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Wonder Woman
The 2017 Wonder Woman movie, Wonder Woman comic books, George Pérez, and Crisis on Infinite Earths






crisis
June 30, 2017


The universe will never be the same.

Crisis
Superhero comics can be viewed as pre- and post- Crisis on Infinite Earths. In my previous post (below), I talked about the role George Pérez had on Crisis, but not his impact or why Crisis happened.

Comic books are a mostly visual media. There have been comic books without words, but not comics without images... those would be called Books. Pérez filled the panels and covers with characters from DC Comics history, making each page of the 12-issue limited series a treat for the comic book reading eyes. Pérez came up with the name Crisis on Infinite Earths and crammed Crisis full of details and characters in a last hurrah before the DC universe became much more simple. He made it a visual masterpiece.

Crisis on Infinite Earths issue 1 cover

It may have started about the time when superhero comics were new. In the March 1940 issue of Pep Comics, the Wizard joins forces with the Shield. Two heroes teamed up. Heroes had teamed up throughout ancient mythology, but that issue of Pep Comics started the whole problem of Crisis: both characters exist in the same universe, which is great when they team up, but not so great the rest of the time. The next time Shield is in a tough situation, readers would wonder why he doesn't just call his pal, The Wizard?

Later in 1940, the Justice Society became a permanent superhero group, cementing superhero team-ups. DC superheroes all lived in the same universe. When they got in big trouble, they had to explain away why other heroes weren't available to come help save the world.

Each comic book or set of comic books about a character or team would have a different writing style and editting style.

One character might be written to age naturally while another might be perpetually 29 years old. Team-ups and superhero groups lead to continuity problems, which were ultimately explained away as happening on another Earth. (Another Earth?!?) Yeah, another Earth in another universe. There isn't only one universe. There is a multiverse of unlimited universes separated by differing vibrational frequencies, which could be transversed by beings capable of controlling the vibrations of their molecules, like the Flash(s). Having multiple Earths in the multiverse became as normal as splash pages, and every summer in the 1960s, the Justice League of Earth-One would team-up with the Justice Society of Earth -Two. Each of these universe-crossing stories were called a Crisis of something or other, but the big Crisis was caused by success and age.

The problem with the mid-1980s centered around the success of the Teen Titans. The revamped sidekick group were mostly not-teens, mostly-mature, and progressing from being sidekicks. Time passed for the sidekicks but not for their mentors. Robin became Nightwing and is in his early 20s but Batman is in his late 20s. It didn't make sense.

Meanwhile over on Earth-Two, writer Roy Thomas showed an aging Justice Society in a new comic book and a new set of younger heroes, Infinity Inc in another comic book.

What Roy Thomas was establishing made sense in a continuity and serialized progression sense. But not in a licensing sense. DC was obligated to publishing its key characters (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) looking the way they were trademarked to look. Character image licensing did not fit with age progression.

DC welcomed ideas. Marvel writer Chris Claremont suggested that the older Earth-Two (original) Superman be revealed at the end of Crisis as wearing makeup to look older and would become the only Superman.

It seems as if Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns story of an older Batman may have sprung out of Crisis conversations.

If there were any one DC writer who particularly lost their active characters and comic books due to Crisis, it was Roy Thomas, who lost both the Justice Society and by extension Infinity Inc.

Crisis writer Marv Wolfman said he had a rule not to kill off any character created before he was born. He didn't kill off the Justice Society. He just sent them to limbo, a universe of nothing.


Music Association: Joe Walsh - Life Of Illusion - “Continual Crisis









Hero Uplifts Superhero
George Pérez
June 20, 2017


Wonder Woman is a superhero who, for her first forty-five years, rarely lived up to her potential. In 1986, the talents of George Pérez and others uplifted Wonder Woman to her proper status as a top superhero.

George Pérez was born in the South Bronx on June 9, 1954 to recently immigrated Puerto Rican parents. He learned English from superhero comic books and at five years old, started drawing with the bathroom hamper lid as a drawing board. After graduating from Cardinal Hayes high school in 1972, Pérez got a job as a bank teller across the street from DC Comics (then at 666 Fifth Avenue, so maybe it was Chase Bank across 52nd Avenue), while trying to get hired as a comic book artist. He was offered some work as an assistant to Rick Buckler at Marvel Comics, while working days at the bank. When he accidently threw away $500 at the bank, Pérez became a freelance artist, picking up any work he could.

He became skilled at drawing the things other artists didn't want to draw: buildings, skylines, crowds, superhero teams (with no hope for creator royalties & more faces to draw for the same amount of money). He looked for ways to differentiate characters and how they interacted. His timing was perfect because Marvel was expanding and had more comic books than people to fill the jobs. Pérez was getting a reputation for drawing any project, from Man-Wolf in 1974 to an Enter the Dragon knock-off. His growth as an artist, willingness to tackle tougher assignments, and love for superhero groups led him to Avengers, then Fantastic Four, then Avengers plus Justice League (DC) and Teen Titans (DC). His work as artist and co-plotter with writer Marv Wolfman on Teen Titans caused him to drop Avengers and later Justice League. Teen Titans were half a reboot team of Justice League sidekicks (Robin, Kid-Flash, Wondergirl) and half new characters (Cyborg, Raven, Starfire), plus Changeling (Beast Boy from Doom Patrol). The Teen Titans were not expected to do well when it launched in 1980, but they became the most profitable title for DC Comics, and helped spark a revolution in creator licensing.

Having effectively rebooted an obscure superhero team into top selling comic books, DC executives wanted the same treatment for the entire company. George Pérez and Marv Wolfman were tapped for a project to clean up DC Comics comic book continuity, 1985's multiverse shattering Crisis on Infinite Earths. Pérez viewed it as the opportunity of a lifetime to draw all the characters in DC Comics history, no matter how obscure and shape the future of DC Comics. The reboot led to John Byrne coming from Marvel to take over on two Superman titles. And Batman was rebooted in part by Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli. But what about the reboot of Wonder Woman?

Wonder Woman - Pre-Crisis
If DC Comics were to stop publishing Wonder Woman, creative control would revert back to her creator William Moulton Marston (under the name Charles Moulton). DC was legally obligated to publish Wonder Woman comics or lose the rights to the character.
Wonder Woman 1986 ad
The new Wonder Woman
DC comic book writer Greg Potter and editor Janice Rand spent several months trying to decide what aspects of Wonder Woman history to keep, and Potter decided to establish her in his home town of Boston. Potter conceived the Amazons being reincarnations of women murdered through pre-history. Months before the launch of the new Wonder Woman, George Pérez came on as co-plotter and penciller, commiting for the first six issues. So the first two issues (comic companies learned the value of renumbering -- first issues sell extra collectible copies) of Wonder Woman had Greg Potter scripting (& co-plotting), George Pérez pencilling (& co-plotting), Bruce Patterson inking, John Costanza lettering, Tatjana Wood coloring, and Karen Berger editing. After those first two issues, Greg Potter left to focus on being the creative director for a Connecticut-based advertising agency, according to Karen Berger in the letter column to issue 5. According to George Pérez in a 2001 interview with Andy Mangels, “When it became obvious by issue two that the series was definitely leaning toward my creative vision, Greg decided to leave the book.” Seasoned superhero writer Len Wein joined the team as scripter. Pérez was now plotter of Wonder Woman in addition to pencilling the next six issues, before reducing his artwork to layouts, with Bruce Patterson doing finishes. Pérez wanted to write and he submitted ten pages to editor Karen Berger. Berger gave them back to Pérez to rewrite. He praises her editing for helping him to become a better writer. From issue 17 through issue 62 in 1992, George Pérez was the writer of Wonder Woman.

All of that is my longwinded way of saying comic books are generally a collaborative process, even if the collaborators are never in the same room together. In a moment, I will describe the Wonder Woman of George Pérez, but when I do so I am in no way slighting the tone set by Greg Potter or Karen Berger's editing or any of the artists that finished the pencils or layouts Pérez put on Bristol board.

The Differences of George Pérez's Wonder Woman
Here are some of the changes found in the post-Crisis reboot of Wonder Woman
   • The mythology of the goddesses and gods in Wonder Woman had their basis in Greek mythology. (Previously it was a hodge-podge of Roman and Greek mythology.)
   • Themyscira became the home of the Amazons, named after their fallen Amazon capitol. (Previously it was called Paradise Island.)
   • Amazons wore leather and metal clothes suitable for fighting, when fighting. (Previously dresses or togas.)
   • Many but not all Amazons are lesbians. (Previously hints at homosexuality appear throughout the 76 year history.)
   • Menalippe, Antiope, and General Philippus were introduced as key Amazons.
   • Bondage no longer causes Wonder Woman to lose her powers. 
   • Wonder Woman fights with a sword, shield, and battleaxe.

What's funny is that Pérez went from drawing vast casts of characters in Avengers, Justice League, Teen Titans, Crisis, the History of DC Comics, many covers to the Who's Who in DC Comics to... Wonder Woman, an individual superhero without a large cast of supporting characters. So he developed a supporting pantheon of Greek goddesses (and gods), a supporting army of Amazons, and many Bostonians. He created a crowd around Wonder Woman, both in supporting characters and fans.

And much of the tone and Amazon backstory of the Wonder Woman movie came from the Wonder Woman of George Pérez.

Wonder Woman volume 2, issue 1

Music Association: Kimberly Locke - 8th World Wonder








Movie Re-Review
Wonder Woman (2017) movie
June 13, 2017


I held the door for my better half and two college-aged women at the Wonder Woman movie. One of the women asked if it was assigned seats, and I said no. If this was her first movie theater experience, wow, good choice.

When I previously reviewed Wonder Woman, I was uncharacteristically influenced by my better half. I saw it as a 4 star movie. She saw it more like a 3 star movie. This time around we both saw it as a 5 star movie. And we sat through the credits long enough to see the thank you's to Lynda Carter, the actress who shined above the Wonder Woman TV series, and George Pérez, the artist and storyteller who elevated Wonder Woman comics to a (Mount) Olympic level.

The whole Wonder Woman movie is greater than the sum of its parts; the execution is superior to the story. We bow humbly to director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot.

The movie is a masterpiece. It's the sort of movie to see if you are going to a movie for the first time. Five stars (ignore previous review).5 stars (ignore previous review)

Now, some rules for the next movie. Whatever Warner Brothers is paying Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot isn't enough. Do not damage what has been built by this film. Do not weaken Diana. Do not destroy Themyscira. Make the next movie another labor of love.

Music Association: Genesis - Turn It On Again
Maybe the next post will be about how George Pérez revolutionized Wonder Woman. Or maybe it will be about 45 turning 71 tomorrow.






Movie Review (Non-Specific Spoiler Alert)
Wonder Woman (2017) movie
June 2, 2017


The new Wonder Woman movie did not disappoint me, which is sensational.

This Wonder Woman is heroic and has limitless strength of both power and character. She is the superhero she should be. When a movie centers around a 75-year-old character, getting the character right is key.

I'm not sure she's ever actually called Wonder Woman, not that she needs to be. No one in Star Wars actually called it a star wars either.

The visuals are strong and nearly period specific. The script does not suffer from cornball humor. The sword hidden in the back of a form-fitting dress isn't cornball.

The music could use some work. Later fight scenes swipe more than musical cues of Neo's fight music from The Matrix.

The first problem with Wonder Woman is how long it took her to get to the big screen. C'mon. A little late, aren't we? (Waiting For Gadot.) The second problem is her inspiration at the turning point of the story. It seems all good, until you reflect upon it for a moment, thinking of her backstory and then it just doesn't fit (a bit too Trevor-based).

Wonder Woman is a good movie. I have to recommend it (not have to contractually, none of my reviews are paid reviews). But my four out of five stars review flickers somewhat into a three star review due to excessive scrutinizing (really wondering).4 stars, or if scrutinized, 3 stars

Music Association: Eric Clapton - Wonderful Tonight
[June 5th - edit: The opening weekend box-office results has Wonder Woman earning $103 million domestically (U.S. and Canada) and $122.5 million from 55 international markets, for a global total start of $225.6 million on an investment of $149 million. She's doing great!]
[June 20th: Wonder Woman has currently over $573 million in gross receipts.]






Webbiversary
Tenth Anniversary logo in shiny gold with an almost freshly baked smell
June 1, 2017


This is the tenth anniversary of the Twin Cities Calendar and the Hopes and Dreams website. Woo-who!

We hope you've been entertained and informed and maybe your days have been brighter due to this corner of the Internet.

The cat that throws its voice just threw up. It sounded like it was right next to me, but it was several rooms away. Anniversaries like this are a moment of  - hurrah - and then it's time to clean up.


Music Association: Badfinger - Day After Day







Movie Potential
Wonder Woman (2017) movie
May 31, 2017

Wonder Woman 2017 movie lasso
Comic book superheroes are the modern American mythology. Crossing lines between American mythology and ancient Greek mythology, no superhero has more potential than Wonder Woman, whose movie starts Friday.

At her best, she is an Amazon warrior fighting for peace and changing the world. She is a woman of wonder, a marvel of inspiration, and a hero to heroes.

Whether formed from clay and blessed by Greek gods, or born of Zeus and Hippolyta, she is as strong as Superman with differing powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men and women.

Her stories are as varied as the writers who have told them.

May her movie inspire new generations.

Music Association: Bee Gees - More Than A Woman

Wonder Woman sunset - click for larger





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