Saturday, April 02, 2011

*Ahem*

Okay, so yesterday's post was not entirely honest. I framed it with stuff that I actually think about retcons, but the Thomases didn't really rewrite Diana's origin to make her into a strawfeminist.

It was one of four dream sequences in Wonder Woman #300, where she makes two major life decisions: 1) She asks Steve to marry her, and 2) She fakes Diana Prince's death. Because of the Diana Prince lie and the impending wedding, plus the Sandman (Not Morpheus, Daniel, Wesley or Sandy, but that one dude in the stupid red cape that nobody likes) hanging around, she has some anxiety dreams.

There's one dream where the night before she left for Man's World her mother killed herself, and she was forced to take the crown while the runner-up went home with Steve.

In another dream, Steve Trevor doesn't crash near the island at all. Instead, Trevor Stevens does, an obnoxious black-haired man with a moustache. This guy isn't a military man, but instead someone who's stolen military tech and intends to steal from the Amazons too. It ends with him telling her he'd never loved her.

The third dream? Superman falls to the island after being hit with a kryptonite meteor. Her mother likes him so rather than mess around with secret identities, she marries Clark right away. They find that they are both too busy to spend time together, and they butt heads too often. They get a divorce and she goes home.

And the fourth and most interesting dream was the one I detailed yesterday. She rejects Steve, comes to Man's World intending to take over by force and ends up accidentally killing him. The only bit I changed was the thing about her becoming a hero at the end, she didn't. She just woke up, more horrified at this one than any of the others.

I'd like to go in-depth with this one, because I love it so much. But because it tells us so much about Diana and so much about Steve (the framing story is basically about how badly she's been screwing with him with this Diana Prince identity), it's taking me a while to dissect it. So yeah, this'll be a long one.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Reboots and Retcons

I suppose the fact that they couldn't find any letters praising the new JMS reboot for the Wonder Woman lettercol this week proves that this direction just isn't working. Really, though, I'm not that horrified. She'll be back to herself when it's over, and we'll have some nice Hester-written moments to show for it. My reaction to Wonder Woman reboots has changed from outrage to fatigue, because really this is a character that has been rebooted and reinvented so many times that this resiliency has become part of her franchise. Kanigher retooled the origin to get rid of the golem part and add some boyfriends in her teen years (for some reason, though, every commentator seems to focus on Hippolyta's makeover and losing the Holliday Girls--who did show up after a few dozen issues) and did some Golden Age revival attempts, but it really started with O'Neil. Ever since he took out both the Paradise Island and Man's World supporting casts, her powers, and her costume in one fell swoop we've seen writer after writer change the place.

I mean, we all know the Post-Crisis history of cast devastation and sporadic revival. JMS reboots the whole damned thing after Simone had to rebuild the supporting cast because Pfieffer tore up the Amazons in a crossover after Heinberg brought back the secret identity/secret agent and Rucka left the place in ruins on Infinite Crisis orders. This was of course after Jimenez took out her mother and brought back some Golden Age villains after a series of quite forgettable writers failed to do anything interesting with the elements Byrne brought back once he'd erased the entire Boston supporting cast, which had been put in post-Crisis to replace the classic military supporting cast that he shoved to the side along with the personalities of the gods and any Amazon technological advancements. No matter how good the writer, they are either responsible for or immediately followed by mass destruction of any recognizable elements.

But much as I get on about Perez (and damn it, I will still complain about Perez), this was nothing new. A sampling of Bronze Age comics easily reveals a similar addiction to soft reboots. After O'Neil, they drop the white suit and bring back the powers, go on for a bit, bring back Steve, play around on Earth-2 for several issues at a time, kill Steve, then bring back Steve and wipe Diana's memory. They move her from Washington to New York to Washington again. The UN to the Pentagon. I think this constant change is why I see Diana as an active explorer and a traveler. She doesn't put down for very long. (Simone's run was pretty good in that she incorporated travel into the plotlines, focusing on Diana rather than try to convince us to accept a brand new supporting cast as permanent fixtures.)

Thing is, hard reboots--retelling the origin completely from scratch--are few and far between. We've had Perez and JMS (which is only fleeting anyway). Anything else (Heinberg) has been a flashback retcon in the middle of the moving story. Diana's still the same Diana, just with a slightly altered past. Pre-Crisis we had Marston and Kanigher and.. well, a particularly odd one from Roy and Danette Thomas. See, back in 1983 they decided they might try a harder-edged Wonder Woman for a while. Even that far back it seems they wanted to drop the boyfriend and the motivated initially by romance thing to reflect modern sensibilities, and this seems to be the first try for this.



Umm.. yeah. I didn't photoshop that, that's really what she says when she wins. And it gets more annoying to me. See, as they fly home Diana makes her intentions very clear to Steve.



That's right, no dating, because he's a man and he sucks. At this point, and I believe it's intentional, we're meant to think she sounds pretty terrible and might be a bad guy. But JUST in case, old Roy wants to drive the point home by giving us her thoughts on killing in battle.



To be fair, she doesn't kill the guy. But clearly we're dealing with a brand new Diana here. Even more of an overhaul, I'd say, than O'Neil gave. (On the plus side, she did not give up her powers for a man!) However, as this is an origin story she's going to have to learn a valuable lesson. From, of course, a man...



Now, all of us and Steve know at this point that he has no chance in hell of actually hitting her with a bullet. He even tells his men that she can deflect them, but of course they shoot anyway and things go from bad to worse.



Turns out poor Diana really did feel something for the guy. She's horrified and upset, and flees the scene not out of fear but grief. A regretful scene later, she decides to turn over a new leaf but the damage has been done. She's been branded as criminal menace and must now seek redemption while on the run!



If this had become the regular origin, I imagine I'd be infuriated. But as it goes, this was a gutsy attempt. He has her come to the world all full of war and judgment, which causes tragedy and teaches her a lesson. And we have a Wonder Woman: Fugitive! set-up at the end. Could've worked, if they'd given it a chance. But really, it didn't last very long and before you knew it we were back to the regular setup and Mishkin took over. And I'm glad, because while heroes that start off bad and learn an important lesson are compelling, one of the things that makes Diana unique is that her origin is relatively untragic and her motives are optimistic and altruistic.

She lives an idyllic life which is disrupted by the appearance of a man--a creature she's only heard stories about. She rescues him, nurses him back to health, and wins the opportunity to accompany him back to his legendary world and fight the terrible evil that threatens it. She becomes a great hero to the universe and maps the modern world for her people. She's an explorer, a traveler, a wandering hero who takes the first opportunity to leave home and seek her destiny. She's not a reformed villainess, a woman haunted by her failures or traumatized by her losses and mistakes. She's a peacemaker and a warrior, and yes I do agree that she would kill if it was absolutely necessary but she has the wisdom to know when it's necessary and she doesn't carry the guilt of reckless destruction with her. She is isolated, caught between two cultures, and carries the heavy burden of the mythic hero who must always put aside her personal wants to serve the greater good, but she's a genuinely good person who came from a genuinely good place. She's not a dark character, and making her one simply doesn't ring true, even if you start from scratch with a reboot.

All scans from Wonder Woman #300, written by Roy and Dann Thomas, art by Keith Pollard. I advise anyone who gets a chance to pick it up and read the whole thing, because it has some very interesting ideas in it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Arisia. In a movie!

Is it just me, or does Arisia sounds very much like the main character here?
The full-length animated Green Lantern: Emerald Knights will be distributed by Warner Home Video as a Blu-Ray™ Combo Pack and DVD. The film will also be available On Demand and for Green Lantern: Emerald Knights weaves six legendary stories of the Green Lantern Corps’ rich mythology around preparations for an attack by an ancient enemy. As the battle approaches, Hal Jordan mentors new recruit Arisia in the history of the Green Lantern Corps, telling tales of Avra (the first Green Lantern) and several of Hal’s comrades – including Abin Sur, Kilowog, Laira and Mogo. In the end, Arisia must rise to the occasion to help Hal, Sinestro and the entire Green Lantern Corps save the universe from the destructive forces of Krona.
I might just love this.

Two ways to brighten my day

Two good pieces of news via the increasingly indispensable DCWKA today. First, of interest to the widest audience, set photos and spectator camera footage of the in-production Wonder Woman TV show. My favorite is this one:



Oh, they've also made some minor adjustments to the costume.



I would've been okay with the light blue but I do like this better and I do like the red boots best. Kinda wish they'd do something about that oddly textured girdle, but I'll never get a perfect Wonder Woman unless I write and direct it. It looks like it works, and maybe when the dust settles the comic Wonder Woman (that we only know for sure will still be in pants after Odyssey) will have blue pants and red boots too.

And there's longer video of her chasing that dude at the end of this post, and DCWKA's got a poll.

Second, and really only notable to me and the other two Steve Trevor fans on the internet (I love you guys!), they printed my letter in Wonder Woman this week. (I am such nerd that it makes me super-excited to be in a lettercol for the first time.) As I am still waiting on the mail every week, DCWKA was kind enough to scan the lettercol for me.



You can click to enlarge but I'll make it easier for you.



I'm bit worried by the "surprised" (I may be an optimist among Wonder Woman fans, but I'm still a Wonder Woman fan so any surprises worry me) but otherwise very happy about it.

And isn't it amusing that none of these letters seem to like the JMS storyline?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Resurrecting Steve

Back in Wonder Woman #180 (1968) Denny O'Neil offed Steve Trevor in a way that made both him and Diana seem pathetic and ineffective. Steve got shot and beaten by Dr. Cyber's henchmen, escaped (I got the implication he was let go on purpose but I missed any confirmation) and found Diana. She sent him to the hospital, which he was kidnapped from, and then tortured to death by Dr. Cyber's henchmen. Meaning she not only failed to save him once from this bad guy, but twice. And somehow the white suit period is the best remembered of the Silver and Bronze Age runs. Chalk one up for the first major reboot in Wonder Woman history. (But more on Mr. O'Neil's mistakes later.)



When we get to Wonder Woman #223 (1976), Mark Pashtu brings him back in what's actually a pretty sweet way. Diana's memory had been wiped of his death because Hippolyta knew she'd be really upset by that. This gets revealed to Diana when Aphrodite returns him to life as part of some heroic fitness test. (As this is Wonder Woman, the superhero who most directly recalls the Great Heroes of Folklore and how they got arbitrarily tested all the time, this works for me.) Aphrodite reveals she has passed, and is about to take him away again when Diana convinces the goddess to leave him alive.

They try to settle in on Steve knowing about the Diana Prince identity, and recovering from the trauma of death and resurrection, and having to rebuild his identity from scratch. Ready-made drama, right? Well, it doesn't work for them so come Wonder Woman #248 (1978) Jack C. Harris offs him again. Also by having him tortured to death, after intense interrogation and a machine/magic combo that sucks out the lifeforce Aphrodite had granted him to give to some... thing. I only really remember that he had converted to her religion. Isn't that sweet?



By this point Steve Trevor has died in-continuity twice. (I'm starting to really think this and all the letters in the lettercol that call him things like "helpless ragdoll" are significant indicators of how people feel about a man who pairs up with a powerful woman than any real weakness with the character.) Diana's lovelife is beginning to look like Kyle Rayner's, but with just the one guy.

Then Gerry Conway comes along and wants him back and he manages it in Wonder Woman #270 (1980), which along with Wonder Woman #271 is now one of my favorite Wonder Woman story arcs. It's a giant middle finger to fans who think the franchise is better without Steve Trevor, topped off with confused Amazons and a horrified Hippolyta.

At the end of Wonder Woman #269 Diana's still depressed that her boyfriend died (again) so she goes home to sulk. She is so miserable that Hippolyta prays to Aphrodite to rid her daughter of these horrible memories. Aphrodite points out that it might not work. Still, she decides that maybe it's better to have loved and lost and forgotten about it than to have loved and lost and be so miserable about it you can't love again. So she summons the Mists of Nepenthe to wipe Diana's memory.



Diana, rid of the memory, is finally able to smile. And on the very next page...



While Diana does the hero thing for the Amazons we get a couple one-page interludes about a blonde Air Force Colonel testing an experimental jet that'll reach Mach 10. We also learn that Paradise Island is partway in another dimension, which is pretty cool. Oh, and that experimental jet crashes into the ocean right next to the boat that Diana and the Queen are standing on.



So just how does Aphrodite explain this one? "There is more than one of everything and the Fates ship Steve and Diana. Enjoy the rest of the Bronze Age."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

And tonight the part of Lois lane will be played by... Giselle from Enchanted?

Well, it could work. (H/T Mizzelle)