Posts Tagged ‘Mike Esposito’

The Many Lives of Catwoman Moments, Week Twelve: Duplicates, Designs, and Death Traps

July 24, 2017

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My new book The Many Lives of Catwoman: The Felonious History of a Feline Fatale is available now in bookstores and online in an assortment of formats, and I’ve been celebrating the book’s release by posting key moment from her history on Tumblr. It’s a random assortment of comic book panels and film stills that spans her entire history, showcasing serious, significant, and/or silly pieces of her past while offering a sneak peek inside the book.

We’re nearing the end of this Catwoman fun, so this week we dialed things back to once a week. The five moments that we looked at included:

And finally, my favourite moment of the week was from Detective Comics #318 in January 1963, written by Bill Finger with art by Jim Mooney, Sheldon Moldoff, and Mike Esposito. Catwoman had been benched for nine years at this point, exiled largely due to her association with Fredric Wertham’s accusations of homoerotic subtext between Batman and Robin. So with Catwoman sidelined, DC introduced Cat-Man instead. His first appearance made only passing reference to the feline fatale whose shtick he was stealing, and subsequent stories were little more than rehashes of cold Catwoman tales. Look at these panels from Cat-Man’s 1963 appearance:

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It’s the same mash up of The Cask of Amontillado and the Cheshire cat that Catwoman used in Batman #42 sixteen years before in August 1947, right down to the dialogue:

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Not only was it lazy on Bill Finger’s part, it took one of Catwoman’s best stories and gave it to some dude. What’s more, this issue featured Batwoman going undercover as a new Cat-Woman, without any mention that there’d been a Catwoman previously! When Catwoman was on the outs, she was REALLY on the outs. It took another few years for her to finally return to the comics for real, thanks to her popularity on the Batman television show.

You can catch up on all of the previous Catwoman moments here, and follow along for more fun! The Many Lives of Catwoman is also available online in a variety of formats, including print, ebook, and audio, so check it out and learn all about this fascinating character!

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You Can Buy A Page From The Comic In Which Lois Lane Fell In Love With Comet The Super-Horse!

August 30, 2016

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I don’t mean to tell you what to do with your money, gang, but here are some very important facts concerning an excellent investment opportunity:

1) In Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #92, Lois fell in love with Comet the Super-Horse.

2) You can buy a page from that comic book RIGHT NOW at Heritage Auctions.

Lois falling in love with a horse needs some explanation; in particular, it should be pointed out that Lois was a horse at the time as well. Or rather, they were both human, then both horses, and their love grew over the course of their encounters in both forms.

The full story is this: It turns out that Comet the Super-Horse, the caped flying horse who was a pal of Supergirl throughout the Silver Age, was also a human named Bill Biron. Now, back in the days of ancient Greece, Biron was a centaur who fell in love with the sorceress Circe and won her affection by saving her from the evil Maldor, a rival wizard.  Circe gave him a potion to turn him into a man, but she accidentally gave him the wrong potion and turned him into a full horse. She then gave him another potion that gave him the powers of the Olympian gods and immortality. Centuries later, he met Supergirl and became Comet the Super-Horse

You with me so far? Now, for some reason, whenever a comet passes by Earth, Comet the Super-Horse, a.k.a. Biron the former centaur, turns into a powerless human man. And when he does, he performs as the magician Bill Biron to make a few bucks. While he was in this form, he met Lois Lane and, much like with Circe, he won her affection by saving her from an assassination plot. He told her that he was really Comet, but she fell for him anyway and they ended up kissing. As Lois explained, “This is wild! Maybe he’s superhorse, but this handsome, human identity of his really turns me on.”

Lois falling in love with random dudes was pretty common in the Silver Age. She wanted Superman above all else, but he was never into settling down. So when handsome guys came along, Lois was often ready to ditch Superman to marry them. This got her into a lot of tricky situations. She almost married a weird looking alien in one issue, and nearly ended up wed to Satan himself in another. So as far as her romances went, a guy who’s also a horse wasn’t too bad.

Trouble did follow, though, as it always did with these romances. The evil wizard Maldor was still after Biron/Comet, and he ended up turning Lois into a horse! Luckily, the comet flew off into space around the same time and Comet returned to his horse form. The duo evaded horse hunters, then frolicked  together through snow and waterfalls in a romantic horse date.

In the mean time, Circe reached out to Superman through the “stream of time” to tell him that Lois was a horse, and that he could turn her back into a human by exposing her to the radiance of a rainbow. He did so, but part of the spell meant that she forgot her time as a horse, and remembered Biron only as a fun one-night date; she assumed he’d turned back into Comet the Super-horse and just moved on.

Obviously, this is a fantastic issue of Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane. And now, you can own a piece of this story! Heritage Auctions has a listing for a page from the issue, pencilled by the legendary Curt Swan with inks by Mike Esposito:

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The page is from the horse hunters sequence, when Lois and Comet fight to escape them. Lois is on the page, but in horse form. And right now, it’s only $12! The price will go up as the auction goes on, and by the time it closes in five days it should be a lot higher, but you never know how these things will go. So get on it, fellow Lois Lane fans! Think of what a conversation piece this page will be when it’s framed and hung prominently in your home. You’d be a fool not to look into it. I’m certainly going to watch the auction through to the end.

 

January’s Flash Variant Covers For Wonder Woman #38 And Superman/Wonder Woman #15

October 24, 2014

Every month, DC Comics has a variant cover theme for twenty or so of their titles. We’ve had selfie variants, Batman variants, Halloween variants, and now in January we’re going to get Flash variants. I assume this has something to do with the wildly successful Flash television show, which premiered to great ratings a couple weeks back and which I have been enjoying thoroughly thus far. The concept for the Flash variants is fun: Artists recreate classic DC covers, with the Flash running through them.

The Flash variant cover for Wonder Woman #38, drawn by the always excellent Terry and Rachel Dodson, is a recreation of Ross Andru and Mike Esposito’s cover to Wonder Woman #155 from July 1965:

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It’s a lovely cover, and a lot of fun. Wonder Woman marrying a monster is classic Silver Age ridiculousness, and the Dodsons always draw an amazing Wonder Woman. I’m going to try to pick up this one for sure.

As a sidenote, the yellow lines all over the New 52 Flash costume irk me. They always look slapped on, like the artists didn’t want to draw them so the colorist has to figure out where to put them. The Flash costume is so iconic and great, and doesn’t need all of those superfluous lines. Especially when he’s running fast and lightning is crackling around him anyway.

The Flash variant cover for Superman/Wonder Woman #15, drawn by DC’s superstar artist Ivan Reis, is a recreation of Jim Lee’s cover to Justice League #12, the kiss heard round the world:

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It’s an amusing take on a cover I’ve never been fond of, more for its implications than it’s art. I like that the Flash has tied up Wonder Woman and Superman with the lasso, and generally stunned them out of their romantic revels. It lacks the classic fun of the Wonder Woman cover, but Superman and Wonder Woman’s pairing only goes back so far. It’s not like there’s some great Silver Age cover with the two of them.

Both covers will be available this January, along with many more across a variety of other DC comic books. I’d suggest talking to your local retailer ahead of time and get them to set aside one for you if you’re interested in picking one up. The variants go fast sometimes, and perhaps even faster in January seeing as the Flash is on them!

“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.

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.

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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