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


karl said...

I didnt think much of these Secret Origins issues at the time, tho being a big WW fan naturally I had to get them. Apart from the occasional tiny new snippet of information they didnt tell us anything new or radical.
I treated them as a kind of 'end of the year catch-up' issue, to fill in anyone who may have missed an issue or two. There were some nice drawn pages to savour, I recall one with veteran artist Dick Giordano which was a nice treat, having first seen his work back in the de-powered Di Prince era when Catwoman made a guest appearance. I cant say that these Secret issues actually contributed anything essential to the ongoing books tho; apart from Legion of Super-Heroes, that actually used them to advance certain plot points and set up future storylines. Still, any extra WW books are always appreciated by me and I found them a curious diversion. Id like to see more pages from them displayed here!

Diabolu Frank said...

Posting profile pages is delightfully labor-lax, so it's a done deal that more will come. Of all the SF&Os, I figure I liked the Wonder Woman ones the least. They were so insular and dry. Even SF&Os for characters I intensely dislike were informative, since I didn't follow those characters with any regularity. With Wonder Woman, I was getting detailed summaries of runs I was actively suffering through, specifically Byrne and Luke. I've never been able to bring myself to read all of the Jimenez issues, so the SF&Os helped keep me more current than I would have been from just flipping through them and tossing them in a box. You might also note how many of the sidebar figure drawings I pulled from right out of these things, with their all white backgrounds easily fill-painted in gold. Quite handy, that.

P.S. Joe Kubert Ares? Yes, please! That alone validates these things' existence.

Shlomo Ben Hungstien said...

i think this is the best bio page art work of all the June 28th inter-blog postings.