I’ve drawn a couple of Wonder Woman stories, and she’s shown up in my Justice League comics, so me and the Princess have personal history.
I was also exactly the right age to have fallen deeply in love with Linda Carter when Wonder Woman was on the air in the Seventies, and have NEVER gotten over that. AND, I’m fairly friendly with Gail Simone and her lovely and talented husband. So I get a little Wonder Woman cred, and I’m here to say nice things about the new direction.
Everyone has been trashing the new costume, mostly because it’s a lot less flashy, and it’s not the iconic Wonder Woman we all fell in love with.
But if we were all so in love with her and that costume, why weren’t we buying her comic every month? And why isn’t there a big budget Wonder Woman Warner Brothers movie? Or a Saturday morning cartoon show?
Because we don’t really love her, do we? Not the way capitalists want us to love our icons…by BUYING things. We just love the idea of her. Women dress up like her on Halloween–
Wonder Woman is second only to “the sexy nurse” as the most popular costume for women, I promise you.
And people like to point to her as one of the “BIG THREE” characters that have never gone out of print since the Golden Age. But neither of these facts sells issues of the comics today and buys movie tickets tomorrow. A fondness for an iconic costume, an old TV series and a long history of past success is nothing compared to the need to keep the character moving, fresh, modern and relevant. Nostalgia ain’t sales.
DC wants what’s best for the Princess…it’s their job. And what they’re doing is a perfect example of “Genre Twisting” - a tried and true way of waking up a moribund franchise. James Bond does it, Batman does it, Captain America does it- EVERY successful franchise does it, or it collapses dead.
What “twisting” is, is specifically taking THE most basic aspect of a character or genre, and removing that, for a time. James Bond loses his “LICENSE TO KILL”, Batman loses his ability to walk. Captain America looses his shield. Superman loses the battle for truth, justice and the American Way, Spider-Man loses his costume, Green Lantern loses the ring. Hell, Marvel completely rebooted their entire Universe with the Ultimates, and then rebooted that Universe again last year with a massive death flood.
By changing THE most basic aspect of a character, you create new possibilities and new expectations from the audience, or more correctly, you abandon old expectations. For the first time in a little while, you DON’T know what’s coming next in a Wonder Woman comic, because if they’d take away her iconic COSTUME, they might do anything…and that’s intriguing. So the audience comes back to the thing that was once just a pleasant memory or nostalgia, to see what’s going on with it…to see what ELSE the creators muck with.
Sure, it’s a gimmick, but if you tell the curious new audience stories that are ANY good, they’ll stick around for a while, and you’ll earn those new sales that just showed up to see what you’d done to their childhood memory. And if the stories aren’t working and the audience abandons you…
Trust me. They’ll put it all back.
Now, I just read the issue that introduces the new outfit - #600 went on sale a couple of days ago.
First off: The book is primarily a nostalgia piece, as most anniversary issues are. There’s a touching Gail Simone/George Perez curtain call for the excellent era of the late eighties when Perez was running the show near the top, and there’s some fun pin-ups and short stories about aspects of the character all through. And of course, the requisite T&A, where appropriate.
But the most important part of the book was the introduction to the story we’ll be getting in the next year or so…the new costume, and what seems like a completely new reality to Wonder Woman’s environment, for now. It’s the PERFECT bit of tease, with just the right amount of fun and mystery to encourage you to pick the next issue. We’re giving glimpses of things, a sense of magic (important in Wonder Woman), a fun bit of ass-kicking in the new costume, and a promise that more will be revealed next month. I wished this particular story was longer…which is the feeling the editor wants you to have.
So, the new direction is exactly the right call. It’s not the costume I’d have designed, but it’s exactly the same editorial decision I would have made.
Good luck, Princess. I for one, will be back next month to see what’s up with all this.
And now, because it’s my blog, and I can do what I want…we’ll end with a few shots of women I find ALMOST as attractive as my wife, in Wonder Woman costumes.
First: Rhona Mitra, from Boston Legal (amongst other things)
And now, Megan Fox. I suspect this might have been photoshop work, but I’m trying to figure out how to care.
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