Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Discuss: Wonder Woman


Anonymous said...

I know nothing about Wonder Woman or DC comics in general, but I have always been fascinated by her creator, William Moulton Marston. He went to Harvard and was a doctor, a dentist and a professor. Apart from being an academic & research scientist, he also worked for Universal Studios.

He lived in a lifelong ménage a trios, had children with both women, and, indeed the two women continued to live together after he died. Despite having two wives, he was a tremendous feminist believed that women were better than men in virtually every way. Having said that, his ‘love allure’ theory of female submission is pretty dodgy to say the least. He invented the systolic blood pressure test as a bi-product of developing the first polygraph.

He was a great champion of comics and believed they had massive untapped educational potential. Wonder Woman is basically his two wives (her character based on his actual wife and her physique and appearance on the second wife who was actually one of his students).
In the comics, Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth was derived from the Golden Girdle of Hippolyta. What’s interesting about the whole polygraph thing is that today we’re used to seeing polygraphs as wires attached to a box, but Marston’s original polygraph was actually (you guessed it) a girdle that strapped round the subject to monitor their heart rate. So there actually was a literal Golden Girdle of Truth.
Marston wasn’t responsible for the Invisible Plane, but worth noting that WW had that before there were even jet planes, let alone stealth technology.

Shame Wertham knackered her (and everything else) for about 20 years. Is there a thread on him here somewhere?


Karen said...

I've never been a regular reader of Wonder Woman; I followed the comic for a couple of years when Perez did it,but other than that I really haven't read more than a few issues. It just seems like DC has always had problems making her book a big seller. She's always been on merchandise, and of course there was the TV show, but the book itself seems to always be a weak seller. Why is that?


William said...

When I was in sixth grade everyone was all gaga over Farah Fawcett, but I had a huge crush on Linda Carter. I never missed an episode of Wonder Woman. I don't think I fully understood then why I liked that show so much, but when I got older and looked back at pictures of her in that "costume", I was like "Ohhh yeah, now I get it." Funny, that was also the one comic-book related show that my dad didn't mind watching too. Hmmm.

Because of the show I got into the comic a little bit for a while. But the 4-color WW could never quite measure up the real-life version on TV.

Edo Bosnar said...

I think a big problem with Wonder Woman is that she's this iconic character, probably the first that comes to mind when someone says 'female super-hero,' but almost nobody seems to know what to do with her - at least not over an extended period. Perez got it right - it's just too bad he wasn't followed by someone like Walt Simonson, who could have done for her what he did for Thor...
(Granted, I have heard only good things about Greg Rucka and Gail Simone as the character's chief writer, but I can't comment on this because I haven't read any of these stories...)

J.A. Morris said...

Just curious, is that gorgeous drawing the work of Perez or Garcia-Lopez? Or neither?

I've only read a few stories over the years, but I always enjoyed her interactions with the other heroes in the JLA. I had a few Post-Crisis Perez issues, I'll get the tpb of those stories eventually.

Yep, Marston was a flake, an interesting guy with some forward-thinking ideas(and some backward-thinking ones)but still a flake.

I recently netflixed a bunch of the Linda Carter episodes. They're still fun and Carter is a case of perfect casting. The next "Wonder Woman" will have a tough act to follow.

Doug said...

J.A. --

The image is an Internet swipe, unattributed. If I was a betting man, I'd go with Garcia-Lopez. I know he did a lot of product art, style sheets, etc. for DC characters.

Second guess, but I doubt it, would be Dick Giordano.


Anonymous said...

I remember reading some good Wonder Woman comics in the 70's. Her two year trial to get back in the JLA made me a regular buyer, since it was like having a JLA addendum every other month.

But man, those Kanigher-Andru-Esposito stories from the 50's-60's are sooooo bad. Hilariously bad. Who the heck was buying those things? It's a "wonder" that WW was able to survive that era ( not to mention the goofy H.G. Peter art from the 40's).

Lynda Carter was perfect casting. That's probably holding her back in live-action media. How do you compete with perfection?

James Chatterton

david_b said...

IMHO, the Lynda Carter show really helped keep the comic alive and popular to an extent. I ponder whether it would have been axed if it wasn't for the show.., much like the Titans. I've never read the issues, and I never found her that sexy, per se.

But I'm glad the '70s series came along, and (unlike the latest failed pilot..) the producers treated it with care.

Inkstained Wretch said...

Regarding Karen's question - Why has DC had problems with making Wonder Woman a success? - I think the problems there are three-fold:

1- There just aren't that many writers out there who can write a female character as a compelling lead. And that's probably because most writers are male.

Traditionally, superheroines only get prominent when they are part of a popular team book. In those cases they are mainly foils for the male characters.

2 - DC comics reinforced this problem with its stodgy editorial policies in the Silver and Bronze Ages. They were much too content to let second- and third-rate talent handle her comic because the merchandising with cartoons, the Linda Carter TV series, lunch boxes, etc. was where the real money was at.

3 - The two problems above became self-reinforcing at some point. Wonder Woman's golden age was the Golden Age. Prior to the Perez reboot there was no classic run on the title, no specific artist associated was with it, no rogues gallery of interesting foes was built up, and little in the way of interesting mythology was created.

That's astounding if you think about it: A near-40 year run where the most intersting thing that happened in her comic was a misbegotten attempt in the 60s to transform her into a go-go boot wearing groovy super-spy.

She became an afterthought in the industry, one that few creators were inspired to take up unlike, say, Batman.

Again, all this applies to the pre-Perez era. I didn't read his run but I understand it was pretty good. It is just that this is a Bronze Age blog, after all.

Lemnoc said...

To Inkstained Wretch's list, I'll add one more:

No Rogues Gallery

Superheroes are often known for their colorful opponents. Every major hero has some iconic evildoer(s) tripping him up. Can't think of ONE for WW.

Lemnoc said...

oops, I see IW did mention that!

david_b said...

Inkstained pretty much summed up WW's situation in entirety.

Great Job, Sir..!

Dougie said...

As a small child in the Silver Age,for me WW was the boring girl in the JLA. Later, she was a powerless and rather victimised Mod heroine.

I only began to warm somewhat to the character when she was a regular in the Englehart and Conway Leagues. I bought her comic in the dying days of the Bronze Age because the Huntress was the back-up but I lost interest after the first Colan/Thomas/ Silver Swan arc. Later, I read the first year or so of Wein and Perez but found it rather superficial.

Alex Ross's Spirit of Truth treasury-sized comic is the most effective presentation I can think of, but of course, it's not Bronze Age.
To me, WW's position in DC's Trinity is tokenistic. If anyone deserves third place, it's actually Captain Marvel. Wonder Woman is a quirky, often bizarre curio who shares some of the Marvel Family's whimsy but very litle of their charm and wish fulfillment.

J.A. Morris said...

FWIW, according to a posting at the url below, that WW image was drawn by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez:

Re Wonder Woman's rogues gallery:
No love for Cheetah, Giganta or Nubia?

Inkstained Wretch said...


Regarding WW's rogues gallery. There's Cheetah and Giganta and then who? Pretty quickly you get into goofy characters like Angle Man.

Doug said...

I think the conversation above would explain why Perez chose to anchor Diana to Greek mythology. In his first several issues Cheetah was used, but Ares was the main enemy.


J.A. Morris said...

My comment about Cheetah and the other villains was a joke. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

But I love this fight between Cheetah and WW in JLA #195:

Dandy Forsdyke said...

I think they missed a trick by allowing the Sekowsky/Diana Prince-interlude to return to the old costumed WW. I'd have preferred her to carry on having adventures with Ching and they'd promoted Wonder Girl, who always seemed the more intersting character.

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