Wednesday, June 30, 2010
My thoughts on the "New" Wonder Woman...
1.) This is temporary...there's not going to be any massive change to any of the DC Big Three that will last longer than 2 years (tops). We saw that with the "death" of Superman, "Iron-Batman" and Artemis as Wonder Woman in the 1990's. This change is just there to drum up interest in a new writer and a milestone issue (#600) with the hopes that people will be intrigued to pick it up.
1.a) This ploy worked perfectly for me. I bought the issue this afternoon. First non-Doom Patrol DC Comic I've bought in YEARS. It doesn't really look like it worked as well as DC hoped it might though, as there were still plenty of copies on the rack. When Marvel has tried stuff like this recently (Death of Captain America, Obama in Spider-Man and Thunderbolts), the books are usually gone lickity split. Of course, the owner of the shop I frequent is a DC-Fanboy, so he may have significantly upped the order count on this book because of the milestone numbering...who knows.
2.) Okay, so yeah, maybe the new look is a little dated. I won't disagree that it leans more towards a 90's X-Men costume than an iconic look for the ages, but hey, if they're going for a "on the run"/"street level" feel in this new direction, you need something a bit more down-to-earth than the bathing suit look she usually wears.
3.) Hopefully the new storyline will set a better direction for Diana to connect with readers when she returns to the normal universe. Let's face it: Wonder Woman is a bit awkward. Everyone recognizes her, but no one (except for one friend of mine) seems to read her book. Sales continue to plummet, and writers fumble the ball with her stories. Personally, the two most interesting eras for Wonder Woman were the ones where the story focused on her supporting cast and the way she's viewed by the outside world. Why, because Wonder Woman has been around for 70 years or so, and has appeared in at least one comic book a month for...ooooh, let's say 68 of those years. That means that BARE MINIMUM, there have been 816 Wonder Woman stories told. Imagine telling stories about the same person 816 times, and still trying to keep it relevant to a revolving audience. How many times can you fight the Cheetah and still have people care? How many times can your Mother decide she wants to protect you (even though you've proved yourself capable over and over and over again) and replaces you, and still have people care? These are the challenges that almost all comic book writers face each month. Wonder Woman's creative team gets another roadblock though: she's a female solo hero in a market that targets mainly men.
No other female super hero has held on to a solo series as long as Wonder Woman has. Hell, no other female super hero has come close to holding on to a solo series as long as Wonder Woman did before her first book was canceled at issue #300. The closest may be Supergirl whose run in the late 90's netted her 80 issues (and that wasn't even the same Supergirl who had a series in the 70's and 80's...completely different character, starting with a clean slate). She-Hulk I think has had 100 issues (over 4 different series), Ms. Marvel clocks in at a cumulative 73, Spider-Woman gets a little fuzzy because there have been several series featuring several different characters and....well, you get the point. 600, minus 80, is 520 more issues that Wonder Woman has had over any other solo female super hero. So not only do her writers have to come up with ways to make her interesting and relevant, they also have to overcome the proverbial glass ceiling. This issue in question, Wonder Woman #600...it introduces the new reality and costume, but the other stories are just...filler. In one of them she attends a friend's graduation, in another she helps Power Girl bond with her (you ready for this...) cat. Wonder-frickin-Woman, the world's most recognizable fictional female spends her landmark anniversary issue acting as the pet-whisperer.
5.) And who IS Wonder Woman anyway? Wonder Woman, who was rebooted from scratch in 1987, came to "Man's World" to teach about peace and change the world. She hasn't done that. Her naivete is old hat by now, so the whole "Amazon in Man's World" story is old-hat. "Girl Power" has gone the way of the Spice Girls (and any and all lack of nostalgic resurrection that goes along with it), so the whole Women's Lib and empowered woman angle is stale and falls flat. She's a child of myth, empowered by the Gods, but so are a whole slew of other super-heroes. So why, when you have near unlimited avenues to get your fictional female fix, would anyone spend, or continue to spend, $4 a month reading about someone they can't connect with, and/or is simply rehashing old stories in new settings?
Yes, Wonder Woman is recognizable and iconic...but who the fuck really cares what she does? The two things that stand out in my mind that Wonder Woman has done is A.) be replaced and B.) kill Maxwell Lord in front of a worldwide audience. The first one was done over 15 years ago, and the second has been mined so much over the last 5 years that it feels just as flat having her fight the Cheetah again for the millionth time. So many writers have tried over the last two decades to make Wonder Woman interesting, but they can't. Hell, my aforementioned friend who loves and reads her comic, raved more about the issues where she teamed up with Black Canary than any other storyline. He LOVES the character, but from what he's told me, his favorite recent storyline was because another character was added into the mix! What does that tell you?
Wonder Woman WAS something special. Now, Wonder Woman is boring, she's predictable, she's stale. She's LAME. Or rather...prior to today she was lame. Now, she's a topic of conversation, she's controversial, and she's in the news. All because she put on a pair of pants and a jacket...
The new Wonder Woman look and story opens with an off-panel narrator musing that she "is undervalued by this world" and how that "must change". Seems to me, by all the fuss, that they're on the right path...