"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
My first thought when Wonder Woman with Grant [Morrison] was mentioned was ‘I don’t want her to be dressed as an American flag.’ Not because an American flag is wrong but it made no sense. She’s coming from such a rich, wonderful culture with so much iconography (Greek culture), so why does she not use that, and why would she dress up as a flag? She’s not Captain America. But at the same time, I understood that this kind of iconic color/texture is something that’s recognizable, so in that aspect it does have value. If I could reach the same design with a few differences, but make it so it’s not coming from the flag, it’s coming from a natural extension of her culture, I could live with this.
– Wonder Woman: Earth One artist Yanick Paquette, on redesigning her costume from the ground up
Wonder Woman’s costume gets a lot of attention every time someone tries to change it, but usually the discussion is about how much skin it is or isn’t covering. That’s old and tired, and I’m glad Paquette is thinking about it for a different reason. I’d argue it’s the right reason.
One of the things that seems to stump a lot of Wonder Woman writers is her mission: What the hell is she supposed to be doing in our world? Is she a warrior or an ambassador of peace? Are those mutually exclusive descriptions or can she be both at once?
I think she can be both, in the same way that in her early years she could be a bondage fetishist while also advocating freedom. People who know a lot more about bondage than I do tell me it can be an incredibly liberating experience. Likewise, some of the biggest peace advocates I know have been career soldiers. It’s a strange dichotomy, but it’s real, and I can see it working in All-Star Comics #8, the first appearance of Wonder Woman.
Resistance, Volume 2: Defiance
Written by Carla Jablonski; Illustrated by Leland Purvis
First Second; $16.99
I have fond memories of reading the first volume of Resistance. I was on a road trip with my family last year and took it with me to read in the car along with First Second’s other kids-vs-nazis book, City of Spies. I couldn’t help but be struck by the different approaches each creative team took to their similar subject matter. City of Spies is a romping adventure book while Resistance looks seriously at the reality of what opposing the Germans must have been like for children. It’s a fascinating juxtaposition and I loved both approaches so much that in comparing the two I missed some other themes, at least in Resistance. I may have missed some in City of Spies too, but reading the second volume of Resistance all by itself has allowed me to see aspects of it that go deeper than just “boy, it must have been scary for kids in those days.”
There were several themes that I expected to find in Defiance: freedom, loyalty, courage; stuff like that. What I was surprised by was a strong message that hit closer to home than those lofty ideals: relationships – especially family ones – and how incredibly hard they are. It’s difficult to live with other people – even ones that you love – and balance the variety of needs and priorities that come with several people sharing their lives. Traditional family roles can help with that (for good or ill), but what happens when your country is occupied by invading forces and everything you know and are familiar with has been turned upside down if not completely destroyed? As a mother whose husband has been taken by the Germans to work in their labor camps, how do you balance the needs of your children with the demands of putting food on the table, especially when those very Germans are extorting your livelihood for their needs?
There’s so much going on in the life of poor Mme. Tessier that it’s tempting to focus on her, but this isn’t her story. Mostly it’s Paul’s, her only son, but also it’s Paul’s sisters, teenaged Sylvie and young Marie. Though not quite a teenager himself, Paul struggles with what it means to be the man of the family; balancing that responsibility with his passion for undermining the Germans’ control on his town any way that he can. He’s not doing a very good job of it though. It’s too much to ask of a young boy and helping the Resistance is getting in the way of supporting his mom, especially when he learns that the militant Maquis are camped in the woods nearby. Joining them would mean making a real difference; much more dramatic than drawing propaganda posters and distributing flyers.
Today is Battle of Britain Day, and the British blog Bear Alley takes the opportunity to investigate a bizarre bit of popular knowledge: That the editors of the kiddie comics Beano and Dandy were on the Nazis’ death list.
Beano and Dandy traffic in broad, slapstick humor, usually involving pies in the face, broken windows, and the eternal cycle of bullying and revenge. Most stories ended with someone getting whacked with a slipper, apparently the traditional means of restoring authority in postwar Britain. But according to local lore, in the late 1930s (Dandy was founded in 1937, Beano in 1938), many of the jokes came at the expense of Hitler and Mussolini. Aware of comics’ ability to lead youth astray, the Nazis put the editors of both comics on their list of people to be dealt with once they had successfully invaded Britain.
There is actually such a list—the Sonderfahndungsliste G.B.—and anyone can read it, as London’s Imperial War Museum printed a facsimile in 1989, but apparently nobody bothered to until Bear Alley’s Steve Holland took the initiative. His finding: Although a number of newspaper editors appear on the list, along with playwright Noel Coward and novelist H.G. Wells, the Beano and Dandy editors, George Moonie and Albert Barnes, are nowhere to be found. The sole cartoonist on the list is David Low, the political cartoonist for the Evening Standard, who, not surprisingly, had been churning out anti-Nazi cartoons by the barrel. He was slated to be handed over to the Gestapo, but history dictated otherwise.
It’s not surprising that the British found this story credible, as both comics are beloved institutions over there, and the British themselves recognized the power of popular culture after the war by hanging Lord Haw-Haw, an American-born broadcaster who made Nazi propaganda broadcasts on German radio, for treason.
(Image from the pop culture blog The Daily Hitler.)