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New Comic Book Day June 3, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

In general, I’m an optimist. When a new year begins, I approach it with the hope and desire to make it better than the previous year. After the first half of 2020, I may need to change my approach. As much an optimist I try to be, even I have my limits.

This year has sucked the biggest set of elephant balls that it’s possible to suck. I hope I don’t need to explain why. Between a pandemic that has shut entire parts of society down and major riots protesting racial injustice, this year has been a massive kick in the balls for every optimist that dared approach this year with a sense of hope.

That said, I’ve yet to abandon that hope entirely. I credit my long-time love of superhero comics as a reason for that. Beyond the marketing gimmicks and wish fulfillment, superheroes embody an ideal. They dare to envision how good we can be in a world that many are determined to destroy. I take real comfort and joy in that. It’s just part of what makes New Comic Book Day so refreshing every week.

I know the news has been awful on so many levels these past few months. I won’t say the worst is behind us, but I will encourage everyone to keep pushing through the despair. A fresh batch of comics isn’t a cure-all, but it can help lift our wounded spirits. To that end, below is my pull list and my pick of the week.


My Pull List

Action Comics #1022

2020 Force Works #3

Avengers Of The Wastelands #5

Birds of Prey #1

Catwoman #22

Detective Comics #1022

Justice League Dark #22

Revenge Of The Cosmic Ghost Rider #5

Wonder Woman #756


My Pick Of The Week
Wonder Woman #756

A true measure of someone’s honor is how they handle defeat. If internet comments sections and debates with creationists are any indication, people can get very ugly when they have no honor. With superheroes, there’s a similar dynamic. A characters heroism carries a lot more weight in defeat than it does in triumph. Those who don’t handle defeat well aren’t very heroic.

By that measure, Wonder Woman is in the uppermost percentile when it comes to honorable heroes and “Wonder Woman #756” further affirms that. Recent issues of Wonder Woman have really put her in questionable positions and these aren’t positions that she can fight her way out of. Where some heroes would’ve broken or whined, Wonder Woman’s unique capacity for honor and compassion continue to shine.

It has to against a foe like Warmaster. Writer Steve Orlando puts Wonder Woman in a difficult position. She lied to this woman. Even if it was to save her from her hateful upbringing, she lied to Paula Von Gunther. It wasn’t a small lie, either. Her entire life was a lie. Once the truth came out, she was not the least bit understanding.

Now, the same hate that Wonder Woman tried to save her from fuels her in a violent clash. Even for a warrior like her, it gets messy and artist Jesus Merino makes it especially visceral. As the fighting unfolds, one thing becomes painfully clear. The hate that Wonder Woman tried to protect Paula from has never been harsher. Now, everyone she loves is in danger.

In addition to fighting Wonder Woman, Warmaster’s plan starts to accelerate in Wonder Woman #756.” She’s not just targeting Wonder Woman. She’s joined the four Horsewomen to exact a bloody revenge on everyone she cares about. That includes both her home, Themyscira, and all her friends in the outside world.

A lot is at stake for her, but she still holds back. Even when Warmaster tries to force impossible choices on her, Wonder Woman keeps fighting. That’s what she does. That’s what makes her both a warrior and a hero. However, it’s still not enough. Paula’s hatred is stronger than Wonder Woman’s compassion in this case.

However, Orlando stops short of putting Wonder Woman in a dire position. If anything, the way she conducts herself while having to fight someone she cares about shows just how heroic she can be in these situations. At the same time, her willingness to love and connect with others proves critical in helping her rise up after the beating she took.

I don’t want to spoil too much, but the last page of Wonder Woman #756 offers the kind of uplifting catharsis that we all need right now. That’s what an honorable hero does, even after they’ve lost. They still find a way to inspire.

That’s what Wonder Woman does.

That’s what makes her Wonder Woman.

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Wonder Woman, Relationships, And Misguided Standards For Female Heroes

I love superhero comics. I love romance. Naturally, I love it when they’re combined into a perfect package of super-romantic sentiment. I’ve singled out a few favorites of mine in the past, as well as a few not-so-favorites that act as cautionary tales. Chances are I’ll find plenty more excuses to write about superhero romance in the future.

That said, I’d like to take a step back from the specifics of superhero romance and assess the forest from the trees, so to speak. Instead, I thought I’d highlight something that I’ve been noticing within the pages of some of my favorite comics. It’s not necessarily an egregious flaw, but it is a distressing trend for lovers of romance like myself.

It has to do with how superheroes are portrayed when they’re in romantic relationships. Almost every popular superhero is caught up in a romantic sub-plot. Superman has his ever-iconic love story with Lois Lane. Cyclops and Jean Grey have decades of romance and drama. Spider-Man gets around so much that he has multiple iconic romances.

Not every superhero is defined by their romantic sub-plot, although some are more effected by it than others. It’s hard to tell the story of Sue “Invisible Woman” Richards without involving her husband and children. However, certain characters are held to different standards when it comes to romance.

That’s to be expected, given the diverse circumstances of each hero. Not every hero is going to be affected by their romantic sub-plot in the same way. That effect also changes through different eras. Even the iconic relationship between Superman and Lois Lane has changed a great deal over the years, although not necessarily for the better.

However, this particular era has really twisted the standards for female superheroes in romantic relationships and not in a good way. I won’t go so far as to call it a double standard like the others I’ve cited, but the differences are stark. It goes like this.

A male superhero gets caught up in a romantic sub-plot. The plot progresses, he enters a relationship with his romantic interest, and continues being the same hero he’s always been. The relationship supplements his story.

A female superhero gets caught up in a romantic sub-plot. The plot progresses and she enters a relationship with her romantic interest, but the relationship conflicts with her ability to be a superhero. It gets to a point where the act of her being a hero is detrimental to the relationship. She can have one or the other, but not both.

These scenarios are somewhat generic, but they convey a similar message. Male superheroes can be in romantic relationships without it undermining their heroic persona, but female superheroes can’t have those relationships without it becoming an obstacle.

This strange, unbalanced dynamic played out recently in the pages of “Wonder Woman #754.” I’d even go so far as to argue that Wonder Woman suffers the most from this dynamic, despite being one of the most iconic female superheroes of all time. Given that she’s the ideal that other female superheroes are compared to, I think that’s telling.

The main plot of the issue isn’t important. The side-plot is where this dynamic showed up. There were frequent flashbacks that highlighted Diana’s recent “drama” with her long-time romantic interest, Steve Trevor. I put drama in quotes because it feels less like drama and more like forced excuses.

It’s been an issue for Wonder Woman for decades. Despite being her most iconic love interest, going back to the 1940s, Steve Trevor has never been that official with Diana. Even though they’ve professed their love for one another in many forms and in many timelines, they’re rarely ever shown as being in a functional, mature relationship.

It’s not just with Steve Trevor, either. Even in the classic “Justice League” cartoon in which she was romantically linked to Batman, nothing ever became official. There’s was never a point where Wonder Woman went from being single to being in a real, functioning relationship.

In fact, the only time Wonder Woman was ever in a functional romantic relationship was when she dated Superman during DC’s short-lived New 52 era in the comics. During that time, Wonder Woman and Superman had their own comics and their own stories. Sometimes, those stories became entwined. Sometimes, they didn’t. It never undermined their relationship or vice versa.

I know comic fans have strong opinions about the New 52 as a whole, but I find it telling that this was really the only time Wonder Woman was allowed to be in a relationship while still being Wonder Woman. For her to be someone’s girlfriend and still be the hero she’s always been, her significant other had to be Superman.

Take a moment to think about the scope of that standard. Wonder Woman, the standard-bearer for female superheroes for decades, can be in a functional relationship, but only with someone as capable as Superman. She and Steve Trevor can be in love, but they can’t have a relationship. He’s just an ordinary man. He’d just undermine Wonder Woman’s ability to be the ideal female hero we know and love.

Meanwhile, male heroes like Batman and Spider-Man can become romantically involved with far less capable individuals, many of which don’t have superpowers and can’t fly across the planet to be on time for date night. They’re still allowed to be in those relationships, but Wonder Woman can’t even make the effort with one of her most iconic romances with Steve Trevor.

As a fan of superhero comic, romance, and Wonder Woman, I find this both flawed and frustrating. While the “Wonder Woman” movie did an solid job establishing genuine romance between her and Steve Trevor, they still never got a chance to actually be in a relationship. It’s as though a female hero can’t be in a relationship without losing something. At the same time, a male hero can’t have a complete story without one.

It’s a strange disconnect and I think it’s getting worse. In recent years, superhero comics have made a concerted effort to develop female characters and I applaud that effort. It has led to some major successes. The problem is that, like Wonder Woman, these female characters aren’t really allowed to become anyone’s girlfriend. Being in a relationship is seen as an obstacle to being strong, independent, compelling characters.

Respectfully, I call bullshit.

Being in a relationship isn’t detrimental to any character, male or female, if the relationship is well-written. In addition, female characters don’t have to be completely, 100-percent independent to be great. In fact, making them that emotional single-minded is a good way to make them unlikable and unrelatable because, in the real world, people have relationships. They form bonds, rely on others, and are effected by those close ties.

Now, I don’t deny that writing great female characters is challenging, especially in recent years. It feels like you can’t write female characters without having an agenda anymore, even when it’s not printed on a shirt. Again, I call bullshit. Female characters, like all characters, are deeply affected by the loving bonds they form. They deserve the same development and exploration as their male counterparts.

Why can’t Wonder Woman be in an official relationship with Steve Trevor?

Does being Steve Trevor’s girlfriend make Wonder Woman any less a superhero?

Does any female superhero lose something when they become someone’s girlfriend?

These are relevant questions that are worth asking. If someone as iconic as Wonder Woman can’t be in a relationship with someone without undermining what makes her Wonder Woman, then that’s not a problem with her as a character. That’s a problem with the standards and assumptions we have about superhero romance.

I’m sorry if this rant feels dragged out, but this has been bothering me for a while. I’d be happy to discuss it more. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Filed under DC Comics, Marriage and Relationships, romance, superhero comics, Wonder Woman

New Comic Book Day January 22, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

Life is hard. Some days are harder than others. Unless you’re rich, beautiful, or a combination of both, it’s a never-ending challenge to navigate those hardships. You got to take the good with the bad and make the most of the good. For me, and other life-long comic book fans like me, New Comic Book Day can take something good and make it awesome.

A new glut of fresh comics is like fresh-brewed coffee, a box of donuts, and a massage on a Wednesday morning. For a comic book fan, it’s difficult to make any day much better without getting street drugs involved. No matter how hard life has been for me, a Wednesday built around new comics helps make the past, present, and future better.

Some weeks are more active than others, but when you’ve got tastes as broad as mind, it’s easy to find something to enjoy. This week has an impressive list of new comics, some of which I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time. In the interest of enjoying this day with my fellow comic fans, here’s my pull list and my overall pick of the week. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Batman #87

Batman/Superman #6

Captain Marvel #14

Excalibur #6

Fantastic Four #18

Guardians of the Galaxy #1

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #47

Superman #19

Wonder Woman #750


My Pick of the Week

Is there such a thing as too much Wonder Woman? As someone who saw the “Wonder Woman” movie at least 20 times, I can safely say that’s a trick question. Those who say you can’t have too much of a good thing have obvious never been fans of Wonder Woman and milestone comics like “Wonder Woman #750” perfectly demonstrate why she’s great in any quantity.

These days, any comic that makes it past 50 issues is considered a milestone. The era of comics that go on for dozens of issues at a time is long gone. The many relaunches and retcons, which DC Comics has contributed to in the past, have changed the comic book market to such an extent that it’s just not possible for most titles to sustain that longevity.

However, Wonder Woman is not most titles.

She’s Wonder Woman. She’s the standard by which all female superheroes are measured. She’s one of the most iconic superheroes of all time, regardless of gender. She’s in a special pantheon of iconic characters. Her legacy, which spans back to the dark days of World War II, is one worthy of celebration and admiration.

That’s exactly what “Wonder Woman #750” does. It’s a giant-sized issue that costs a few extra bucks, but rest assured. It’s worth every penny. If you’ve been following the Wonder Woman comics, this book helps cap off a story that brings Diana head-to-head once more with Cheetah while Hera shows up to offer divine complications. However, that’s not all this book offers.

In addition to completing a long-running story, this giant-sized dose of all things Wonder Woman adds in some extra side-stories. They range from events spinning out of the recent comics to cute little stories involving kids, families, and monster hunting. Wonder Woman never misses a chance to kick ass, but she also never misses a chance to offer love, compassion, and hugs.

It’s a testament to her strength, her spirit, and her heart. With multiple writers and multiple artists, many of which are among the comic world’s top talent, there’s something for everyone here. If you want to see Wonder Woman fight gods and monsters, you’ll get plenty of that. If you want to see Wonder Woman offer love and compassion to those who need it, you’ll get that too.

At its core, “Wonder Woman #750” is a perfect reminder of why Wonder Woman is such an iconic character. It’s not just that she can fight villains, gods, and monsters. It’s not just that she can give compassion that few can match. It’s not just that she looks beautiful while doing it, either.

Wonder Woman embodies an ideal and spirit that resonates with everyone. Whether you’re a man, a woman, a god, or an alien, you see her doing all these wonderful things and can’t help but admire her. She’s a special character and one whose strength has resonated for decades and promises to keep resonating for decades more.

If you only pick up one Wonder Woman comic all year, make it “Wonder Woman #750.” It’s a true wonder to behold and one worthy of such an iconic character.

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My (Spoiler Free) Wonder Woman Movie Review

Image result for Wonder Woman movie

I’ve been obsessing over it. I’ve been anticipating it. I’ve found any possible excuse to talk about it on this blog, including those involving hidden BDSM undertones. If you still weren’t convinced of how excited I was about the “Wonder Woman” movie, then I can’t help you and neither can Superman. Well, after years of waiting and agonizing over the failures of lesser female heroes, it happened. The “Wonder Woman” movie has arrived.

I’ve been following this movie since the release of its first trailer, making it clear along the way that this is one of the most important movies of the past decade. It’s not just an important step towards making us forget about “Catwoman.” It’s an overdue, understated milestone in the growth of female superheroes and female characters in general.

Wonder Woman is, by most measures, the most iconic female character of the past century. She is the standard by which all female heroes, and many female characters in general, are measured. She embodies the ideals of womanhood, generating hope for some and conflict for others. For her to have waited this long to get a movie while Ant Man of all characters got one is a travesty.

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However long it took and whatever controversy emerged along the way, including those involving armpits, doesn’t matter anymore. The movie has arrived and I made it a point to see it, despite the crowds and overpriced candy. That leaves just one pressing question that doesn’t need the lasso of truth for an answer.

Is the “Wonder Woman” movie actually good?

Well, I’m here to say as part of my official review that yes. It is good. It’s every bit as good as its Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic score would indicate. This is not a “Dawn of Justice” type scenario where critics and fans don’t see eye-to-eye. The consensus is clear. “Wonder Woman” is a damn good movie.

What makes it good, though? Well, that’s where it helps to understand the challenge this movie faced, as well as the scope of the story it told. Unlike Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman’s origins aren’t as universally known and again, I’m not just referring to the BDSM elements.

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Most people know she’s an iconic female superhero. Most know she’s a warrior princess from an island populated solely by women. Few people actually know the details of that story or the emotional undertones behind it. Even fans of the old Lynda Carter TV series only ever got part of the story.

This movie doesn’t assume that the audience knows the core of Wonder Woman history or what makes her who she is. Patty Jenkins, the director tasked with deciding which assumptions to make, made a concerted effort to explore both who Diana is and where she came from.

The parts about her being a warrior on an island of female warriors is still there. What makes it resonate is how the movie adds emotional elements to the story. There’s an undeniable innocence at first, seeing Diana as a child, running around her paradise island of Themyscira, eager to see more than others allow her to see.

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This establishes and important tone for the story and for Wonder Woman’s character, as a whole. Even on an island paradise run by women, Wonder Woman dares to break with tradition and do more than what others would dare. She’s willing to test the rules of the Amazons and the rules of men alike. She is, at her core, a free spirit who seeks out wrongs to right and will step up when others won’t.

This makes her emergence as a warrior all the more meaningful because it gives her the strength and means break with tradition and fight the battles that no one dares. She doesn’t just become strong for the sake of being strong. Her training, her desire, and her capacity to kick ass has purpose. She makes the audience want her to succeed.

That kind of emotional resonance never wanes as the larger conflicts unfold. This is where Wonder Woman’s supporting cast really shines, especially in Chris Pine’s portrayal of Steve Trevor.

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It might have been the trickiest part of the movie, handling how Wonder Woman’s long-time companion and frequent love interest, Steve Trevor, was handled. There have been instances in the comics and cartoons where Steve Trevor has been a beta male. There have also been times where he’s just been an glorified nanny to Wonder Woman, trying to keep her on a leash and not in a kinky sort of way.

That doesn’t happen in this movie. Chris Pine’s take on Steve Trevor is one that men and women alike can appreciate. He’s very much his own character who earns the respect of both Wonder Woman and everyone he works with. He doesn’t just show that he’s worthy of Wonder Woman’s affection. He earns it.

It’s probably the greatest accomplishment of the movie. Wonder Woman’s partnership with Steve Trevor and his allies is all about complementing one another, not hindering one another. Trevor isn’t just some man trying to put Wonder Woman in her place. He and his friends try to guide her through the conflict, doing their part whenever they can and letting Wonder Woman do hers.

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Those looking for a movie that shows Wonder Woman attacking male oppression and exposing men for the pig-headed brutes they are will be disappointed. There are heroic men and villainous women in this movie. There’s no gender agenda at work here. There are times when gender dynamics are explored, but it’s never done with the impression that one is worse than the other.

The movie gets the message and the dynamics right. It gets the characters and their personalities right. Needless to say, Gal Gadot gets Wonder Woman right and looks absolutely stunning in that outfit in every single frame. On top of that, the various fight scenes and acrobatics that go with any hardened Amazonian warrior are a spectacle to behold.

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It checks so many boxes. It has so many satisfying moments from beginning to end. There are moments of humor, including those of the crude, sexual kind. Chris Pine even gets naked at one point. Granted, he’s no Hugh Jackman, but I think most heterosexual women and gay men will be happy with what they see.

So are there any issues with this movie? Is “Wonder Woman” the most flawless work of cinema since “Godfather II?” Well, this is the part where I have to be somewhat petty because this movie isn’t perfect. It does have some flaws, but none of them are overly egregious.

If there are any shortcomings, it’s in the limited time it spends exploring Themyscira and its culture. There is some time spent on the mother/daughter dynamics between Wonder Woman and her mother, but it feels somewhat minimized, as do the rest of the Amazons. Many do get to shine in a few fight scenes, but none get a chance to be all that memorable.

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There’s also the matter of the mythology behind the main conflict. Wonder Woman has always drawn heavily from Greco-Roman Mythology, so much so that it fuels a great deal of Wonder Woman’s iconic stories. However, the mythology in this movie is fairly flat and streamlined. It presents a very simple, bland view of the gods that are so integral to the Amazons. It feels like an oversight, but one that doesn’t derail the story.

Overall, I would not proclaim “Wonder Woman” to be the greatest superhero movie of all time. I would still put movies like “Deadpool” and “The Avengers” above it, but not by much. It is still very much in the top echelon of superhero movies. It is also groundbreaking in that it is the first female solo movie that succeeded where too many others have failed.

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It’s impossible to overstate how critical this movie was for DC Comics, Warner Brothers, and superhero movies in general. “Wonder Woman” had so much riding on it from the get go, but it succeeded. It rose to the challenge. Much like Wonder Woman herself, this movie dared to defy convention and do something special.

If I had to score this movie, I would give it a solid 4.5 out of 5. It has all the right elements. It’s concise, compelling, and satisfying. It is a wonder unto itself. It was a long time coming, but like so many things, it was worth the wait.

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