So my Wonder Woman comic arrived yesterday and I read it today.
It’s got a lot of good stuff in it, I can certainly say that. The writing is good. But I wonder if maybe I’m just not used to superhero comic pacing or something, because a lot of stuff seemed to go by very quickly without much exploration or attention to detail, mostly in the form of what seemed to be cameo appearances by other characters – not so much that I lost track of it, but it seemed like it expected the reader to take a lot of things for granted. Then again, this is Wonder Woman, which has been running for over 70 years by this point, so I guess in that context this was actually a really well-executed comic in terms of what it explained and how much time it spent on it. It integrated the cameos well enough for the purposes of the story, and in the end, that’s all that really matters. In a way, it added to the almost-camp undertones of both stories, and I have to say that I rather enjoyed that aspect of the comic
Also, Wonder Woman apparently has a sense of humour, or at least when Gail Simone is writing her, which I most certainly appreciated.
What struck me the most, though, was how coloured my expectations were of the comic after I read the foreword by Mercedes Lackey. I really, really wish I hadn’t read it until afterwards, because the whole time I was looking for all of these things that just didn’t turn up, or not the way I was expecting them to. I wish I’d gone in cold.
But it only took like an hour to read the whole thing, so I will most likely read it again. And it told a whole story, too. A bit of a self-contained episode (and then another, shorter one to follow it up). A couple of short stories, I guess. I was expecting something of a graphic novel for some reason, so that’s also part of it.
But I did like it. And if this is how Wonder Woman is supposed to be, then I think I’m a fan.
In fact it was quite surprising that she was just kind of like any other archetypal superhero you might imagine – strong, resourceful, compassionate, honourable, uber-competent – and I was expecting her to be constantly compensating for something. It’s the impression I’ve always gotten from Wonder Woman, the aura that’s been projected around her, though whether that’s due to the character or her reception or the fact that so many other female action-heroes do suffer from being written that way I have no idea. She was not, though. She came across as completely whole, and a little otherworldly – which makes sense, seeing as she’s an Amazon and all that. So yeah, I dig it. I would totally read more. By Gail Simone at least. I do strongly suspect that a big part of the reason she’s so compelling is because it’s a woman writing her. Which has happened only three or four times in Wonder Woman’s 70-year history. Not surprising, sadly.
And also she made the Lasso of Truth … cool. Like … actually cool. Not mind-bogglingly awesome or anything, but still, I don’t think there are enough points in the world to sufficiently award Gail Simone for pulling that off.
The story itself (the first, main story, The Circle) (also: spoilers, skip this paragraph to avoid) concerns Wonder Woman’s origins, and ties in with issues of both female identity and colonialism. I can at least talk about the colonialism; it was handled rather … amusingly. The story starts with WW facing down some sentient gorilla dudes and getting them on her side, and they then come back to fight for her when the Nazis invade Themyscira. She says a few lines from a poem and one of the gorillas responds: ‘Hmm. Kipling. Not my favourite.’ And I must admit that I appreciated that. Making peace with a race of Noble Savages and then getting them to fight for your agenda is a really standard colonial narrative, so I at least appreciated this little touch of self-awareness. I mean it was still happening but whatever, maybe if I was more familiar with the comic continuity it wouldn’t be quite the same. Also there’s a dude called Captain Nazi. It’s pretty hilarious, and it adds to the ‘almost-camp’ feeling that runs throughout the first story, and gets a little stronger in the second. All I can say about the theme of female identity, not being female myself, is that I thought that it worked well for the story and raised some very interesting questions.
I wasn’t expecting the stories to be as light-hearted as they were. Not that they were, strictly speaking, light-hearted affairs, but I really liked the balance between comedic and dramatic elements; it worked very well, especially in The Circle. The second story, the name of which escapes me, was pretty ridiculous, but it still worked with this dynamic. And it really is the kind of stuff you have creative license to do when you’re playing with a superhero, so obviously Gail was having a bit of fun, and as a reader I definitely enjoyed it.
I’m still not sure whether I want to actually ‘take a break’ from Tallulah right now. In terms of taking notes anyway. Not my own, but I want to read my beta feedback and keep up momentum. Having said that, though, I felt much more eager to get underway yesterday, whereas right now I’m starting to think that at least waiting until the weekend is probably a good idea, just so that I have a little bit of time to snap out of tunnel-vision mode. I think this next … phase, I don’t know what else to call it really … I’ll just play by ear and see how it goes. I should also keep track of what I’m doing with myself within it, so that I can learn from it for future projects.
I definitely think that I’ll have to incorporate more reading into my Writer Schedule, though. More stuff in general. Exercise, for instance. And a bit of socialisation. It all feeds me in some way, and writers gotta eat, yo.
I mean I can get a lot of reading done in two days. I could read, like, two novels tomorrow if I really wanted to.
And maybe I will.