Posts Tagged ‘Mod Era’

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.

Wonder Woman’s Women’s Lib Issue OR They Really Published This!!

March 7, 2012

In the late 1960s, Wonder Woman ditched her superhero gig to become a normal human woman, and things didn’t go so great.  She was supposed to be modern and cool but she ended up violent, angry, and flitting from man to man.  It was a pretty bad scene, and not at all reflective of the times.  Finally, with Wonder Woman #203, DC tried to get their act together and put out this:

Written by acclaimed science fiction author Samuel Delany, this issue would finally address the women’s liberation movement and Diana Prince would get with the times.

Diana’s friend Cathy was active in a local women’s group, and when Diana got offered a job at Grandee’s department store, Cathy told her not to take it, because:

Diana responded with this fascinating remark:

Gripping, eh?  There’s no better way to get the kids into feminism then with people sitting around talking about interstate commerce law.  Also helpful to the cause was having Wonder Woman be completely disinterested in joining Cathy’s group, and just down on women in general:

So the issue was off to a great start.  Feminism is boring and Wonder Woman hates it!!  Good work, team.

But she came around.  Cathy, incensed at Diana’s blasé attitude towards women’s lib, gave a dramatic speech, culminating in this cheesy declaration:

Could Wonder Woman walk away from her anger?  Could she?

She’s trying to, but…

No, she couldn’t do it.  So finally Diana got on board and went with Cathy to her women’s group.  The whole event was a HUGE success and they ended up shutting down Grandee’s department store because of its unfair wages.  HOORAY for feminism, making a stand!!  Sisters are doin’ it for themselves.

Except that:

Well, crap.  Now a bunch of women don’t have a job!!  Thanks a lot, feminism.

The ending promised a resolution next month, but it never came.  Instead, DC brought back the old Wonder Woman, with her super powers and star-spangled outfit, and we never found out what happened with the unemployed women.

So that was DC Comics’ ONE attempt to have Wonder Woman address the women’s liberation movement.  It was a muddled mess, really.  Feminism is lame, but then it’s cool, but then it backfires and ladies lose their jobs.  Of course, the story would have likely benefitted from having a second issue, but guess why it didn’t?  If you said feminists, pat yourself on the back.  Gloria Steinem and others had been campaigning for Wonder Woman to return to her roots… they’re the reason why the second issue never got published!!

Dang feminists.  It’s sort of spectacular that we didn’t get to see the next issue of a story in which feminism backfired because feminist protests backfired and DC cancelled the second women’s lib issue to give the feminists the restored Wonder Woman they wanted.  That’s crazy meta.

Anyway, it’s a fantastic mess of an issue.  While I’m a super keen feminist, I can’t help but love what a train wreck that issue turned out to be.  Plus it’s such a fitting end to the general ridiculousness of the mod era.  Diana FINALLY gets on board with the real world and then BAM it’s over.  And Robert Kanigher took over, he of the marriage obsessed Silver Age Wonder Woman.  It’s just too hilarious, you guys.


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