Monday, March 28, 2016

Real Name: Diana of Themyscira
First Appearance: All-Star Comics #8 (Dec, 1941)
Fight Club Ranking: #12

Featured Fights:
- vs ETRIGAN: The Demon #17 (Nov 1991)
- vs STORM: Marvel versus DC #3 (Apr 1996)
- vs MANTIS & JUGGERNAUT: Unlimited Access #1 (Dec 1997)
- vs MORGAUTH: JSA Strange Adventures #1 (Oct 2004)
- vs SUPERMAN & BATMAN: Superman/Batman #15 (Feb 2005)
- vs ULTRAMARINE CORPS: JLA: Classified #3 (Mar 2005)
- vs MONGUL: Infinite Crisis #1 (Dec 2005)
- vs INJUSTICE LEAGUE: Justice League of America #15 (Jan 2008)
- vs SINESTRO CORPS: Green Lantern #25 (Jan 2008)
- vs MINOTAUR: DC Universe 0 (Jun 2008)
- vs MARY MARVEL: Final Crisis #3 (Sep 2008)
- vs CHEETAH: Wonder Woman #29 (Apr 2009)
- vs GENOCIDE: Wonder Woman #32 (Jul 2009)

I had some trouble narrowing down this week's HOTW. The source of inspiration wasn't hard to find: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice officially hit wide release Friday - instantly becoming the biggest talking point in comics and pop culture of the moment! We already featured Superman earlier in the year [02/01/2016], leaving a choice between the intangible "winner" of the week, or the one I have the most thoughts about. I threw a quick poll up on Twitter and returned the answer I already felt was most true.

Wonder Woman may not be the name on the marquee, but she's the spiritual victor coming out of this week's Batman v Superman cinematic showdown. While the air around the title heroes is grim with disappointment, Wonder Woman gleams with a sense of joy, and the promise of something new.

To be fair, some of this fancy free enthusiasm comes from being the third wheel in a big budget car crash. The trajectory of Batman and Superman in each other's direction became so poorly motivated and basically unattractive, they were always going to be the two to blaze bright, or crash and burn. Right now, it feels like the latter. For the first time in recent memory, they truly feel like century old characters: bloated and collapsing broken under the weight of the grandiose pointlessness they permit. Too big to fail. A license to get it spectacularly wrong. Victims of a poor reading of old texts.

With her first solo feature film coming in 2017, perhaps it was by design that Batman v Superman tried to leave DC's two biggest icons worse for wear, so everyone would be even more inclined to embrace the bright spark of Wonder Woman.

By choice, this Wonder Woman is rooted in 100 years of alternate modern history, and Greek mythology. As an exercise in building cinema's second superhero universe, it most closely resembles two of Marvel's least impressive outings: Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor.

Like the former, Wonder Woman's film will flashback to the Second World War. Like the latter, Wonder Woman's origins isolate her from the other superheroes of science and humanity. The challenge will be adequately bridging these gaps, while also remembering to tell a satisfying tale.

Teaser clips shown during a special on The CW (three months ago) failed to really give any indication of the film's depth. Its visual palette appears dark and dour, not dissimilar from Batman v Superman. Warner Brothers recently assured audiences the Justice League movie will be lighter than Dawn of Justice, which receives an R on [uncut] home release. Here's hoping it won't be too late for Wonder Woman to shine bright on her own - or with friends.

Marvel's WWII Captain America omitted almost all reference to their other Golden Age heroes. Licensing scenarios of the time meant characters like the Sub-Mariner and Human Torch were unlikely to be available for feature. [Yes - I know about the unnamed cameo]. Other live-action DC properties have been toying with the multiverse, and multiple generations. It'll be interesting to see if Wonder Woman's history makes any reference to the Justice Society of America.

Gentle nods to the likes of Jay Garrick and Alan Scott would be nice. It could lay some potentially useful track for the future Flash film, and explanations of the Speed Force, while also filling out Wonder Woman's world. If you're going to create a history -- why not go all out using it?

Wonder Woman will be fighting the tide when DC Comics goes all-in on their Rebirth event, as well. The heroine, and return of writer Greg Rucka, were big parts of Wondercon announcements, which failed to instil a great sense of belief or enthusiasm for DC's "new" direction.

Like their movies; DC Comics have had the stink of shallow, brooding mediocrity since 2011's New 52 line-wide reboot. The sense of a poorly defined, but carefully contrived universe -- designed specifically for the movie age, but not necessarily existing readers -- turned once dynamic heroes and villains into plodding contradictions. Stripped of their history and iconic definition; many of the characters became pale shadows of their former selves, at odds even with some multimedia. Other properties didn't even make it that far.

While there were undoubtedly questionable decisions along the way: Wonder Woman managed to be one of the less offensively damaged characters. This could be because her print existence has long been subject to severe inconsistency, and existential dilemma. Finding the definitive Wonder Woman has often been difficult. I thought Darwyn Cooke was approaching the character in an interesting way during The New Frontier. His Wonder Woman literally stood tall as a classic superhero in the mould of the mid-2000s Amazon warrior princess. Bold, decisive, and sometimes lethal in her approach to justice.

Unfortunately, Rucka's return means another Year One story -- probably still with a mind for the film division that now lords over comics, and Rucka's own boisterous interests. The promotionally lauded return of old contributors implies some stepping on toes, but DC are openly rejecting any idea of another "reboot" -- five years too late, sadly. For all the hullabaloo, it sounds as if the chain will remain broken by the New 52, even if revisions try to patch up some of the holes. We shall see.

What ever the path, be it film or comic, Wonder Woman is clearly one of the more exciting characters to watch in the DC pantheon. Watching, I'm sure we will be! WW was in action just last Friday for a transition from Dawn of Justice, to the anniversary of DC versus Marvel! You can find more from all these topics by following links and staying tuned!

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