Sunday, April 17, 2016

Wonder Woman: Earth One, Volume One

Let's call this review of Grant Morrison's Wonder Woman re-vamp The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

The Good: The artwork by Yanick Paquette, luscious and lavishly detailed, the coloring is also exquisite. In fact for the artwork alone I might give this volume 5 stars if I did not have such problems with the story.

Wonder Woman - Earth One Paradise Island

Paradise Island. In the past, this island of Amazons has been depicted as a series of Greek temples with all the women carrying spears / swords. Morrison & Paquette have created a place where the technology has developed, in some ways beyond that of our world. It looks a bit like Barsoom, with air cycles, invisible airplanes, and purple healing rays. The latter two were in the original Golden Age Wonder Woman comics, nice to see Morrison bring them back.

Wonder Woman - Paradise Island 2

Also, the women on Paradise Island are not all walking around in thongs and bikinis, they are wearing pants, armor, boots. Remarkable! There are different ethnicities. Doesn't Queen Hippolyta's outfit look stunning?

The fact that an island full of women and no men has lesbians is shown in various ways here. DC Comics skirted around this topic for decades and now it's finally shown, although there's no outright pornography or anything, it is mentioned here and there. I believe when DC Rebirth happens this will be part of the regular comic series too.

Wonder Woman - Paradise Island 3

The Bad: One of Morrison's goals in this Earth One series of graphic novels was to bring Wonder Woman back to basics. Now in the case of this character, that is very complicated. If you have read The Secret History of Wonder Woman you will know that William Marston Moulton was into bondage, practiced it with his wife, and lived in a threesome with his wife and her lover. Bondage themes appeared all throughout the first decade of Wonder Woman comics, which flew over the heads of kids (including myself).

I am not saying bondage is bad per se -- consenting adults, do whatever you like. But in a character that has come to represent female liberation and independence, I don't think it fits in the modern era. The above image is the most tame example from Earth One. Later we find that Diana was supposed to submit to Mala, her lover. Diana asks Steve Trevor, a black man, to put on the collar and become her slave - HELLO, DOES GRANT MORRISON NEED AN EDITOR OR WHAT?

Someone needed to have the guts to tell him no. You can do that to an original character that never existed before. But women and girls need a role model and they are in short supply in modern DC Comics. Don't do that to Wonder Woman, no matter what her roots or history were.

Wonder Woman - Earth One Etta Candy costume

The Ugly: As I explained, the Amazons on Paradise Island wear practical clothing, pretty well designed. When Diana first arrives in Man's World (the United States) she is wearing pants. Diana meets Etta Candy, a real character and also a lesbian traveling to spring break with her friends. They decide Diana needs a makeover, cover her up with makeup and dress her in this ghastly outfit. My first thought was, honest to god, Amazons must shave!

WTF! A group of lesbians would chose to dress Diana up in the most tasteless and revealing costume, why? The thong she is wearing is even more scanty than her traditional costume for the past couple of decades.

I want everyone to see the last few Wonder Woman costumes...

Wonder Woman modern costumes

You've the traditional on the left by Alex Ross with the Star Spangled underwear. Kind of revealing, I don't really see a modern woman fighting crime in that, but, OK, it's canon. A great artist like George Perez or Alex Ross can make Diana look buff enough to wear that costume with strength. To the right of those we had a Jim Lee redesign where he tried to give her pants. When this came out there was a huge controversy. People didn't like it; I did like it but I thought the jacket was impractical - they tweaked that later to remove it. You can see Adrianne Palicki wearing a version of that in the aborted David Kelley TV pilot from 2011.  At any rate this redesign was supposed to be shown in the New 52 Wonder Woman series and was even shown on the first cover; at the last minute they switched back to the underwear (though you did see this costume in the Justice League series).

This has been a tough costume to redesign, many people tried and they never stuck too long. But I can't imagine why Paquette and Morrison went in that direction by shrinking everything down further.

I don't think this was a good revamp of Wonder Woman at all, I was terribly disappointed after being such a big fan of Grant Morrison's DC Comics work; he had even done a very good job writing Diana on his JLA series. I did not imagine he would be given carte blanche by DC to do anything he liked and come up with this. Greg Rucka (who originally was supposed to do this Earth One series) is about to relaunch Wonder Woman for DC Comics Rebirth, I hope he is the man to show how to write this character. Nuff Said!

1 comment:

  1. Terrific art, but the changes you mentioned mean that I'll never read it. Why do they (DC) continue to dump on their most iconic characters?


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