Friday, July 02, 2010


The "Wondrous" Return of Comic Book Friday

Due to nothing but entropic anomie, an early feature at Ragged Thots -- Comic Book Fridays -- fell by the wayside sometime ago.  I'm not sure if this will lead to a more-permanent return, but a perfect moment has arisen to plunge into what was once known as the world of four-color pop culture. 
The last time that an event in a comic book garnered newspaper and cable TV headlines was the "death" of Captain America a few years back (yeah, surprise! after being lost in time, Steve Rogers has returned to the Marvel Universe). This week, the character making the headlines shares with Cap a certain propensity to donning the old red, white and blue.
Or so she did until this week!  
I speak, of course, of the Amazing Amazon, the Princess of Paradise Island, the one and only, Wonder Woman (and yeah, I know that, in fact, there's more than just "one" Wonder Woman -- don't try to out-geek me here)!. To celebrate the publication of her 600th issue -- and the debut of superstar/multi-field author J. Michael Straczinski -- DC Comics unveiled a brand new costume.  Gone is the iconic look of star-spangled hot pants and golden-eagle breast-plate/stylized yellow"WW." To say, the black-leggings/leather jacket combo, designed by artist and DC co-publisher Jim Lee, has generated some controversy would be an understatement. 
Deadline Hollywood writer Nikki Finke hates it.  Project Runway's Tim Gunn loves it.  Fox raised concerns about the cultural implications of a heroine being de-Americanized (right before Independence Day, to boot, uh, reboot)!. More knowledgeable comic fanzines wondered if we haven't seen this movie before. And, indeed, we have -- repeatedly. And, not surprisingly, the controversy has turned issue #600 into a huge hit (two days after it hit the stands).
Now, in all this, the only observation I have to make is:  Here you have two  iconic superheroes with origins stretching back to the World War II era.  Two heroes that are literally wrapped in the flag.  One is male; one is female.  To generate huge headlines, the publisher of the male character kills him off (for a couple of years).  To generate huge headlines, the publisher of the female character changes her clothes.  Maybe it's just me, but there's something vaguely, cynically sexist in this formulation.  I'm not making a judgment on the costume itself (why bother? as suggested in more than a few of the above links, a version of the original duds will return ere long, maybe with longer pants).  I'm just talking about what a publisher uses to "sell" something dramatic about a character.  Comic-wise Captain America and Wonder Woman are both supposed to be great warriors. Heck, classically, WW fought a contest among her fellow Amazons to get to be Paradise Island's ambassador to "Man's World."  She's a fighter.  
But, Cap is the one who dies in battle -- and gets the huge headlines in "the real world." WW? She gets Tim Gunn to comment on her new fashion sense.  
Somehow this just doesn't seem right.  
On the other hand, I'll be following the new storyline (Wonder Woman caught in an alternate timeline; geez, where have we heard that before?)! So, maybe DC knows what it's doing. 

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