On Wonder Woman’s New Look.

Why does it always take some ridiculous stunt or other for the mainstream press to sit up and notice a well-written comic book character?  The Death of Captain America is the most recent of these stunts that spring to mind, and people remembered him for all but a week.  DC have followed suit with “Wonder Woman’s New Look”, and I can tell you as a long-time Wonder Woman reader, that it came completely out of the blue.

Completely out of the blue because there was nothing wrong with Wonder Woman in the first place.  I have no hesitation in saying that Gail Simone’s run on Wonder Woman was the best there’s ever been.  No author before her has successfully captured the feminine strength and charm of DC’s iconic character, all the while enriching her mythology and building up a rich cast of supporting characters.  The only thing wrong about it was that it wasn’t selling.  You know what most companies do to sell a product?  They advertise it.  It’s a novel concept, I know, for comic companies and videogame companies alike, but it works.  Instead, people will talk about this for a week because they saw it in the news – hell, maybe they’ll even buy Wonder Woman #600 – and that will be it.

Now, I have little doubt that J. Michael Straczynski will craft an exceptional Wonder Woman tale in the coming issues – if the proof’s in the pudding, he certainly proved it in issue 600 – just don’t tell me he’s revitalising the character, because she never lost her vitality to begin with.

The deeper issue behind all this is that comic companies need to really get behind a character on the back of good writing, rather than radical changes.  DC should have got behind Geoff Johns’ excellent Green Lantern stories long before Blackest Night, and Marvel should be putting a copy of Daredevil in the hands of every person *with* hands – any copy – there hasn’t been a bad one in a decade!  The comics industry has had a lot to be proud of over the last ten years – namely, its authors and artists – but they just aren’t getting it out there.  All it takes is marketing muscle.

I’m not opposed to the costume redesign per se – one the one hand her original costume is iconic, unmistakable, and until now, unchanged, and there is something pure about that befitting of the character; on the other hand, it is impractical, and a relic of 1940s fashion – but I am opposed to the gesture.   The gesture being a sweeping, sudden change of author, costume, setting, direction, and even timestream, without grounds or context other than Wonder Woman isn’t selling; Wonder Woman needs a change.  The context could have easily been achieved organically through story progression, but instead we get this stark denial of the great stories that immediately preceded it.

I will still be reading Wonder Woman going forward, and I will probably enjoy it, as I do most of Straczynski’s comics.  I just wish I could have had it without the jolt.

3 Responses to “On Wonder Woman’s New Look.”

  1. You’re arguing for the traditionalist, leave-things-as-they-were viewpoint, but shouldn’t any character have the capacity to evolve? See Batman, for instance…if he never evolved we’d still be stuck with a flabby Adam West…and nobody can deny that that evolution was successful.

  2. I totally agree that DC could have gone about this in a better way. Even shocking changes like this are usually announced well before publication. It’s hard not to be cynical about this obvious grab for shock value and attention. It is a shame that it takes “stunts” for the mainstream press to pay attention. I guess this is preferable to killing her — again — but maybe not by much. I don’t see the value in negating the stories that have gone before rather than simply building on them.

    As for the new costume itself, I’ve pretty much gotten used to it — except for the horrible, outdated jacket. Lose that 1990s Legion castoff! And besides, like 99% of all other changes in comics, it won’t last. So we’ll just have to endure it for a while.

    If you are interested, my more long-winded thoughts are available on my blog: http://wp.me/pFs3T-H5

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