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Grumpy Old Fan | How Wonder Woman’s past can help the Finches

To coin a phrase

To coin a phrase

After three years, Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang are wrapping up their Wonder Woman run. Starting with November’s Issue 36, the new creative team will be writer Meredith Finch and her husband, artist David Finch.

While it would be silly to pass judgment completely on the Finches four months before their debut, I have to say my initial reaction wasn’t entirely positive. Consider the creative teams on the four main books of Diana’s Trinitarian brothers. Although detoured by the “Doomed” crossover, Action Comics’ team of writer Greg Pak and artist Aaron Kuder has been well-received. Superman just kicked off the Geoff Johns/John Romita Jr. era. Detective Comics picked up Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato after their stylish success on The Flash; and Batman features the unstoppable Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. For that matter, Azzarello/Chiang was one of several distinct creative teams that debuted as part of the initial New 52 relaunch and set itself apart instantly from any DC house style. Besides Snyder/Capullo on Batman and Manapul/Buccellato on Flash, there were Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman on Animal Man, J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman on Batwoman, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino on I Vampire, Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen on OMAC, and Snyder and Yanick Paquette on Swamp Thing. Accordingly, Azzarello and Chiang have seemed right at home helming Wonder Woman.

By contrast, as a writing/drawing team the Finches are an unknown quantity. Meredith Finch has written a few one-shots; and since coming to DC from Marvel, David Finch’s projects have been plagued by delays.

Now, these may all turn out to be moot points. The Finches may have the perfect take on Wonder Woman. They are certainly very enthusiastic, even if he has been a bit tone-deaf. We won’t know for sure how their Wonder Woman will read until this fall — but I can still offer some historical perspective, and maybe a little advice.
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Jamie McKelvie shows how he’d redesign Iron Man

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Jamie McKelvie may be spending his days working on his new creator-owned series The Wicked + The Divine, but that doesn’t mean he’s not still thinking about superheroes from time to time. The artist, who had a successful run at Marvel on Young Avengers, The Defenders and X-Men: Season One, has unveiled an Iron Man redesign he came up with the other night, just for fun.

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IDW’s ‘Wonder Woman’ collection reprints a Golden Age rarity

wonder woman_newspaper_ad_1943[Editor’s note: Every Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss “The best in comics from the last seven days” — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

For a character who had just debuted a couple of years earlier, the prospect of a Wonder Woman newspaper strip was a clear sign of the Amazing Amazon’s immense popularity. However, in the crowded, competitive field of newspaper comics — where the first Batman newspaper strip lasted only about three years, ironically because it was vying for space against the successful Superman strip — Wonder Woman couldn’t establish herself. Still, IDW has restored what history has all but forgotten, and this August the publisher will reprint the strip’s 19-month run.

I’ve seen a few weeks’ worth of these strips here and there over the years, and they’re a lot like the Golden Age comics. This is hardly surprising, since they were written by creator William Moulton Marston and drawn by original artist Harry G. Peter. However, the newspaper format apparently allowed Marston and Peter to open up their storytelling styles, allowing for a slightly different pace and a more long-form approach.

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IDW to release Wonder Woman comic strip collection in August

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The original Wonder Woman comic strip will be collected for the first time in August in IDW Publishing’s 196-page hardcover Wonder Woman: The Complete Newspaper Strip 1943-1944.

It’s part of the March 2013 partnership with DC Entertainment and the Library of American Comics that includes the Superman and Batman comic strip collections. Unlike the other two superheroes, who had lengthy tenures in newspapers (even if the Caped Crusader’s was broken up into three major runs), Wonder Woman’s was short-lived, lasting only from May 1, 1943 to Dec. 1, 1944.

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Heroes keep an eye on Toronto from neighborhood watch signs

lamb4Toronto residents may have noticed a host of classic heroes, from Wonder Woman to Astro Boy to the Fantastic Four, are now protecting the city’s streets. At least that’s what many of the neighborhood watch signs insist.

According to CBC News, an artist calling himself Andrew Lamb has “hacked” as many as 70 of the signs, pasting over the familiar houses-with-eyeballs icons with the even more familiar figures from comic books, television and movies (Mr. Rogers, Cliff Huxtable and Dale Cooper, among them).

“I walked by and thought those signs would be much better with a superhero up there,” he told CBC News. “The first one was a splash page — a common thing in comic books, a bunch of superheros popping out at you. Then came Batman and Robin, RoboCop, Beverly Hills Cop, and then it snowballed.”

Lamb acknowledges his project is “technically illegal” — he’s received just two vandalism complaints — but he doesn’t believe it’s “ethically or morally wrong.”

You can see more photos of his handiwork below, and on Lamb’s Instagram account.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Summertime blues for DC in August

Happy trails

Happy trails

Considering that the July solicitations also previewed September’s Futures End tie-ins, and the final issue of Forever Evil arrives this week after being scheduled originally for March, the August listings feel like just one more ingredient in a jumbled publishing stew. When it’s all done, maybe we’ll see that it’s all worked together. Now, though, we might have to wait until the October solicits for a clearer picture of where DC’s superhero line is going.

EARTH DAZE

In the wake of the New 52′s various revisions, the Grant Morrison-written The Multiversity miniseries seems like an artifact — if not a relic — from the pre-relaunch days. Like the Morrison-written Batman Incorporated, it was originally conceived in that environment, when legacy characters abounded and beloved Silver Age elements were reemerging. Of course, with Earth 2, Worlds’ Finest, Forever Evil and Futures End, parallel worlds have hardly been absent from the New 52; so perhaps The Multiversity is meant to expand that storytelling device even further. I get the feeling that many things are about to change (again) for DC’s shared superhero line, and if some Morrison-infused characters are going to be part of that, I hope they stick around for a while.

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Quote of the Day | Cliff Chiang on drawing Wonder Woman

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“I felt a lot of pressure taking on this icon and knowing that Wonder Woman means so much to so many people. When I’m drawing her, I try to think about what that character is and make sure that I am paying respect to what other people feel about her. I’m trying to draw a character; I’m trying to draw a living, breathing person and make them feel as alive as I can to the reader. It’s funny when people come up to me and say they really like the way I draw her. They appreciate that she’s not oversexualized. That’s really a decision that an artist has to make — and it’s a lot of decisions. It’s not just, ‘Hey, whoops, my pen slipped and she’s suddenly too sexy.’ You’ve got to draw that thong bikini, you’ve got to draw those big boobs and all that stuff. I feel like we have to check ourselves and say, ‘Well, is this really accomplishing telling the story that we want to tell?’”

– artist Cliff Chiang, talking with CBR TV about developing his take on DC’s Wonder Woman

Grumpy Old Fan | Clothes calls, or the perils of practicality

Boys and their toys

Boys and their toys

This past week (ish), DC Entertainment was so pervasive in the television upfronts, it almost made me forget the company still publishes comics. Joining Arrow on the 2014/2015 TV schedule will be adaptations of The Flash, iZombie and Constantine, as well as the Bat-prequel Gotham. (And hey, that was Caity “Black Canary” Lotz reprising her role as Don’s pregnant-hippie “niece” on Sunday’s Mad Men!) Moreover, we’ve now seen a moody black-and-white photo of Ben Affleck as Batman, standing next to his new Batmobile and ready to dominate the next Superman movie; and The CW has shown us a nifty little clip of the Flash in action.

While I’m prepared to like all of these shows, and certainly willing to give them reasonable opportunities to succeed, once again they remind me that no comic — and certainly no superhero comic — can be adapted to live-action with complete fidelity. Indeed, by taking its cue directly from the comics of the ‘40s and ‘50s, the old Adam West/Burt Ward Batman show was one of the more faithful projects. Likewise, the pilot of the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman series didn’t go too far from Diana’s earliest adventures in All Star Comics #8 and Sensation Comics #1. However, I don’t think that approach would work these days.

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Heroes get back to nature in digitally manipulated photos

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It’s not often that we see superheroes enjoying some quiet time and communing with nature, most likely because that would make for some incredibly boring comic books. However, the concept leads to some lovely images, as photographer and digital artist Benoit Lapray demonstrates in his series “The Quest for the Absolute.”

Dropping costumed characters into (mostly) serene settings, Lapray creating scenes of Thor strolling in a lush forest, Spider-Man resting at the side of a winding mountain road, the Silver Surfer pondering a deep valley, Wonder Woman perching in the spray of a waterfall, and more.

Check out some of the images below, and more on Lapray’s website.

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‘JL8′: Kiddie Justice League, grown-up friendships

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Comic book romances can be downright embarrassing. In the Silver Age, Lois Lane spent all her time scheming to get married to Superman while sniping at her rival Lana Lang. During the Claremont years, the soap opera-caliber drama in Uncanny X-Men generated as much angst as the mutant-prejudice angle. It works because the audiences were, respectively, small children and teenagers. The potential embarrassment of rejection and the alien nature of girls or boys really is all you know about love at that age. As an adult, however, it’s hard not to read these comics and go, “Why are these adult characters all acting like a bunch of 8-year-olds?”

You know when it’s not quite so embarrassing? When the characters themselves are 8 years old. Yale Stewart’s JL8 (formerly known as Little League) envisions the members of the Justice League as little kids. I don’t know how he gets away with it, as DC Comics already has its own “superheroes as little kids” concept with Tiny Titans (the publisher doesn’t appear to mind, though, as the webcomic seems to have led to a deal for a Superman book). The characters of JL8 look less abstract, though, resembling characters in an ’80s Saturday morning cartoon. (Justice League Babies?) Or, perhaps even more appropriately, they all seem to have leaped off the same character sheet as Art Adams’ X-Babies.

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Grumpy Old Fan | DC’s July looks toward the horizon

Whosoever holds this hammer...

Whosoever holds this hammer…

For a while it felt as if DC Comics was just going to talk about all its July books without ever soliciting them. News of Grayson and Robin Rising and relaunches of Suicide Squad and Teen Titans trickled out of the DC offices before the dam finally burst on Tuesday afternoon. (That’s why this week’s planned look at the “pilot episode” of Batman Eternal will have to wait.)

In fact, these solicitations are a little overstuffed, with a list of DC’s special September issues that lets us compare and contrast. Note too that while the September issues take place in The Future, they’re only two months removed from their July predecessors — so a good bit of current storylines may well be put on hold.

BECAUSE YOU LOVE THE NUMBERS

Here are the numbers. For the superhero line, DC is soliciting 42 regular ongoing series in July, plus the penultimate issue of Superman Unchained and an extra issue of Justice League. (It’s also putting out five annuals, five issues each of Batman Eternal and Futures End, a Harley Quinn special and the Robin Rising special, for a grand total of 61 single issues.) For September, there are 40 special Futures End tie-in issues, with 3-D covers like those on last year’s “Villains Month” comics. Basically, all the regular ongoing series except All Star Western, Justice League 3000 and Secret Origins get a Futures End issue in September. That doesn’t necessarily mean those three series are canceled, as none of them is part of Futures End’s “five years later” premise. September also includes a Booster Gold: Futures End issue, which one might reasonably think is a good indication of a new series for Booster — but I guess we’ll have to wait and see to be sure. Thus, July’s 42 ongoings, minus the three non-participating series, plus the Booster Gold issue, equal September’s 40 issues.

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‘If there’s a movie you’re gonna lose money on, make it Wonder Woman’

Falcon Halloween costume

Falcon Halloween costume

“When I first got this role I just cried like a baby because I was like, ‘Wow, next Halloween, I’m gonna open the door and there’s gonna be a little kid dressed as the Falcon.’ That’s the thing that always gets me. I feel like everybody deserves that. I feel like there should be a Latino superhero. Scarlett does great representation for all the other girls, but there should be a Wonder Woman movie. I don’t care if they make 20 bucks, if there’s a movie you’re gonna lose money on, make it Wonder Woman. You know what I mean, ’cause little girls deserve that. There’s so many of these little people out here doing awful things for money in the world of being famous. And little girls see that. They should have the opposite spectrum of that to look up to.”

Captain America: The Winter Soldier star Anthony Mackie, discussing playing the Falcon, and the need for more representation of women and minorities in superhero movies

Dustin Nguyen T-shirt offers new spin on Wonder Woman

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Dustin Nguyen has revealed a T-shirt design that undoubtedly will be a must-buy for fans of the artist and of the classic Wonder Woman: “Wonder Woman: Transform,” capturing the character’s fast-spinning change from Diana Prince to the Amazing Amazon. See the full image below.

The shirt will be available “soon” from Graphitti Designs.

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Comics-inspired typographic prints might look good on your wall

poster-flash

Comics fans searching for a visually bold yet affordable way to liven up a room may find something that suits their tastes, and their budgets, from GeekMyWall, which offers a line of striking typographic posters inspired by comics characters.

Harley Quinn, Batman, Green Lantern, Rorschach, V — they’re all represented in prints beginning at 11 inches by 17 inches or $25. Each figure is created from character-appropriate quotes. For instance, Wonder Woman is, “Of all people, you know who I am … …who the world needs me to be. I’m Wonder Woman.” And The Flash: “‘I’m getting lectured on child safety from a man who’s gone through four Robins?”

They’re also available as T-shirts. And if the comic characters aren’t for you, there are plenty of television- and movie-themed options.

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Sideshow debuts Wonder Woman statue by Kris Anka

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Sideshow Collectibles has unveiled its Wonder Woman Premium Format Figure, based on a design by X-Men artist Kris Anka.

“Handcrafted with austere beauty and fierce determination, Princess Diana of Themyscira dons her iconic costume of stars and stripes, sworn to protect the world and uphold her mantle as Wonder Woman,” the Sideshow description reads. “[...] She carries a long spear across her shoulders, and her iconic shield grasped firmly at her side – but above all, she carries the Amazons’ message of peace and justice.”

The Sideshow Exclusive version gives collectors the option of replacing Wonder Woman’s shield with a labrys. Both versions are priced at $399.99; preorders begin Thursday.

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