Wonder Woman #30 Preview OR One Missing Amazon

April 15, 2014

Wonder Woman #30 comes out tomorrow, and Comic Book Resources has posted a preview of the book. After the events of last month’s issue, the Amazons are back and Wonder Woman is fixing to go to war against the First Born, so let’s check in on how things are progressing:

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Well, now we know why there wasn’t a joyful mother/daughter reunion when the Amazons were restored at the end of the last issue. Hippolyta is still a statue, and Hera doesn’t know why. The always obstinate Aleka has some thoughts on the matter, of course; she seems to be suggesting that Hera isn’t actually trying to bring back Hippolyta. But given how her character has progressed, I suspect that Hera is telling the truth and that some other forces are at play.

Cliff Chiang is taking a break this month, and he’ll be missed. His art always elevates the book for me; the things I like I like even more when Chiang draws them, and the things I don’t like I am less concerned about because Chiang draws it all so nicely. Goran Sudzuka is my favourite of the several fill-in artists we’ve seen, though. My guess is that this will be a bit of a set-up issue, partly because last month was pretty crazy and partly because Brian Azzarello tends to save the really big things for Chiang. But we’ll see.

Wonder Woman #30 is on sale in comic shops and online tomorrow. Keep an eye out for Batman and Wonder Woman #30 as well.

“America’s Silver Age,” My Piece On Gender And Race In Silver Age Wonder Woman Comics For The Los Angeles Review Of Books

April 14, 2014

This weekend, a piece I wrote about Wonder Woman’s Silver Age comics went up at the Los Angeles Review of Books. We really could have called it “Ugh, White Men, Am I Right?” but “America’s Silver Age” is a classier title choice. Ostensibly a review of Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess Archives, Volume 1, which came out a while ago, the piece looks at the depiction of women and people of colour (or rather, the lack thereof) in Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru, and Mike Esposito’s revision of Wonder Woman that began in 1958.

In the Golden Age, William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter’s Wonder Woman was all about female strength and superiority. It was also a fairly racially diverse comic for the time, though these depictions of people of colour ran the gamut from moderately positive to offensive stereotypes. Marston himself wasn’t nearly as forward thinking about race as he was about gender; in his psychological writing he frowned on interracial relationships, and he had a number of connections with known eugenics supporters and sympathizers, including his de facto aunt, Margaret Sanger. Nonetheless, the early years of Wonder Woman actually portrayed people of colour at least, however problematically.

When Kanigher, Andru, and Esposito began their new take on Wonder Woman in 1958, Marston’s feminist messages went out the window, as did people of colour. In the thirteen issues collected in this first Silver Age Wonder Woman Archive volume, there are only three very brief instances that feature people of colour. This panel from Wonder Woman #103, featuring Inuits fleeing a glacier, was the most any non-white characters spoke in the book:

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It was a whitewashed book, removing race all together at a time when race was a daily issue in American society as the Civil Rights Movement continually gained momentum.

You can read the full piece over at the Los Angeles Review of Books, and of course learn more about Wonder Woman’s history generally in my book, Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine.

Batman/Wonder Woman #30 Preview OR Batman Visits Paradise Island

April 11, 2014

The book that used to be called Batman and Robin has been touring the DC universe, filling Robin’s spot in the title with other characters in the wake of Damian Wayne’s death over a year ago. This month, Wonder Woman is the guest star, and Batman has chased Ra’s al Ghul to Paradise Island. Apparently Ra’s stole Damian’s body and is trying to bring the little bugger back to life; I haven’t been following the book, but that seems to be the gist of things. Wonder Woman’s issue is out next Wednesday, and 13th Dimension has posted a preview. You might want to click that double page spread so you can read it:

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This does not look great. I’m not super into Patrick Gleason’s art generally, but I remember not minding it too much when he and Tomasi were on Green Lantern Corps. That was the last time I’ve seen his stuff, and it seems far less good now. His anatomy is all jacked up, as is his perspective. Aleka looks like a grotesque giant, and his take on Wonder Woman is different, to say the least. Plus, he didn’t put pointy tops on the boots. That’s Wonder Woman 101. These are not an artistically pleasant assortment of pages, and three panels on a two page spread of people standing around talking is hardly great story structure.

Now, it’s only four pages. Maybe it picks up nicely from here. But this preview has actually lessened my interest in the book. I’m all about a Wonder Woman and Batman team-up, and was excited when the issue was announced, but what I’ve seen so far is quite a letdown. It just looks weird, both in terms of the art itself and the layout more broadly. Here’s hoping it gets better.

Batman/Wonder Woman #30 is out next Wednesday, online and in comic shops everywhere. If there’s anything fun or interesting to talk about, I may put up a review later in the week. There’ll definitely be a review of Wonder Woman #30, and look for that preview probably Monday or Tuesday; it’s not up yet.

Wonder Woman, And Women Generally, Again Didn’t Have Much To Do In Robot Chicken’s DC Comics Special #2: Villains In Paradise

April 9, 2014

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It’s time to again take all the fun out of comedy and be serious about gender roles in a special starring talking action figures!  Though “comedy” might be stretching it a bit; the Robot Chicken “DC Comics Special #2: Villains in Paradise” wasn’t all that funny to begin with.

When the first Robot Chicken “DC Comics Special” aired backed in September 2012, I did a post about the lack of female characters in the show, and about how little the few women they included spoke or did. Things haven’t improved much with the second outing. While the first special had 7 women with speaking roles, the new one has 8.

Moreover, the 8 women who spoke and the 4 other women who were in the background didn’t have particularly good roles. Here’s a brief rundown:

  • A girl scout tried to sell cookies to Bizarro.
  • Lena Luthor, Lex Luthor’s daughter, actually had a big part, but it involved her selling coffee at the Legion of Doom headquarters and then dating Superboy and singing a song that included a line about how big his penis was.
  • Poison Ivy was part of the Legion of Doom, but her rather curvaceous action figure body was barely covered by her costume and she spent most of her time onscreen suggestively touching her body.
  • Catwoman was part of the Legion of Doom as well. She said “Meow” a few times.
  • Iris West popped in for a quick bit where she was on a date with the Flash. She had no lines.
  • Reverse Iris West, aka. Tina, was in the same bit, and her lines consisted of “My name is Tina.”
  • Dr. Fate had a date as well, named Melanie.
  • Aquaman was also on a date with an unnamed woman, but ditched her when her fish told him that she doesn’t put out and she doesn’t shave her lady parts.
  • Ice was in the crowd at Green Arrow’s funeral.
  • Harley Quinn showed up at the final battle and fought Wonder Woman for a bit.
  • The Cheetah was shown in the aftermath of the battle, knocked out on the sand.

And finally, Wonder Woman. Her one big scene involved her being angry when Superman introduced Superboy as his clone because Superboy was actually her and Superman’s son. Here she is, looking angrily at Superman:

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Wonder Woman was involved in another scene as well, on the invisible jet, but she was knocked unconscious the whole time and Green Arrow was trying to figure out how to fly it when he couldn’t see anything. And she was fighting with the group at the end.

All together, there were two female superheroes, four female villains, a couple of kids, and four dates for male heroes in the special. Very few of them had more than a line, if that.

Some other female characters were mentioned but didn’t appear. Lois Lane was name checked in a scene set at the Daily Planet, while Lana Lang was mentioned in a song by Lex Luthor’s high school band, Sexx Luthor. Oh so cleverly, they rhymed “Lana Lang” with “sweet poontang.” Interestingly, Superboy was in the special but there was no Supergirl. There were also Batman and Robin and no Batgirl or Batwoman. Green Arrow but no Black Canary. Aquaman but no Mera.

All told, it was another Robot Chicken “DC Comics Special” with another poor showing for female characters. It’s not particularly surprising given how the first one went, but it would have been nice of them to up the representation noticeably and be a bit more creative with their roles. Of the 12 female characters who appeared in the special, 7 of them were there as the romantic or sexual interests of male characters. Those who weren’t were background players. Maybe try a little harder if you do a third special, Robot Chicken. There’s nowhere to go but up.

Superman/Wonder Woman #7 Preview OR Superman’s Nuclear Diet

April 8, 2014

Superman/Wonder Woman #7 is out tomorrow, and the good folks at Comic Book Resources have put up a preview. When we last saw our superpowered lovers, they were in the midst of a nuclear blast, so they’re probably dead and the series is over, right? Wrong! Surprisingly, they’re okay. Let’s take a look:

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So after a couple of not completely terrible issues, Superman/Wonder Woman is doing that thing where no one talks very much and there’s not much going on artwise, and then when they do talk it’s really inane romance stuff. I’m not super enthused to see that format return. I like when things actually happen. Where are Zod and Faora? And why isn’t this book Zod/Faora instead? I’d be all over that.

Anyway, Tony S. Daniel is taking a month off so there are three different artists for this issue. And it’s a prelude to the “Doomed” crossover, where Superman is going to turn into a Doomsday monster sort of thing. Maybe soaking up all that nuclear radiation messed with his genetics. It certainly thinned him out; the dude is rail thin here. That’s kind of an interesting idea, having solar energy make Superman strong but the energy from a nuclear bomb make him weak. I mean, the sun is basically a cauldron of constantly exploding nuclear energy so maybe it doesn’t make a ton of sense, but still. I like the idea. I’m less excited about four pages of Wonder Woman trying to break through the clouds, though.

Superman/Wonder Woman #7 is out everywhere tomorrow. You can pick it up at your local comic shop or buy it online.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Was Great SO When Do We Get A Black Widow Movie?

April 7, 2014

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a massive success. It made almost $100 million domestically this weekend, has pulled in over $300 million globally, and people love it; it’s got an 89% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and 95% from audiences. The movie is killing it on every possible level.

There was lots of great stuff in Winter Soldier. Captain America was super cool, Falcon was awesome, the Winter Soldier was like he just stepped out of the comics, and even Jenny Agutter got to bust up some bad guys as Councilwoman Hawley. But no one was cooler than the Black Widow. She was all over the place, taking down villains in so many ways. She’s got fantastic martial arts skills to start with, but she’s also got a grappling hook, electric shocks, various guns, a garrote, and the ability to make use of whatever else is lying around to beat the hell out of anyone who gets in her way.

Scarlett Johansson has gotten better with each Marvel movie, and she was pretty awesome to begin with way back in Iron Man 2. Of all the Avengers, only Black Widow and Hawkeye haven’t had their own movies yet, and Black Widow is the far more developed character. We’ve heard rumours of a Black Widow movie for a while, but nothing concrete yet, and the rumblings for other characters have been much louder. Ant-Man is already on the schedule, and Dr. Strange has been getting a ton of buzz (and SPOILER even a brief shout out in Winter Soldier) but not every Marvel movie needs to have a white guy lead. A Black Widow movie is not only a very sensible next step for the franchise, but it’s long overdue and would be crazy good.

Let’s talk about the crazy good stuff first. Black Widow is a Russian assassin turned good guy, with a shady past. A Black Widow movie could go in several fun directions: it could have a Bond vibe, or a Bourne vibe, or go even darker than those franchises due to the opportunities her sketchy past provides. In the comics, Black Widow is the product of a covert Soviet superspy/assassin program, an orphan trained from a young age, but given that the movies haven’t delved into her past too much, they’re not locked into any specific version of this origin. There were also other Black Widows in the program in the comics, and Scarlett facing off against and/or teaming up with a bunch of other bad ass lady assassins would make for a heck of a film. Plus, no matter what direction they go with it, the action in a Black Widow movie can be totally out of control.

In terms of the sensible next step, look away if you haven’t seen Winter Soldier yet because we’re diving into SPOILER territory here. The movie ends with Nick Fury and Black Widow releasing all of SHIELD’s secret files, including everything about Black Widow’s history. The world now knows all of her secrets, so she’s perfectly poised to explore this past and tackle any new foes who come out of the woodwork. I think Marvel would be well served to do a prequel/sequel combo, exploring her past life via flashbacks while having her deal with a threat from this past in the present. Preferably a threat that has her traipsing all over the globe, taking down evildoers in classic and exotic locales. A fight atop the Eiffel Tower perhaps, or an epic chase through the jungle toward a Soviet base in Vietnam, or a rooftop battle on a snowy Moscow night.

The time is absolutely right for a Black Widow movie, and no other character is better poised to headline their own film. Also, it would just be awesome. She could kick all of the butts. All. The. Butts.

Wonder Woman Is Front And Center In Several New Kids’ Books

April 3, 2014

DC Women Kicking Ass, always on the ball when it comes to all things involving DC women, is reporting that several new kids’ books due out later this year feature Wonder Woman in a prominent role. First up is DC Comics: My First Book of Girl Power by Julie Merberg, a 20 page board book that showcases a variety of DC women with some classic José Luis García-López art. The publisher describes the book as:

A celebration of girl power for budding super heroines featuring beloved DC characters from Wonder Woman to Batgirl.

Exploring attributes from physical strength to intuition, this introduction to DC’s super heroines is also a catalog of role models for little girls. From Wonder Woman’s ability to find the truth to Black Canary’s powerful voice to Batgirl’s keen mind, readers will find much to admire.

And here’s a look at the art:

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This looks really cool. I love the idea of using comic book heroines as a way to teach young readers that girls are strong and awesome, and moreover that they are strong and awesome in a variety of ways. It’s an important message that can sometimes be lost amidst the sea of princesses that dominate every sort of product aimed at little girls. Hopefully by the time the little girls who read this book grow up enough to read comic books, representations of female characters there will have continued to improve. Things seem to be getting better, but there’s still a ways to go (coffcoffStarfirecoffcoff).

There are also two Wonder Woman themed education books on the way, Wonder Woman’s ABCs and Wonder Woman: A Word Adventure! With books like that, soon your kids will be able to spell words like “Themyscira” and “Hekatoncheires” with no problem at all.

It’s great to see DC licensing their characters in products aimed at young girls. It’s easy to find anything with Batman or Superman on it, but representation for female superheroes is rather poor. Getting kids into superheroes at an early age is how you develop lifelong fans, and showcasing female characters presents little girls with heroes they are more likely to identify with and embrace. It’s smart marketing, plus it’s just good for everyone to have a superhero to look up to.


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