Dec 6, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 650: Wonder Woman #3, April 1987

http://www.comics.org/issue/885421/

So, um, this comic was amazing.

First, the Perez/Wein team is something I can't believe I've never read til now. Perez has always, always, meant superheroes to me. My first foray into the DCU was Crisis, pencilled by Perez in all 12 issues (I think). For me, Perez's style (or Phil Jiminez, or Darick Robertson) perfectly balances the realistic and the superhuman. They're not afraid to make these characters larger than life - they simply don't place them outside of Life.

But that's not the only thing. I know this is issue 3, and I don't know what the previous ones have been like, but the 4 of the 5 most interesting characters in this issue are women. And not just tiny spandex-wearing women (though WW wears it well!), but a university professor, her insecure daughter, and a brilliant reimagining of the Golden Age Wonder Woman's pal Etta Candy, now a military member (I have no idea how to talk about ranks and denominations in the military. It's a failing). Only Steve Trevor represents the male of the species, Considering that this comic is almost 30 years old, and was published by a major comics/entertainment corporation, that's pretty remarkable. Four fully-developed characters who are women in a superhero comic from the 1980s. I'm surprised.

However, this is where DC were at this point in the 80s. That decade gets short shrift because of some questionable fashion and political choices (Flock of Seagulls hair? Ronald Reagan?), but in comics you were getting things like Byrne's revamp of Superman, which, though I'm not a fan of Byrne, is really pretty fantastic. Frank Miller had change Batman forever, and Alan Moore had proven that superhero comics could tell stories on par with the literary. Over at Marvel, Roger Stern was telling incredible stories with the Avengers, and Mark Gruenwald was showing us a world where the Justice Leag...errr, sorry, the Squadron Supreme became a frighteningly convincing dictatorship. I think the only reason Perez's Wonder Woman doesn't get the same treatment as some of these other works is that the main character is a woman. Though the comic demonstrates a surprising equity in its characters, the culture that surrounded it did not.

I think I'm going to have to see about finding Perez's run on this title. It looks to be something special.

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