haven't kept up with Wonder Girl in recent years (I'm ashamed to say), I continue to admire her costumes and hope that she'll eventually become as good a person as Donna had under Diana's guidance.

(BTW, I probably wouldn't have included her in this series but DAMN I love this costume!!!!)"
Ladies of DC: Bringing Out The Girls

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

2010 "Ladies of DC - Artemis" art by Taylor Cordingley

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They're fun, they're sassy and they all seem to have a mean right hook. For years, DC Comics has consistently created amazing female superheroes. I'd like to pay tribute to these amazing women of the DC Universe with one of my patented pin-up series -- Ladies of DC! Eighteenth in this series is the aggressive Artemis!

Real Name: Artemis of Bana-Mighdall
Notable Aliases: Wonder Woman, Javelin, Requiem, Shim'Tar, Polemarch
First Appearance: Wonder Woman #90
Abilities: Highly trained in various forms of hand-to-hand combat, expertise in a wide-array of weapons (specializes in swords and archery), limited knowledge of sorcery, fluent in demon languages, immortality.

Towards the mid-'90s, DC felt the need to shake up the Wonder Woman title as it had lost some of its magic after George Perez had left the title. This shake up included the introduction of the Amazon Artemis who became Wonder Woman for a brief period. She was fiery, aggressive, mouthy and brutally violent -- in other words, she was everything Princess Diana was not. In fact, it could easily be said that Artemis is the Faith to Diana's Buffy (except Artemis and Wonder Woman came first). She's also the Huntress-type of Wonder Woman's world. Only without that whole "has major problems sleeping with guys and then pretending like they never existed" thing. I really love Artemis and she has one of the greatest character designs. I've always felt Wonder Woman had superior supporting characters to Superman and Batman and Artemis is no exception. If you don't believe me when I say she's one bad motherf*cker, I suggest you read her appearance in Secret Six where she makes a rather bloody escape from a slave camp. Although Artemis made a crappy Wonder Woman, she's an awesome character in her own right who's amazing in battle and often tries to do what is right. But I will say this one last thing -- as a kid when I first saw her (it was the issue in which she returns from the dead in Wonder Woman) I remember thinking "God! Look at that hair! How the hell is she not going to get grabbed and whipped around thanks to that twenty-foot train?" Yes, the hair's impractical but hey would you want to tell that to her? I rather like having all my body parts where they're supposed to be.
Ladies of DC

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

2011 Wonder Woman! Sketch by Evan “Doc” Shaner

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Doc Shaner sold this for $65. I want to buy pages of artwork from this guy. Pages and pages. Say, want to see this illustration in color? I thought you might.

Evan “Doc” Shaner Day

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sensational Comics for July, 2012

Sensational Links:

Wonder Woman
Art and cover by CLIFF CHIANG
1:25 B&W Variant cover by CLIFF CHIANG
On sale JULY 18 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. The variant cover will feature the standard edition cover in a wraparound format.

• A new story begins as APOLLO makes his play for ZEUS’S throne – and WONDER WOMAN is the last obstacle in his way!
• As ZOLA goes into labor, a hideous secret is revealed!
The black costume element is really out of hand once you factor in the cape and eyeliner. She looks like Black Alice. I do like how Diana's latest phallic weapon is shooting a load out of the tip. Subtle. I wish they'd just thrown in a "goosh" sound effect.

Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
Backup story art by GARY FRANK
Variant cover by BRYAN HITCH
1:100 Variant cover by JIM LEE
On sale JULY 18 • 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. This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue.

• “The Villain’s Journey” part three!
• Batman , Cyborg and Aquaman battle Element Woman!
• Continuing the origin of SHAZAM!
What the frig is Superman using on this cover, Kryptonian Disco Vision?

On sale AUGUST 8 • 256 pg, FC, $24.99 US
• Lex Luthor’s obsession with destroying Superman reaches fever pitch when he cuts the ultimate Devil’s deal with Brainiac!
• Final volume in the series, collecting issues #16-26
Mistakes were made.

Written by GARTH ENNIS
Cover by JOHN McCREA
On sale AUGUST 1 • 384 pg, FC, $29.99 US
• Tommy Monaghan faces a plague of the undead and goes toe-to-toe with assassin Ringo Chen!
• Plus, Tommy crosses paths with LOBO and the JUSTICE LEAGUE!
• Collecting HITMAN #51-60, HITMAN/LOBO: THE STUPID BASTICH #1, JLA/HITMAN #1-2 and a story from SUPERMAN 80-PAGE GIANT #1.
On sale JULY 25 • 96 pg, FC, $7.99 US
• A new, all-ages collection featuring WONDER WOMAN in action with the JUSTICE LEAGUE, GREEN LANTERN, CATWOMAN and CHEETAH!
• Collects ADVENTURES IN THE DC UNIVERSE #1, 3, 11 and 19.
I vaguely remember these being okay.

Wonder Girl
Art and cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
1:25 B&W Variant cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. The variant cover will feature the standard cover in a wraparound format.
On sale JULY 25 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

• WONDER GIRL’S past revealed – while her armor revolts!
It kills me that there's more copy related to credits and retailer incentives than actual story content. Why would I want to read about heroes who can't even keep their own costumes in check, anyway?

Friday, April 6, 2012

2010-2011 The Justice League of America 100 Project charity art by Ken Lashley

Click To Expand & Enlarge

Aquaman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Batman and Martian Manhunter with the Flash running underneath. Whenever Ivan Reis leaves Aquaman, Lashley would be an ideal replacement.

In late 2000, a consortium of comic publishers came up with the idea to create a financial safety net for comic creators, much in the same fashion that exists in almost any other trade from plumbing to pottery. By March of 2001, the federal government approved The Hero Initiative as a publicly supported not-for-profit corporation under section 501 (c) (3).

Since its inception, The Hero Initiative (Formerly known as A.C.T.O.R., A Commitment To Our Roots) has had the good fortune to grant over $400,000 to the comic book veterans who have paved the way for those in the industry today.

The Hero Initiative is the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in need. Hero creates a financial safety net for yesterdays' creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. It's a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.


Please enjoy this gallery of ALL 104 original Justice League of America #50 Hero Initiative covers!

Hardcover and softcover versions of a book collecting all the covers will be available in December, 2011. AND all the originals will be auctioned off according to the following schedule:

• December 3, 2011, Meltdown Comics, Los Angeles, CA: Display of all 104 covers and auction of first one-third
• Jan. 20-22, 2012, Tate's Comics, Lauderhill, FL (Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area): Display of remaining covers and auction of second one-third.
• Feb. 17-19, 2012: Orlando MegaCon, Orlando, FL: Display and auction of final one-third.

All covers will be sold via LIVE AUCTION on-site at the venues above. If you cannot attend but wish to bid, proxy bidding is available.
Contact Joe Davidson at:
Deadlines for each grouping are below, and each cover carries a minimum bid of $100.

Special thanks to Firestorm Fan for the notice!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

1976 Wonder Woman Season One Animated Opening Theme

There are a lot of conspiracy theories surrounding the reasons for the lack of Wonder Woman in movies, television, and animation. For instance, Warner Bros. Animation announced that there would be no sequel to the 2009 Wonder Woman DC Universe Animated Original Movie. The rational given by Bruce Timm? "We had originally planned to do sequels for Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, but Wonder Woman’s sales started out extremely slow and then over time were eventually able to catch up to probably Justice League Frontier. The Execs decided because it wasn’t able to sell quickly right away, whereas Justice League was, that there wouldn’t be any more female super hero films right now. We were developing and hoping to get started on a Batgirl film based on Year One, but because of Wonder Woman’s slow sales start, that won’t be happening now."

Never mind that Wonder Woman remains the 4th bestselling movie of the line in dollars and units sold, earning nearly half again over any of the Justice League movies, and selling 100,000 copies more than the most popular Green Lantern D2DVD. Even more galling is the fact that it was the first and remains the only Wonder Woman cartoon... ever! Her first animated appearance was on an episode of The Brady Kids in 1972, with Super Friends arriving the following year. Wonder Girl Donna Troy beat her by five years through appearances in three segments of "Teen Titans" on 1967's The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. Well, at least we had three seasons of the Wonder Woman live action TV series, rivaled only by Batman in the catchiness of the theme and the spiffyness of the limited animation opening...

The next time the New 52 Wonder Woman hacks somebody to pieces with a sword, think about how little that jibes with her own theme song lyrics (by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox, as performed by the New World Symphony...)
Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman.
All the world is waiting for you,
and the power you possess.
In your satin tights,
Fighting for your rights
And the old Red, White and Blue.

Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman.
Now the world is ready for you,
and the wonders you can do.
Make a hawk a dove,
Stop a war with love,
Make a liar tell the truth.

Wonder Woman,
Get us out from under,
Wonder Woman.
All our hopes are pinned upon you.
And the magic that you do.
Stop a bullet cold,
Make the Axis fold,
Change their minds, and change the world.

Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman.
You're a wonder, Wonder Woman.

There's a bunch of content crossover in this multi-blog-- um-- crossover, so I avoided advertising the 1967 Teen Titans intro with Wonder Girl Donna Troy. However, why don't we watch it, too...

Here come the Teen Titans, a quartet of towering talent! Kid Flash, whose speed defies the eye to follow! Wonder Girl, swift and powerful super lass! Speedy, whose fantastic arrows perform awesome feats! Aqualad, bold and daring marine marvel! Fabulous foursome for right against might! The Teen Titans!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

2012 New 52 Wave 3 Artemis #1!

Written by Ann Nocenti
Art and cover by George Todorovski and Midhat Kapetanovic
On sale JULY 25 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

• Millenia ago, the Ancient Amazons were split into numerous tribes. The Nubian Amazons chose to exile themselves to another dimension to develop their minds and bodies without the distractions of Man's World. Today, they've sent us their most brilliant, fiercest champion to teach equality and save the world from dark forces. In a time of corrupt gods and murderous fallen tribes of Amazons, the beautiful Artemis will wield her bulletproof bracelets, Lasso of Truth, and Invisible Jet to fight for the rights of all peoples in her mission of peace!
• All the stuff you expect from Wonder Woman, without all that gore and trading babies for weapons and sperm jokes and crap!
• She's all-the-way BLACK! What-What Marvel? We'll just make Plastic Man a Latino in Wave 4, or something! More than enough reboot color to go around!

Most years, April Fool's Day among the DC Blogosphere revolves around shenanigans like ‘Vibe: Rebirth’, the Bloodwynd Mini-Series Announcement, or last year's slew of blogs changing their formats in outrageous ways for the day. This year, we're mostly resting, but I couldn't let the occasion go by without mocking DC's New 52 Wonder Woman series by offering a book that stars someone who actually acts like Wonder Woman, instead of Xena crossed with Tomb Raider. The results look like an Antarctic Press book, but I'd buy it. Click the links above for the main art sources I stole materials from, plus the DC Bullet image and most of the logo.