Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Female novelist takes over 'Wonder Woman' writing duties (flashback)

It's flashback time again at Cary's Comics Craze!

This time we're journeying back to July 25, 2010, when I posted the following op-ed in the NORWALK REFLECTOR newspaper about DC Comics finally hiring a woman to tackle the writing duties for WONDER WOMAN. (Seems pretty darn logical, doesn't it?!?) So, without further ado, here's my take on Jodi Picoult's LOVE AND MURDER storyline (WONDER WOMAN [Vol. 2] Nos. 6-10). ...

Art by Terry Dodson
Nobody knows the heart of a woman better than a woman.

If so, then why did it take DC Comics so long to hire novelist Jodi Picoult to write Wonder Woman, easily the most recognizable female super hero?

While Picoult’s run on the second volume of WONDER WOMAN is an unfortunately short five issues, she nails the characterization of both the Amazon Princess and Diana Prince, whom the writer calls the heroine’s “‘human’ identity.”

 In her introduction to the WONDER WOMAN: LOVE AND MURDER hardcover compilation, Picoult says she wanted to take the character “out of her bustier” and have her struggle with universal issues such as fitting in while continuing to be “the strongest, smartest female on this planet.” Picoult wanted to reach a “wide demographic of fans — from young women looking for a role model to adults (of both genders) who’d grown up with her,” while also doing more to develop the Prince character.

For my money, Picoult does just that. Her Wonder Woman assumes she was born to be a member of Amazon royalty charged with protecting humans, but will never truly understand them at the same time.

Wonder Woman addresses the question of “Who am I?” even during action sequences, but they are the weakest part of the story. Picoult is right in saying Wonder Woman is psychologically and physically strong enough to stand up to her mother.

However, the reasons for the elder Amazon’s sudden resurrection and the equally bewildering Amazonian invasion of Earth remain unclear.

This is one of my favorite poses artists
do of Wonder Woman.
Picoult adds some great touches of humor while insightfully addressing Wonder Woman’s cultural importance.

Prince obviously is offended when she goes into a store selling Wonder Woman merchandise for 75 percent off. She tells a clerk she wonders why the heroine isn’t considered cool since she has saved the world “all the time.”

“All I know is she’s never sold as well as Superman or Batman,” the clerk says.

Other scenes show how Prince doesn’t fit in with society or are done just for laughs. After being rescued, Prince’s work partner tells Wonder Woman she’s not what he expected. When she asks how, the man admits he has had sexually-charged dreams about her involving whipped cream. Wonder Woman — who had been carrying the injured man in her arms — intentionally drops him on the ground, with a sour look on her face.

There are multiple artists in Picoult’s five issues, all of whom handle Wonder Woman and her alter-ego equally well.

As artist Klaus Janson says in THE DC COMICS GUIDE TO PENCILLING COMICS (which I highly recommend): “Unfortunately, the non-super hero characters’ costumes are often given short shrift.”

I believe artists often draw an alter-ego either so he or she looks not much different from other people on the street or only resembles the hero, except in street clothes. Not here: Prince is striking and distinctive in her shaded glasses, pinned-up hair and black-and-white suit — in a hot-for-librarian, “Miss Congeniality” kind of way.

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