Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A year(ish) later... my experiment with Wonder Woman

Last Wednesday, I dropped by my usual local comic shop for my weekly fix.  Amidst my mostly-Marvel pile, there was a single issue from DC: Wonder Woman #614.  The guy behind the counter mentioned he was a huge Wonder Woman fan and he asked how I had enjoyed the "new" Wonder Woman.  I told him that I thought it started strong and that it had my interest initially, but by the end I could summarize my reaction up in one word: huh?

Obviously that isn't a knock against the character as a whole.  This was clearly just a story that didn't work out for me.  It started out with a fresh, interesting take on the character that just sort of disintegrated into something vaguely existential.  In theory, the journey of a person trying to figure out who she is would be a fantastic story for a new reader to pick up.  They can go on that journey with the character and make those discoveries right along side her.  This, unfortunately, fails when it starts getting just plain confusing.  I would elaborate on the points I didn't quite understand, but it's all a bit too foggy now.  In fact, I should probably give the thing a reread just to get the whole story at once and see if it works any better.

The funny thing about this 14th issue of the Wonder Woman reboot is that it's the final issue for Diana before she gets rebooted (again) along with the rest of the DC Universe. Seeing as this whole "women in comics" bit is such an important topic to me, I always figured I should be reading Wonder Woman.  So, I figured last year's relaunch would be a good jumping on point for me.  Needless to say, it didn't work out so well.  So I find myself asking a very important (at least within the confines of my own little world) question:

Should I try this again?

Her costume changed again!
This is obviously another logical jumping on point.  I desperately want to read and enjoy Wonder Woman, if only as a matter of principle.  I have always been a very character-driven reader.  If I get attached to a character, I will stick by her through thick and thin, good story or bad story, great art or stick figures.  It's very difficult to get me to give up.  So, if this reboot can actually let me get to know and like her (not that I didn't like her on the last round, I was just a bit confused), it could work out for me.  Writer Tim Callahan even tweeted that it was the best title of The New 52.  If it's genuinely that good, I might even forgive the fact that they removed my favorite part of the new costume - the criss-crossing arm straps that gave it a vague hint of Ancient Greece.  The flip side of it is, I know my Marvel.  I love my Marvel.  I'm stubborn.  Should I continue trying to make myself like DC and Wonder Woman just out of principle, or should I just stick with what I like and be happy with it?  I often say I'll pick up the first issue of anything.  I guess we'll see.

Of course, this all leads to a few more questions...

Should I try any of the other new DC titles?  Batwoman?  JLA?

Can my bank account survive this?

Stay tuned for answers to these and other earth-shattering questions.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Time for a Makeover: Redux

Wonder Woman was not the only one in need of a makeover.  This blog certainly was too.  Fortunately, that job is complete as of tonight.  The makeover was also applied to the Wannabe Heroine twitter.

Though in interest of keeping this entry longer than three sentences, this seems like a wonderful time to revisit Wonder Woman's new costume.  Apparently at the DC Nation panel at NYCC today Dan DiDio asked the fans what they thought of it now that it's had some time to settle in.  Second-hand reports indicate that there are still plenty of haters, but that the response seems to be mostly positive.

My opinion hasn't changed much since the last time I talked about it.  Four issues later, I still like it.  Following issue #603, I might even say I like it more.  Here's why:

Issue #603 marks the first time the jacket has come off.  I may have said something about the drape of the jacket's fabric given a vaguely ancient feel.  I admit, you'd probably have to squint really, really hard to see that.  It would have been pretty easy to argue that the new costume was very modern and didn't carry much of a warrior feel.  Apparently what's under the jacket takes care of it.  Those completely-superfluous straps around her arms are a great touch.  They really allude to the ancient Greek warrior look.

My only new opinion about the costume is that Diana should consider just leaving the jacket behind.  It covers the coolest part of her new costume.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ally McWonderWoman?

Over the weekend, it was announced by just about every single superhero news outlet that David E. Kelley is working on relaunching Wonder Woman as a TV series.  Fans reacted immediately with a range from curious to full out nerdrage.

Myself?  I'll go with skeptical.

Ignoring the fact that approximately 0.003% of the tv/movie projects somebody is "working on" ever make it to the screen, I have other reasons for my skepticism.

When I was still an undergrad working on my ultimately-useless degree, I spent a lot of time analyzing media and pop culture.  For one class, I wrote (what I thought to be) a particularly inspired paper comparing Ally McBeal to The Mary Tyler Moore Show in terms of their respective portrayals of a "progressive" woman.  I'm pretty sure my argument was that Moore was more progressive, despite being two decades earlier, because she was more focused on defining herself as an individual, independent woman while McBeal was trying to find a date.  I'm sure it sounded better under the sleep-deprived, caffeinated haze I wrote it under.

Lots of critics will argue until the end of time as to whether or not Ally McBeal was a positive or negative depiction of a woman and feminism.  In my somewhat-educated opinion, she was an excellent example of a professional woman headlining a TV series successfully.  Not every woman on TV is going to match a feminist ideal.  Ally probably didn't, but she was still important.  The worry is that Kelley (using Ally as the point of reference and completely forgetting his entire body of other work) can't portray a feminist icon without it getting more than a bit silly.  Perhaps one should argue that Ally was a bit of a feminist parody at times.  Also conveniently ignoring the fact that the last time we saw Diana Prince on TV, her portrayal was often downright goofy... most fans would hope that Kelley can take Wonder Woman, portray her with the strength and without the silly, and give her the gravitas that people expect from modern superhero adaptations.  That's something a lot of people seem to be concerned he can't handle: a strong and serious leading woman.

But is that the true source of my skepticism?  Not at all.

The real problem I have is that nearly every series Kelley has won his acclaim for is about people in a professional setting wearing suits.  There are lots of cute heels and silk ties.  How is the man going to handle a patriotic, eagle-emblazoned bustier and all of the adventures that ought to be oh-so-inappropriate for the suit and tie set?

Mythology, fantasy and kick ass fight scenes are really best when they travel outside of the office.  And THAT is what Kelley has not proven he can do.

... but yeah, I'd watch it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rescuing Oneself from the Refrigerator (Valkyrie #1)

In 1994, the Green Lantern found his dead girlfriend stuffed in a refrigerator.

(Kitchen appliance reference: Women in Refrigerators.  If you need this frozen phenomenon explained, go read the original)

Countless D-list (and sometimes alphabetically stronger) female characters have been unceremoniously offed in order to make a male hero angry, give him something to fight against, frame his life around the tragedy of the loss of his frozen girlfriend/sister/neighbor/maid/acquaintance and grow as a man and hero.  Even on the pages of a modern comic book, it still happens.  A recent example that comes to mind is the death of Mattie Franklin in The Amazing Spider-Man's "Grim Hunt" storyline.  (Though her death was anything but unceremonious.  There was ceremony.  One might say it was downright ritualistic!)  Her death was ugly and violent.  The probability of her resurrection is small since we still have a few Spider-Women to spare.  Most importantly though, it inspired Spider-Man to go do hero stuff.

This week in one of Marvel's "Women of Marvel" one-shots, a hotel employee named Valerie goes out a window and falls to her death.  A super-powered villain and attempted sexual assault are to blame.  Here's where it gets different, though.  While a paramedic does try some heroics, the death woman wakes up and remembers that she's Valkyrie.  The bad guy summarily takes a beating and she goes on to become a hero once again.  It has all of the classic signs of the "women in refrigerators" syndrome, except that it's the woman waking up and doing the hero things instead of a male hero.  Huh.

Bravo, Marvel, for giving us a fun twist on a tired trope.

So I ask, does it still count as getting stuffed in a refrigerator if a character is killed as an impetus to her own personal growth and development?  And can she tell us once and for all whether or not the light stayed on while she was in there? 

Stay tuned.  Inquiring minds want to know.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Digitally Mingling with the Norms

I spent about twenty minutes this morning discussing a comic-finding mission with a friend of mine on Facebook.  She was looking for a copy of The Last Unicorn #2.  Her LCS couldn't find one for her.  I found her a copy in about 90 seconds of effort.  (I do wonder where her LCS was looking if they couldn't pull this off...)  Naturally, we had this entire discussion via wall posts instead through chat like one ought to for an extended conversation.

About an hour later, I started thinking...

"All of my friends, my family, people I went to high school with and people that I'm sure I know though I don't really remember why or how are reading this!"

"They must think I'm still the colossal nerd that I was throughout school!"

"They must think I'm horribly immature if I'm still this obsessed over comic books!"
(Kinda true...)

"They must think I'm in involved in some shady comic dealing ring!"
(Not true, but I could see their point of view.)

I then sat back and considered the fact that this was not the first time this had happened.  I was officially still a nerd and everybody knew about it.  The only difference is that my drug of choice seems to have changed with age.

I believe I came out as a nerd girl for the first time in the fourth grade.  Something monumental had happened in my life and I had to gleefully babble about it to my friends, classmates and anybody else who was kind enough to listen.  What happened?  I discovered Star Trek.  From that point on, I was labelled.  I was the nerd.

In jr. high, some of the other girls attempted to use this to pick on me.  I don't begrudge them for it.  It was a fine example of age-appropriate cattiness and I certainly gave them good material to work with.  Somehow, though, it never bothered me.  I do consider myself very fortunate that even at the age of twelve, I was able to just shrug the teasing off and go on with my life... geeking without shame.  Needless to say, if teasing fails to have much of an impact, it usually doesn't last long.  So somewhere in the midst of all that, I found my niche amongst my peers: odd, but generally accepted.

Fast forward sixteen years.  I'm friends with most of those girls on Facebook.  They're still doing age-appropriate things: marriage, babies, etc.  On the surface, I look quite normal.  My current profile photo is quite stereotypical: slinky cocktail dress, great hair, fashionably smoky eyes and having fun at a party.  Yet, I'm posting dozens of pictures of my trip to San Diego Comic-Con and mostly "liking" a series of MMOs.  And while it isn't evident, the aforementioned photo was taken at a gaming con in St. Louis.

As much as Facebook is a tool to keep in contact with the people in our life, it's also a tool to judge and be judged.  Thus, it's hard not to wonder what these girls from that era of my life must think of me.  I'm very happy that I can still be a legal adult and yet happily embrace the geeky passions and hobbies that I refuse to leave behind in my childhood.  Yet a part of me believes they must be saying, "Wow.  She hasn't changed a bit.  Can you believe she's still going on about this stuff?"

And if they were to ask me to my face, all I would do is smile and say, "Yep!"  (While secretly enjoying the fact that geek girls are cool now.  Really.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

San Diego Comic Con 2010: Day -1

8:37 AM
I am currently sitting in the terminal of the Boston airport after navigating through far more crowds than I expected for this hour on a Wednesday.  I ate a nutritious breakfast of airport food and now find myself wondering if the guy in pajama pants and the "30 Seconds to Mars" t-shirt is also headed to the con.  I also find myself contemplating whether or not he realizes (or cares) that plaid pj pants will never be particularly attractive in public.  Finally, I look around this little purgatory-on-earth that is the gate and hope the rest of these poor schmucks realize was madness they're flying into the middle of.

Next up (hopefully): a cross-continental nap and then maybe some lunch.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

San Diego Comic Con 2010: Day -2

Tomorrow morning I will get on a plane to fly across the country to San Diego to attend my very first Comic Con.  I would describe my current mood as somewhere between frazzled and terrified.  Nevertheless, I'm sure there's also some sheer joy mixed up in that too.

As the consummate planner, I'm making my checklists and compounding my frazzled state by reminding myself how much I have to do still.
  • Plan my schedule (Check)
  • Resolve schedule conflicts or develop Madrox-like super powers (Still working on it)
  • Gather up comics for potential autographs (Mentally completed, physically procrastinating)
  • Acquire appropriate t-shirts to wear to prove that I am there for the comics and not the vampires (Double Check)
  • Pack (Will complete at absolute last possible moment)
  • Everything I forgot (Uh...)
I hope to attend a few panels that will leave me with something appropriate to say for this blog, or at least quivering with nerdgirl glee.  Wish me luck.