There’s one more Black Canary comic that’s been causing a stir, so I should mention it. Folks seem to be having a problem with a scene in which JLA Chairwoman Black Canary confronts Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman for holding secret meetings in a hidden room.
A lot of the commentary is around Ed Benes’ art and I get that. I find it pretty easy to ignore, but yes, he does like to draw booties and crotches. The panel above isn’t at all indicative of most of Benes’ poses in the scene.
Where I disagree with critics though is about Dwayne McDuffie’s writing. Black Canary does accuse the “trinity” of undermining her authority as leader of the JLA and I’ve read a couple of posts questioning exactly how they’re doing that. After all, they’re not countermanding her orders in battle and none of the other members know about the secret meetings. Black Canary herself had to do some serious detective work to find out about them.
So, yeah, I agree that they’re not really undermining her authority as far as the rest of the team is concerned. But Canary’s response here isn’t really about the rest of the team. It’s about her. It’s an emotional response to finding out that the three heavy-hitters of the superhero community in general and the JLA in particular don’t trust her enough to include her in their little club. “Undermining” may be a poor choice of words on Canary’s part, but I don’t think they necessarily are on McDuffie’s. It’s exactly the kind of thing someone would say out of their emotion when they feel personally and professionally threatened. I like it. It humanizes Canary.
In a perfect world, I’d have much more to say about the return of the Milestone characters in this issue. I’ve been waiting for this day and I’m twelve kinds of excited about seeing where this goes. But the sad fact is that it’s been so long since I’ve read these guys’ adventures that I don’t remember much about all but a couple of them. I really need to dig out my old Milestones again. And probably post about them.
I read the description of this home-made Wonder Woman ornament before I saw the picture and expected to see something really tacky. “Cut out from a comic book, then glued on cardstock, then glittered her hair.” Cheap, huh?
The promised fight between Mary and Supergirl finally begins in Final Crisis #5, but our attention is quickly forced elsewhere. Presumably, we’ll see the fight continue two months from now (or whenever Final Crisis #6 is finally released). That’s if Morrison doesn’t go all Millar and Bendis and decide that it happened off-panel. I don’t think he will, but my confidence in these things is pretty much done.
Like Secret Invasion, Final Crisis doesn’t seem particularly eager to move its story forward. Wonder Woman and Mary Marvel, my two reasons for wanting to read this series are still under the control of Darkseid, right where they’ve been for the last few issues. Nothing particularly important happens at all, and in a book where the entire draw is the supposed changes its making on the DC Universe, that’s pretty sad.
One thing keeps the issue from being a complete waste of paper, ink, and time, but it’s a pretty significant thing.
Frankenstein leading the DC heroes into battle on a motorcycle. For that, at least, we can be grateful.
I don’t like saying this, but I’m underwhelmed by Genocide, Wonder Woman’s Doomsday.
My problem boils down to two factors. First, there’s way too much talking about how scary Genocide is and not nearly enough showing me how scary Genocide is. Before we ever meet the monster, we get lots of foreshadowing that this one is somehow different. As Diana Prince leads her team of agents into the disaster area caused by this new threat, we get this voiceover from her:
If only we could have seen some of these signs and portents. We’re told that Diana feels dread, but unfortunately, we don’t get to feel it with her.
It’s the same with this scene between Dr. TO Morrow and Dr. Minerva who are discussing their latest effort to defeat the Justice League of America.
When Minerva tells Morrow to get ahold of himself and reminds him that the creature was his idea, he agrees but adds…
Again, lots of fear and trembling from Morrow, but we’re being told how to feel about this thing. Who’s got the right perspective in that conversation, Morrow or Minerva? We know it’s Morrow because we’ve been reading the press releases about how nasty Genocide’s going to be. But reading the scene, I’m just taking Morrow’s word for it. And the notion that the idea for Genocide came from Satan himself? Are we supposed to take that seriously or is that just Morrow’s madness talking? Again, I know how I’m supposed to feel about all this, but I’m not feeling it. And that’s frustrating.
The second reason I’m disappointed by Genocide is… well, just look at her.
Actually, before I get into her design, I’ve got to complain about her speech. Yes, I know Doomsday didn’t exactly have Ra’as al Ghul-level intelligence, but then I never liked Doomsday either. When I heard Genocide described as Wonder Woman’s Doomsday, I hoped that referred to Genocide’s nastiness, not her intelligence. Genocide is newly-made though, so maybe she matures and learns and becomes a serious mental threat to Wonder Woman as well as a physical one. There’s evidence of that even in this issue, so I certainly hope so.
The look though… I doubt that’s changing. And I’m just not digging the spiky band covering her eyes. It reminds me too much of this guy.
Life’s not all bad though. We get some cool scenes of Wonder Woman’s boyfriend fighting his way out of custody after being arrested and once again confirming his feelings for her. And we do get one very nasty scene that does more to inspire loathing towards Genocide than the rest of the issue combined.
I’m not casting judgment on the whole story just yet. There’s lots more to come and I trust Gail. It’s off to a shakier start than I wanted, but if I can get used to Genocide’s appearance, and if we get more like that last scene, this could be powerful.
This is one of those “cartoons in the 1960s and 1970s” DiDio was talking about in that last post. Notice the distinct lack of crime-fighting. I’ve got to get the DVD set and see if they were all this way. (Edited to add: Now that I’ve watched the whole thing, I’m uncertain about watching more of these. It’s kind of creepy how much the makers of that cartoon hated Mera.)
Last time, I promised that we’d meet Wonder Woman’s first costumed villain in this issue. What I didn’t tell you is that we also get to meet Etta Candy for the first time and get our fist glimpse at William Moulton Marston’s bondage fetish.
The story opens with Steve Trevor’s being kind of a baby about being laid up. He has valuable information concerning the identities of foreign spies and wants to get back to Intelligence HQ to share it. Apparently, they can’t debrief him in the hospital or something. Wonder Woman, posing as Steve’s nurse Diana Prince, feels duty-bound to keep him settled, but her plans go awry when the foreign spies kidnap Steve and her with him. She decides to play along to find out where their hideout is.
At the hideout, they meet the ringleader behind the kidnapping and Steve immediately identifies the ghoul-faced physician as Dr. Poison.
When Poison threatens Steve, “Diana” nearly blows her cover by snapping the ropes she’s tied up with, but her captors – while impressed – don’t make the connection that she’s super-human. Stupid captors.
Unfortunately, Poison holds a scalpel to Steve’s throat until Diana allows herself to be recaptured. I’m still giving Steve the benefit of the doubt in this issue. He seems pretty helpless, but he’s also still seriously injured, not only from crashing on Paradise Island, but from over-exerting himself last issue and being buried beneath an exploded building for a bit.
Anyway, Diana’s taken to another room and hogtied.
Oh, Marston. This isn’t quite as kinky as the book would later become, but if you know the direction it eventually took you can see the roots of it here. At first read though, the scene makes enough sense to the story that it feels pretty harmless.
Once the guards leave, Diane wastes no time in breaking free and changing into her costume.
Oh, Marston. Lucky they didn’t check your bag too, WW.
Worried that Dr. Poison will kill Steve if she attacks directly, Wonder Woman decides to escape and come up with another plan. Oddly enough, when the outside guards see her, their first connection is to her role as a stage performer, not a super-hero. That doesn’t keep them from shooting at her though.
So, what’s Wonder Woman’s plan? It’s revealed slowly, but we learn first that it involves a woman named Etta Candy who attends the Holliday College for Women.
Now, if you’re like me, you’re wondering, “Who is this Etta Candy person and if she’s Wonder Woman’s friend, why is this the first time we’re hearing about her?”
All becomes clear when Wonder Woman finally tracks Etta down.
Apparently, Wonder Woman’s been going through the real Diana Prince’s things and found a reference to Diana’s friend Etta from the hospital. Maybe an old, pre-appendectomy photo, because Etta explains that she started pigging out after she had her appendix removed and could eat whatever she wanted. There’s something not quite right about that story, but we’ll let it slide. I don’t know enough about appendectomies to call BS on it.
Wonder Woman has Etta round up all the hot, athletic girls at Holliday and recruits them into an army to rescue Steve. The girls march up to the bad guys’ hideout and offer to put on a dance for the spies. “We’re just girls and we want men!” Wonder Woman explains.
Too bad for the spies, the dance quickly becomes violent.
This is also the first direct example of Wonder Woman’s inspiring other women. Yes, she’s inspiring them to distract a bunch of thugs with an impromptu social gathering, but it’s a start.
With the goons subdued, Wonder Woman rushes off to rescue Steve and the two of them confront Dr. Poison. Then, in a sudden plot twist…!
What the-? I totally didn’t see that coming. Not enough of an expert on delicate hands, I suppose. (Although I did go back and check some of the panels where Poison wasn’t wearing gloves and damned if those hands aren’t delicate!)
Who the heck is Princess Maru? Not important, apparently. It’s enough for us to know that she’s eeeevil. But while Wonder Woman takes Steve back to the hospital, Etta has Maru totally under control.
Holy Hannah, that’s cool. I’m not usually the kind of guy to spend $100 on a statue, but I’m actually very tempted to start saving my pennies for this one.
“Fixing” Wonder Woman
In a well-written, – but misguided I think – article, Esther Inglis-Arkell explains what she’d do to fix Wonder Woman. What she says is broken about Wonder Woman is that the character is all about “compromise, compassion, diplomacy, and strict fairness. This is admirable, of course, but it doesn’t get the blood pumping.”
I’m guessing that Inglis-Arkell hasn’t been reading Gail Simone’s current work on the comic. The “love and peace” angle may have been the way past writers played Wonder Woman, but it’s not how Simone is doing it. If this is Inglis-Arkell’s primary objection to Wonder Woman, it’s no longer valid.
But even acknowledging that this was a problem in the past, I disagree with all three of Inglis-Arkell’s suggestions on how to fix it. Two of them (”The Weirdo” and “The Explorer of the Brave New World”) are variations of the old, fish-out-of-water concept that turns Wonder Woman into a wide-eyed alien through whom we learn something about our own culture. That was played out in George Perez’s stories and it doesn’t make any sense for the seasoned hero who Wonder Woman is today. The third suggestion (”The Avenger”) essentially makes Wonder Woman into a villain.
The way to improve Wonder Woman is to do what Simone has done: find the core of Diana’s character (I still argue that it’s her confidence) and then just tell some kick-ass, imaginative adventure-stories that don’t compromise that core. Thematically, you could do a lot worse than The Fractal Hall Journal’s suggestions of focusing on Truth and the concept of Hunting.
A second Wonder Woman series?
Some evidence that Wonder Woman’s actually doing just fine these days is in this interview with Dan Didio. According to Didio:
My feeling, in that she is one of our longest-running characters and most enduring characters, is that she should have more than one series going on. She should not just be relegated to one book. She has a level of prominence that we feel we should embrace, and more importantly, grow from. We look at things like Superman, Batman and Green Lantern – all of these characters have been able to support more than one series. There’s no reason why Wonder Woman shouldn’t do the same.
When the interviewer asked about whether or not there was an announcement hidden in that statement somewhere, Didio replied, “I can’t answer that! If I did, what would we talk about in two weeks?”
I’ll be looking forward to that!
“She can tie me up anytime. RRRarrarrarrarrarr!”
Chocolate Wonder Woman costume
I’ll just let designer Jack Mackenroth explain it.
In which Michael’s not nearly so progressive as he likes to think he is
But as cool as they are, they also make me question just how secure I really am in my fondness for Wonder Woman. Though I like him a lot less than her, I’d have absolutely no problem buying a box of Batman checks. Ones with just Wonder Woman on them? Even though she’s one of my favorite superheroes, I’d feel a little weird.
I think that’s because she’s the iconic Women’s Hero. I’d buy a set of Black Canary or She-Hulk checks in a freakin heartbeat, but Wonder Woman intimidates me. Being a Wonder Woman fan feels a little like crashing somebody’s slumber party, if that makes sense. I don’t know what that says about me, so I’m just throwing it out there.
As long as we’re talking about pretty water-breathers, this is a good time to mention that the 2009 Weeki Wachee Mermaids calendar is now available. Or it will be when the store is back up. It’s currently under construction.
Since Watchmen’s letting us down, we’ll have to rely on A Mouthful of Misfortune, a Big Fish-like movie about an old sea captain who “tells ‘tall’ tales from the Indochina Sea” and “lives in an oceanic world of Greek mythos.” There’s actually much more to it than that; Robert Hood has the story.