Tag Archives: Wonder Woman

Today’s Super Comics — JLA #62-64 (2002)

Truth becomes subjective in JLA #62-64, and the results are not good. Well, the story’s good, just not the Earth becoming flat or math not working.

Justice League stories require big, imaginative threats, and this qualifies, and it’s different from the usual fare of super-villains and hostile aliens. The enemy here is the loss of faith in objective reality, which in the DC Universe, naturally, will have sci-fi/fantasy repercussions.

Most important, the danger comes about in a character-based way, as Wonder Woman doubts her magical golden lasso when it offers up competing truths during a delicate situation, one with no tidy answers. Wonder Woman had recently lost her mother, and grief is clouding her judgment.

The issues serve up a worthwhile message: No one has infallible judgment, but truth is truth. We have to respect the truth, or else the moon will turn into cheese and people might die.

The More You Know.

Writer: Joe Kelly

Penciler: Doug Mahnke

Inker: Tom Nguyen

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in JLA: Golden Perfect (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Wonder Woman #10 (2007)

Yesterday, I discussed a time Superman resorted to killing the villains and then had to work through his guilt. Now it’s Wonder Woman’s turn.

Leading into the 2006 DC crossover Infinite Crisis, Wonder Woman snapped the neck of an unscrupulous man with mind-control powers, a man who proved himself capable of controlling no less than Superman himself. She saw no alternative; others, particularly Superman and Batman, disagreed. Given her Amazonian heritage, killing a relentless threat seemed a viable option. Though she felt justified, she took a break from her Wonder Woman role for a year and was only just getting back into it when novelist Jodi Picoult began her five-issue stint on the title.

Picoult’s brief but solid run concluded in Wonder Woman #10, which pits Diana against her mother Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons. The Amazons are waging war against Washington, D.C., and Diana’s refusal to side with them disappoints her mother greatly.

Mother issues have been a part of the Wonder Woman mythos since early on. After all, one of the staples of her origin involves Diana disobeying her mother’s wishes to compete in a tournament to journey to man’s world. Putting Diana and Hippolyta on opposite sides of a major conflict, and having them fail to live up to each other’s expectations, feels inevitable and earned. And in viewing her mother in a new light, Wonder Woman is also able to view her own past actions through a new lens—particularly her execution of a villain.

I haven’t read the storyline this leads into, “Amazons Attack,” though I recall it being critically panned. Nevertheless, the set-up works wonderfully as a conclusion to the previous arc, and it allows Wonder Woman to discover a bit more about who exactly she’s supposed to be.

Writer: Jodi Picoult

Artist: Paco Diaz

Cover: Terry and Rachel Dodson

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Wonder Woman: Love and Murder (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 13 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Wonder Woman #601 (2010)

This may have been one of the shortest-lived reboots ever, but it was certainly interesting. Writer J. Michael Straczynski reinterpreted Wonder Woman by stripping her of her past and setting her on a quest to rediscover herself and her heritage.

Paradise Island has apparently been destroyed, and the survivors have fled in various directions. It’s up to Diana to find and protect them. But as of Wonder Woman #601 (the story’s first full part), she’s hardly a hero—she’s a vengeful woman on a mission. We get some foreshadowing of her inner Wonder Woman potential, but growth and change are required to get her back to that point. With this, Straczynski has turned a decades-old character into a dynamic character. It’s quite a feat.

Oh, and she gets pants. That was long overdue (and also short-lived, alas).

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski

Penciler: Don Kramer

Inker: Michael Babinski

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Wonder Woman: Odyssey vol. 1 (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 13 and up

Today’s Super Comic — DC: The New Frontier #4 (2004)

Things tilt toward paranoia and fear in DC: The New Frontier #4. The government’s attempt to abduct the Flash sends the speedster into hiding. Wonder Woman has retired to Paradise Island. J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, decides to hitch a ride back to Mars. And Hal Jordan is scrubbed from that same Mars mission (though that’s against his will).

But amid the fear, acts of heroism shine through. J’onn J’onzz gets a great one, which leads to a turning point for a character who has spent the series concealing his true nature for fear of how he’ll be treated. And his fear is hardly baseless, given what happens to a black vigilante named John Henry who tries to strike back against the KKK. And John Henry’s tragic situation reminds us about the need to be better than we were.14

Darwyn Cooke’s story makes excellent use of DC’s shared universe. These characters aren’t just inhabiting the same world—they’re affecting each other within it. When Flash publicly calls it quits, J’onn makes up his mind about trying to return to Mars, and his means of departure is the mission Hal’s involved in.

Characters and situations connect in an organic way, a thematic way, but not a “Look how cool—it’s, like, all connected, man” way.

Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in DC: The New Frontier Volume Two (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 13 and up

Today’s Super Comic — DC: The New Frontier #2 (2004)

The second issue of DC: The New Frontier continues setting the mood in this 1950s reimagining of the DC Universe, and it’s an opportunity to admire Darwyn Cooke’s art as being among the greatest of his generation. His work synthesizes various classic elements into something that feels familiar but also new, fresh, and exciting.

Superman looks like he flew out of a 1940s Max Fleischer cartoon. Batman wears the original Bob Kane design, rendered by way of a Bruce Timm Batman: The Animated Series influence. Wonder Woman lacks a quintessential cartoon version, which allows Cooke to put more of his own stamp on her design. In an inspired touch, he makes her a true Amazon, taller than even Superman.

The Flash is a kinetic figure with a large head to denote his scientific intellect. J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, appears unsettling and creepy but without any malice in his native form, and his human form, Detective John Jones, is the archetypal movie detective.

The events are fairly episodic at this point, but they tie together thematically, all pointing toward changing times. The Martian Manhunter, ripped away from Mars, is trying to fit into a new world. Superman and Wonder Woman verbally spar over newfound ideological differences, not unlike how they did in Kingdom Come. Batman begins to realize that his appearance is frightening to more than just criminals. The Flash is still adjusting to his new powers and new super-heroic lifestyle.

And Hal Jordan, our ostensible protagonist, has difficulty readjusting to civilian life after the Korean War, and his guilt over killing an enemy soldier drives him to take the sort of fearless risks that will soon get him noticed by a certain intergalactic police corps, one with an affinity for emerald jewelry.

If you’re a DC fan, this series is a love letter to all your favorite characters (including many I haven’t mentioned here), and the early Cold War setting grounds it with substance.

Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in DC: The New Frontier Volume One (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 13 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Wonder Woman #4 (1987)

Like many of DC’s most prominent characters, Wonder Woman got rebooted in the late ‘80s. All previous continuity was out, except to be used as inspiration. And the architect behind this reboot was one of the all-time great comic book artists, George Perez. He plotted and drew, leaving the actual scripting to others, but he demonstrated a solid understanding of story structure.

The retelling of Wonder Woman’s origin and debut is spread out over several issues. The story takes its time, but things are constantly happening. It’s paced like a YA novel, more or less. Four issues in, and Diana still speaks barely any English (which makes sense, as she’s not exactly local). Also in #4, she fights her first monster in public view, thereby earning the Wonder Woman nickname in the press.

Decompressing the story was a wise move on Perez’s part, because this is when the character is at her most interesting. She’s an immigrant from paradise, basically, which gives her a unique perspective when seeing the rest of our flawed world for the first time. And she arrives with a clearly defined mission—stopping Ares from unleashing another world war.

Meanwhile, Col. Steve Trevor, who has made his share of internal enemies during his time in the Air Force, is framed and on the run. His and Diana’s situations begin to interlock nicely.

And this is just the middle of the story so far. The slow build suits her…as does Perez’s art, but Perez’s art suits pretty much every single superhero ever.

Writers: George Perez and Len Wein

Penciler: George Perez

Inker: Bruce D. Patterson

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Wonder Woman vol. 1: Gods and Mortals (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comics — Flashpoint #1-5 (2011)

flashpoint_vol_2_1The Flash broke the DC Universe. He messed with the timeline, resulting in the New 52, which I am not a fan of, barring a handful of notable exceptions. It’s unfortunate. But the storyline in which he ruined everything was pretty great.

Flash (Barry Allen) interferes with time for a noble, human reason—he wants to save his mother, who was murdered many years ago by a time-traveling Reverse Flash (kind of like in the TV series). So Barry has a strong justification for his actions, but he nevertheless creates an alternate timeline in need of serious repair. The most compelling reason: A feud between these non-heroic versions of Wonder Woman and Aquaman is putting the whole world on the brink of war.

Flashpoint’s standout alternate version of a character is Batman, who isn’t Bruce Wayne here—he’s Bruce’s father, Thomas Wayne. In this world, Bruce and his mother Martha were murdered by a mugger, and Thomas was the sole survivor. So when Barry comes along speaking of a better world in which Bruce survives, Thomas has powerful motivation to help him out, crazy as he sounds. What parent wouldn’t want to trade places with their child in that situation?

Yesterday, I mentioned how Zero Hour lacked a central protagonist. DC seemed to have learned its lesson seventeen years later. Flash anchors the series and guides us through. He’s the only one from “our” world and therefore the only one who can ultimately set things right (not that he nails the target perfectly, but that’s irrelevant to judging this series on its own merits).

As someone who grew up with the Wally West Flash, this is one of the better Barry Allen stories I’ve read.

Writer: Geoff Johns

Penciler: Andy Kubert

Inker: Sandra Hope

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; Flashpoint (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Superman #165 (2001)

superman_v-2_165All I remembered about Superman #165 was that it involved Superman visiting his JLA teammates one or two at a time and giving them amusing little gifts. Tube socks to the Flash. Jewelry polish to Green Lantern. So I was thinking, oh, yeah, that’s a cute one.

I totally forgot about the substance of it.

This takes place shortly after Lex Luthor was elected president of the United States in the DC Universe, and Superman has been struggling to come to terms with the results. How could the American people cast their votes for a man as despicable as Luthor? And what, if anything, should Superman do about it?

Talking with friends and listening to their diverse viewpoints helps Superman come to some sort of peace. He’s still not happy about it, and he’ll remain vigilant about what Luthor does in office. But as Wonder Woman says, “If you let this turn into an obsession, then Luthor has already defeated you.”

So he decides not to let this consume him. His life will go on. He’ll enjoy Lois’s company in a weekend getaway in the bottle city of Kandor. He’ll continue to fight the good fight for truth and justice, and somehow or another, the American way will prevail in the end.

It’s a nice little “quiet” issue, and it takes an excellent direction for a Christmas special. Sometimes you just need to spend time with your friends and loved ones to get some perspective. The world’s problems won’t go away, but they’ll seem more manageable.

The issue features several guest artists—a different one for each of Superman’s visits with his teammates. Normally, the drastically different styles would be jarring, but it suits the structure of this particular issue rather well and adds to that whole “holiday special” feel.

Writer: Jeph Loeb

Artists: Various

Cover: Ed McGuinness

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; included in Superman: President Lex (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Superman Annual #11 (1985)

superman_annual_vol_1_11Since we’ve entered the holiday shopping season, how about a classic comic that’s basically about giving a gift? And Superman Annual #11, “For the Man Who Has Everything,” is a gift, one given to us by the team behind Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

It’s Superman’s birthday, so Wonder Woman, Batman, and the then-new Robin (Jason Todd) visit him at the Fortress of Solitude, all bearing thoughtful presents. But what do you get the man who has everything? The villainous alien Mongul has the perfect gift for him—a life of contentment, which happens to be all imaginary.

A symbiotic plant called the Black Mercy traps Superman in his own head, where he’s living a perfectly normal life on a Krypton that never exploded. He has a wife and two children, and the weight of the world isn’t constantly on his shoulders. It all feels so real and satisfying.

But outside that fantasy, Mongul begins his quest for world domination by taking on Wonder Woman and the Caped Crusaders. To save his friends, and the world, Superman must abandon the peaceful life he always wanted, rejecting a loving family in favor of his Fortress of Solitude.

When you have a character as powerful as Superman, especially this old-school version, you’ve got to be creative to hurt him and even more creative to make him work for his victory. And trapping him in happiness, and requiring his own strength of will to erode the façade, is perfect.

The comic is so good that Justice League Unlimited adapted it into an animated episode. The comic does some things better, and the cartoon does other things better, but really, just check out both.

Writer: Alan Moore

Artist: Dave Gibbons

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Wonder Woman #14 (2008)

wonder_woman_vol_3_14Not every writer “gets” Wonder Woman, but Gail Simone absolutely does, as demonstrated in her excellent run that began with 2008’s Wonder Woman #14.

Here, Wonder Woman is both a warrior and a diplomat. She’s very human, but also somewhat alien to our culture. And she bridges the gap between classical mythology and DC’s modern pantheon.

An early scene captures her perfectly. Intelligent super-apes attack her, and she initially enjoys the skirmish but ultimately talks her way to a peaceful resolution. Later, her interior monologue comments on American office culture from her unique perspective: “It is a strange culture that outlaws the hug. On the other hand…there is cake. And that excuses much.”

Also, the issue sets up a confrontation with Nazis. And yeah, sure, they’re never going to be sympathetic or complex antagonists. Still, watching good people clobber Nazis is one of superhero comics’ earliest pastimes…and it never gets old.

I have no idea if the upcoming Wonder Woman movie will be amazing or will disappoint like other recent DC movies…but either way, we will always have Gail Simone’s exceptional storylines to re-read.

Writer: Gail Simone

Penciler: Terry Dodson

Inker: Rachel Dodson

Cover: Terry & Rachel Dodson

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Wonder Woman: The Circle (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up