Friday, November 12, 2010

W.T. Friday?! 11-12-10 Wonder Woman (and Superman) Dramz!

So after much hype, DC has plucked superstar (yet inconsistent) writer J. Michael Strazynski off of both the maligned relaunched Wonder Woman and chronically delayed "Grounded" (aka Superman Walks Across America) run of Superman. Well that went well. Both are huge snafus for DC. The mainstream media gave tons of coverage to the Wonder Woman revamp, mostly because of her costume change that everyone hated. The Superman storyline was a big deal around here because Cincinnati was one of the stops in the story. (The other big stop was the long ass three month delay in getting that issue out, wah waaaaaah!)

This is a weird situation, because both books are mid-story. They've already announced that the next issue of Wonder Woman is a fill-in catalog story, meaning it's set back in "normal" time, with Wonder Woman being the same one we've all grown up with, in her classic costume, with no reference to the changes Strazynski wrought. (This cute image from DC Women Kicking Ass!)
So then what? Does someone else then have to come on board and try and figure out how to wrap up these storylines? I guess so. Hopefully they can do so quickly, because no one likes them and everyone wants things back to normal.
Lest you think this is all motivated from Strazynski failing on these books, that isn't actually the truth. What actually happened is that he scored HUGE with Superman: Earth One, a one-shot graphic novel that presented a modernized origin of Superman. Like with the Wonder Woman costume change, major media covered this book due to what they perceived as Superman's reinvention into an Edward Cullen-esque sulky teen character, possibly to appeal to that Twihard audience.
He actually does adopt the classic suit in the story, but this incarnation of Superman is an outsider, thus the hoodie in the promo shots. It's almost like the story would be if they made a new Superman movie and it was a retelling of his origin again. (Which hopefully the new movie they ARE making will not be... does anyone NOT already know the origin of Superman?)

Anyway, with all the media coverage, PLUS the fact that this book was carried in all major book sellers (online and brick & mortar) it was a smash hit. Probably more than they'd even expected as Amazon is SOLD OUT! DC has since made an announcement that they will be reorganizing it's direct marketing system (i.e. traditional comic book stores). They are starting to realize that publishing monthly comics just for 35 year old fan boys that you can only buy at specialty shops isn't really the way to go and it looks like they are going to start pushing for more mass market product, both in print and in other media.

I think even I'm starting to outgrow the monthly floppies. I so much prefer to get an entire storyline in one chunk and read the whole thing in one sitting. The main problem with that is that they tend to hold off on collecting the really big storylines for several months after they end and then, when they do publish them, they do an expensive hardcover first and then months later, the more affordable paperback. (It's just like they do with real books... I understand it, but it's still annoying as a consumer.) That means some storylines aren't published in paperback until like a YEAR later! There are several series that I ONLY read as trades, though, The Walking Dead and Fables, in particular. It's harder with mainstream super hero fare, because there's so much coverage of them that the storylines are more likely to get spoiled for me by the time the collections come out.

Of course, I COULD buy the hardcovers (and have on occasion) a LOT cheaper from Amazon, but is that really how we want to do this? Put all the independently owned comic shops, that have kept the art form alive this long, through the ROUGH 90s and in today's recession, out of business? Poor form!

Anyway... DC Women Kicking Ass also posted these images by DC illustrator Oliver Nome for redesigns of Wonder Woman's costume.
My first reaction was that I didn't like it because it didn't address the complaints that critics had of the classic suit, no straps to hold up her bodice, almost the same amount of exposed skin, high heels... high heeled thigh-high hooker boots at that! Buuuuuut... I kinda DO like it despite all that! Love the chunkier, more protective tiara! It's exactly how I would have done it! The neck covering is nonsensical, although I like that it adds a splash of color. It could easily be reworked to cover more. I'd extend it to the top of WW logo. That takes care of the "straps" issue. I'd probably give it a sleeveless/tank top cut on the sides. I don't think she necessarily needs sleeves, but that armored WW has to weigh a ton and there really is no explanation as to how she keeps it up! The bodice itself looks great. The addition of the navy on the sides is a minor, simple change but adds a lot! The trunks upon first glance seem as revealing as her classic star-spangled ones, but upon closer inspection that isn't the case. The red portion looks to be cut about as skimpy as those were, BUT with the navy square-cut portion, it's a lot more modest and concealing. It reminds me of the shorts that Serena Williams wears when she's playing tennis and since super hero costumes have always been inspired by athletic wear, fashion plate Serena is a perfect inspiration for super heroine costumes. If she can wear those outfits while playing tennis, then realistically a super heroine could do the same while chasing criminals and climbing walls.

The addition to the navy "gloves" is once again a simple change, but adds some visual interest. They always seem to give female heroines fingerless gloves, which doesn't make much sense. Are covered-up fingers a turn off or something? With Wonder Woman, I think gloves would make sense since she uses a lasso. I mean, cowboys wear them for the same reason. Eh.

And then... the hooker boots. The thing is... I like them! I like the design. I actually may be the only one who finds the classic red WW boots with the white stripe to be a tad unrealistic and slightly too garish. Once again, the addition of navy is a small, simple change that adds a LOT! Plus Nome worked in stars, which are such a classic Wonder Woman costume element, but are missing from the trunks in this redesign. So overall... I may not 100% love it with all my heart, but it's a really nice effort.
I wish this image (and the next one) were in color, because that would add a lot. The tiara appears the same as the first one, so I like that. I like the top, with the straps and shoulder pads. Both logical additions. I'm not sure I like the chain mail midsection. Overall, the bodice appears over-designed. It could use some simplifying... keep in mind, someone has to draw this costume over and over, page after page. I do like the beefed up gauntlets. The belt and trunks are okay. I'm not sure about the star right over her wonderment. I prefer the square-cut trunks in the first design to these, which are skimpier. I don't love these boots. But with the boots and the top, they might look better in color.
Finally, this version addresses the age-old critique of Wonder Woman's costume being too revealing. I wonder, though, if fans can accept a more covered up WW. The neck strap in the middle is an interesting choice, but it needs tweaking. It's a tad hookery for me. The chest logo is TOO simplified. It neither resembles a WW nor an eagle. It's more like a V and that makes no sense. The boots with laces... it would seem that it would be really hard to move ones' legs in those. They're dominatrix-y but Wonder Woman's original comics from the 40s were rife with bondage and domination, so it works as a nod to that. But they seem too fussy and once again, someone has to draw all those laces over and over in each comic book. This look overall is the simplest and the one that looks most like "clothes" with the leather belt and not a large metal one which WW traditionally wears. As such, it bears the closest resemblance to the actual costume she's wearing in the comics now... which I guess isn't much of a compliment.

Elements from the first and second could be worked together nicely into a great finished look. I don't know that I'd necessarily take anything from the third. However, like with the second, seeing it in color would help a lot.
BONUS! He also crafted this redesign for Vixen! Vixen is a model, so the edginess works for her. It's very Rihanna/Mary J! I like the tribal necklace. I like the edginess and hardware on the top, but the closure needs to be more secure. She's a very physical heroine and her tittays would fly out five minutes into a fight! (Not that her current plunging V-neck, strapless top is any more logical.) I'm not sure about the leather straps on the one arm. That seems like it would take a half hour to put on! The gloves are good. The leggings and boots also work for me. With only the minor-est of tweaks, I'd love to see Mari sporting this costume in the comics. (Actually, right now, I'd just love to see her IN a comic! Ahem!)

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