Thursday, July 1, 2010

Comic Book Issues...

Wonder Woman.... Well, crap.

Like everyone else in the world I have a budget. And I have a life that involves money for stuff OTHER than comic books... like food, gas, and car payments. So I pick and choose which comics I follow on a monthly basis and which I wait for trade paperback on. For the ones I wait for trade on I also often wait for the annual trip to the Chicago Comic Con where I can often get trades for 50% off or more.

Wonder Woman was one of those character rather off my radar but then a few years back two things happened... they added the character of Tom Tressor (Nemesis) as a supporting character (and I ADORE Nemesis) and brilliant writer Gail Simone was named as writer for the series. Well now I HAD to check this out.... later.

Really, it was always my intention to pick up the trades of Simone's run and eventually get caught up... but then came the announcement that Simone was going to be off the series in favor of J. Michael Straczynski... he of Babylon 5 fame as well as such critically acclaimed comic book series as Midnight Nation, Rising Stars, Spider-Man and Thor.

I've got nothing against JMS per-se BUT he is a writer who runs hot and cold for me. I like some of his stuff and I think he can have a brilliant ear for dialogue but then other of his stuff just gets overburdened with some of his own conceits. He has one favorite one -- he seems to really enjoy the idea of "destiny". In many of his runs his characters discover that basically their lives have already been determined and everything is just a run up to meeting their eventual fate. They are "destined" to do something or be something and they fulfill that destiny... even if it means that they have something of a suck life because of it. It's a conceit that gets old after a while because it does seem to wipe a lot of free will off the table -- which in turn kind of takes away from the narrative power.

But I'm digressing. At first, I was perfectly willing to give JMS a shot on the title... in trade of course. I figured even if he invoked his pet theory of destiny with a character like Wonder Woman it could actually work since she's tied into Greek myths and legends where fate is personified and destinies play huge roles in things. But then, this week, more details leaked out.

It would seem that JMS's run is going to start by the gods "for reasons of their own" altering Wonder Woman's timeline so that now she basically becomes another character entirely. Readers are supposed to be intrigued by how this 'alternate reality' is and is not going to connect to Wonder Woman's original past and whether or not this becomes her true past or whether things are "restored" in the end. Of course, theoretically speaking this means that, until this storyline ends, Wonder Woman cannot/should not appear as a guest in any of the OTHER DC titles because she's supposed to be off on a tangent timeline.

Ugh. It's enough stupid to make your brain hurt. Seriously. And in addition to all of that, it isn't even a really original take on the character -- having her taken from her Amazon home at 3 and raised by three mysterious figures in a modern city where she becomes an "urban warrior" (and those are two words which, when put together should really make you run far, far away. NOTHING good ever came from "urban warriors") -- makes her rather like a dozen other (usually failed) comic book characters both male and female. There's basically nothing there that makes me say "Oh, yeah, I want to read about THIS Wonder Woman. I mean, part of the charm of the character is that she really was a product of two worlds -- she grew up most of her life on a mythical island of Amazons where gods were real and had real power and influence -- and then she came to our world and has spent several years here getting to know and love the place. She's no longer a fish-out-of-water but she is, like a lot of us, a product of two places. Many people move away from our homes and spend years living and working somewhere else -- putting down roots, maybe getting married and starting a family, etc. -- and that place becomes HOME. But then there are those visits back to the places where we grew up and part of that is still HOME as well and we love both but with different kinds of love and for different reasons. And that's part of what Wonder Woman is as well. But a Wonder Woman who leaves home at 3 years old and is basically raised in a modern city by other people, well, no matter how much JMS tries to sell it, there's no WAY Wonder Woman could have the same feelings about her home or that her upbrining would have had the same influence on her life. And THAT makes her a totally different character. She could be Cosette from Les Miserables for goodness sake! It's really not that different of an origin!

and then, to add insult to injury, they changed her costume... claiming that female fans often complained about it.

Look DC, as a woman, I can tell you that MOST of us never complained THAT much about the costume. Most of the time all we asked was that you put some straps on the top and didn't let the artist draw Wonder Woman's boy-shorts as thong underpants. Instead we have gone from this:

Which is pretty iconic. To this:

Which really doesn't say Wonder Woman all that much. I mean a few stars on the shoulder of her jacket... and then a 1990's era, rolled sleeve jacket?! What are you thinking?!

The pants are okay, I don't even mind that they're tight pants (I assume stretchy and spandex-y so they're easy to move in) but BLACK?! The least they could have done was make them BLUE... and put some stars on them.

And I don't even KNOW what's up with the shoes. Are they supposed to be those little shoe-bootie things that have been popular the last few years? I'm sorry but those are ugly. No offense to those of you who wear them but nine times out of ten something that tries to be a cute version of two different things at the same time ends up as neither. And then there's the... I don't even know WHAT that is around the shoes but it looks like spur bands without the actual spur roundels on them.

So, well, there goes the idea that I might enjoy JMS's run on the title. What is worse is that this makes me even wonder if I want to bother with going ahead and buying the trades of Gail Simone's run on the title if I know that it's just going to end and none of the ideas Simone set up will ever come to any fruition. The dilemma of a comic book geek...

1 comment:

  1. I reckon pick up the trades for Simone's run regardless. For one, it's a worthy attempt to encapsulate all the different aspects of the character and her history.

    The new antagonists introduced in The Circle have an interesting origin and the importance of motherhood to the Amazons is investigated.

    It's a more engaging take on what Wonder Woman means as a symbol/concept, but mixed in with decent world building (or in Wondy's case world repair after Amazons Attack)and page-turning plots.

    It's just a shame all that thought and work gets wiped away by the JMS revamp.