Posts Tagged ‘Ross Andru’

“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:

LARBww103inuit

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.

Wonder Woman At The Olympics Part Seven: The Olympics Of The Doomed!!

August 12, 2012

On this, the day of the closing ceremonies, we take our last look at Wonder Woman’s Olympic adventures.  And fittingly, we turn to our friend Robert Kanigher for a fourth time.  That man could really beat a story to death, and this series has been richer for it.  In Wonder Woman #148, published in August 1964, Kanigher told his final Olympic tale along with artists Ross Andru and Mike Esposito as Wonder Woman participated in:

The Duke of Deception was up to his old tricks, and he spent the first three quarters of the issue creating illusions so that Wonder Woman could no longer trust what she saw.  Ultimately, Wonder Woman decided that the dinosaurs attacking her at the mall couldn’t be real, since none of the other illusions were, so she just lets them go.  Unfortunately, one of the dinosaurs WAS real, and she was captured and brought to Mars to compete in the Olympics of the Doomed.

While trapped in a cage, no less!!  And with death as the penalty if she lost any events.  It was a real pickle.  The first event was a race to grab an apple that was placed on a pole across the stadium.  As the runners took off, our quick thinking Wonder Woman took out her lasso and:

In the second event, Wonder Woman was in a tug of war against a group of Martian athletes.  They dragged her cage towards the line with ease, until:

For the final event, Wonder Woman only had to escape her cage… after being thrown into a pool with a giant octopus.  Even worse, the only way for Wonder Woman to get out of the cage was for the Duke of Deception to open it, and he certainly wasn’t keen to do that.  But when they pulled the cage out of the pool, lo and behold:

But where is Wonder Woman?  Ta-dah:

Wonder Woman deceived the Duke!!  We don’t know how, since Kanigher isn’t keen on stuff like explaining things, but she pulled it off nonetheless.  The Duke was defeated and Wonder Woman returned to Earth, victorious at yet another dangerous Olympiad.

Top Five Wonder Woman Covers: Semi-Final Round #2

February 1, 2011

Last week, we looked at five of the ten winners from the preliminary round of best cover polling.  Now, we look at the rest with part two of our semi-finals!!

The covers were listed by percentage, and last week we did the evens (and it was quite an exciting poll… it seemed to be a blowout early on, but then things got VERY interesting).  This week is the odds, so we will look at the covers ranked 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th on the master list, and the winner will go to the finals.  Voting will last for exactly one week from the time this poll is posted, after which the two semi-final winners will face off for the title of best Wonder Woman cover of all time.

Here are the remaining five poll winners, as voted by you, for your consideration… be sure to vote in the poll at the end:

1st Place, 65.4% – Wonder Woman #1 by H.G. Peter:  It’s rather fitting this cover made the list, seeing as it’s the first cover of the entire series.  The voting on this poll wasn’t even close; this cover led from day one and never looked back.  While there are more whimsical Peter covers, there are certainly none more iconic.

3rd Place, 50.7% – Wonder Woman #184 by Adam Hughes:  I was surprised that a cover from the Hughes poll built up this much of a lead.  All of his covers are fantastic, and I expected a far closer race.  Usually when I post a poll I can tell that a certain cover or two are destined to be near the top, but with Hughes I thought they all had a shot.  I’m glad this one won, though.  It’s definitely my favourite Hughes.

5th Place, 38.5% – Wonder Woman #22 by George Pérez:  The Pérez poll was extremely close.  It was the third list posted, but it wasn’t until the last couple weeks that this cover edged out the black and red silhouette cover.  But I’m glad this cover won in the end… I think it’s a great example of Pérez’s Wonder Woman work.

7th Place, 32.6% – Wonder Woman #113 by Ross Andru:  Man, I loved the Andru covers… they were so fun!!  I have to admit, I was pulling for Paper Man, because that cover is just hilarious, but Sphinx creatures are a damn good time too.  Wonder Woman nonchalantly jumping out of the way of his eye-blasts totally sells the cover.

9th Place, 28.3% – Wonder Woman #306 by José Luis Garcia-López:  This is Garcia-López’s second cover in the top ten, which is crazy impressive!!  The Pre-Crisis cover list was a tricky situation for me… it ended up tied when I closed all the polls.  Lucky for us, my friend Lori agreed to serve as an impartial third party and cast the deciding vote, and this cover won out.  And I’m happy it did… it’s super iconic.

You can vote for your favourite cover from the second group of semi-finalists below… the poll is only open for one week, so be sure to vote now so your pick makes it to the finals:

Top Five Wonder Woman Covers: Pre-Crisis Faceoff

January 4, 2011

UPDATE: The poll is now closed.  The two semi-final votes begin in new threads on January 25th and February 1st, and then the final vote starts February 8th.

We have already looked at H.G. Peter. Irv Novick, and Ross Andru, who drew pretty much every Wonder Woman cover between 1942 and 1968, so this list isn’t “pre-Crisis” so much as just the twenty years before Crisis on Infinite Earths.  But oh well… there are also six covers, as there were last week, but I still named the post “Top Five” to avoid confusion.  This is not a brilliant exercise in titling.  But there are some lovely covers, and this week we have Mike Sekowsky vs. Ross Andru AND Dick Giordano vs. José Luis Garcia-López!!

Mike Sekowsky is probably best known for his lengthy run on Justice League of America in the 1960s, but in 1968 he became the artist for Wonder Woman with her mod re-launch, including the covers from Wonder Woman #178-196.  He later worked at Marvel, and then in animation for Hanna-Barbera.  We have looked at Ross Andru covers before, but after his original tenure on the book he did a sizable number of covers with famed inker Dick Giordano in the 1970s and 1980s.  Giordano is one of the best inkers of all time, and also served as Executive Editor of DC Comics.  Their covers appeared semi-regularly between Wonder Woman #251-311.  José Luis Garcia-López is a Spanish artist who has drawn pretty much every major character at DC Comics.  His Wonder Woman covers were sporadic at best, but fantastic.

Here are my choices for the best two covers from each artist, with the poll at the very bottom:

Mike Sekowsky

Wonder Woman #178:  This cover marked a new era for Wonder Woman and introduced the hip and fashionable (though now hilariously dated) Diana Prince.  Looking back on it now, the cover is an amusing attempt to be all groovy and such, but at the time it must have come as a huge shock to young readers to see Wonder Woman take on such a bold new direction.

Wonder Woman #179:  Now it’s official… the previous issue set up a new look for Diana Prince, but this issue established the end of her Wonder Woman persona as well.  This cover shows Diana tearfully leaving her Amazon family behind, but lucky for her she had a closetful of new fashions to return to.

Ross Andru and Dick Giordano

Wonder Woman #269:  Wonder Woman quitting seems to be a theme today!  Here, Wonder Woman storms off, sick of man’s world, tossing aside her lasso and tiara.  It’s totally a “Screw you guys, I’m going home” situation, but decades before Cartman.

Wonder Woman #292:  The faux-book layout of this cover is a little odd, but the art is so cool.  The picture of Wonder Woman in the foreground is great and totally captures the character well, and then there are tons of guest stars in the background, including Supergirl, Black Canary, Huntress, Power Girl, and more.  I dig it even with the weird framing.

José Luis Garcia-López

Wonder Woman #306:  Do I even need to tell you why this cover is fantastic?  You’ve got that awesome picture of Wonder Woman in the background, and THEN Wonder Woman with the lasso going atop an in-flight invisible plane.  This cover is crazy great!!

Wonder Woman #329:  Again with the ending of eras!!  This was the last issue of Wonder Woman before the Peréz re-launch in 1987, and they decided to go out on a high note, coverwise.  Wonder Woman looks defiant, and ready to kick some ass, while the hordes behind her seem prepared to lend a hand as well. 

So there are my top six covers… keep track of any omissions you think I’ve made for the upcoming “Egregious Snubs” list, and vote for your favourite of the six below:

Top Five Wonder Woman Covers: Update

December 12, 2010

Polls have been added to the Adam Hughes, H.G. Peter, and George Pérez top five cover lists!!  You can see all of the lists and vote here, or got to each post individually:

The top vote-getter from each artist will ultimately face off in a best Wonder Woman cover ever poll.

Look for Brian Bolland’s top five covers this Tuesday!!

Top Five Wonder Woman Covers: Ross Andru

December 8, 2010

UPDATE: The poll is now closed.  The two semi-final votes begin in new threads on January 25th and February 1st, and then the final vote starts February 8th.

This week, we go all the way back to the Silver Age to admire the work of one of Wonder Woman’s most prolific cover artists, Ross Andru!!

Andru, along with his long-time inker Mike Esposito, took over the cover duties of the series with Wonder Woman #95 in 1958, and did nearly every cover for the next nine years, finally ending with Wonder Woman #171 in 1967.  Andru and Esposito did the interior artwork on Wonder Woman for most of this time as well, creating a definitive look for Robert Kanigher’s second decade on the series.  After Wonder Woman, Andru had several other successful gigs at Marvel and DC, and co-created characters like the Metal Men and the Punisher.  Later in life, Andru became an editor at DC Comics.  You can learn more about Andru in Andru and Esposito: Partners for Life by Mike Esposito and Dan Best.

Onto my picks for Andru’s top five covers, in chronological order:

Wonder Woman #105:  This issue is famous for introducing a new origin story for Wonder Woman, but it should also be famous for its fantastic cover.  Wonder Woman trying to save Steve Trevor from a giant space eagle that has trapped his rocket ship in its beak is just a crazy good time.  If I was a kid in 1959, I would have bought that issue in a heartbeat.

Wonder Woman #113:  It’s a sphinx statue brought to life WITH laser eye beams… you had me at animated sphinx statue.  The layout of this cover is great, with the pouncing sphinx and Wonder Woman diving out of the way of the laser blast.  I also enjoy the look on Wonder Woman’s face… she seems slightly annoyed, like she’s just going to jump out of the way, then spring back up with her lasso ready and totally take down the sphinx.

Wonder Woman #125:  This cover captures the Silver Age in a nutshell: weird creatures and silly love triangles.  Here a merman, a giant amoeba, and Steve Trevor all fight over the affections of Wonder Woman, nearly tearing the poor woman apart in the process.  That, with a few variations, is essentially the plot of every Silver Age Wonder Woman comic.

Wonder Woman #147:  It’s like two covers in one!!  This cover features Wonder Girl, the teenaged version of Wonder Woman.  On the left side, a winged Wonder Girl grapples with a bizarre beast that I believe is a lamassu, an ancient Babylonian mythological being with the head of a man, the body of a lion, and wings.  On the right, a mermaid Wonder Girl battles some kind of giant lobster/sea worm combination.  Both sides are ridiculously fun.

Wonder Woman #165:  I just love the layout of this cover.  The simple green background with the orange explosion is nicely contrasted with busy text printed all over the hilariously shaped body of the fiendish Paper Man.  Wonder Woman’s look of surprise as she punches through Paper Man is fantastic, as is the diabolical grin and evilly raised eyebrow on Paper Man’s face.  I want a poster of this. 

So there are my five picks for Ross Andru’s best Wonder Woman covers… vote for your favourite below, and feel free to disagree with my choices in the comments!!

NOTE: Andru may be back for another edition of “Top Five Wonder Woman Covers” because he, along with inker Dick Giordano, did a lot of great Wonder Woman covers in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Evolution Of The Costume Change

November 27, 2010

Today I was reading Comic Book Legends Revealed, as I do every week, and the latest installment investigates who came up with the idea of Wonder Woman twirling her lasso to change into her costume.  Editor Julius Schwartz took credit for the idea but writer Len Wein says that it was actually his, and ultimately CBLR sided with Wein.

This post gave me the idea to look back at how Wonder Woman has changed into her costume throughout the years.  I am all about the evolution of Wonder Woman, usually in terms of feminism and gender dynamics and the like, but in terms of costume issues is a good time too.  Plus, you know, fun pictures!!

We start with William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter, all the way back in the 1940s.  It appears that they had no special means for Diana Prince to become Wonder Woman.  Instead, she just snuck out of sight and tore off her regular clothes to reveal her costume underneath.  Rather uneventful really.  Here is a great panel from Wonder Woman #8, where a sleeping Wonder Woman, alerted that Steve has been captured, flings off her nightgown with one hand and tries to put on her boots with the other:

Interestingly, while Marston and Peter didn’t have any particular gimmick for the costume change, they may have actually given us the first instance of the famous spin change.  In Wonder Woman #6, Diana introduced Wonder Woman at a charity event, and then exited and returned to the stage so fast that it looked like she was actually passing herself as she came back dressed as Wonder Woman.  The resulting panel is reminiscent of the spin change popularized on the Wonder Woman TV show:

In 1958, when Ross Andru and Mike Esposito took over the art duties on the series, Wonder Woman got her first stylized costume change.  They drew several Wonder Womans in a panel, each at a different stage of undress, ranging from a fully dressed Diana Prince to Wonder Woman decked out in her uniform.  The idea was to create a blur effect, showing how fast the change was, as we can see in this panel from Wonder Woman #103:

The mod era Wonder Woman had no need of a costume change, so the next big shift didn’t occur until 1974.  In the method examined today in “Comic Book Legends Revealed”, Diana twirled her lasso around herself, changing her regular clothes INTO her Wonder Woman outfit.  This panel from Wonder Woman #212, drawn by Curt Swan, shows its first appearance:

The lasso twirl was quickly followed by the TV show in 1975, which used twirling of a different sort.  Rather than twirl the lasso, Diana twirled herself, spinning while an explosion of light burst in front of her, and then emerging as Wonder Woman:

SIDENOTE: CBLR suggests that Wein’s lasso twirl “was later adapted (though slightly tweaked)” for the TV show, but I disagree (very politely, of course).  Lynda Carter has always claimed that the spin was her invention, and its original format is quite different from the comic book.  The iconic spin/light flash suggests a magical sort of change, as does the comic book, but in the pilot it was essentially just Lynda Carter taking her clothes off while spinning.  Producer Don Kramer even described it as “a slow motion strip tease.”  You can see it here:

This, for some reason, was very expensive to shoot, so they changed it to the light flash that is so famous today.  This original intent, combined with Wonder Woman being the spinner AND Carter’s claims, suggests to me that the twirling similarities between the comic and the show were just a coincidence.

ANOTHER SIDENOTE:  Is it just me, or did Lynda Carter look a lot like Katie Holmes in that clip?  I’m going to now start the rumour that Katie Holmes is being considered for David E. Kelley’s new Wonder Woman show.  Nay!!  She is the frontrunner for it!!  If we’re gonna start a rumour, let’s go big.

In modern times, it has been the iconic Lynda Carter spin that has been the norm for Wonder Woman.  However, in the few issues of Perez’s 1987 Wonder Woman relaunch that I have on hand I couldn’t find a panel of her spinning.  The only costume change I could find was from Wonder Woman #4, where Wonder Woman flung off her plaid shirt as she flew into the air:

Today, though, the spin is the default move.  This panel from Heinberg’s Wonder Woman relaunch, drawn by Terry Dodson, shows the classic spin move:

While Nicola Scott’s cover for Wonder Woman #43 directly references the series, showing Wonder Woman with her arms stretched outward in the middle of a flash of light:

Incidentally, a couple Christmases ago my sister got me a Wonder Woman notebook, and it’s cover has one of those hologram things where you move the cover and the picture changes (there must be a word for that, but I have no idea what it is).  It shows the Wein/Swan style lasso change:

Not only is it cool, but it was handy during boring classes.  If the lecture got dull, I’d take out my notebook and provide myself, and usually the people sitting behind me, with some mild entertainment.  Plus all the pages of the notebook have fun Wonder Woman pictures on them… it’s a classy notebook all around!!

So there you have it… let me know in the comments section if I missed any keys steps in the costume change’s evolutionary process.


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