Monday, July 30, 2007

Gail Simone at the Con

Gail Simone fielded questions about Wonder Woman during various panels at the San Diego Comic Convention; my anticipation for her run on the title has been heightened even further.

I've reproduced my favorite responses, here:

— During the Big Guns panel, "Gail Simone was asked about her upcoming Wonder Woman run, and replied that she'll establish that the lasso is one of the [most] dangerous weapons in the DC Universe and that they'll make it clear 'who Wonder Woman is.'"

— "Another question for Simone is what she was planning on doing to establish Wonder Woman at an equal 'big gun' level to Batman and Superman.
'We are going to establish that she is the greatest warrior on Earth,' Simone answered."

There were several jokingly-posed questions about who might be killed off in the impending final crisis, which then prompted the following query (and Simone's priceless answer).

— At the New Worlds Order panel a fan asked the panel who they didn't want to kill. Here's what Gail Simone said in reply:
"I would protect every female character in the DCU."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Birds of Prey #108

Gail Simone's final issue of Birds of Prey crept up on me; I found this comic as satisfying as the recent Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1, or Simone's own Villains United Infinite Crisis Special #1, and I look forward very much to her work on Wonder Woman.

I won't spoil the issue, but Simone clearly understands that certain kinds of stories have to end with the heroine and her antagonist squaring off against one another, mano a mano.

Here's a few of the many things Simone achieved in her run on on Birds of Prey:

— She successfully integrated the One Year Later concept into her book
— Never let us forget that Oracle is the Silver Age Batgirl
— Placed Black Canary at the top tier of martial artists and heroes
— Rejected the Huntress' midriff-baring uniform
— Originated Black Alice
— Integrated Zinda Blake (the Lady Blackhawk) and Big Barda into the team
— Re-wrote Ice's death
— Provided the only memorial (that I know of) to Ted Kord (Blue Beetle)
— Produced a humane, character driven, action-packed comic on schedule

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day, 2007

Alice B. Sheldon published science fiction under the name of James Tiptree, Jr., and I've been enjoying learning about her remarkable life through the recent biography written by Julie Phillips.

Sheldon served in the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps during WWII, and two quotes from the journal she kept at Fort Des Moines in the early 40s seem particularly appropriate today:

What an awakening seeing for the first time in my life a world of women — women glimpsed through doors of canteens offices barracks kitchens guard posts — women plowing through the black mud into the pools of light — women in uniform, looking as though they owned the place — and owning it! Women seen for the first time at ease, unselfconscious, swaggering or thoughtful, sizing everything up openly, businesslike, all personalities all unbeding and unafraid.


... [T]he long green lines of women, for the first time in America, in the rain, under the flag, the sound of the band, far off, close, then away again; the immortal fanny of our guide, leading on the right, moved and moving to the music — the flag again — first time I ever felt free enough to be proud of it; the band, our band, playing reveille that morning, with me on KP since 0430 hours, coming to the mess-hall porch to see it pass in the cold streets, under that flaming middle-western dawn; KP itself, and the conviction that one is going to die; the wild ducks flying over that day going to PT after a fifteen-mile drill, and me so moved I saluted them.

(The quotes are from J. Phillips, James Tiptree, Jr: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon, [St. Martins, 2007], pp. 109 and 110.)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Amazons Adrift!

I find myself in agreement with Heidi Meeley on the Amazons Attack! cross-over: the pointlessness of the storyline has pretty much drained any possible fun out of this series for me. The utter implausibility of it all is ruining the enterprise, and I'm not nit-picking about and fantastical elements like resurrections, thoughtless mass murders, or improbable giant bees, either. I'm hung up on the cross-over's problems with important story-telling elements like character motivations, pacing, and the absense of a clear narrative structure.

Even though we're only at the third issue, the story seems drawn out and stretched thin. The heroes have spent an inordinate amount of time simply standing around, making jokes, or, worst of all, crashing into one another: Black Canary's sole function seems to be to serve as a target upon which Wonder Woman periodically drops Nemesis when some jollity is required.

Getting Cassie and Kara involved in Teen Titans #48 was a good move. The government's decision to detain women who have associated with the Amazons certainly adds some dramatic tension. But I couldn't help thinking as I read the issue: shouldn't a team-up of Wonder Girl and Supergirl be able to free Cassie's mom (and everyone in the place) if they had a mind and the will to do so?

Diana has been searching for herself for the past year, and I think it's a major structural problem that part of the plot seems to hinge on the fact that Wonder Woman is unsure of herself, her abilities, and her sense of identity. This is a fairly stilted device through which to drum up dramatic tension, and a bit of a clumsy and empty one, because a hero as experienced as Diana is shouldn't be acting like a teenage girl. Batman and Superman got themselves sorted out in the year that they took off from the DCU, and there's no reason why Wonder Woman couldn't get the job done in 52 weeks, too. I cringed when I read the bit of internal monologue in Wonder Woman #10 in which Diana asks herself if she is good only because her mother taught her to be good.

On a positive note, Wonder Woman #10 closes with the confrontation we've all paid to see: Diana vs. the resurrected, mad Hippolyta. Surely Diana will sort this mess out! However, a major part of the scene's dramatic punch was stolen away by several previous (inconsequential) encounters between mother and daughter.

It's a shame that Wonder Woman and the Amazons have been placed at the center of a cross-over that feels so utterly inconsequential to the workings of the wider DC world. This aspect of things was driven home by a coincidental scheduling quirk: the third issue of the mini-series suffered the indignity of being released on the same day as the Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special, whose final page clearly linked the Green Lantern Corps to the continued existence of the DCU.

In comparison, the story-line I'm following in Amazons Attack! feels like especially small change.

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