Wonder Woman, Flying, Part 2: Beauty and Sacrament

By Brad Fruhauff

Continued from yesterday.

wonderwoman2In this scene from Batman’s first meeting with Wonder Woman in Trinity, you can feel the writer Matt Wagner’s personality trumping the artist; though it doesn’t really add much to the narrative, Wagner can’t help but let Bats make a crack about her costume.

Superheroines’ costumes are perpetually controversial, it seems (perhaps because few artists have done much to better protect their heroines), and I sympathize with those who critique the way women are often overly sexualized in ways men are not. I don’t agree that the antidote is more sexualized male bodies. That strikes me as the kind of capitalistic, individualistic, hedonistic thinking that led to the hypersexualization of all bodies at the magazine racks. But at the same time, I also don’t believe we need more realistic bodies or body armor in all cases.

Take Wonder Woman flying, for instance. Yes, it stretches the suspension of disbelief to breaking to put her in a strapless one-piece “armor” (and yes, it is frequently referred to as armor; if you look, you’ll see the chest-piece and waistband are, in fact, metal). Some newer series and geek blogs have tried to re-imagine her costume in more realistic terms with some success, but increased realism comes at the cost of bringing Diana closer down to earth. [Read more...]

Wonder Woman, Flying, Part 1: Transcendent Hope

By Brad Fruhauff

wonderwoman1It’s one of my favorite images of Diana of Themyscira, a.k.a. Wonder Woman: her proud, bold body fills the page as she soars across a pink sunset, arms spread wide like a diver, her legs not straight but slightly askew as if skipping on the air.

As someone who never had much use for comics, I’m still a little surprised that I even have a favorite image of Wonder Woman, or that I prefer to call her Diana. Now she intrigues me for many reasons, but it was this image that helped me to “get” her and, indeed, to fall in love with her character.

I’ve read probably a hundred comic book titles in the six years since I really started to get into them—and I mean full-on novels running several hundred pages as well as the volumes that collect five to eight issues of a series—but I still tend to think of them as lighter fare, the medium I looked to for mental stimulation those early nights of parenthood when my newborn needed rocking, the medium I still prefer when my children, now six and three, are playing by themselves but I’m not confident I’ll be able to focus for long.

Yet for all their blatant dialogue and over-the-top action, I find that the good comics really do reach beyond entertainment status to become serious, thoughtful stories about morality, justice, and even the violence so central to many of them. And like any good story, the best comics develop these themes through the tools of their medium and not merely through a few key lines of dialogue. That’s what this image from George Pérez’s 1980s reboot of Wonder Woman does for me. [Read more...]

Watchmen and Dr. Manhattan’s Miracles

I came late to the DC Comic’s collected Watchmen, the groundbreaking graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I backed into it really, watched the movie first with my sons. Though I tell them it’s usually best to read the book first, it seemed okay in this instance to watch the movie because it’s based on comic books. Of course the word comic is not a good description of what we get.

Watchmen is the story of a retired group of masked avengers who are being murdered one by one. The setting is an alternate United States in which Nixon remained president, won reelection, and crushed the North Vietnamese army, and is now changing the laws so that he can remain president indefinitely. Also, Nixon’s finger is itchy to nuke the Russians.

First published in the late eighties, the specter of the mutually assured destruction of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., and basically the total nuclear annihilation of the world hangs heavy over this dark story. In that sense it is dated, but it is still a great read.   [Read more...]