Posts Tagged ‘Wonder Woman’

Wonder Woman Teaches Us About Waste Paper Salvage

June 29, 2012

I’ve been reading through All-Star Comics lately, and while Wonder Woman doesn’t do a whole lot in the book, she does have some fun sporadic appearances.  In this one page strip from All-Star Comics #24, illustrated by H.G. Peter, Wonder Woman teaches her incredulous mother about the importance of saving paper.  Hippolyte thinks that saving paper is just silly, but Wonder Woman soon straightens her out:

World War Two propaganda is such a good time.  Even the informative ones.  While Axis-bashing propaganda with its evil Nazis and racistly depicted Japanese soldiers gets most of the attention, all of the propaganda about war bonds, paper salvage, and other ways to help the war effort is fascinating too.

This is an impressively effective page.  Imagine you were seven years old, your country was at war, and you read this one page strip where your favourite superhero concisely explains why it’s important to collect and save waste paper.  You’d be ALL over it!!  I want to save my waste paper now, and the war ended more than six decades ago.

I really like how this strip is set up.  Hippolyte says what a lot of people were probably thinking: “What use is paper in a war?!”  Then Wonder Woman explains all of its uses, along with art showing the paper being used in war situations.  Hippolyte sees the importance of saving paper, and we get a nice, direct to the reader speech.  It’s really simple and really smartly done.  Good work, propaganda department!!

Wonder Woman was ALWAYS going on about ways to help out the war effort in the 1940s, but it was usually in the form of longer stories with a quick message at the end.  For example, Wonder Woman spent pages breaking up a milk racket so that we could learn that price gougers are bad guys and we should stick to our rations.  In another issue, Wonder Woman fought alongside American soldiers for the entire book to take down a Japanese base, and at the end we’re told to do our part and buy war bonds.  Those are fun stories, and effective, but I like the simplicity of this one page strip.  Getting right to the point is a nice change of pace.

So save your waste paper, readers!!  Every ounce counts!!

Wonder Woman: Secretary Of The Justice Society Of America

June 25, 2012

Way back in the 1940s, decades before the Justice League first appeared, DC’s premiere superhero team was the Justice Society of America.  The all-male team was always off fighting Nazis and other evildoers in All-Star Comics, but the most famous character to come from the book was Wonder Woman, who appeared for the first time ever in All-Star Comics #8.  She soon became an honorary member of the Justice Society, and some of you may have seen a version of this ad that listed her as the team’s secretary:

Some form of this ad appeared in several issues of All-Star Comics, and it’s been reprinted in various books and on several websites over the years, and the story behind Wonder Woman’s secretarial role is an unusual one.

In All-Star Comics #13, Wonder Woman fought alongside the team and so impressed her fellow members that they offered her the secretary gig for the team.  She was, of course, beyond thrilled to accept:

And here’s how the team was introduced the following issue:

All of the male heroes, Hawkman, Starman, Atom, Doctor Fate, Doctor Midnite, Spectre, Johnny Thunder, and Sandman, were listed, and then “as secretary to the Justice-Society” came Wonder Woman.  Her secretarial role was attached to her introduction for years to come.

Plus, she didn’t do much of anything.  Here she is later on in All-Star Comics #14, electing to stay behind while the rest of the team goes off to Europe to foil a nefarious scheme:

And this went on for a while.  Here’s Wonder Woman TWENTY issues later in All-Star Comics #33 staying behind yet again:

Damn patriarchy, right?!  You can’t have a woman be a full member of the team, she has to be a secretary.  And then anytime Hitler gets up to something, you have to leave the woman behind because it’s men’s work.  Those sexist fiends!!  Wonder Woman’s feminist creator, William Moulton Marston, must have been outraged!!

Well, he was outraged, but for completely different reasons.  When another author wrote Wonder Woman in one of her first Justice Society appearances, Marston was fairly irate.  He demanded to rewrite the story and wanted complete control of the character after that, which he was given.  But seeing as he and H.G. Peter were busy producing Wonder Woman stories for Wonder Woman, Sensation Comics, AND Comic Cavalcade, it ended up that All-Star Comics fell by the wayside.  The book had a couple Marston/Peter Wonder Woman stories over the years, but usually Wonder Woman just appeared in the first few pages, had a line or two, and then stayed behind while the rest of the team went off to fight the bad guys.

So the guys behind All-Star Comics weren’t actually patriarchal, sexist fiends.  Well, at least not in this regard.  Generally, chances are they were… it was 1940s America, after all.  But in this instance, Wonder Woman was relegated to the background because Marston wanted to be the only one to write her.  Ironically, the demands of Wonder Woman’s feminist creator led to Wonder Woman taking a very unfeminist role with the team. 

By the late 1940s, however, Marston had gotten very ill, and he passed away in 1947.  Around this time, Wonder Woman took a more active role in the Justice Society.  In fact, in All-Star Comics #38 it was Wonder Woman who brought in the Justice Society’s second female member, Black Canary:

Unfortunately, by the time Wonder Woman was able to do more in the Justice Society, All-Star Comics wasn’t long for the world.  The book was cancelled in 1951, and Wonder Woman was the only character whose solo series survived.  It would be more than a decade before most of the Justice Society would again appear in comics, but Wonder Woman stayed in print the entire time. 

So yeah, Wonder Woman was the Justice Society’s secretary, just not for the usual sexist reasons we’d expect.  There was no lack of sexism in 1940s comic books, but in this particular situation there were other factors at play.  Go figure!!

Wonder Woman #10 Review OR Is This Wonder Woman Or An After School Special?

June 21, 2012

Based on the preview for Wonder Woman #10 that came out a few days ago, this looked like it was going to be a pretty kick ass issue.  Wonder Woman was done with Hades’ weird marriage games and was about to bust out of Hell and ride her undead horse to freedom.  So after I read the preview, I was pretty jazzed to read the rest of the issue today.  Unfortunately, it turned out to be SUPER lame.  I’ll elaborate momentarily, but first…

SPOILERS!! 

LOTS OF THEM!!

I’m going to spoil every single thing that happened in this book, so if you haven’t read it then please look away. 

Once you’ve read it, you can’t unread it and the book will be forever ruined.

So SPOILERS, okay?

Carrying on, when we last left our intrepid heroine in Wonder Woman #9 she was about to marry Hades but first had to submit to an unusual test.  Unconvinced that she actually loved him, Hades had Wonder Woman tied up in her lasso, hangman’s noose style.  Because the lasso makes you tell the truth, if she said she loved him then hooray they’d get married.  If she couldn’t, then she’d be hanged.  Not a bad cliffhanger really.

In this issue, Wonder Woman successfully says she loves Hades and the two are about to be wed, but Hades’ need for proof doesn’t sit right with her so she takes off, Runaway Bride style.  This is followed by some cool pages where Wonder Woman flees through Hell, with Hades’ voice following her at every turn until he finally catches up to her in the guise of a wave of blood that then takes corporeal form as a giant skinless beast that tries to eat her.  Luckily, Strife helps her out, and the battle then turns from creepy epic monsters to heartfelt conversation.  And it’s SO lame, you guys.

First off, it turns out that Wonder Woman could say she loves Hades because her heart is so big and her affection for the entirety of creation is so all-encompassing that:

So she got out of the lasso trick on a technicality.  She doesn’t LOVE love Hades… she loves him like she loves any other random person in the universe because she’s just that kind of girl.

But what about Eros’ love bullets?  Why isn’t Wonder Woman madly in LOVE love with Hades?  Well, it turns out that the fault isn’t with Wonder Woman, but with Hades himself:

Poor twisted, sadistic Hades just doesn’t love himself!!  Awwwwwww.  Poor little guy.  Sure, he kidnapped a pregnant lady and trapped her in Hell, and sure, his weird harpies were fixing to kill anything that stood in their way, and sure, his entire realm is made of TORTURED SOULS, but let’s all feel bad for the little god with low self-esteem.

And then EVERYBODY talks about love.  Hephaestus is sad that the gods don’t love each other even though they’re family, and he tells his son Eros that he loves him more than the vain boy could ever love himself.  Wonder Woman again tells Hades that she loves him, reaching out tenderly to touch the sad little god, but he can’t handle that kind of affection and tells them to leave Hell.  Again, poor Hades… he doesn’t even know how to accept love!!

Oh, but they fix this.  Hephaestus gave Hades a mirror as a wedding gift, and just as he looks at his own reflection, Wonder Woman shoots him straight through the heart with Eros’ love gun.  Now Hades can love himself!!  What a beautiful ending!!

So yeah, LAME.  And bizarre.  Just structurally, the abrupt turnaround from busting out of Hell and fleeing a sentient river of blood to an after school special level discussion about how it’s important to love yourself ground the book to a halt.  This Hell storyline already feels like it’s been going on for ages, and then this last bit made it feel even slower. 

And it’s BRIAN AZZARELLO!!  Have you ever read any other Brian Azzarello books?  I’m pretty sure he’s never EVER written a character who loved themselves.  They’re always really dark, screwed up people, and that’s why they’re interesting.  Imagine 100 Bullets if there were speeches about how you need to love yourself!!  I know Wonder Woman isn’t 100 Bullets, but Azzarello’s turned the series into a pretty dark and weird horror book.  All this love talk just feels really out of place when the book’s been wall to wall hatred and rage simmering below the surface since the relaunch. 

The book was so odd to me that I almost feel like I’m missing something.  Maybe Azzarello was being ironic, and all the love talk was supposed to juxtapose with the giant, skinless monster and be sort of amusing.  Maybe this was yet ANOTHER case of Wonder Woman being ridiculously naïve.  Perhaps the scene at the end where Hades takes a love bullet while gazing at himself is meant to suggest that Hades is tragically incapable of loving himself without some sort of artificial assistance, that his hatred and self-loathing and evilness are so deep and ingrained that on his own he could never crawl out of that abyss. 

Or maybe it was just sort of a bad issue, and the Hell storyline didn’t really come together or accomplish much.  What’s really happened since Zola got kidnapped, storywise?  They got Zola to jump ahead near the end of her pregnancy, so I assume the baby’s coming soon.  That’s productive.  But what else?  We learned that Wonder Woman loves everyone… that’s nothing new.  We learned that Hades is an evil, loveless bugger.  Also not new information.  And we learned that the Amazons like to rape and murder dudes to get babies and that Hephaestus is an awesome adopted father.  It’s new information, I suppose, but I’m not seeing its relevance to the overarching plot.  There were some cool visuals, especially in Hell, and Kano and Tony Akins acquitted themselves decently here in Wonder Woman #10, but all of this feels like a long digression that didn’t accomplish a lot overall. 

So yeah, this wasn’t my favourite issue.  I feel like the book’s losing its sense of purpose.  But maybe things will get back on track next issue… the solicit says that Apollo is making a play for the throne, so that should pick up the war of the gods story we’ve left hanging for a few issues.  Plus it looks like Cliff Chiang is back!!  Cliff Chiang always makes everything better.  Let’s cross our fingers and hope things get moving again, and that there are fewer love-related speeches in Wonder Woman #11 next month.

My Guest Post On DC Women Kicking Ass: The Women Behind Wonder Woman

June 20, 2012

Sue of DC Women Kicking Ass is on vacation this week, and I got to write a guest post!!  It was a HUGE honour because it’s one of my favourite sites, and I had a fun time writing about the women behind Wonder Woman in the 1940s.  I talk about Elizabeth Marston, Olive Byrne, Alice Marble, Dorothy Roubicek, Joye Murchison, Helen Schpens, AND Louise Marston.  They all played varied and interesting roles behind the scenes of Wonder Woman and Sensation Comics.  So go check it out, along with all of the other great guest posts that have gone up this week!!

Wonder Woman #10 Preview OR It Looks Like We’re Busting Out Of Hell!!

June 18, 2012

Comic Book Resources has posted a preview for Wonder Woman #10, and finally Wonder Woman is getting the hell out of dodge.  And by dodge, I mean Hell.  She’s getting the hell out Hell.  Let’s take a look:

First off, Comic Book Resources is the BEST with previews.  They’re big and clear and easy to nab and put on your own site.  I think they’re the gold standard for previews.

Second, this is really interesting.  It’s only four pages so clearly we don’t have the whole story, but it sort of looks like Eros’ love guns really DID affect Wonder Woman.  She DOES love Hades, but his not trusting her and trying to tie her down, metaphorically, has killed that love and now she’s fixing to bust out of Hell.  That’s kind of cool… I was thinking the whole thing was an elaborate ruse.  I’m curious to see how the escape plays out.

Also, Tony Akins is joined by Kano on this issue, and they’re splitting the art duties pretty evenly.  Seeing another take on the world Azzarello and Chiang have built could be fun!!

Finally, I LOVE that cover.  It’s so creepy and cool.

You can get Wonder Woman #10 this Wednesday, June 20, at your local comic shop!!

Wonder Woman Sales: #9 Drops 10 Spots, Down Over 3%

June 15, 2012

Between DC’s Second Wave launch and all of the “Night of the Owls” crossovers, May wasn’t the best month for Wonder Woman.  And oh yeah, we’re in the middle of Avengers vs. X-Men and its four thousand tie-in books too.  Altogether, it’s no surprise that Wonder Woman slid down a bit.  In May 2012, Wonder Woman #9 sold 48,750 copies for 35th place on the charts, a drop of 3.4% from last month.  Here are the numbers for the issue, and the five issues previous:

NOTE: The average sales total is based on all of the available sales data, which currently comprises every issue of the series since September 1996, for 181 issues in total.  The average rank isn’t given because rank is dependent on what other books came out that month, and that’s such a variable that an average really wouldn’t mean anything.

It wasn’t a great month, but 3 of the last 5 months have had bigger drops so it’s not so bad in the greater scheme of things.  Nonetheless, Wonder Woman was down ten spots on the overall sales charts, and among DC’s books the series fell from 12th place all the way down to 20th. 

And the comparisons don’t get any better.  Of DC’s top 25 books, Wonder Woman #9 had the second biggest loss at 3.4%.  Only Superman had a worse month, falling 3.5%.  What’s more, 12 of the top 25 had gains in May.  A lot of this was from crossovers, but a few books had no particular tie-ins to anything and still went up a bit.  Lately when Wonder Woman’s gone down, it’s gone down along with everything else, but this month it’s pretty much on its own.

Now, as I mentioned earlier there was a LOT going on in May.  DC alone had 4 new #1 issues ahead of Wonder Woman on the charts, 3 Second Wave titles and a Batman annual that sold like hotcakes.  So that right there accounts for 4 of the 10 spots Wonder Woman fell.  And with the “Night of the Owls” crossovers, books like Nightwing, Batgirl, Catwoman, and even Red Hood and the Outlaws jumped ahead of Wonder Woman.  A lot of these chart changes will be temporary, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Wonder Woman breaks the top 30 again in June.

Still, the book shed a lot of reader in May.  Part of this might be a delayed reaction to Wonder Woman #7 where the Amazons were revealed to be murdering rapists.  This didn’t go over well AT ALL with a lot of readers, and retailers might not have had time to adjust their orders for April so now we’re seeing those losses in May.  Or maybe Wonder Woman was a book on the bubble for some readers, and they dropped it to try out some new Second Wave books or any of the scads of new series that have been premiering at other publishers lately.

Whatever the case, May didn’t go very well but it didn’t go terribly either.  Falling 3.4% is more than standard attrition, but there was SO much going on in May.  If we see a similar drop in June there might be cause for some concern, but the drop in April was fairly minimal so Wonder Woman’s certainly not in a skid of any kind. 

Plus, compared to the historical average the book is still doing very well.  Wonder Woman is down below 50,000 now, which is a bit of a bummer because 50,000 is such a nice, even threshold, but it’s way ahead of its average and far, far ahead of where it was before the relaunch.  Things should settle down elsewhere next month, and we’ll see what that brings.

Prediction For Next Month: I finally did good!!  Last month I predicted sales of 48,450 for May, so I was only 300 off.  Compared to how I’ve been doing lately, that’s practically a bullseye.  I think Wonder Woman is going to drop a little bit less in June, maybe about 2.5%, so I predict that Wonder Woman #10 will sell 47,530 copies.  Check back next month to see how I did!!

Sports Stars In The 1940s Were REALLY Into Wonder Woman

June 8, 2012

If you’ve ever read some of the original issues of Wonder Woman, either the actual issues or the reprints, you might be aware that tennis star Alice Marble was an associate editor on the series in the early 1940s.  While moving from championship tennis to comic books might seem like an odd transition, Marble was a big fan of the character and wanted to be involved because “Wonder Woman marks the first time that daring, strength and ingenuity have been featured as womanly qualities.”   And she wasn’t the only sports star who enjoyed Wonder Woman!!

The inside cover of Sensation Comics #1 featured the following letter from former boxing heavyweight champion, Gene Tunney:

“Charley” was M.C. Gaines, the president of Wonder Woman’s parent company, All-American Comics.  Tunney was the World Heavyweight Champion from 1926 to 1928, and defeated famed boxer Jack Dempsey twice to win and keep that title.

So can you guess whose letter got printed in Sensation Comics #2?  None other than Jack Dempsey:

Dempsey had been World Heavyweight Champion from 1919 to 1926, and maybe he wanted to one up Tunney in the funny books for taking his title.  “Dear Charley” wasn’t enough for Dempsey.  He had to up the familiarity with “My dear Charley”.  I wonder if Tunney and Dempsey had a rivalry going on long after their fight?  Tunney’s title defense fight against Dempsey is known as the Long Count Fight, and is one of the most famous boxing matches of all time.  Maybe the loss stung Dempsey for the rest of his life, and he spent his time scouring the news for info on what Tunney was up to so he could swoop in and try to outdo him.  This is pure speculation, of course, and maybe Gaines just had some boxing connections and reached out to both of them.  But it’s more fun to think that 15 years later Dempsey was still so sore about losing that he couldn’t let Tunney send in a congratulatory letter to a comic book without having to do the same.

Regardless of the motivations, those were two HUGE endorsements for Wonder Woman!!  And they kept coming.  In Wonder Woman #1, there was this lovely letter from Helen Wainwright Stelling, an Olympic medalist in swimming and diving:

So I guess everyone ended a letter with “best wishes” in the 1940s.  That’s kind of fun.

Stelling was another big sports endorsement for Wonder Woman.  Between the tennis Grand Slam champion, two heavyweight champions, and an Olympic medalist, that’s a lot of impressive sports hardware!!  So the next time someone sees you reading Wonder Woman and calls you a nerd, tell them that Jack Dempsey read Wonder Woman too and then knock them out with a solid right hook.  Or beat them with a tennis racket.  Or explain to them who Jack Dempsey is, because they probably won’t know.


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