Daily Scans Below are the 8 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Daily Scans" journal:
March 20th, 2009
03:52 pm


A controversial scene from Perez's Wonder Woman
We've talked a lot about the classic Perez run, it's beautiful storytelling, the dense plotting, the complexity, the rich characterization, and the many subjects it covered; including gender issues, war and peace, addiction, Battered Person Syndrome, sexual orientation, and teen suicide. All of these issues were handled with great care and sensitivity.

It's sometimes been said that Wonder Woman is actually more of an alien to our world than Superman. Clark was from another planet, and Diana is from Earth, but Clark was raised in modern America, in it's culture and with it's values. Diana was raised in a 3000 year old Pagan culture isolated from the rest of the world. And, well, 3000 year old Pagan cultures weren't what, in modern terms, is considered "Politically Correct." We've seen this, more recently, in how Diana doesn't have Clark's and Bruce's "no killing" rule.

Which brings us to a flashback sequence from Perez's run, drawn by Tom Grummett, that got them some angry letters. Anyone who was familiar with Sir James Frazer's or Joseph Campbell's studies of ancient cultures, their myths, and their rituals, understood, completely, as would anyone familiar with mid-90s Disney animated films.

What event marked the young Diana's coming of age? It wasn't a Bat Mitzvah.

Read more... )

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March 17th, 2009
11:39 pm


Wonder Woman, Pandora, and Gaea
In a couple of other threads, we discussed the potential of a conflict between Wonder Woman and Poison Ivy. They're both mystically connected to the Earth Mother. That's an aspect of Diana that hasn't been touched on in a while, so we'll revisit a story from the classic Perez run.

Perez used the classic Greek myths heavily during his Wonder Woman run. One myth he used tied in so perfectly to Diana's origins one would think Marston had to have had it in mind when he created her, except... He never mentioned a connection to Pandora.

Like many classic mythological figures, Pandora's stories have a lot of contradictions as the myths were modified over time. The version we're most familiar with is the woman molded from clay, gifted by the gods, and sent to Earth with a box... Or was it a jar?

However, an earlier version of the Pandora myth had her a nature goddess ("Pandora" translates to "all-giving") who embodied the fertility of the Earth, the giver of fruits and grains.

So, which version of the myths, in this series, was the true one? The answer, in true Perez fashion: Both.

And doesn't she look very... familiar?
Read more... )

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March 12th, 2009
10:09 pm


The Many Faces of Barbara Minerva, part 1 (Perez)
(Yes, I'm starting the Cheetah posts before I finish the Wondy posts. Variety is the spice of life, you know.)

It's said that every good hero needs a good villain. I don't know that I completely agree with that, but certainly the most iconic four-color heroes have a diverse array of equally iconic foes - Joker and Two-Face and Poison Ivy, Sinestro and Hector Hammond and Star Sapphire, Braniac and Lex and Zod, the Keystone Rogues.

Wondy pretty much gets the Cheetah. Sure, there's Dr. Psycho, and Giganta, and the Silver Swan (any given iteration), and you could even make a case for poor Veronica Cale, but basically, all of Wondy's rogues are either a) super-lame and not a credible threat to far weaker heroes, b) long since beaten, or c) spend far more time fighting other heroes in other books than they ever have on Diana, post-Crisis. [Or d) some or all of the above, ::coughGigantacough::]. Circe actually puts in a decent showing, and Psycho's a good villain when he's around, but the one and only Wondy rogue who's been present since the relaunch, kept up with her through every subsequent changing of hands, and focused on her to the exclusion of any other hero in the DCU like a proper arch-nemesis should, is the Cheetah.

Gaia forbid, of course, that that actually amount to any consistency in Diana's history, though. Because it is not, perhaps, completely accurate to say that the Cheetah has been with Wondy since the Perez days; certainly there's been a Cheetah with her in every run, but her portrayal has been so schizophrenic as to put Supertorso to shame. Hence, this project - a look at the many different iterations of the Cheetah - starting, as one should, at the beginning,* with the original Wondy maestro, George Perez.

Introducing Dr Barbara Minerva. )

Next up: Good ideas if you can get past the art - Cheetah through the eyes and pen of William Messner-Loebs.

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March 11th, 2009
11:25 am


When Dr. Psycho was... well, Psycho
Dr. Psycho was introduced in the Golden Age, and quickly became one of Wonder Woman's main foes. When George Perez revamped WW following Crisis of Infinite Earths, it was natural that he'd bring back, and revamp, Dr. Psycho, as he'd done with the Cheetah, Ares, the Silver Swan, and Circe.

Perez didn't rush into it, though. Dr. Psycho was re-introduced towards the end of Perez's run. But, as this was, really, a five year epic story, Dr. Psycho entered the stage when it was time for him to play his role.

And, that role would be nightmarish. Literally. This would establish him as one of the most twisted and evil of DC's villains. But, what's truly important is how Diana responds, how she deals with this threat. It's often said that heroes are, in part, defined by their villains. The villain represents what the hero must overcome in their struggles, what makes them heroes. Also, Diana, as she often does during Perez's run, demonstrates that she has other ways of dealing with evil than simply beating it up.

Read more... )

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March 10th, 2009
01:21 am


When Wondy was Awesome, part 5 (Antiope's Legacy)
We're just about done with Perez at this point - not that we've more than scratched the surface of his incredible run, but there's just so much more to see that we have to move on eventually (and I'll admit to a certain fatigue with the effort involved in making these older comics *work* as scans, as well). But we'll take one last dip in his world before we go, because no catalogue of Perez' great contributions to the Wonder Woman mythos would be complete without a look at the Bana-Mighdall amazons. This splinter group is probably the best example possible of Perez' ability to take what looks like a huge pile of bad cliches and uncomfortable racial undertones and spin a diverse, interesting set of real, well-drawn characters out of it. Yes, the plot that adds the Bana-Mighdall to the DCU is a convoluted one, difficult to follow at times and intertwined with some seriously confusing Cheetah stuff and some very poorly supported one-off bad guys. But, hey, that's Perez for you, and seriously, they're a lost tribe of amazons. That shit is cool.

Also, without the Bana, there could be no Artemis, and that would make the world a much, much sadder place. )

Next time: Comics that are actually more picture than dialogue! All new artist! All new writer! And Diana as a friggin space pirate! Really, what more do you need?

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March 8th, 2009
10:58 pm


When Wondy was Awesome, part 4 (Patriarch's World)
From as far back as Marston, Wonder Woman's defining short phrase, her version of "Caped Crusader" or "Man of Steel" or "Scarlet Speedster," has been "Amazon Princess." Which is fair, because that's what she is in the most literal sense - the daughter of the amazon queen (well at least until they dissolved the monarchy, but at this point I think I'm going to have to admit I've lost that one) - but for most of her pre-Crisis history, was nevertheless a relatively empty phrase. Diana was a princess because girls like princesses, as any Disney exec can tell you, and that was it. Occasionally the authority was useful, but basically it was a purely meta thing that was merely convenient shorthand for her specialness.

Part of Perez' genius was to actually consider what being a princess means for Diana, especially from the mythical perspective of this very mythical character. Mythic royalty isn't about tiaras and castles, after all. It's about stewardship, struggle, king sacrifice; about servitude and symbiosis and taking your people's burdens for your own. Diana, as Athena's champion and essentially a demigod, is an avatar of the Olympians, yes - but as heir to the throne, she's also the avatar of the amazons, and that responsibility is as integral to her character as her duty to her gods. She bleeds when her people bleed, they win when she wins, their story is hers and hers theirs. And Perez' run was saturated with that understanding, in a constant intertwining of Diana's mission and the activities of the Amazon Nation as a whole. She's not just one of them, she's not even just the best of them; she is them, full stop. That concept underpins the particular awesomeness I've got on offer today - this is the story of Themyscira and how the Amazon Nation reconnected with Man's World. Because Diana did, and so that Diana could. And because it's a damn good story.

Also, Diana v. Lois action. You know you want to see that.

Man do I love that cover. )

Next time: Perez attempts to pre-empt strawfeminist portrayals of the Themyscirans with some strawfeminists of his own for Diana to oppose. And because he is Perez, they end up completely fascinating anyway.

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March 6th, 2009
10:21 pm


When Wondy was Awesome, part 2 (Diana Rockwell Trevor)
Last chapter we saw how Perez cleanly and deftly rebooted the Wonder Woman franchise, discarding all the old continuity, the weird bondage, the creepily gender-centric weaknesses, the sexist "ooh a May-un, I must follow him home!" and outdated "we must fight Nazis!" motivations for leaving Paradise, and her jingoistic 40s-style association with the American Way. One thing he did leave, however, was her costume. Because her costume is iconic. (I blame the TV show for this. And inertia. Two reboots now, at least five perfect story-based opportunities to get her into something sane, and it just never happens.)

This obviously presented a problem, seeing as the costume no longer made sense at all in Diana's new, completely American-free context. Perez attempted to cope with this conundrum by giving Diana's costume itself its own sort of backstory, which is what this chapter is concerned with. Because Perez being Perez, he didn't just write a story about the bathing suit; he wrote an intricate, moving epic that spans two generations, connects Steve and Diana on a personal level and Themyscira and Man's World on a historical one, and solidifies and reinforces one of the most fundamental traits of the very concept of "Wonder Woman."

Under the cut. )

Next time: Perez will probably make you cry over a character you've never heard of, and Polly proves the awesome is hereditary.

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March 5th, 2009
11:06 pm


When Wondy was Awesome, part 1 (Birth of a Wonder)
Alright, both by request and because I myself feel something at a loss with it gone, here commences the repost of my When Wondy was Awesome series from our LJ incarnation.

We'll begin, as is proper, at the beginning - the origin of the character as she is now. The concept of Wonder Woman, of course, is one of the oldest in Big Two comics, as she was first created by Marston back in 1941. However, once the Golden Age ended and the character passed into other hands, she became something of an albatross to the company - they were under contract to keep publishing her, but they didn't really know what to do with her, and her title quickly devolved into a miserable sexist mess from which it never entirely recovered.

Thus, with Crisis on Infinite Earths, Editorial completely erased Wonder Woman from past continuity, deciding she would enter the DCU for the first time in the late 80s - allowing them to start over and try to really do her justice. After a long (and terrifying to read about for fear of what might have been) process, they finally found a team that they thought could both create a new and viable character, and preserve the essence of the one who came before; thus Diana passed into the hands of Greg Potter and the now-definitive George Perez.

And hot damn was that a good call. )

Next time: The nonsensical American flag bathing suit is made to make some small sliver of sense, we learn what kind of person inspires an amazon and why we should care about Steve Trevor, and Diana kills a hecatoncheries, as we tackle the second, less prominent but no less awesome half of Wonder Woman's origin.

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