Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wonder Woman 600 End of an Era

I've got so many mixed thoughts about this, but as of this moment, I'm thinking this is my last issue of Wonder Woman for the foreseeable future.

I'd had trepidations re: JMS taking over the book. While I don't think Gail Simone did her best work on Wonder Woman, she did build up the mythos and brought back Etta and Steve and generally put the Wonder back in Wonder Woman. I could believe that yes, she is one of the "big 3" as DC says. But after JMS takes over? Not so much.

This is not the time to redo Diana's backstory/origin. Maybe after 52, but not now. She's been through a lot and to screw around with her continuity now means none of that could've happened. It negates the hard work Gail put into this book. It's a slap in the face of WW fans.

It's not like Diana hasn't been messed with before. She went without powers for a while in the '70s, after all, and wore civvies and was more like Emma Peel or Modesty Blaise, and I loved those books, but I always considered that a temporary phase. The Amazons had left Earth and Wonder Woman lost her powers. I have no problem with characters entering a new phase, but I do take exception to changing or seriously altering their origins, especially if they're major players. Icons.

Superman was killed and he was also split in two (I didn't read those stories, but I have read of them) and Superman isn't the worse for wear. Bruce Wayne is reported dead, Dick Grayson takes over, but he's wearing THE Bat suit, not something new. And while there have been tweaks, they've been for the better. Clark's foster parents survived to see him grown to be Superman was a nice change. But he's still the toddler rocketed to safety just before Krypton explodes. You tamper with that at serious peril to the company's bottom line.

People claim Wonder Woman's origin is weak. And in the original version, yeah, probably, but it's also one based in mythology and that's a powerful starting point. Over the years, there have been tweaks and the mythos built up, the Amazons made stronger, more a warrior race. What JMS has proposed is not so much a tweaking, as he claims in the Behind the Scenes at the end of issue 600, but a revamping, one that is not needed. He clearly wants to write his version of Wonder Woman, not his take on DC's character. That he's being allowed to do that shows that contrary to their claims, DC does not consider her one of the Big 3. They would never do this to Bats or Supes.

To wit, from the issue, after he goes on and on about the W symbol and how men view women by their roles (sounds good, right?) and the desire for a 21st century perspective (what's wrong with her mythos in today's world?), he says:
"...But I didn't simply want to eradicate all of it and destroy the work of those who came before me."
Gee, how gracious.
"So the solution was to tweak time: at some point about 20 years ago or so, the time stream changed."
Do Rip Hunter and Booster Gold know about this?
"Paradise Island was destroyed, and Diana as an infant was smuggled out before her mother was killed along with most of the others. She was raised by guardians sent with her, and some surviving Amazons, so she has a foot in two worlds, the urban world and the world of her people, which still exists in the shadows, underground. So we keep what makes her an Amazon but mix it up with a more modern perspective."
And this is different than an Amazon who has been living in the modern, urban world for years how?

Seriously, this would be like saying Bruce Wayne's parents were not killed by a mugger but by a drunk driver and he still became Batman. It's a change for change's sake that changes nothing and irritates longtime readers, so why bother? Why can't JMS, whose Babylon 5 TV show I loved but whose comics work I've generally thought sucked, a supposedly good writer DC was thrilled to get, work within what exists and make it his own? Gail Simone managed very nicely. I didn't like everything she did but she wrote a solid, savvy, modern Diana who was Amazon through and through. Why is that so difficult for JMS that he can't write her unless he changes her? Is that it? He doesn't really want to write Wonder Woman? He wants to write a strong woman and Wonder Woman was offered to him?

As for the new costume, when I saw it in the last story in the book, "Odyssey: Prologue -- Couture Shock" (seriously, that's the title), I thought Diana had gotten some cool new civvies. That's not a costume. It's an outfit. Skintight pants or leggings and a nice, red shirt with what looks like a W, but barely, to people passing by who might think she's a fan of Wonder Woman. When I read that it's the actual costume, my reaction was WTF?

I'd love to tell you about Amanda Connor's wonderful little story in issue 600. I'd love to tell you about the lovely full pages of Diana rendered by some of the top artists. I'd love to tell you how good Nicola Scott's rendition is. But I'm too incensed right now. And saddened. First the destruction of Roy Harper as a good, just, fair-minded hero, and now this.

I had been thrilled when DC relented and restored the numbering for WW's book, allowing it to reach issue 600. You never saw Superman or Batman or Action or Detective canceled and restarted with new number schemes. You might see it for lesser characters like Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Aquaman, but not for the Big 3. Well, not for 2 of the Big 3. Wonder Woman, for all the lip service DC has paid to her importance, has never really gotten the respect Supes and Bats get. Maybe it's the bottom line, after all. She simply isn't the wage earner the two big guns are and probably never will be. But this wholesale "tweaking" sure isn't gonna help the cause. Because I'm outta here. Let me know when JMS is off the book and who's taking over and what their plans are for revamping Diana yet again and I'll consider putting the book back on my pull list.

11 comments:

  1. "You never saw Superman or Batman or Action or Detective canceled and restarted with new number schemes. "

    Um.... actually when the Post-Crisis/Byrne reboot happened in the 80's "Superman" became "Adventures of Superman" and a new "Superman" beginning with issue #1 started up.

    Post-Infinite Crisis, Adventures of Superman returned to being just "Superman" continuing its numbering throughout.

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  2. I stopped reading comics for a while, after Supergirl was killed in 1985. DC totally ignored my boycott, so while I did read about some of what went on between 1985-1995, I don't know all of it. Thanks for the update. I never much cared for Byrne. I'd consider that a blip. Post-Infinite Crisis seems to have been odd all around.

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  3. The real pain that this is going to cause is yet ANOTHER round of "How does this this mess with Donna Troy's backstory?"

    Mind you this reconception of WW is a neat idea... for an Elseworlds or maybe the "Earth One" line of books that are coming out, but not the main DCU.

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  4. Thank you! I was beginning o think I was the only one not totally thrilled by this turn of events.

    One thing's for sure, however. As you pointed out, Status Quo Is God. Diana will have her past restored and be back in the fanservice outfit after about as much time as Steve Rogers stayed dead.

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  5. Shawn, I hadn't even thought about what this would do to poor Donna Troy. Yet another reason for me to ignore this new take on WW.

    MetFanMac, you're right. Let's see if things are back to normal in, oh, let's say, 2 years. ;)

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  6. Oh just great. Wake me up when it is all over. I thought that Gail Simone did a fine job. She brought back Themyscira, Hippolyta (and I LOVE Hippolyta)Etta and Steve. Heck, I even liked Nemesis.

    And now, for no good reason AT ALL, it's all gone.

    Bah!

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  7. Is this where the support group is meeting? Good, because I'm not happy either. As 30+ year comic reader I'm sure this is only a temporary hurdle for Diana to overcome. Along with Superman and Batman, Wonder Woman is one of the most recognizable and iconic characters in the world. I give it two years before she's back in the costume.

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  8. It seems to be one of many support groups. ;)

    I think we're in agreement. Two years, tops. Costume-wise, this isn't as bad as that monstrosity they put Black Canary in during the JLI run which I thankfully missed, but I'm more annoyed with the origin change.

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  9. Sally, when someone wakes me up, I'll wake you up!

    And I liked what Gail did on WW. I just think her writing on the book wasn't as inspired as her work on BoP and especially Secret Six.

    And I love Nemesis and thought Gail worked him into Diana's world perfectly. I love how she used the Diana Prince ID, too. Gail's all-too-brief run on the book has been my favorite so far, and except for missing 1985-95, I've been reading WW since the '60s.

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  10. I loved Gail's work from what I've read. Now she had a clear understanding of what she was writing! I don't get the impression that JMS does seeing as he's going along and rewriting her past. If it wasn't his idea then the editor is just an imbecile. It's only going to cause confusion and it will probably get a place in the Dork Age (its a tvtropes term) along with a ton of other bad comicbook plots. I kind of like the new costume but it is not very iconic and it's nothing special.

    I'm kind of surprised they let JMS write in comics after what he did in his final years working during Spider-man, Sins Past and The Mystic Spider-Totem were just awful and have been swept under the rug. I'll admit he had some really good ideas before but, man, has he lost it.

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  11. Thanks for your comment, Matt. I think you're right. It seems as if JMS had an idea and thought he'd see where he could take it, rather than building on what came before. If the book had sucked, then sure, go for it. But it didn't. It was actually as good as WW has ever been, and he's negating all of Gail's hard work with Diana.

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