Wednesday, January 7, 2015

In Her Satin Tights, Fighting For Your Rights - "Wonder Woman '77" coming to comics

Over here at The Signal Watch, we don't "binge-watch" much TV.  When I hear someone watched an entire season of a TV show over a weekend, I think maybe that person has a butler who runs their errands, walks their dogs and amuses their friends and family in the hours when they aren't at work.  For me, "binge-watching" is watching an episode or two of a show a night, maybe 3-4 days a week.  I've done it with maybe 4-5 TV series, and haven't even finished most of those (sorry, Breaking Bad).

pew!  pew! pew! ping! ping! ping!

At the end of the summer and through the fall, we watched all 3 seasons of Wonder Woman.   We did so out of order and it took a while to do it, but we did finish.  And now?  I kind of miss it.  But I know it would be weird to watch the whole show over again so immediately.*

Anyway, I can't drop enough superlatives about Lynda Carter on the show.  Sure, I'd watched a good chunk of these episodes back when I first got the DVD sets, but I must not have been paying all that much attention (probably blogging while watching) because I only remembered bits from here and there.  

This time around, I really felt Lynda Carter's performance is laced with a quiet excellence.  She's not doing anything outrageous or grandstanding.  She's not scene stealing other than her way of making you look like the crazy one for not wearing a star-spangled get-up.  There's no snickering irony in her take, even as the show started off a lot more intentionally campy.  She's sincere in her mission, and genuinely likable even as she's clearly holding up the moral standard and is a bit of a straight arrow (don't come to this show looking for an anti-hero).  

As comic properties tend to do, the show was based on the comics, became it's own thing (it's hard to do a 50 foot racist caricature egg as a villain on a TV budget in '77).  I'd argue Lynda Carter's performance informed a lot about the characterization of Wonder Woman in the post Crisis DCU of the 1980's as writers worked hard to make her more than just a super hero who happened to be a woman.  She became a specific person - and certainly it seems Perez and Phil Jimenez leaned on this portrayal in the comics during their run.

and Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, who knows something about icons, didn't shy away from the Carter Twirl

As good as Rucka's run was, it was the one that took the lasso out of Wonder Woman's hand and replaced it with an axe or sword in a permanent fashion.  It made sense, certainly.  An Amazon Warrior should be armed and know how to use classic weaponry.  And even though the Rucka's run was just in the last 10 years, good luck finding Wonder Woman using the lasso in a comic in recent memory.  

But I think there was value to a non-stabby Wonder Woman the same way I think it's okay Superman doesn't use his heat vision to burn a hole in Lex Luthor from low Earth orbit.  From WW's first appearance, she's been on a mission of peace.  The lasso isn't just a non-lethal gimmick, it's a symbol of truth for her and a guarantee the truth will out if she catches up to you.  Swords are for war and de-limbing people, which doesn't feel particularly peaceful except in a "I'll kill you into peace" sort of way.

It's great to know she can use all that stuff, it puts her in another class, but it seems to have overwhelmed the nature of the character of late, and I think it's important that the premier female superhero can act as an icon for fans of all ages.

that said, maybe a shotgun-toting WW asking punks if they feel lucky?

In the not-that-distant future we'll finally get a Wonder Woman movie, and it'll be a pretty far cry from the Wonder Woman of 80-90%% of the character's existence.  It will be a Wonder Woman in the generic leather armor of recent historical action movies, from 300 to Gladiator to you-name-it.    The idea of the super-hero-ness of a character we've all known for seven decades will be subsumed under the idea that somehow, now, Wonder Woman has to be pragmatic, "believable" as a magical Themyscirian princess is like to get, and edgy (or... throw around your marketing term, Hollywood).  As much as Superman and other characters have been taken from the hands of their intended audience the past few years in order to satisfy and impress the cool teen boys somone at DC is intent on impressing, Wonder Woman must now be genericized down to the fetish-wear heroine of a thousand forgettable video games, performing video game stabbings and whatnot rather than swinging her Lasso of Truth.

and now she's a background character in a movie we'll all skip til it's on HBO

When you watch what DC is up to these days, it's interesting to see various arms of the company competing for a vision of these characters.  The movie wing keeps trying to make movies to sell to people who play God of War, the comics keep trying to relive the 90's (and get it right this time!  Like Bryce Dallas Howard in Jurassic World), licensing pretty clearly wants to sell a late 70's/ early 80's/ Super Friends compatible version of DC, and the digital branch wants to sell fun comics.

Because Jamie is probably ready to stop me from starting over with Lynda Carter and Wonder Woman again, I'm pretty jazzed about the upcoming digital and print series, Wonder Woman '77, which will be a comic based on the second and third, post WWII seasons of the TV show.


I don't know what kind of crazy turf war is going on at DC between their "digital first" comics folk and print, but between this, Sensation Comics, Adventures of Superman and Batman '66, right now the spark of fun and creativity isn't really with print.  

If DC is headed down the path of offering up multiple versions of their staple characters, I can't complain.  Not everyone wants the "edgy new take" of the New 52 if it takes them far away from what made them love the character in the first place.  And, that's the thing.  At the end of the day, the financial and cultural stock of DC and Marvel's stable is the interest they can drum up, sales-wise.  If stabby Wonder Woman has maxed out her potential base, there's actually an entire planet of people out there whose entire concept of Wonder Woman came from 3 seasons of a TV show from 40 years ago.  And they aren't necessarily looking for someone to update and video gamify that for them.

Someone really studied the Carter Twirl

DC needs to keep up with modern trends, certainly, but they're basically selling intellectual property. In the end, I'm a near-40-year-old dude and I might have my preferences, and they're going to run Carter-Centric.  But I also think DC is leaving money on the table by not having a comic in shops or online that anyone who walks into a comic shop can pick up and feel like they're getting the experience they had in mind.

I'm a Gold Tiara kind of Wonder Woman fan, and especially with the recent direction DC has gone with Wonder Woman as Azarrello left the title and Sensation Comics showed the interest in a more traditional WW in the DCU - and not having any more episodes to watch of Lynda Carter twirling to justice - I'll definitely take this new comic.

*Or would it...?


RHPT said...

WW used her lasso in "Identity Crisis".

The League said...

"Identity Crisis" was 2004, so... 10 years ago.

Jake Shore said...

Boy, I gotta friend who would love see more of the Wonder Woman '77 version of the hero. Can't believe how badly DC has handled this character by trying to appeal to fanboys rather than the millions of girls (and their parents) out there who would embrace the character.

Unfortunately, Zack Snyder's version will probably win the day.

You suck, DC.