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
Shelby: Often times for me, the hardest part about writing any of these posts is this very intro. I always want to find some overarching theme in the issue, or one relevant anecdote from my past to broadly introduce the issue. I used to write the intro last on a regular basis, so I could find that one theme as I was writing. I couldn’t possibly use that approach with this post, however. Brian Azzarello has given me so many individual moments to get excited about this issue, the best I can do at coming up with a unifying theme is to marvel at how beautifully the pieces fit together to create the whole.
“What kind of madness?”
“Men sometimes generate a good kind…you’ll see.”
Aleka and Zola, Wonder Woman 31
Scott: Zola issues this reassurance to the Amazons, whose world is about to be turned upside down by the arrival of men on Paradise Island. It’s interesting that Zola feels this way; most of the trouble in her life has been caused by men. She was impregnated by Zeus (who’s still missing, by the way), held captive by Hades, and had her baby nearly killed by Apollo. She could easily have turned against men, but she’s wise enough to realize these are anomalies, and far more men have helped her along the way. Men, like many other groups, often get a bad rap because of the actions of a select few. As Wonder Woman 31 shows, sometimes those actions are unspeakably horrific, but prejudice will do nothing to overcome them. The good, both men and women, must unite to defeat the evil.
Taylor: The internet is an amazing tool. The rhetorical nature of that comment is almost so great that it’s remarkable, but I think it’s occasionally a good exercise to step back and take stock of the amazing things that make up our world. In the recent past the internet has caused real social change given its ability to unite people behind a singular cause. In particular, the movement for gender equality seems to be gaining more and more steam, as both women and men are able to voice their experiences with prejudice in their daily lives. Comics, being a reflection of the world of which gave them birth, are also picking up on this trend. It seems only natural that Wonder Woman, a title which features an empowered female lead, would eventually weigh in on this subject. However, the subtlety and grace with which it broaches this topic in issue 30 is both unexpected and wonderfully wrought, making for an memorably understated episode.
Patrick: Twitch Plays Pokemon allowed thousands of people all over the world to play one game of Pokemon Red together. This means the poor game was getting thousands of simultaneous inputs from players across the globe all with different agendas. Cultures sprang up on Reddit around specific Pokemon (which were all nicknamed hilarious things because actually typing a name in the game resulted in total nonsense) and weird little quirks of playing the game cooperatively (most famously, the Cult of Helix Fossil worked tirelessly to get the character to use a context-specific item in all contexts). Shit got weird, but it was a weirdness of consensus, a horrible democracy that gave shape to what “Twitch Plays Pokemon” means. This is largely true for long-lasting comic book characters as well — they pass through so many hands that the meta story of how they came to be can often eclipse the in-world origins. That’s why all your favorite heroes are irreconcilable messes of conflicting stories and ideas, and mixed together into one semi-coherent identity. Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman looks to change that for the titular heroine, giving her purpose, direction, vision and identity without having to wait for thousands of players to agree on the same input. Continue reading
Scott: What works out for one person often effects someone else negatively. Recently, I was getting ready to go on a long trip, so I lined up a subletter to stay in my apartment. It was going to be perfect. Until, that is, she got an offer to house-sit somewhere else and backed out of our deal. It worked out well for her, but it left me scrambling. What I’m trying to say is, never celebrate a plan until it’s complete, because it can always be derailed by someone else’s plan. I’m not trying to advocate Murphy’s Law or anything, but as Wonder Woman 28 teaches us, most plans are foiled, and even when your goal is within grasp it can still blow up in your face.
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