Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wonder Woman Secret Files & Origins #2- Profile Page (July, 1999)

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I've spoken elsewhere about how crappy and unloved DC's Secret Files were, but I have affection for them because of all their quirky, value-added qualities. See, the JLA could and often did support a yearly edition, between all their members, tie-in books, and the like. Characters like Green Lantern and the Flash had more trouble, based on singular series with fewer satellites, but they were popular enough that the demand was there. I expect the Wonder Woman editions were based more around some sort of moral imperative. The main series was selling less than 40K a month, and her second SF&O only brought in half that.

An initial edition was easy, since it was the first round of profile pages for the Amazing Amazon and her cast since the early '90s, before characters like Artemis and Cassie Sandsmark had even been created. Here's a tour guide of Paradise Island, there's a timeline of post-Zero Hour history, and why not a feature on the new invisible spaceship. That one sold as well as a regular issue, but I guess John Byrne's faithful 20,000 readers left with him the following year.

New writer Eric Luke was revisiting the Titans of legend, so reintroductions and a lot of splash pages filled out a lead story. The Wonder Woman profile page seen above, written by Joanna Sandsmark with art by Phil Jimenez, basically summarized the previous year's storyline. There were a few new villains, a look at the Wonderdome (don't ask,) and a stroll through Donna Troy's messed-up continuity (which could have been a volume unto itself.) You kind of knew they were running out of steam when the last page was a pin-up and a corny passage on the "Code of the Amazons." It's a shame that Wonder Woman SF&Os excluded the mini-Chase continuation by co-creator D. Curtis Johnson, featuring his DEO agent investigating the DCU.

It took three years to reach #3, with a lead written by Jimenez re-retelling the story of the Amazons with the many retcons that had been invented inserted into the chronology. The profile ballooned to two+ page spreads heavy on text, possibly inspired by Jimenez's work on the big hardcover DC Encyclopedia. It was quite comprehensive, and it's no surprise Jimenez finally became involved with a Wonder Woman encyclopedia (which is awesome, by the way.)

Origins of Secret Files

Monday, June 25, 2012

2010 Wonder Woman vs Cheetah art by TJ Frias

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"Pencil layout & ink on 9x12 bristol."

Friday, June 22, 2012

1996 Wonder Woman Gallery art by Mike Wieringo

I really dug this take on Wonder Woman, and I would have vastly preferred John Byrne's run on the book if he'd written it for 'Ringo.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wonder Woman #8 (June, 2012)

Mount Etna. Hephaestus opened his arsenal up to Diana, but found her choices of blades and armor archaic. “It’s how I was raised…” Lennox and Eros were ready to join her in storming the underworld, but were refused, if for no other reason than as a safeguard if she and her escort Hermes failed to return. Against Eros’ protestations, Hephaestus took his golden twin automatics. “She’ll bring them back. Won’t you… Wonder Woman?”

Diana and Hermes were surprised to find themselves in a seemingly desolate replica of London with gloomy red skies. “The underworld is governed by Hades’ whims and imagination. As they change, so does his realm.” So the underworld was never the same twice over Hermes’ many visits. Further, all the matter in this realm were made up of the souls of the dead, laid down like brick and mortar. Most were serene about the matter, but some statues shed their metal shells to become skinless centurions riding muscle-horses to charge the intruders. The hands of the souls making up the streets grabbed at Diana and Hermes’ ankles. The god didn’t need help from the Amazon, and so sent Diana to find her missing friend Zola while he held off Hades’ forces. Wonder Woman was too busy facing a swarm of Hades’ proxies to get far, so the duo fought their way to a brief respite before continuing on together.

Following a light, the heroes found a dark reflection of Zola’s farm, which she was prepared to defend by shotgun. The friends were reunited, but because of the difference in the passage of time in the underworld, Zola was much further along in her pregnancy than when she left Earth. Hades arrived, demanding that he be given a queen he’d been promised in an earlier negotiation, preferably Hera. Diana had lied about that, but Hades offered her forgiveness and free passage for Zola and her unborn child in exchange for Eros’ love guns. Diana agreed, only to be struck by a bullet that passed through her guarding bracelet and into her chest. Hermes and Zola departed, while Hades stated his intention to marry what was left of Diana…

“Casting Shadows” was by Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang. I can see what all the fuss is about this book. The art is very pretty, and the story is solidly cinematic. I just don’t care for the choices the writer has made with regard to interpretations of characters established three quarters of a century before this run. Also, the storytelling is decompressed to the point where even if I did like the places being traveled to, I'd still whine after each briskly read issue “are we there yet?” I’ve said it before, but once again, Wonder Woman chopping up a Bodyworlds exhibit and having an adolescent with a candle for a head plotting conjugal relations with her corpse is not the book I’m looking for.

New 52's Day

Friday, June 15, 2012

2010-2011 The Justice League of America 100 Project charity art by Nick Bradshaw

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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, June 12, 2012

Sensational Comics for September, 2012

Wonder Woman
Art and cover by CLIFF CHIANG
1:25 B&W Variant cover by CLIFF CHIANG
On sale SEPTEMBER 19 • 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 facet of the past is revealed – and a foe is introduced!
• How did Wonder Woman become a star pupil of Ares?
This issue will be, um, like, in the past sometime and stuff. We'll work it out over the weekend, bro.

EARTH 2 #0
1:25 B&W Variant cover by IVAN REIS
On sale SEPTEMBER 5 • 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.
• It’s the tragic origin of Earth 2’s greatest villain!
• Don’t miss Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in action on Earth 2!
One more appearance before E2 Wonder Woman gets done from behind by Steppenwulf. Say, is that the Crimson Avenger?

Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by GARY FRANK
Variant cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
1:100 B&W Variant cover by GARY FRANK
On sale SEPTEMBER 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. • Billy Batson takes center stage in this issue as he unleashes the awesome power of Shazam in a special origin story!
• Also featuring the not-to-be-missed origin of Pandora and the next seeds of TRINITY WAR!
This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue.
This seems extremely missable, thanks to nightmare fuel Captain Marvel taking center stage.

TEAM 7 #0
Art and cover by JESUS MERINO
On sale SEPTEMBER 12 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
• Threads of the entire DC Universe collide in this new series set in the early days of The New 52 from writer Justin Jordan (The Strange Talents of Luther Strode).
• As Superman emerges, so too does the world’s counter measures against him and his kind!
• Dinah Lance, Amanda Waller, Steve Trevor, John Lynch, Alex Fairchild, Cole Cash, Slade Wilson are Team 7 – and their story will change everything you know about The New 52!
I do a lot of NuDC bitching here, but I really do appreciate the effort put into Steve Trevor's rehabilitation. Despite my misgivings about The Wall becoming Naomi Campbell, I'll probably give this a try.
Cover by RYAN SOOK
On sale OCTOBER 10 • 144 pg, FC, $14.99 US
• The Enchantress has unleashed a wave of chaos across the globe! Shade the Changing Man, Madame Xanadu, Deadman, Zatanna, Mindwarp and John Constantine may be our only hope – but how can we trust beings whose very presence makes most people break out in a cold sweat?
• Collecting JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #1-6!
Art and cover by ROSS ANDRU and MIKE ESPOSITO
ADVANCE SOLICIT • On sale FEBRUARY 27 • 352 pg, FC, $74.99 US
• At last, the wild WONDER WOMAN adventures from the late 1950s are collected in full color in a new ARCHIVES series!
• Collecting WONDER WOMAN #98-110.
I'd have been a lot more excited about this if Showcase Presents wasn't around, but I'm still glad this exists.

Wonder Girl
1:25 B&W Variant cover by BRETT BOOTH
On sale SEPTEMBER 26 • 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.
• Focusing on the origin of Tim Drake; how a would be Olympic star and computer genius went on to become Batman’s third Robin.
• Plus: The beginnings of Skitter and Bunker.

Donna Troy
On sale OCTOBER 3 • 192 pg, FC, $16.99 US
• Eclipso returns in these tales from JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #54-60 and JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #43.
• Will the combined might of Batman, Donna Troy, Blue Lantern Saint Walker and even the all-powerful Spectre be enough to stop him?
It doesn't matter. None of this happened, and many of these characters don't exist anymore. The line-up certainly never did.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Wonder Woman #14 (January, 2008)

It's been a longstanding truism in Hollywood that female-starring action films are box office poison. Warner Brothers president Jeff Robinov was infamously rumored to have declared in 2007 that his company, the one that owns Wonder Woman, would never again make another such film after the twin failures of The Brave One and The Invasion. Never mind that those were both deeply flawed movies. Never mind the $675M earned by the Resident Evil franchise. Never mind Underworld's $460M. Tomb Raider's $404M? Kill Bill's $333M? How about the $557M in unadjusted dollars earned by Ellen Ripley across a quarter century, versus the $301M made in "current" money by combining Aliens and Predators? No wonder the grapevine says Robinov's got Wonder Woman back in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, DC's had two Wonder Woman related "event" series in the past twenty years. One was 1991's justifiably forgotten War of the Gods, which was merely Catwoman in comparison to 2007's Amazons Attack!, the Cutthroat Island of comics. Wonder Woman #11-13 were direct tie-ins. Let us never speak of them. There's nothing wrong with a female-driven extravaganza (The Hunger Games alone made more than any one of the previously mentioned franchises combined,) but when you do it bad, it quickly becomes an epic scale boondoggle.

Speaking of which, Gail Simone, the first long term female writer of Wonder Woman, had a lot of expectations over her head as she picked up the threads from-- ahem-- you know. Hippolyta was back to normal, but plagued with guilt and living almost alone on Themyscira. While the other Amazons were in magical exile, four prisoners at as many points on the island were checked on once a year by their former queen. One crafted the dethroned monarch a crude new crown with her teeth, and promised that for the good of all Amazons, she would slay "the dragon" Diana.

Wonder Woman was in Africa, battling a troop of armored gorilla soldiers brainwashed by Grodd. The Amazing Amazon took down the troops' leader, Tolifhar, by force. Then, she won the lot of them over with her kindness and grace. In fact, she ended up putting them up in Diana Prince's apartment for a while.

Tom Tresser set up a surprise birthday party for his partner. It was interrupted by Sarge Steel, who wanted them to follow up on a tip Agent Prince had gained from her new simian allies about a cell of the super-villainous Society set up in Toronto. Steel didn't trust Prince's inexplicable "tips," and suspecting her of having a connection to the Amazons that tried to overthrow the U.S. government, brought in outside help. Lt. Colonel Etta Candy was to spy on Prince, and to prove her worth, had already uncovered Steel's abuse of antacids, anti-anxiety meds, and alcohol.

Diana had gotten Bruce Wayne to donate billion dollar "invisible" stealth technology to the Department of Metahuman Affairs. Their suped-up helicopter and tank rolled on the Society compound, but found it mostly abandoned. That was, except for Captain Nazi, who proceeds to try to end Agents Prince and Tresser. Meanwhile, his new Nazi army was invading Themyscira, intent on killing anyone there and claiming it for the Society.

"The Circle Part One of Four: What You Do Not Know Yet" was by Gail Simone, Terry & Rachael Dodson. For my money, Simone is one of the finest writers in modern mainstream comics. She is about the only legitimate female "star" comic book writer in pretty much ever, which is why getting her on Wonder Woman seemed so obvious. It's a shame that her strengths as a writer make her a poor choice for the character. I'll be making criticisms as I go through the issues, but for now, the first page of her first issue sets up an "everything you knew about the heroine's origin is wrong" riff. Rookie mistake. New writers always want to screw with a character's origin, which immediately alienates long time fans, and never sticks with the iconic characters. Has there been a single run since 1987 that didn't try this at least once? Write stories that move the character forward, rather than having her chase her tail.

Unlike a lot of people, I liked the gorillas, but making Etta Candy slender and radically altering her m.o. was not cool. Then there was the bit where Batman, who already got Diana her a job in the totally superfluous D.M.A. (DC already had the established the nigh-identical Department of Extranormal Operations,) invents the invisible jet and doesn't use the tech himself. Bad enough that it doesn't make a lick of sense, but it also makes a big chunk of Wonder Woman lore dependent on friggin' Batman. Diana is a magical princess and a third of the DC Trinity. She should gift lesser DC heroes, not be a Wayne charity case. By the way, was the raid on Canadian soil sanctioned, or did WayneTech facilitated an illegal operation? Finally, for the second time this issue, Wonder Woman fights a villain from another hero's rogues gallery, Captain Nazi, instead of one of her own. I get that she needs to prove herself amidst the greater DCU to establish her abilities, but I don't think a guy who fights Captain Marvel Junior really helps in that department. By the way, how dumb was it for a powerless Diana Prince to enter a building known to have housed super-villains? At least the Dodsons keep it all pretty.

Brave New World

Thursday, June 7, 2012

2011 Diabolu Frank corners DIANA PRINCE

I've been following "Calamity" Jon Morris' irregular but often hilarious Gone & Forgotten for a while now, and have checked out his various art blogs from time to time. When he announced the weekdaily Cornered, which asks artists to do cover/parody versions of old (& imagined) corner box art, I not only followed the blog, but hankered to contribute. However, I was never a very good artist drawer, and my chops have dulled considerably from their least blunted days long past. I also have very little time, and inadequate tools to compete in the digital arena. After several attempts at doing a corner for Diana Prince, I still had nothing I was willing to show anybody.

On the 12th of April of 2011, "Calamity" Jon sent out a request for more entries, because his backlog was getting thin, and I hoped desperation would lower his standards to my level. One day, a week later, I was sitting in another boring lecture for a class that consisted of the "teacher" reciting with poor pronunciation off Powerpoints. I decided to screw off like I was back in junior high. I blew up the banner from this blog on my laptop, did a pencil rough on the back inside cover of my notebook, and inked it in with a ballpoint pen. The results were thoroughly unimpressive, but at least I felt relief from having done something besides keeping drool off my desk. I scanned the picture at the house, dolled it up as best as possible in MS Paint, and fired it off as a submission.

Over a year later, and I've never gotten any kind of rejection letter, and I ended up getting bored with the Cornered blog anyway. Still, I've had this post lining the bird cage all this time, waiting for the day I was unashamed enough to use it for filler. That day has come.

Based on corner art from Wonder Woman #191.

Monday, June 4, 2012

2012 Wonder Girl Donna Troy Houston Comicpalooza Cosplay

Bob Haney Teen Titans costume in effect. I shot this pic myself at the con. Read more about it?

Friday, June 1, 2012

2010 DC 75th: Sensation Comics #1 by Adam Hughes T-Shirt

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Wonder Woman joins the celebration on the new DC 75th: Sensation Comics #1 T-Shirt. Features Adam Hughes' recreation of the 1940's classic cover, screenprinted in full-color on a natural-colored, 100% cotton heavyweight shirt. The Amazon Princess is truly ageless!

E.T.D: September, 2010
M-XL: $17.95
XXL: $20.95