Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Infinite Crisis (DC)
Where: Infinite Crisis #1 When: December 2005
Why: Geoff Johns How: Phil Jiminez

Quick Fix...
Okay, so the lazy schedule has helped me quickly correct, but if I'm to impress the various important establishments like the BBC, and various other publishers of print and media hitting up this humble blog, I've got to hit the hard issues before they go stale.

If the feminist blogging community has been anything to go by lately, I actually probably have until about 2025 to catch this one, so maybe I'm getting in early. Alas; I'll endeavour to kill the joke no more, and get straight to the topic at hand -- Amazons Attack!

Haven't they just?
Readers of the on-going saga will know I'm still cash-strapped and months behind on comics, so Amazons Attack isn't exactly something I'm familiar with, but as it so happens, it was something I didn't have any particular interest in anyway, even in those long forgotten months where it was placed before my spending dollar. It just wasn't a story that jumped out at me, regardless of pretty covers of a sword-wielding Batman, and my relative ignorance.

Never the less, the story has taken the internet by storm. Adding fuel to the fire was the daring act of writer Will Pfeiffer to throw to the open forum [on his blog], where he invited the wrath of disgruntled and satisfied readers alike.

There's also been a story floating around the blogosphere regarding the validity of the so-called "DC Trinity," in particular reference to Wonder Woman's claim to the position on the team. These two delicious morcels provide the perfect vehicle for us to make up for a gross lack of representation of the character, and do some chatting of our own with another of our fancy, fun-time double features!

The so-called Trinity converge on the wreckage of the Justice League satellite, destroyed recently with Martian Manhunter aboard. While there are no signs of J'onn J'onnz, another presence lurks in the shadows, listening in to the bitter descent amongst the highest ranks of the Justice League heirarchy.

Concerned about recent events involving Wonder Woman's brutal execution of the corrupted Maxwell Lord, Superman is soon distracted from the conversation by the otherwise inaudible sound of a heartbeat. His reaction proves too slow, suffering a slugging fist from the villains Mongul!

The monstrous alien swats Batman aside, but Wonder Woman is at the ready with sword in-hand. She slashes at the hulking beast, who gladly meets her blood letting with a blow that sends her shattering through the ruins of the satellite base. If it wasn't already destroyed, it soon would be!

Superman returns with a vengeance, heat-vision blaring, but again he finds himself swatted away by Mongul's fantastic strength. Looking for a different tactic, he hoists the ever-so human Batman off the ground by the neck.
Assessin Batman's suitability as donor for another skull for his throne, Mongul isn't prepared for a quick recovery by Superman.

Superman throws all of his Kryptonian strength into a blow that knocks Mongul's face around itself. He continues the ill tempered attack with a stressed combination of fists, unrestrained heat-vision, and fury!

With Mongul downed, Superman checks on the rattled Batman.
Wonder Woman proves less concerned with her fellows' well being, and more with the permanent solution to Mongul's terror. She dives with her sword in the axe-handle position, prepared to strike down the fallen villain once and for all.

Ever the boyscout, Superman intercepts the killer-blow, catching the sword before it can split Mongul's head like an overripe melon. Even Batman, whose dark justice more closely resembles Wonder Woman's warrior code, questions the warrior princesses' intentions.

While the trio debate their philosophies of justice, Mongul is able to barge through them, making an untimely escape, free to trouble them again in the future.

I've been hovering around the place making tongue-in-cheek references to a slightly cheesy harsh justice trinity of DC royals; Wonder Woman, Black Adam and Aquaman. As silly as it sounds, I'm actually hiding a deadly serious, if under developed, concept. A concept that would perhaps best fit in the Wonder Woman book itself, strangely enough.

It grabs on to some very recent reference points.
I love the implication of Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier work, that revels in Wonder Woman's supposed warrior origins in a retro-contemporary war-time situation. I love that, in the name of good, she gleefully takes part in the slaughter of men who have committed terrible evils. With such a vile situation, I even don't mind that there's a distinct feminist agenda there, that errs a little too narrow sighted for what I'd like of such a prominent superhero.

I also latch on to, of all things, the brief appearances in Brian Azzarello's Superman, which again played to Wonder Woman's strengths as a warrior, and cast her in a scenario closer to man-made suffering than giant snake-haired monsters, or simplified struggles of diplomacy.

I think about these characters; Black Adam and Aquaman.
Black Adam is a character we've talked about a lot this year, as one of the more high-profile anti-heroes at DC comics right now. I expressed concern about a potential return to over-simplified super villainy [Hawkman #24], and certainly this concept asks that you disregard that kind of tact in favour of holding on to his unwavering role as conquering dictator, first confirmed in Black Reign.

Neither he, nor Aquaman, have a book right now, with the latter having his title cancelled in an almost inevitable cyclical series of false-starts.
I look at the commonality of these characters as outsiders who have lived in societies far more advanced than our own, and yet, also somewhat ancient in their design. I consider the viability for these characters to break apart from the mold of the well established characters, to blaze a trail as not only characters depicting a diverse interpretation of justice, but also as a platform for interesting scenarios and world affairs.

As part of the "Trinity" Wonder Woman is either too sympathetic, like Superman, or too harsh, like Batman, albeit, a tad more lethal. As a character whose stage should be the world, I can't help but see untapped potential in a Wonder Woman who breaks away from the conceptually obscure hub of world activity - America - and extends herself, with a coalition of likeminded outsiders, to subscribe to a proactive course of their own warrior's justice. Not that the American hub wouldn't still be a regular touchstone, given the international interests of groups like Checkmate, and the Justice Society.

I don't know how Amazon Attacks affected Wonder Woman or her outlook on the world. I don't know if she was part of the presumed invasion of Amazons on the world-of-man, or if she were revolted by it, (in that Superman-style turn).
I don't know if it really matters. It seems like Wonder Woman is crying out for a strong and certain characterization and course of direction, requiring simplicity, but intelligence, and this might just be the time for it.

It remains to be seen what Gail Simone will do with the character, but I can't say I'm really holding out hope. Short of a one-shot war on refridgerators, I can't see Simone bringing a lot that interests me to this particular character. Will a phoenix rise from the ashes? We shall see...

The Fix: 6 The Issue: 5.5
Winner: Superman/Wonder Woman

[Something I didn't get to mention was just how refreshing it is to see Batman out of his depth. All too often we see him swiftly counter-acting the presence of Superman-level aliens, which is fun, but a little too consistent. A refreshing take on the situation, in a charged gathering of the "Trinity".]

The Region Beyond Part II: Beyond Redemption (DC)
Where: The Demon #17 When: November 1991
Why: Alan Grant How: Val Semeiks

Quick Fix...
It was a while ago now I had a brief online discussion with a man deserving of more recognition on a blog dedicated to superhero fisticuffs, and macho bravado. I of course refer to the one and only, Beau Smith; a man of certain and sure opinion, who had a major creative hand in the life of Guy Gardner as the editorially mandated - Warrior.

During that discussion I peddled a different theory about Wonder Woman. With Greg Rucka's "new" take on the diplomat in shoulder pads and a skirt, I was interested in taking that urban slant and turning it on it's side a little.

From the serious, to the silly, we arrive at this book. Something of an abberation in my collection, it came into my possession by means inadvertant, and has since sat lonely, waiting for just such an occasion as this.

My theory, at least for Wonder Woman's life among humans, was of confidence and liberation. It proposed an almost She-Hulk style sexuality, partially opening the floodgates to all things fanboys have pondered whilst staring at an Alex Ross Wonder Woman's thighs. Because, we already know Wonder Woman finds men attractive, but having been raised on an island exclusively inhabited by Amazonian women, I think it's fair to assume she'd be open-minded.

Actually, I think what takes it from being a little uncomfortable, and brings it back to being an interesting character trait is that she'd be very as matter-of-fact about it. You would have to imagine that there's a familiar bisexuality amongst a race living with women, but apparently also aroused by the presence and mysteyr of man.

I like the idea that the fact has never been explicitly addressed because, for the extremely liberal Wonder Woman, it just isn't an issue. In the same way I don't march around the streets declaring my heterosexuality, for Wonder Woman it would be such a non-issue, she wouldn't consider it. Of course, taking that slightly alien perspective, I also don't think she'd blush educating someone on any of the invoved practises, or anatomical implications of such a lifestyle.

Of course, that's not to say I want to recast Wonder Woman as some sort of lady-about-town tramp. Huh, figures you'd assume that, sperm bank.
No, see, we know Wonder Woman isn't some sort of floosy for the same reasons we know she is attracted to men: It's on the page!

Case-in-point, having been smelted by an evil villain, and cast into the Netherworld by an impishly passing Klarion the Witchboy, Wonder Woman finds herself the subject of the unwanted affections of The Demon - Etrigan!

Confused, Wonder Woman is taken surprise by an evil Banshee creature as a welcome to what appears to be Hell. She puts the creature down hard with an unrelenting fist, but she underestimates the hellspawn creature. It springs back up, launching at the warrior woman while she is distracted talking to Etrigan, who dangles from the ceiling wrapped in chains. [Long story!...]

Sensing Wonder Woman is pure-of-heart the Demon's host is compelled to go to her aid, but the demonic body is uncooperative with the brain's commands.
Wonder Woman suffers at the hands of The Banshee as it rips and tears at her flesh exposing a flowing trickle of crimson blood that finally awakens the Demon's simmering interests in an explosion of excitement.

Freed the Demon swiftly pounds The Banshee into submission, and leaps at Wonder Woman.

Compelled by the sweet smell of Wonder Woman's blood, the Demon does not stop there. With an excess of enthusiasm he snatches the Amazonian off her feet and passionately throws her to the wall, his demonic tongue wagging at the streams of blood across her face.

Thoroughly offended by the Demon's unsolicited advances, Wonder Woman has no choice but to throw her Amazonian super-strength into a well placed knee. Though powerful, the blow fails to rattle the Demon's cage, instead only enticing him further by his joy for massochism. Overwhlemed, Jason Blood, the demon Etrigan's host, can merely commentate the creature's actions, awaiting the opportunity to wrest control from the savage beast.

Giggling gleefully the Demon renews his advances, ignoring Wonder Woman's warnings to descend on her with his tongue wagging between massive pointed teeth.

He pins her to the ground, and through a veil of his own twisted sense of romance, begins to wail on her.
It is only the exertion of Jason Blood's will that finally stays the Demon, managing to utter the enchantment that returns him to form of man.

Like I said, I'm not so sure this is the kind of blunt, forward approach to Wonder Woman's romantic life I have in mind, but as something of a curiosity, I just had to throw it into the mix. I think it's fair to say it fits the previously discussed harsh justice, as pictured right.

Harsh, but fair.
Lord knows my knees would wander if I were being molested by a blood-thirsty demon. I don't care how helpful he may have been.

Y'know, despite some mature overtones, this story actually highlights another potentially interesting avenue for the Wonder Woman character, and that would be the young readers line. Like a Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman has struggled to find a strong, consistent characterization, and might even be there that she could begin to build a new franchise opportunity with more light hearted antics.

It's maybe hard to say exactly what's best for the Wonder Woman character, but lord knows it has to begin with some chances. Few characters are as guarded as Wonder Woman, and yeah, some of the things we've discussed here are pushing the mould a little, but maybe that's what's needed. It was testing stories like the Dark Knight Returns that helped reinvigorate Batman, and maybe it's time Wonder Woman got the same leeway to produce the same results.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get some of the sleep I should've had when I wrote this thing. I'd like to think I didn't, but if it got incoherrent, you know why. I tend to maintain though, the uncompromising Wonder Woman is the one I'd like to see the most. A harsh figure of international justice.

The Fix: 3.5 The Issue: 4
Winner: Demon/Wonder Woman

[This wacky tale will have to wait for another day to get a better review. I'm going to count it as a double within a double, awarding a shared victory over The Banshee, and a tie between Demon and Wonder Woman themselves. A book that's got the adult shift of the eighties, it probably shouldn't have been in a bargain bag.]

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