Thursday, March 29, 2007

Introducing (and Reintroducing) Diana Prince

This issue was my first introduction to Wonder Woman: #105 of The Brave and the Bold, February 1973 (I was eight years old!) with story by Bob Haney and art by the great Jim Aparo. In the story, Bruce Wayne suspects he is being gaslighted by a family from Gotham's Latin Quarter and calls in his friend Diana Prince for a little undercover action. She poses as a chaperone from a fictional agency and promptly "warms" her way into the unsuspecting family (who really aren't hatching a plot against Wayne).

Again, I remember trying to figure her out. This was Wonder Woman? She speaks about running a boutique, "when business is good". (Really, was there a time in the early 70s when mod stylish clothing wasn't vanishing off the shelves?) But I guess that was as good an excuse as any to be off adventuring, rather than selling clothes. And what about this "Amazon guardian angel" who appears? What?!? More than a little confusing.

This was a strange time in the Wonder Woman history. She'd renounced her Amazon immortality and god-given strengths in her grief following Steve Trevor's death and ran around taking the advice of a guy called I Ching (I kid you not!) and often seeming to act like a helpless female. If only she'd known that Trevor would twice be brought back from the dead before the Crisis eventually brought about her total reboot.

To be clear, though, whatever Diana's shortcomings at the time, she still held her own in battle at Batman's side...and they get the real villians of the piece exposed and captured in short order. But this appearance really didn't do too much for me as far as establishing Diana as a major player in the universe. Thankfully, that wouldn't come too much later.

* * *

It's fun to look at that time period again now, since the Diana Prince identity, as well as a variation on the white pantsuits of that time, are being revisited in current issues of Wonder Woman. Today's DP is decidedly more self-assured (and thanks to Terry and Rachel Dodson, more beautiful than ever!), of course, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of her.

There's been no lack of internet furor about Allan Heinberg's run on the new Wonder Woman. I read the most recent issue (#4) this past weekend, and I'd like to add my Two Cents. I gotta say, I really like what he's been doing. Yes, the time delays have been dreadful and frustrating (and seemingly disrespectful of a character who, unfortunately, has been shown a lot of disrespect over the years--fortunately she's strong, she can take it.), but there's plenty of good here.

Mr. Heinberg's got his hands full writing Diana at this point in her history. Prior to the Infinite Crisis, she was forced to kill Max Lord to stop him controlling Superman and that will, for a time, change many things about the character. Her conversation during IC with the original Wonder Woman surely gave her even more to think about. While it sounds like the dream assignment for a WW fan/writer, really, its got to be a little bit of a nightmare, too. Do you say something completely new and ignore the recent past? Do you use up your shot rehashing what has come before? I've spent more than a few hours of this last year trying to imagine what story I'd choose to tell under the circumstances.

I can't help but wonder if Allan was somehow hamstrung by the mysteries surrounding the events of 52 and Diana's eventual appearances there. I'd love nothing more than for the last chapter of his story "Who is Wonder Woman" to come out soon and reveal that the delay in story-telling here somehow relates to the whole business of time anomolies in that other title ('cause you just know all the clamouring internet horde would be all "oh, we knew that's what he was doing--we love him" ).

It's true, the Dodsons' art is absolutely mesmerizing me, but one thing's clear: Heinberg writes a strong Diana. He has a good sense of who she is and what she believes in, and also seems to know what she's struggling against these days. In the past she has often been quick to leap into battle, but these days, a little more thought is required first. Under his pen, she hasn't done a single thing out of character...except maybe refer to Hercules (one point here, Allan: it really should be Heracles)with the respect of the title "Lord."

I look forward to the concluding chapter of this run, even though it's not likely to come out 'til the fall, just to see our Diana kick the butts of all those villains who swarm her in the last panel. (Another thing I'll say for Allan, he writes a heck of a cliffhanger!)

1 comment:

SallyP said...

Gosh, I just love Aparo art. I still love his and Neil Adams stuff on Batman.

Now contrast Wonder Woman with the latest issue by Picoult, wherein she barely knows what money is for, or how to pump gas, or order coffee.

She ran her own business for heaven's sake! Presumably she had to file taxes, pay bills, order merchandise, etc.

I can understand the coffee thing though. I've NEVER been in a Starbucks in my life. My smartass teenage son however, likes to go in and torture the barristas by ordering a "cup of joe".