For those of you following my Wonder Woman review project (if there is in fact anyone), I have recently come upon volume 2. Volume 2 was a really good title for the first 20 issues, but then started to sort of lose some momentum. The reason behind this? It seems that some writers sometimes have some grand schemes in their heads when they take over a title, but when those ideas run out we get back to more common comic stories, as though the writers are being forced to write, instead of just letting their ideas flow. While this may be the case I think something else which killed the momentum was too many crossovers. Crossovers make a lot of sense in a comic book logic type of way. A lot of times you see a hero struggling against the odds and you might think to yourself “He could just call the Justice League” and so in this sense crossovers are sort of realistic. The problem with crossovers though is that it’s often the editors and publishers who are pushing them because they make financial sense, and this is often at the expense of the writers and their creative impulses.
I liked how Perez handled two previous crossovers. It was pretty clear that he had his own concept behind the series and so for Legends and Millenium he made only the faintest reference to them. When he got to Invasion though it seems that the powers that be sort of demanded a heavier participation from Diana. This affected issues both before and after as the plot had to be set up and then the stranded aliens had to be given something to do in the DCU. This had the effect of making them kind of choppy at times with little continuity. I have never read all of Invasion and I never want to after reading the flimsy plotlines in these few issues (as well in a few other titles). Crossovers made sense from a financial standpoint, bringing in fans to titles they might not otherwise read, but I wonder if it actually had any net benefit, as fans sort of get tired of being taken advantage of.
I think though that mostly what the crossovers come down to as usual is good writing. Civil War and Infinite Crisis stand out for me as excellent crossovers because they fundamentally altered the way we see the respective comic universes and because they raise issues in society which are relevant (both sort of took a look at the Patriot Act from different angles I think). Final Crisis (and Legends) sort of fizzled, partly because they depended on Darkseid as the antagonist, one of the old standbys for worst villain ever with very little motivation for his actions (just likes to be bad.) If a crossover has a great concept behind it can unify the stories for months ahead of time. If it is more formulaic (how many times has DC’s earth been invaded in a crossover?) then it becomes something for writers to struggle with and work around. Hopefully we can see more of the caliber of recent ones without reverting to the crossover every year attitude of the 1980s and 1990s which produced so little of quality.
I was reading a golden age Wonder Woman issue yesterday and at one point Diana made a reference which I thought was funny. First let me explain the astronomy part. The worst time to sail in any place in the world is always in the winter. For those people who believed in the elemental forces more than gods, stars became more than just faraway suns, but took on meanings based on their proximity to one another in the night sky (known as constellations). One such constellation was usually overhead during the winter months and served as a focal point for navigation and some spirtuality. The stars were Castor and Pollux and the constellation was Gemini. So yesterday when I was reading Wonder Woman she exclaimed something like 'by Jiminy!' Jiminy as we know it in our language now (though its not as commonly used anymore) is the evolution of the word Gemini. People who now exclaim 'by Jiminy' should really be exclaiming 'by Gemini', which I am sure if the writers knew better, is what Wonder Woman would really say. 1 Comments
Wonder Woman is my favourite character (you should all know that), and I like all of her costumes, but I do like some more than others. Here is my list from favourite to least favourite:
This is my absolute favourite costume, although this is is not one costume per se, but rather variations on the same theme. It usually involves a white body suit, but more things might be added. My favourite part about this? The variety and functionality of it. I know the argument about how Wonder Woman doesn't need a costume which covers her very much because she is resistant to harm (actually I wrote this onto the Wonder Woman wiki page), but still as a female icon its nice to see her almost completely covered.
Deodato Biker Chick This sort of goes from one extreme to the other. Although this one might be more functional than the traditional one, it is also a lot more revealing. This one comes from when she lost the right to be Wonder Woman and thus lost her tiara (which I wrote recently in another blog shouldn't have happened). What I like about this one is the colour scheme. Light blue is an underutilized colour in comics and it looks great here. Also tying into the Perez explanation she keeps the battle crest of Wonder Woman because its kind of her birthright.
Newest Version (600 reboot)
I wrote a whole blog on why I like this one. In short its functional and fashionable.
A lot of people on this site think that I don't like the original. That is far from the truth I still really like this costume. A big part of why I like it without thinking it is too revealing was the explanation of its meaning in the Perez arc 'Challenge of the Gods.' (issues 10-13 vol. 2)
This was during a story arc in volume 2 and although it looks all right, is also kind of hokey.
Back while I was reviewing Wonder Woman volume 1, around issue 200, my interest got piqued as a Hugh Hefner like antagonist got Diana to protect him, and he insisted she wear a milkmaid suit, complete with fishnets. I thought I was going to see Diana in fishnets but it never happened. So I decided to just create my own. I am not much of an artist, so I took a page from the Deodato run:
Then I removed the background stuff:
I decided the costume should look more like Black Canary, because with too much skin showing up top the whole look gets unbalanced:
And then I added in the fishnets:
It still looks kind of sloppy, but I was hoping someone else might get inspired and draw something better. Anyway here you have my first and probably only attempt at fan art.
A not so common, but still recurring, plot in Wonder Woman comics is when Diana is forced into another contest for the title of Wonder Woman. Thanks to my extensive reading of Wonder Woman I can say that this has happened at least three times. Out of the three times, Diana was beaten twice (incidentally both of those characters ended up dying less than ten issues later.) First of all I am not a very big fan of Diana's costume being fought over. As was explained in the George Perez story arc Challenge of the Gods, the costume has special significance to Diana. It was designed to honour Diana Trevor, as aviatrix who crashed off of Paradise island only to find herself in the middle of a battle against mythological creatures. This is where Diana got her name as well, and because of her connection with Steve Trevor (Diana Trevor's son) it is all the more important to Diana. To be fair though this happened after two of the do-overs on the contests, and it makes sense in that it is the battle uniform of the person chosen to represent the Amazons in man's world. What I don't think is properly portrayed is that when Diana has lost, on both occasions she has also lost her tiara. The tiara is only technically part of the costume when Diana is wearing it. It is a sign of her royalty. It may be used as a weapon, but it still belongs to Diana. She is shown wearing in all manners of dress, it is one of the things which she rarely takes off.
Giving this to the person who takes her role would be the equivalent of John Henry Irons taking a job at the Daily Planet when Superman died, or Azrael taking over Wayne Enterprises when he was Batman. When the next contest occurs, it would be nice to see at least the tiara stays with Diana, assuming she loses again.
Here's me always trying to pick up on every little thing which comics gets wrong. I was editing the "Wonder Woman's tiara" page yesterday and one of the previous editors write in that the tiara returns to her hand because of its magical abilities. As far as I know this is wrong, Wonder Woman has to make a specific throw to get her tiara to return when thrown. The return throw or the boomerang is fairly common in comics whether it be Batman's batarang, Captain Boomerang or Boomerang (the Marvel villain) there is often the poorly held concept that a boomerang can be thrown, hit someone and then return to the the thrower. Aboriginal hunters did in fact have a stick which would return when thrown, but it was more of an oddity. There real stick were meant to be thrown only in one direction. There has been a move to make this a lot more realistic - batarangs are a lot more like shuriken and the two villains use boomerangs more as thrown weapons which don't return. However, it is curious to me how anyone ever thought that this might work. At one point Captain Boomerang even had the weird ability to throw himself like a boomerang and return to where he started from after attacking whoever mid-air. There is not such a big deal with that in comics, just I usually call it flying. One example I think of who gets it right is Captain America with his shield, in that he is such an expert with it he can throw it to make numerous hits and then return. As far as I know though, that is partially because it is made of vibranium. Another good example was when Wonder Woman used it to cut Superman's throat before Infinite Crisis, and thats because of you are going to throw something it either hits the object and conveys all that kinetic energy to the recipient at which point the object usually stops, or theoretically in Wonder Woman's case a glancing blow might still allow for a return. Still even though I am pretty sure it is wrong, I wanted the previous edit on the tiara to be right as magic is one of the few good explanations for a return projectile weapon. Boomerangs are good for kids, but not for heroes and villains.
Just some food for thought, some skills which might be useful in superheroics which are underutilized:
1. Zanshin - I am not going to try and define what this is specifically because some martial artist will see fit to correct me. The general sense of this though is that elite martial artists have developed their skills of anticipation to be almost superhuman. They are able to anticipate attacks and deal with them well in advance. I think the reason that this one is not used very much is because fight scenes are part of what makes comics so popular. If the fight scene lasted one panel it would not be as exciting.
2. Tracking - It is pretty rare to see a character in comics which have really good tracking skills. Mostly what we see is the character throwing a tracer of some sort on a fleeing villain and then their entire tracking involves looking at a computer screen. Tracking is itself not very difficult. I have actually been trained by military trackers to find stuff in the wilderness (for biology reasons) and I am always surprised at the simple clues which are around which are obvious if you know where to look for them. I don't think this is a very popular skill because most writers wouldn't know how to do it themselves.
3. Seduction - No need to describe seduction, but it seems something which male and female characters are pretty inept at in comics. A great moment was in the first Bourne movie when Bourne has an elaborate plan to get a list off of hotel employee, but then Marie just flirts with him and he gives it to her with no questions asked. It would be interesting to see this used more often, but it would have to be written in context.
Most of you know probably know me as a Canadian and as fairly left leaning in my opinions and attitudes. When it comes to ’s military there seem to be two groups of people. Those who want a more aggressive approach favoured by the Americans, especially when it comes to defending our arctic territory and others who think that the military is necessary to fulfill international obligations and to act as arbiters of peace in world politics. I obviously fall into the second group, as I see that a progressive approach to using militaries is the only way ahead. And for the record - no, I am not idealistic enough to think that we are at the point yet as species that we don’t need militaries.
In as in the and many other parts of the world there is a day set aside for observation of our war dead, and I think this is a very important thing for us to stand for as a society. I think that these men and women who sacrificed deserve our respect but more so I think their message is an important one –that war is horrible and that it should be avoided at all costs. Too many times in the modern era we overlook these lessons and make the same mistakes over and over again. After all in 1988 the United Nations peacekeepers were given the Nobel Peace Prize as a group. Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney never got such a prize except maybe Haliburton lobbyist of the month.
When it comes to modern war in my opinion there really are no winners and only losers. Smart bombs meant to minimize civilian casualties can overcome the intelligence operative on the ground who accidentally gives the coordinates for a school and not the weapon factory a block away. Even such actions like NATO’s actions in are exerting a price. And suffice to say, if mankind ever really resorts to the use of nuclear weapons, it is going to make for some very bad times ahead. This is all to say that in the modern world that there is one true enemy, and that is war itself.
I have been reading Wonder Woman recently and Ares is a pretty common character. Also a friend has scanned me in a few panels of the Marvel Ares as well. What dose this signify? I think it is interesting that in the depiction of the Greek war gods between the different companies that they represent in a sense both the old style of war and the new style geared more towards using militaries more effectively. The DC version represents only destruction and hatred, whereas the Marvel one has been shown to be a paternal figure and to help others on occasion. (I might have come to the wrong conclusion from the Marvel Ares, sorry if I did). The two gods identical in name but different in action, represent for me both the old style of what horrors war can create (DC) and the forward path of what war could be (Marvel).
It would be nice to see a god of war portrayed as a god of modern war, and of the need for humanitarian aid and peacekeeping as well. Maybe some people would get the idea to think of other solutions than pulling a trigger.
What’s that you say? Has my blog really stooped so low as to critique a board game meant for small children? Well … yes, sort of. I am in the middle of exam mode recently and this explains my lack of blogging, but this is also the very reason that one of my roommates dragged me out for a walk yesterday. We ended up stopping into an antique store and in the back was this not very antique game. I was kind of curious about it so I cracked it open and had a look inside.
First of all I have to say that I don’t really understand the concept so much. I am used to playing Yahtzee, I have been playing it since I was 5 and this had the instructions of 4 and up. Yahtzee is not terribly difficult to understand, you roll dice and different combinations make different point scores (the combinations are a lot like poker – two pairs, a full house, or five of a kind which is called a yahtzee). Here from what I could tell the kids are supposed to be playing just for who can get the most of any character, which basically means you are just playing to see who can get the best of a two, three, for or five of a kind. I am not sure why the game got dumbed down just because its for kids.
Secondly I can see some parent buying this for their kids, but it is really more of a present for the parents I think. I started reading comics at a young age (6-7) but I was not really that interested in them when I was 4. There were shows of course, but I don’t think a four year old really makes the connection with comic books. I am not opposed to a parent exposing their children to comics, but I don’t think this is the best way.
So mostly I would recommend waiting until they are six to introduce your children to comics or Yahtzee. Even both at once if you like.