Patrick: A lot has been made of Hollywood’s apparent inability to adapt Wonder Woman for the screen. Is that driven by the sexism inherent in action film-making? Probably, in part. But Diana, Princess of the Amazons, suffers from a pretty severe case of “what the hell is she about?” We have easily understandable slug lines for just about any other bankable superhero: Batman is the mortal knight of vengeance; Superman is invincible alien boy scout, etc. There’s a how and a why expressed in both of those descriptions. Those attitudes have aged well, but for some reason, the essential nature of Wonder Woman is harder for creators to assert in perpetuity throughout the decades. What Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang have done in their 37 (and a half) issues of Wonder Woman is reassert just who this character is, and why her fundamental qualities are every bit as iconic as truth, justice and the American way. Continue reading
Bart Simpson, Itchy & Scratchy Land
Patrick: It’s a good thing all of our action heroes have a team of writers working quietly behind them, because audiences hold this irrational expectation that heroic actions be punctuated by hilarious, insightful, precise quips. This is a trend that I’ve come to hate, largely because those pure little micro-tweets are so seldom earned. How do you put a character through the paces so thoroughly that acerbic wit feels natural tumbling out of their victorious mouths? They’re not poets or comedians or scholars — they’re warriors, but somehow they know to belch out a characteristically perfect “Yippy-kai-yay, motherfucker” or a “Welcome to Earth” or even a “get away from her, you bitch!” Thing is: those three examples all work because we’re there with Bruce Willis, Will Smith and Sigourney Weaver. It’s not just about having the dry cool wit, but waiting until the audience and the character need the release of such a quip, instead of handing them out willy-nilly. As Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang narrow in on their epic Wonder Woman conclusion, they’re cashing in on all those cheesy action movie beats. And they’ve earned every damn second — the result is unadulterated climax, satisfying on just about every level. Continue reading
Patrick: Friday night, I was at a bar with some friends and — after the second round — the topic of conversation turned to “panty raids.” None of us had even participated in one nor had any of us been victim of one, but we all had these half-formed ideas from 80s college movies (and anything parodying 80s college movies). We all understood the same broad strokes: a group of men, probably a fraternity, steals underpants from a group of girls, probably a sorority. The purpose of a panty raid was still sort of elusive, and even among our small group, our perceptions of the gender and sexuality politics involved were all over the map. Is it a harmless prank? An anarchic expression of teenage sexuality? A skeezy male sexual power fantasy? That last thought hung with me through the weekend: no matter how panty raids were intended, the end result is at least a little rapey. Even something as stupid and frivolous as a panty raid has overtones of rape. Modern feminism has an awful lot to say about this prevalent rape culture, especially as a particularly glaring example of how far we really are from gender equality. As DC’s de facto symbol of feminism, Wonder Woman was bound to address the issue eventually, and the subtlety and grace of the conclusion to Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s masterpiece was the perfect place for it to happen. Continue reading
Scott: Why are Superman and Wonder Woman together? Anyone remotely tuned in to the DC Universe has wondered this at some point in the past several months. On the surface, it seems perhaps too convenient, or little more than an attention-grabbing ploy. Realistically though, doesn’t the relationship make perfect sense? People date the people they spend the most time with. A 20 year old college student is most likely to date another 20 year old who goes to the same college. So, in a time when Justice League duties seem to be dominating many heroes’ lives, it’s only appropriate that Clark and Diana, the two most similar Justice Leaguers, would get together. The real question is, what does their relationship have to offer us as readers? If Clark and Diana are going to be spending a lot of time together just by the nature of their jobs, does a romantic relationship add anything to the story? With Superman/Wonder Woman 6, Charles Soule sets the record straight — the relationship and, thus, this book, is more than the sum of it’s parts.
Today, Scott and Patrick are discussing Wonder Woman 27, originally released January 22nd, 2014.
Scott: What’s a reasonable attention span? Could anyone actually sit through all three hours of The Wolf of Wall Street without their mind wandering at least once? I doubt it. The average time between commercial breaks is seven minutes, and I have trouble staying engaged that long. I’ve been working a lot with preschoolers over the past few months and I can tell you that getting a three year old to stay focused on a task for even one minute is a challenge. It’s just so easy to get distracted by the thought of a snack or going to play outside. Well, much like a three year old’s brain, the hectic world of Wonder Woman is full of distractions, ready to yank you away from that thing that was so interesting just one minute ago. Brian Azzarello keeps things moving at such a pace that you might just forget about the thing you were just…Sorry. I lost my train of thought.
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Wonder Woman 26, originally released December 18th, 2013.
Patrick: On Brian Azzarello’s Mount Olympus, the gods and demigods all serve very specific purposes. When he shows up out of nowhere at the end of the issue, Dio identifies himself as the god of “the truffle harvest, tragedies, luxuries, parks and galleries.” That’s a weird concept, but one we always embrace when discussing mythological creatures: sure, I get why we need a god of the hunt (or wine or sword making or whatever). But, like, it’s a nonsense conceit, made all the more explicit by Zola asking “what’s a truffle?” Beyond being avatars of various nouns, the gods are also a family, and the roles they play within that family are just as indicative of the parts they play in this on-going drama. They are victims and bullies, martyrs and defenders, cousins, long-lost-sisters and little brothers. The mix of the divine and the human is sublime, making every turn of this series as surprising as it is inevitable. Continue reading
Today, Mikyzptlk and Drew are discussing Wonder Woman 25, originally released November 20th, 2013
Mikyzptlk: Strife. We’ve all felt it at one point or another. It has a way of seeping into us whether we want it to or not. No matter how patient or level-headed we try to be, we all succumb to the effects of strife every now and then. Dealing with Gods of “stuff,” Brian Azzarello has been able to use his divine characters to push his story forward in a number of ways. As you might have guessed, Azzarello uses issue 25 of Wonder Woman to place a particularly heavy focus on the character of Strife and her manipulative plans. Little does she know, Azzarello and Wonder Woman may just have plans of their own.
Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Superman/Wonder Woman 2, originally released November 13th, 2013
Shelby: I know I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series for quite some time. Since it was not unusual for more than a year to pass between books, when a new volume was released I would frequently re-read a book or two that had come before to remember where the story was. I noticed that each new book would have to devote a solid chunk of pages to re-hashing basic concepts, presumably to familiarize new readers with way this world worked, just in case someone decided to jump right in at book 7, I guess. I’m sure there was an element of reminding the long-time readers as well, but I always skim through those parts with some annoyance. I understand the purpose and the necessity of the quick recap (hell, we do it here), but if I don’t need it I just want to skip it and get to the meat of the story. Charles Soule finds himself with a similar situation on his hands; he’s got to find a way to tie together the disparate worlds of Superman and Wonder Woman, using the existing New 52 framework, while telling his own story of these two characters. A Herculean task, to be sure.
Today, Scott and Mikyzptlk are discussing Wonder Woman 24, originally released October 16th, 2013.
Scott: I love reading Wonder Woman. Brian Azzarello is now 24 issues into his run on this title, yet I feel like I’ve read 50. I mean that in a good way. The world he’s created is so vivid, the characters so constantly evolving that I feel like I’ve spent more time with them than I really have. Wonder Woman 24 is dependent on every member of the title’s diverse cast, and just about everyone has something new to offer. It isn’t the most thrilling comic book ever written, but it’s pleasing in a way that really no other title can replicate. Simply, Wonder Woman feels like a place where everybody knows my name, and they’re always glad I came. I never want to leave. Continue reading
Taylor: Brian Azzarello certainly has a way of making us do a double take while reading Wonder Woman. The man has a talent for bending his plots in unlikely directions while also making us second guess everyone’s motivations with almost every new issue. It’s likely that when Wonder Woman was rebooted, some were similarly thrown for a loop when Azzarello depicted the gods as being petty, mean, and downright hostile to just about everyone but themselves. While anyone who has ever read a Greek myth recognizes the dickish mentality of the Greek pantheon, it seems likely that others might have been surprised. The popular conception of heaven and god(s) in today’s culture takes a much more touchy-feely approach with our deities. Instead of being something to be feared, we like to think of deities as being righteous, compassionate, and selfless. Azzarello seems to understand how these two forces are at odds and in issue 22 of Wonder Woman he asks us to compare the Greek gods with their New God alternates. The question is, are they the same or are they different?