Posts Tagged ‘Denny O’Neil’

Wonder Woman Unbound Preview #10: Too Darn Human

March 17, 2014

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Every Monday until Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine comes out this April, we’re taking a look at a comic panel that captures a key moment in Wonder Woman’s history and highlights an important point from each chapter.

Last week we looked at Wonder Woman’s mod makeover, where Wonder Woman gave up her superpowers for some trendy fashions and kung fu training as she travelled the world trying to avenge Steve’s death.  Along the way, the now human Diana Prince met a lot of new guys.  They took quite a shine to her, and she to them, though it never ended well.

In Wonder Woman #182 in May 1969, Diana was in London with her new friend, Reginald Hyde-White, who she’d just met the day before.  Reggie bought Diana some new clothes, and afterward he declared his love for her and tried to kiss her.  Even though her boyfriend, Steve, had only been dead for a couple of days, Diana kissed Reggie passionately.  She later reflected on the kiss in this panel:

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The implication was that if she still had her Amazon powers, she never would have kissed Reggie.  But because she was just a normal human, she was unable to resist; her emotions got the better of her.  This lack of emotional control was a hallmark of the mod era.  Whether she was making out with a guy she just met or tearfully beating him half to death when he inevitably betrayed her (as Reggie did later in the issue), Diana was an emotional rollercoaster.  Denny O’Neil and Mike Sekowsky were trying to portray a modern woman, but their idea of a modern woman seemed to involve hysterics, fickle behavior, violent mood swings, and a love of clothing.  In short, Diana Prince was a variety of well-worn stereotypes masquerading as a character.

To read more, you’ll have to wait until Wonder Woman Unbound comes out this April!  Be sure to come back next Monday, when we’ll talk about Diana’s return to her Amazon roots, and also check out the eighth installment of my Wonder Woman interview series this Wednesday; we’ll be talking with Chris Sims!

Wonder Unbound Unbound is available for pre-order now, online or at your local comic shop.

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Wonder Woman Unbound Preview #9: The Mod Era

March 10, 2014

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Every Monday until Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine comes out this April, we’re taking a look at a comic panel that captures a key moment in Wonder Woman’s history and highlights an important point from each chapter.

By the late 1960s, Wonder Woman’s sales numbers had shrunk considerably and DC decided to make a big change.  After two decades of writing the book, Robert Kanigher was replaced by writer Denny O’Neil and artist Mike Sekowsky.  DC wanted to appeal to female readers and give them a heroine they could identify with, and a big part of this was updating Diana’s look.

In this page from O’Neil and Sekowsky’s first issue, Wonder Woman #178 in September 1968, Diana traded her dowdy military uniform and uptight bun for colourful mod fashions and long, flowing hair:

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Diana had to infiltrate a “hippie club” to help save Steve Trevor, but she ended up loving the clothes so much that they became a staple of her wardrobe from then on.  She ended up wearing mod fashions a lot, because she certainly wasn’t wearing her Wonder Woman uniform anymore.

As part of their plan to make Diana more identifiable, O’Neil and Sekowsky took away her superpowers and turned her into an ordinary, human woman.  She gave up her costume, her lasso, and her invisible jet in favour of opening up a clothing boutique and learning kung fu.  It was an oddly timed choice; women’s lib was beginning to take off just as DC stripped their most famous heroine of her superpowers.  This change wasn’t helped by the book’s main plotline: After Steve was killed by the evil Dr. Cyber, an often hysterical Diana travelled the globe to avenge his death, fighting (and even killing) her way through anyone who stood in her way.  The book was a far cry from the great power tempered with love that characterized Wonder Woman’s earlier incarnations.

To read more, you’ll have to wait until Wonder Woman Unbound comes out this April!  Be sure to come back next Monday, when we’ll talk about the fickle Diana Prince, and also check out the eighth installment of my Wonder Woman interview series this Wednesday; we’ll be talking with Molly McIsaac!

Wonder Unbound Unbound is available for pre-order now, online or at your local comic shop.

RIP Carmine Infantino, 1925-2013 – His Wonder Woman Legacy

April 5, 2013

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Yesterday, legendary comic book artist Carmine Infantino passed away at the age of 87.  Infantino is perhaps best known for helping to launch the Silver Age of comics when he co-created and designed the costume for an all-new Flash in Showcase #4 in October 1956.  He co-created many other famed characters as well, including the original Black Canary and the Barbara Gordon Batgirl.

In terms of Wonder Woman, Infantino had a surprisingly significant impact.  He never drew much art for the character, only contributing layouts to the covers of Wonder Woman #173 and Wonder Woman #174 that were then finished by Irv Novick:

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But behind the scenes Infantino was a big game changer for Wonder Woman.

In 1967, Infantino became the editorial director at DC Comics.  He hired new creators like Dick Giordano, Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, and many others who are now legends in their own right.  It was Infantino who tasked Denny O’Neil and Mike Sekowsky with revitalizing the lagging Wonder Woman series in 1968.  After nearly two decades with Robert Kanigher at the helm, the series was in a creative and financial rut.  The result was the mod revamp where Wonder Woman gave up her superpowers to become the human Diana Prince, kung fu master and globetrotting foe of the criminal mastermind Dr. Cyber:

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These changes didn’t go over well, and the execution left a lot to be desired, but Infantino was right in deciding that something had to be done to mix things up.  Wonder Woman had been a mess for most of the 1960s, and while the mod revamp wasn’t so hot either, it ultimately culminated in the restoration of the Amazon Wonder Woman a few years later in 1973.  This return was met with celebration from key members of the women’s liberation movement, Wonder Woman made the cover of the first issue of Ms. magazine, and she’s been a feminist icon ever since.  Infantino ran DC throughout all of these changes, finally leaving his editorial role in 1976.

So while Infantino is best known for his art, he played a key role in the history of Wonder Woman as well.  The man was a comic book legend ten times over, and while like many Silver Age creators he never got the financial credit he deserved for his many creations, his contributions to comics will be remembered by fans forever.

When Wonder Woman And Superman ALMOST Hooked Up In The 1970s

August 24, 2012

The internets are still abuzz with the news that Wonder Woman and Superman are going to hook up in Justice League #12 in an annoying bit of stunt storytelling.  But did you know that they almost hooked up in World’s Finest #204 in August 1971?  This was during the mod era, when Wonder Woman gave up her superpowers to become the human Diana Prince, and the issue is pretty bonkers.

It’s got a sweet cover by Neal Adams (how can that not grab you?) and was written by Wonder Woman’s writer at the time, Denny O’Neil, with art by Dick Dillin and Joe Giella.  It appears to be a response to the Kent State shootings that had happened a year before when the National Guard opened fire on unarmed students who were protesting the invasion of Cambodia, killing four and wounding several others.  This sort of real world tie-in was pretty common at the time, especially in Denny O’Neil books… he had Speedy addicted to heroin over in Green Lantern/Green Arrow too, and thus got into issues surrounding drug use.

Apparently the gravitas of a campus massacre wasn’t enough, though, so they added a computer from the future to tell Superman that someone killed at this shooting would be the person who could have saved the planet from turning into a barren wasteland 200 years later.  It seems like a bit of an odd addition to a very somber, real world subject, but so it goes.

And then it gets SO heavy.  The future computer tells them to stop the shooting so they go and try to do so, but a car explodes and someone dies, and they’re not sure if it’s the person they were supposed to save because the future computer wasn’t very specific.  This is literally how the issue ends:

See you next month, kids, when Superman teams up with your pals the Teen Titans, even though the planet could be DOOMED.  Oh, 1970s attempts at relevance… you were so hilarious.  How many kids had nightmares from this comic, do you think?  Good lord.

ANYWAY, back to the hooking up.  Sorry for the tangent but this issue was pretty epic.  In the middle of the story, Superman saves Diana from some goons and she’s all grateful and they embrace, and the sexual tension is just palpable.  Here’s how it plays out:

Superman says they probably shouldn’t, Wonder Woman agrees, and so they don’t kiss.  The end.  They don’t mention it again for the rest of the issue, they just get back to trying to save the world.  They both realize that hooking up is such a completely stupid idea that they pretty much forget about it.

The best part is that they don’t say WHY they shouldn’t.  They just both know that it’s a really dumb idea and so they don’t kiss.  What did Superman and Wonder Woman know in the 1970s that Geoff Johns and Jim Lee don’t know now?  Where’s a time-traveling computer when you need one… that would come in handy right about now.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that these two crazy kids used to be smarter than they are these days.  So if Justice League #12 is bringing you down, go check out World’s Finest #204 instead!!


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