Saturday, April 16, 2011

Who's up for an old-fashioned letter campaign?

The other day I posted this on tumblr.

All right, so Ben Caldwell's Wonder Woman pitch got attention back when I was on the way to Afghanistan so I never got a chance to comment on it (even to note it has lovely art), but tonight I'm thinking about Wonder Woman, DC current direction for her, fans and such. A postcard campaign got the series renumbered to 600 rather than reset at 1 for this latest reboot. Letter campaigns got Manhunter two reprieves. A letter campaign brought Stephanie Brown back from the dead.

I think there's an off chance we can get this published, or at least get it in their heads that we want Wonder Woman to be for young girls too. And if it works, we can finally have a Wonder Woman book to give to our younger family and friends. That should be something worth shooting for even if you don't like certain aspects of it.

So, if you'd spend postage to get this a second chance, please Reblog. We'll get organized if there's enough of us.

Most of the reblogs happened within the first hour, and it seems to still be slowly trickling throughout the community five days later.

As a thoroughly unpleasant person by choice, I'm not a particularly effective leader. I'm also someone in a ridiculously busy job who can get called away from her hobbies for long periods of time in order to take little trips, or cover for people who are on little trips. So I'm not a particularly good fit for fan activism, however... No one else seems to want to do this and this is something I think can work.

Like I said, fan letter campaigns have gotten books extended, characters resurrected, and Wonder Woman renumbered rather than rebooted for a fourth issue one. DC right now is flailing about for something, anything, they can do to make Wonder Woman a seller again. There's a bit of an interest upsurge because of TV show casting and the fact that every major superhero property to hit the main-stream has been male-dominated, and the first character to come to mind when they ask what female superhero can have a movie is Wonder Woman.

And lately DC and it's related companies have passed on every chance to reimagine super-hero related properties for young women. But everytime something like Caldwell's pitch, or Lois Lane: Girl Reporter or now Barbara Gordon, Girl Detective hit the internet as a failure every reaction seems to be: "What is WRONG with them?" And to me, the biggest "What is WRONG with them?" is passing on any female-aimed Wonder Woman adaptation, because Wonder Woman was originally pitched as a way to bring girls into superheroes. It stars a princess superhero who dances between high fantasy and utopian sci-fi. The classic cast is all female except for one token boy, like so many other girl properties. Wonder Woman is a girl franchise, most successful at times when it is accessible to girls (the 40s when every kid read, the 70s in TV form when every little girl watched, and now she's at her best in merchandising, which women eat up), but they're resisting every pitch that's designed to bring her back to girls.

Meanwhile, DC's desperate attempts to revamp Wonder Woman have led us again to a point where the very opposite of her concept is emphasized in all of the solicits (and interviews with the crossover writers) even as better writers desperately try to keep true to the character and still emphasize balance. And these attempts to revamp her always seem to come back to the same ideas, which are custom-designed for the shrinking superhero audience that would already be reading Wonder Woman if they wanted to. All of this as the audience she's intended for is unaware that an icon of this genre was in fact custom-designed with them in mind.

Really, the whole thing is indicative of some very thick heads and soft spines.

However, if we were to give them impression that a number of us would buy the thing if we saw it on the shelf, they may be more inclined to open their eyes and take a risk. I think Caldwell's pitch is the best shot at this. It's using Wonder Woman, who has serious brand recognition but much less out there than Superman or Batman, and who won't be mistaken for a spin-off or tie-in to another property. It's specifically designed to appeal to the fantasy readers and the romance readers as well as the adventure readers. There's some imagery that I'm sure is meant to appeal to the coveted audience of Twilight but unlike Twilight, it features characters and relationships originally designed by a psychologist to turn traditional gender roles upside down and portray girls as heroic and active.

And it has one major thing going for it that some of the other rejected properties don't have. It's from a creator that has already been allowed to write the character being pitched. Caldwell got Wonder Woman for Wednesday Comics, someone at DC was already willing to trust him with her. He's got a foot in the door, there, so logically he's got a better chance of them letting him back in, especially based on a fan campaign. And if this idea works, and sells, it opens the door for other properties like Lois Lane and Barbara Gordon to be optioned for a wider audience.

Hell, even if there was something else blocking Caldwell's pitch in particular, we might get into their heads that we want a modern Wonder Woman aimed at young adults and get someone else's pitch through.

If it doesn't work, and they use it's failure to turn down other ideas... We're in the same boat we're in if we never tried, except without a streamlined Young Adult Wonder Woman story we can give to our younger female friends and relatives to introduce them to a female superhero.

I'm up for this, and it looks like a large number of people are. Thing is, I'm pretty busy in my regular life, so I'll need a lot of help. Drop me your email in my askbox or my formspring if you're up for it. We'll get a mailing list. We'd have to put together a website, set a date, write up our reasons and find ways to expand beyond people who read my little blogs.

Your reblogs, retweets and links are appreciated here.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

More on pre-Crisis Diana and Steve

I swear I just read a back and forth about how Diana and Steve weren't ever a loving relationship because he was "such a blithering idiot" in the Golden Age (and it's taken as a given that he's not worth reading in the Silver Age), and someone stated that the most loving they seemed in the Silver Age was in the opening two issues of Denny O'Neil's run.

I'm not going to single anyone out for last year's conversation (besides I've seen similar attitudes in letters pages and on boards and journals across the internet) but I have to say I'm boggled about that particular assertation, because... Well, it can't be the same Denny O'Neil run I'm thinking of. In the first couple issues of O'Neil's run, someone gets drunk and calls Diana a freak, she doesn't say anything (just looks uncomfortable), and Steve punches the guy. They go leave the party to park and make out. So, Diana's not herself. Then Steve gets mad at her for testifying about it at the trial when the dude gets killed. So, kinda rocky there. I suppose you might think it's sweet that he lost his temper and engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer to defend her honor rather than use the appropriate amount of force for the situation. I guess it is, I'd rather have seen Diana at least push the guy away and get an offended look.

The end sequence of the story has him holding Wonder Woman in her arms and wondering aloud if he should start dating Diana Prince since she cleared his name of a murder charge in that identity. Now, we all know Steve goes on about Wonder Woman when talking to Diana Prince, but he is actively dating Wonder Woman and only seems to be hanging out with Diana Prince because she's his friend. This has him saying to his girlfriend that his affection for her is in danger if any other woman saves his life. That's at odds with all any strife stories in the Silver Age, where Steve would either be under mind control or have had a fight and a breakup with Wonder Woman before looking elsewhere. I will grant O'Neil that he only ever gets attracted to women who look exactly like Wonder Woman. He got that, and the not interested unless she can save his life thing right. Still, not really the best moment for this relationship.

Any time they're together afterward, he's near death and she's crying over his injured form.

And honestly, that's why I hate the O'Neil run. Diana doesn't assert herself, cries even more than under Kanigher, gives up her powers so can be with Steve and then completely fails to protect him from Dr. Cyber... TWICE. And after he dies, the first man she's attracted to is evil. That opening storyline is just freaking annoying.

I mean, we bash the Silver Age but even though Kanigher made her emotional at times she was always really active and assertive. And while Kanigher's Diana was a complete stranger to logic, and his Steve was a stranger to forethought, I wouldn't call it an unpleasant relationship. They were really devoted to each other.

Kanigher wrote some extremely sweet stuff even though he also had stories where one or both of them were complete jerks. And it is generally BOTH of them being idiots. For every time Steve breaks up with Diana for a really stupid reason there's a story where Diana's angry at him for a really stupid reason and purposefully messes with his head. Not only that, everyone except Hippolyta comes off as an idiot in Mer-man stories. But for every one of those, there's cute little stories where he has to identify her by her kiss, he brings her gifts, takes her on dates to get her mind off the crime-fighting stress, builds her up when she's feeling down, doesn't dump her after tossing him across the room because of a hallucination, ignores the extremely weird goings on during a date to continue spending time with her, and doesn't give her a hard time for choosing the greater good over his life. Story wrap-ups are often Steve setting up Diana so she can give the moral, or Diana giving the moral and Steve following up with a flirtation or compliment. He's a jerk at times, but he's also the most supportive person in her life and dedicates a good percentage of his time to making sure she's comfortable and happy.

Even with Diana Prince, he's a thoughtless jerk who drones on about how awesome his girlfriend is but he's also fond of her, friendly to her, and protective of her. He's always trying to get Diana Prince to have fun and take a break from work, trying to find a way to introduce her to Wonder Woman and when she's not present for an adventure he feels bad about her being left out.

In the Golden Age, he's more outwardly macho (which I find greatly amusing) but still her absolute biggest public support. He defends her, talks her up, makes sure she gets proper credit for her heroism, attends any public appearances to offer his support, comforts her when she's upset, brings the cavalry, gets along with her friends, respects her culture and sticks around during danger on the off chance he might be able to help her in the smallest way. He can get bombastic, but that actually makes it more impressive when you see him defer to her wisdom and skill, or just when you see those panels where he's standing quietly in the background while she's in the spotlight.

Yeah, these characters weren't perfectly refined. It's Golden and Silver Age comics, Batman, Superman and their supporting casts had some odd behavior too. Still, this was not a bad boyfriend at all. A lot preferable to most of the leading men who were in the hero role, actually. Probably because he's designed to be the supportive, laid back partner to someone dominant and driven. Before I actually sat down read this stuff, I always heard the two things: He's a jerk, and he's a wuss. Reading the archives and the Showcases, I don't see a significant basis for either conclusion.

I swear, people must be reading the comics from the red universe.