Posts Tagged ‘William Moulton Marston’

Check Out New Book, Wonder Woman Psychology, And My Essay On Marston and Wertham!

March 28, 2017

wwpsych

There’s a fascinating new book about Wonder Woman set to hit stores next week (though Amazon seems to be shipping it out already in America), and I’m very honoured to be a part of it. Wonder Woman Psychology: Lassoing the Truth is edited by Travis Langley and Mara Wood, and examines Wonder Woman from a psychological perspective through a series of essays, all of them with unique viewpoints and insightful thoughts on the Amazon princess. Travis is a pro at this style of book, having written or edited similar volumes on Batman, Doctor Who, Games of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and more. The psychological angle is an interesting lens through which to view these properties, and one that’s especially fitting for Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman was created by a psychologist, William Moulton Marston, to be “psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world,” and my essay in Wonder Woman Psychology compares and contrasts Marston’s optimistic approach to comic books with Dr. Fredric Wertham’s pessimistic view of the medium. Wertham famously decried the comic book industry in his 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent, and was especially hard on Wonder Woman, accusing her of being a lesbian (no minor allegation in the 1950s) and calling her a “morbid ideal” for young girls.

And yet, despite their very different views on Wonder Woman, the two men had a lot in common. They both believed that psychological principles could make the world a better place, and shared progressive views on many issues. They also agreed that comic books had a powerful potential to influence the youth of America. Their major divergence was their reaction to the medium; Marston sought to harness that potential for good and influence young readers while Wertham sought to protect young readers from dangerous messages that could lead them to juvenile delinquency. Both men are fascinating figures and key players in the history of Wonder Woman, and it was a lot of fun to dig into their histories and discuss them in such a close comparison.

Travis Langley co-wrote the piece with me, which was great. I’m a historian first and foremost, and psychology is not my area of expertise, so I provided all of the history and researched the psychological work of both men as best I could, and then Travis took the baton to the finish line. I was very glad to have someone with his impressive psychological knowledge on board, both to check my own work and add to the piece. It was a fun, easy partnership and I’m really pleased with how the essay turned out.

You can order Wonder Woman Psychology: Lassoing the Truth now, or ask for it at your local bookstore. If they don’t have it ordered already, I’m sure they can get it for you; the series is popular and well known. I heartily recommend picking it up if you’re a fan of Wonder Woman, and not just because of my own part in it! There are lots of great writers delving into interesting components of the character, and there’s even an old biographical piece by Elizabeth Holloway Marston, William’s wife and a key player in the creation of Wonder Woman, which is ridiculously cool and worth the price of admission alone for any hardcore Wonder Woman enthusiast. You’re in for a great read across the board!

Wonder Woman’s April 2017 Covers and Solicits

January 24, 2017

DC’s solicits were a little bit late this month, but when they finally arrived yesterday they brought a bevy of new Wonder Woman comic books for us to look forward to this April. So let’s take a look at what Wonder Woman will be up to in a few months’ time, starting with her own series:

aprilww.jpg

WONDER WOMAN #20
Written by GREG RUCKA • Art and cover by BILQUIS EVELY • Variant cover by JENNY FRISON
“Godwatch” part three! Cale launches a desperate gambit to take control of Godwatch, but her plan hinges on two factors she cannot control: the witch Circe, and Wonder Woman!
On sale APRIL 12 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

WONDER WOMAN #21
Written by GREG RUCKA • Art and cover by LIAM SHARP • Variant cover by JENNY FRISON
“The Truth” part four! As the reality of Themyscira is revealed, Wonder Woman is forced to make a decision: defy the will of the gods or betray her Amazon sisters to Godwatch!
On sale APRIL 26 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

The dual narrative continues this April, with Wonder Woman facing off against Godwatch in the even numbered issues and learning the truth about Themyscira in the odd books. Circe’s going to be in Wonder Woman #20, which should be a lot of fun. After her poor portrayal in Superman/Wonder Woman a couple of years back, I’m looking forward to what can only be a better spin on her from Rucka and Evely.

Now onto Trinity:

apriltrin

TRINITY #8
Written by CULLEN BUNN • Art by EMANUELA LUPACCHINO and RAY McCARTHY • Cover by CLAY MANN • Variant cover by BILL SIENKIEWICZ
A “Superman: Reborn Aftermath” tie-in! In this essential chapter of the “Superman Reborn Aftermath” epic, Kal-El reveals to Batman and Wonder Woman what had happened to him—and how they all may be in danger!
On sale APRIL 19 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T

I’ve been enjoying Trinity, but honestly I’m picking it up for the amazing Francis Manapul art and there just hasn’t been much of it. Now eight issues in, it looks like he’ll have drawn half of them at most, and we’re getting a tie-in issue with a Superman event? Not what I’m looking for. Hopefully Manapul is back in full force in May, because otherwise I might be ready to move on, especially with the $1 price hike.

Next up, some Amazon fun:

aprilodyssey

THE ODYSSEY OF THE AMAZONS #4
Written by KEVIN GREVIOUX
Art by RYAN BENJAMIN and RICHARD FRIEND
Cover by RYAN BENJAMIN
The Amazons are taken to Valhalla, heavenly home of warriors who have fallen in combat. Hessia learns where the Amazons originated and why their numbers have come to be spread throughout the world. But she’s also determined to find a way back to Earth, to rescue her comrades who have been taken by the Storm Giants. As for the Giants, they are getting ready to go to war.
On sale APRIL 19 • 32 pg, FC, 4 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED T+

This series starts TOMORROW, so we’ll know pretty soon if this is going to be worth picking up in April. While the buzz for it seems to be minimal/non-existent, a lot of great titles fly under the radar so we’ll see what happens. It still just sounds like a Thor book to me, but I’m curious to see what Grievoux, Benjamin, and Friend do. I’ll be checking out the first issue tomorrow and will report back if I have anything interesting to say about it.

Now some classic TV fun:

aprilb66w77

BATMAN ’66 MEETS WONDER WOMAN ’77 #4
Written by MARC ANDREYKO and JEFF PARKER • Art by DAVID HAHN and KARL KESEL • Cover by MICHAEL ALLRED
Ra’s al Ghul has discovered the Amazons’ Elysian Well…better known to Man’s World as a Lazarus Pit! Wonder Woman takes Batman and Robin (and Catwoman!) to confront him, but strange creatures live in the same maze, which the Amazons have used for centuries as a prison!
On sale APRIL 26 • 32 pg, FC, 4 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED E • DIGITAL FIRST

I’m so down for Catwoman on Paradise Island. You had me there, and you don’t have to sell me on anything else, DC. I’m super on board.

We’ve also got a few Wonder Woman collections announced. They include:

  • WONDER WOMAN VOL. 2: YEAR ONE TP: Collects WONDER WOMAN #2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14. On sale MAY 3 • 168 pg, FC, $16.99 US. If you didn’t read this in single issues, BUY THIS. It’s phenomenal. Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott hit this one out of the park.
  • WONDER WOMAN BY JOHN BYRNE BOOK ONE HC: Collects WONDER WOMAN #101-114. On sale MAY 24 • 328 pg, FC, $39.99 US. A nice big collection of Byrne’s work on Wonder Woman, which I found moderately enjoyable when I read it. It’s Byrne before he went full on Internet wacko, which is usually worth checking out.
  • WONDER WOMAN: THE GOLDEN AGE OMNIBUS VOL. 2 HC: Collects COMIC CAVALCADE #6-13, SENSATION COMICS #25-48 and WONDER WOMAN #8-15. On sale JULY 5 • 768 pg, FC, $75.00 US. Early Marston/Peter Wonder Woman comics are always a good choice, and this HUGE new collection comes with a gorgeous Darwyn Cooke cover.

So we’ve got a nice selection of books to choose from this April, and some fine collections on the way as well. Should be fun!

RIP Pete Marston, the Son of Wonder Woman Creator William Moulton Marston

January 19, 2017

petemarston

Moulton “Pete” Marston, the son of Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston and Elizabeth Holloway Marston, passed away on Tuesday. He was 88 years old. Aside from his parental connection to Wonder Woman, in recent years Pete had become well known in the fan community for his Wonder Woman Museum, comprised of a massive collection of memorabilia. Some items were old treasures from Pete’s own collection, but he was an avid collector as well and assembled a wide array of new material. Currently, there are nearly 4,000 items housed in the Wonder Woman Museum at his home in Bethel, Connecticut.

Outside of his impressive Wonder Woman collection, Pete spent most of his working years as a realtor, and he also built and renovated homes and worked in a variety of construction trades. He spent time in the merchant marine as well. Pete is survived by his wife, Olive Louise Marston, two siblings, three children, and five grandchildren.

A note from Pete’s brother Byrne in his official obituary offers an inside peek at Pete’s role in early Wonder Woman comics:

My brother Pete was always a man of enormous imagination. As a kid, he was a dreamer. When we were teenagers our dad, who was often under pressure to produce scripts for his Wonder Woman superheroine, offered $100 to anyone writing a usable scenario for a Wonder Woman episode. Though $100 was a fortune at that time, Pete was the only one of us who could dream them up.

Pete seemed to have had a good relationship with his father. On top of pitching plots for Wonder Woman, Pete also left Harvard in the mid-1940s to return home and help care for his father. William Moulton Marston had polio and cancer, and passed away in 1947. It’s lovely that Pete created such a testament to his father’s creation with his Wonder Woman Museum. The museum is also a testament to the women who raised him; Pete’s mother, Elizabeth, gave Marston the idea to create a female superhero, and the Marstons lived in a polyamorous relationship with Olive Byrne, who raised the kids (Marston had two with each woman) and also inspired key elements of Wonder Woman’s look and personality.

Regrettably, I never got the chance to interact with Pete directly, though his daughter Christie was a great help when I was researching Wonder Woman Unbound and I know that Pete had a big hand in the materials that she sent me and the recollections that she was able to share. By all accounts, he was a kind and warm man; everyone who visited the museum (a guest list that included Lynda Carter herself!) seemed to come away with an appreciation and affection not just for its myriad wonderful items but also for the man who assembled it all.

My deepest condolences to the Marston family during this sad time, and I hope that their grief is tempered somewhat by the knowledge that Pete lived a long and interesting life and that he’s remembered so fondly by Wonder Woman fans the world over. In lieu of flowers, Pete would like to have donations in his memory sent to the Bethel Police Benevolent Association (PBA), P.O. Box 169, Bethel CT 06801.

Wonder Woman Co-Creator H.G. Peter To Be Inducted Into Eisner Hall of Fame

January 13, 2017

peter.png

The Eisner Awards are the comic book industry’s highest honours, and the judges for his year’s awards announced yesterday that H.G. Peter, the co-creator and original artist of Wonder Woman, will be inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. Peter is joined by cartoonist Milt Gross, creator of Spy vs. Spy Antontio Prohias, and underground cartoonist Dori Seda. All four will be automatically inducted, while four more will be chosen by voters based on a list compiled by this year’s judging panel.

William Moulton Marston typically gets most of the credit for the creation of Wonder Woman. Tellingly, he was inducted into the same Hall of Fame in 2006, well before Peter. Between his unique feminist theories, his fascinating personal life, and his boisterous personality, Marston left a lot for folks to talk about while Peter mostly stayed in the background. But while it’s true that Marston’s vision defined the character, Peter played a huge part in Wonder Woman’s creation.

Peter was Marston’s hand-picked artist for his new character, and a very unique choice. In the early 1940s, the new superhero genre was a young man’s game; most of the artists drawing superheroes were in their twenties, while Peter was 61 when Wonder Woman debuted in All Star Comics #8. Superheroes were a new game for Peter, who’d largely done political cartoons and editorial work throughout his career. Many of his political cartoons from the 1910s supported women’s rights and suffrage, and Peter’s feminist leanings may have been why Marston thought he would be a good fit for his new female superhero.

Once hired by Marston, Peter threw himself into his work wholeheartedly. After working with Marston to establish Wonder Woman’s iconic look, Peter was soon drawing stories for three different series: the monthly Sensation Comics, the bi-monthly Wonder Woman, and the quarterly Comic Cavalcade. He also drew a daily Wonder Woman newspaper comic strip from 1943-1944. Peter had an entire team around him at his New York studio to help with inking, lettering, and backgrounds, but the vast majority of the myriad stories featuring Wonder Woman in the 1940s were drawn by him.

Peter’s style was distinctive, and ensured that Wonder Woman’s outings stood out from all of the other superhero comic books on the newsstand. Many artists at the time brought a somewhat realistic approach to their work while often emphasizing the sexuality of their female characters. Peter was a cartoonist at heart, and he gave Wonder Woman and her world a cohesively stylized look. His Wonder Woman was strong and powerful, a solidly built heroine rather than a wasp-waisted waif. The sexuality of the stories was indirect; Wonder Woman’s own attributes were never emphasized, but Peter ended up drawing innumerable bondage scenarios owing to Marston’s fascination therein. Peter’s work was lush and creative, and a quick glance at any Golden Age issue of Wonder Woman clearly shows the enthusiasm and creativity he put into every page. Marston came up with some outlandish storylines over his years, and Peter hit them out of the park each time.

Marston died in 1947 and the tone of Wonder Woman began to change under new writer Robert Kanigher, but Peter stayed with the series for another decade until he passed away in 1958. His work helped establish the most famous female superhero of all time, and his design for the character has stood the test of time; Wonder Woman’s outfit is regularly tweaked, but each incarnation of the character is simply building on what Peter established. Moreover, the spirit that Peter imbued in Wonder Woman continues as well. He always captured the joy of the character, along with the fun she had on her adventures and the goodness at her core. At a time when other superheroes were grim and violent, Wonder Woman loved being a superhero and helping those who needed it, and Peter’s art communicated that feeling in spades.

Recently we’ve seen more appreciation for Golden Age Wonder Woman stories, with a variety of collections and several books addressing the era (including my own), and it’s lovely to see H.G. Peter finally getting his due. His induction into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame is well-deserved, and perfectly timed given that his heroine will soon be hitting the big screen in her first solo film. Peter is key to everything we love about Wonder Woman, and I’m very glad that his fantastic work is being recognized.

Lynda Carter was on Supergirl Last Night, and it was THE BEST

October 25, 2016

supergirlcarter.png

The second season of Supergirl has been off to a great start on The CW, continuing all of the joy and brightness of its first season. There’s nothing I love more than happy superheroes, and having Supergirl and The Flash on back-to-back nights is such a delightful way to start the week. The move to The CW hasn’t been entirely painless, though; Calista Flockhart is no longer a regular cast member, and her Cat Grant was a key part of the first season. But Supergirl has been working hard to counter her absence with an array of new, rad female characters, including the President of the United States, played by television’s first Wonder Woman. Lynda Carter.

It’s always great to see Lynda Carter, and having her on a female-led superhero show is just perfect. Even more perfect: Her character’s name is Olivia Marsdin, in what has to be a subtle shout out to William Moulton Marston and Olive Byrne, the creator of Wonder Woman and his live-in partner who influenced Wonder Woman’s creation. It’s a nice nod to Wonder Woman’s roots, and the first of several such references.

Also, a female president is timely given the current American election. Doubly so given that Supergirl observes, “How did anyone even vote for that other guy?” It seems that in both our world and the world of Supergirl, a woman ran against some dude who couldn’t hold a candle to her.

President Marsdin comes off well throughout the episode, and she definitely espouses the kindness and acceptance we’d expect from a former Wonder Woman, particularly in her Alien Amnesty Act. Earth is lousy with aliens on Supergirl, and the President wants to give them the same rights that humanity enjoys. And she’s got a big fan in Supergirl, who loves her from the get-go. Her excitement before meeting the President is straight up the cutest, and her affection for the President only grows after they meet. When Supergirl is excited about someone, you can’t help but like them even more.

Wonder Woman fun was sprinkled throughout the episode. When President Marsdin talked to Hank about her Amnesty Act and said, “I can think of no better time than the present to extend our hand in friendship,” my mind immediately leaped to this panel from Wonder Woman #25 in which Gail Simone penned what’s become a classic Wonder Woman line:

supergirlww25

I might be reading too much into the line, but it sprang to my mind instantaneously when I heard Lynda Carter say it.

We also get a classic spin move! When an angry alien bent on attacking the President lit Supergirl on fire, she put herself out with a spin:

supergirlspin1

In what is clearly a reference to Wonder Woman’s iconic quick change spin move:

supergirlspin2

And, in my very favourite moment of the entire show, after Supergirl mentions how cool it was to see Air Force One, the president replied:

supergirljet1

supergirljet2

I mean, come on. How great is that?

Now, it wasn’t all fun and games with President Marsdin. But first:

SPOILER ALERT!!!

The end of the episode revealed a hidden side to the President. Namely, it looks like she’s an alien, with some shapeshifting abilities; her entire face distorted for a second into a distinctly non-human guise. She could be an alien double impersonating the President, or maybe the President’s been a deep cover alien all along! Either way, that’s definitely going to spell trouble. I’m curious to see where this startling reveal goes.

END SPOILERS!!!

President Marsdin wasn’t the only fun new character on tonight’s Supergirl. It was a cavalcade of awesomeness throughout the entire show: Mon-El finally woke up, Detective Maggie Sawyer popped in and had INSTANT chemistry with Alex, and Miss Martian revealed herself at the end of the episode. This season of Supergirl is adding a slew of fun new supporting characters, and I love the direction it’s going in.

I’m not sure when we’ll see Lynda Carter back on the program again. So far, I don’t think a return date has been announced, but given that reveal at the end of the show, I think it’s a safe bet that she’ll be back. Hopefully they’ll fit even more fun Wonder Woman references into that episode, too.

New York Comic-Con Wonder Woman News Extravaganza: New Comics, Toys, Movies!

October 11, 2016

nycc

This post is as much for me as it is for you, reader friends. New York Comic-Con was this weekend, and with it came lots of fun news, announcements, and reveals, nearly all of which I missed. My sister got married this weekend (congrats to Kate and Tom!), and I was all wrapped up in that. It was certainly a better way to spend the long weekend than scanning the internet for cool NYCC news, but now the week has officially begun and it’s time for me to dig in and catch up. So here’s a look at what Wonder Woman news came out of the convention this weekend!

First up, let’s chat about Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, an upcoming biopic about Wonder Woman’s creator William Moulton Marston and the women who played key roles in his life. Angela Robinson will write and direct the movie, with Luke Evans starring as Marston, Rebecca Hall playing his wife, Elizabeth, and Bella Heathcote joining them as Olive Byrne, the final member of the Marstons’ polyamorous triangle. This could be an absolutely fascinating film; Marston’s life was interesting and unusual, to say the least, and it has all of the makings of a great story. I’m curious to see how much DC gets on board and what sort of Wonder Woman stuff they’ll be allowed to use, but even just the story of their lives leading up to the creation of Wonder Woman is quite a compelling tale. It’s good to see the women behind Wonder Woman getting recognized from the get-go as well, rather than shining the spotlight on Marston alone. I’m very excited to see how this one turns out!

In other film news, Warner Bros. Animation might have another Wonder Woman cartoon film in development. It doesn’t seem to be official yet, since the quote was, “they have Wonder Woman on their radar in some form or fashion,” but that’s better than no Wonder Woman at all. There were no details on whether this would be a sequel to the 2009 direct-to-DVD film Wonder Woman or something completely new, but things might be happening on the animation front.

We’ll stick with movies for one more bit of news: DC Collectibles revealed a line of statues for the upcoming live action Wonder Woman film, and they all look quite lovely. Here’s Wonder Woman on a horse:

nyccstatue

And you can click through the link to see a couple more. They’re very nice but also pricey, ranging from $150-300 USD. Expect them out in the ballpark of June 2017, when the movie is due to hit the big screen.

Moving to comics, we’ve got a rad crossover on the way with Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77, a comic book teaming of Adam West and Burt Ward’s Batman and Robin with Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman. Marc Andreyko and Jeff Parker are writing, with art from David Hahn and Karl Kesel and covers by Alex Ross and Mike Allred. Check out this peek at Alex Ross’ first cover:

nycc77

The six issue mini-series will premiere digitally in November and then hit comic shops in print form in January. It looks like the chief villains will be Ra’s al Ghul and Catwoman, which should make for a lot of fun.

This next news broke a bit before NYCC, but it’s too awesome to leave out: We’re getting DC Super Hero Girls Lego! Here’s a look at the Wonder Woman set, which includes an invisible motorcycle:

nycclego

Other sets include Batgirl, Bumblebee, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Supergirl, and more. Some will hit stores in December, with more to roll out down the line; Wonder Woman is in the second wave, due to come out in January. The sets are in the style of Lego’s “Friends” line, which they target at girls, and while I do miss the blocky classic Lego look on the minifigs, it does match a bit better with the style of the show. I’m definitely going to need to pick up a few of these sets, the Wonder Woman one first and foremost.

Finally, the U.S. Postal Service officially debuted their new line of Wonder Woman stamps that celebrate the character’s 75th anniversary:

nyccstamps

Artists Cliff Chiang and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez were on hand for the event, and the stamps are now available to order online or in your local post office if you’re an American. I actually got to work behind the scenes a little bit on the stamps, consulting on the text that accompanies them in the packaging to verify that everything was historically accurate. It was a very fun process, and it’s so cool that they’re officially out in the world now!

I think that was all of the big news this weekend, but let me in the comments if I missed anything cool. Overall, it was a big NYCC for Wonder Woman, and there should be a lot of fun stuff on the horizon for Wonder Woman fans and collectors.

Read my Review of Wonder Woman: Earth One by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette at The Comics Journal

April 22, 2016

wwe1cover.jpg

Wonder Woman: Earth One by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette seems to be making a bit of a splash with readers, perhaps due to its well-timed released in the wake of Batman v Superman, and my full review of the book is now online at The Comics Journal. I talk about how the book is deeply rooted in the Golden Age Wonder Woman comics of William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter, and how Morrison and Paquette’s deviation from Marston’s core message weakens the graphic novel. By copying all of the imagery and metaphors that came from Marston’s central premise (that being the superiority of women and the coming matriarchal age) while simultaneously undermining that central premise by making the Amazons unlikable, practically villainous characters, the whole book sort of falls apart. It makes little sense to tie it so closely to that era and then ignore why that era is the way that it is. Anyway, you can read my full review at The Comics Journal.

Apart from the historical, Marston/Peter pastiche things I discuss in the article, I’ve got a few other thoughts on the book. I was surprised that I didn’t hate it, actually. I rarely enjoy Morrison’s work, and all the interviews leading up to release of Wonder Woman: Earth One had me very concerned. But it’s not terrible. It’s just sort of weird, an odd mishmash of elements that don’t make a look of sense strung together like this.

There are some good bits in the book. Etta Candy (here called Beth Candy as an homage to Beth Ditto) is pretty fun, and steals the show; she’s also one of the few likable characters in the book. And Paquette’s take on the Amazon’s home is gorgeous and inventive, both futuristic in tech and classical in inspiration. The architecture of the place is really lovely. Plus it’s cool that the book is super gay and very up front about it, as well as not at all exploitative with it. Lesbian Amazons could go real unpleasant real fast in the wrong hands, but Morrison and Paquette handle it well.

The book’s story just didn’t work well for me. The Amazons are kind of terrible people, Wonder Woman is arrogant and sometimes cruel, and her whole escape and the subsequent trial just made everyone involved come off awful. Apart from Etta. Etta was cool. There were also a lot of bizarre decisions throughout the book, scenes that made me go “Really?” or “Is that necessary?” or “What is this even adding to the story?” It didn’t do much for me, but that’s just me. The book didn’t make me mad or anything; just confused and rather underwhelmed.

You can read my full review of Wonder Woman: Earth One at The Comics Journal, and the book is available everywhere now. Let me know if you liked the book or not; I’m curious to hear your thoughts. It’s certainly a graphic novel that should inspire a lot of discussion. There’s a lot to dig into and pull apart.


%d bloggers like this: