Category Archives: DC Comics

What Could’ve Been: A Xena/Wonder Woman Comic

Two beautiful women with blue eyes and dark hair. Both women have ties to Greek mythology. Both women are associated with the Amazons. Both women wield swords. Both women are called “warrior princesses”. Both women have blonde sidekicks. Both women have made their mark on pop culture. They are Xena of Amphipolis and Diana of Themyscira. And they were going on an adventure together.

But it was never published.

That’s right. Dark Horse (then owner of the “Xena” license) and DC were gonna release a crossover comic of Xena and Wonder Woman. It’s like that time Dark Horse and DC did that “Batman and Superman Vs Aliens and Predators” graphic novel. I’m not making this stuff up.

Written by Beau Smith, drawn by Eduardo Barreto and read and approved by Gail Simone & Chuck Dixon, this comic never saw the light of day due to Xena‘s cancellation. That decision was made by Dan DiDio, new to DC. He believed that no one would take the comic seriously. Smith says otherwise – he still gets questions about that particular comic.

Here are some quick facts about Wonder Woman vs Xena: The Princess War Diaries.

Ares Kicks off the Story

The Ares I’m talking about is the Ares of Xena’s world. You see he’s bored and what better way to fight boredom than to jump a portal into another dimension where he comes across – you guessed it – Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl doing some amazon training. You can guess where this is going. Ares transports the superladies back to his neck of the woods where he uses his cronies to stir up some trouble then pin the blame on all four women. Oh and he wants them to fight each other all for the amusement of the gods.

The Other Villain Would Be A Male Chauvinist Pig

His name? Bolos the Manly, Ruler of Testosterone. Seriously. He thinks these ladies need the firm hand of a man and so he sets out to find them and teach them a lesson.

Warrior Women? The More the Merrier

There’s also a trio of female mercenaries who want to reclaim their title of Toughest Gal. They set out to teach Xena & Wonder Woman & Gabrielle & Wonder Girl a lesson.

You Can Contact Beau Smith And Tell Him What You Think

He doesn’t tell us what happens after Xena and Gabrielle beat up those lady mercenaries but he like to hear our thoughts on the comic that never was. Click here for more info.

So, Planet X readers, I’d like to hear from you. If Wonder Woman and Xena met, what kind of adventures would they have? Sound off in the comments. No slash fiction please. Keep it clean.

 

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Don’t Knock “Man of Steel” to Build Up “Wonder Woman”

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Well.

What was originally a planned review of Wonder Woman – a film I’ve already seen twice in theaters – is now a lecture about how the internet’s irritating habit of throwing shade at any franchise’s predecessors, needs to stop.

What made me decide to write this post was this article by Mikhail Lecaros from GMA News Online titled “Wonder Women: Gal Gadot’s Live Action Predecessors, From Lynda to Dawn”. The “listicle” gives a run down of actresses who donned the mantle of the Amazing Amazon before Gal Gadot, from a silly 1967 pilot starring a pre-Planet of the Apes Linda Harrison to an even sillier 2011 pilot starring Adrienne Palicki. As I scroll to the bottom, it turns into a totally different article. When discussing the beloved 2017 film, it compares it to the 1978 Superman and the current Captain America series (say what?). Then it goes into this little gem:

In an age of overwhelming uncertainty and cynicism, it is downright refreshing to see a hero up on the big screen who’s doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, and not as a result of contrived pathos or self-loathing. Seeing as the DC Extended Universe’s big-screen idea of Superman is an angst-ridden loner with a predilection for killing and collateral damage, Wonder Woman is an excellent choice to be the upcoming “Justice League’s” moral compass.

But who knows? There’s buzz that Superman’s current bout with death will see him resurrected to be more of the virtuous leader he’s usually known to be, but that seems to be more of a retroactive fix than anything else. In Gadot’s Wonder Woman, the DCEU has finally given moviegoers something we never thought we would see from this franchise: a hero we can all look up to.

Take that, Henry Cavill.

There’s so much wrong with these last two paragraphs. First of all it takes attention away from Wonder Woman and centers it on her male counterparts. Hidden sexism right there. As if a woman can’t rise through the ranks without bringing a man down. People didn’t go to see Wonder Woman in droves because they were hoping for a DC film “done right”. They went because they wanted to prove that female superhero movies can be successful. They weren’t looking for a hero to look up to – we already saw her as a hero – that’s why we wanted a Wonder Woman movie and DC delivered. Second it singles out Henry Cavill, an actor just because the author didn’t like his take on Superman. But why Henry Cavill, who had no control over the script and was only doing what he was told to do? Why not say “take that William Dozier” or “take that David E. Kelley”? Better yet, why not say “take that Marvel” who – after 15 films so far – has only one planned female superhero movie? Drop dead, I say. Why have there been three actors to play the Incredible Hulk but no She-Hulk movie? Why not Spider-Gwen: Homecoming instead of Spider-Man: Homecoming? And since Marvel left Peggy’s story in mid-air, it’s high time they give us a third season in the form of an Agent Carter movie.

 Say what you will about the DCEU, but at least their Wonder Woman movie was their fourth entry and there are rumors of a Wonder Woman sequel, a Batgirl movie and a Gotham City Sirens movie which has Margot Robbie reprising her role of Harley Quinn. I’ll take this moment to also point out that despite having a male lead, Man of Steel treated its female characters a lot better than most superhero movies:

  • Throughout the film, 15 women appeared on the screen with at least one speaking line.
  • Both of Superman’s mothers outlive his fathers and both have a scene where they stand up to the villain(s). Let’s also not forget “YOU THINK YOU CAN THREATEN MY MOTHER?!”
  • Not one female character is subject to the male gaze yet Superman was subject to the female gaze twice: when Faora gave him the roving eye and when a women soldier said “I just think he’s kinda hot”.
  • The only female character that was subject to the male gaze was a victim of sexual harassment – and Clark came to her defense (I had to smile when that sexual harasser walked out of the bar and found his big rig destroyed – HA!).
  • For the first time Lois Lane wears pants on the job instead of a skirt – ’nuff said.
  • Speaking of Lois, she’s the one who learns from Jor-El how to escape from Zod’s ship, how to turn off the Kryptonian world engine (or whatever it was called) and she bravely volunteers to join Superman on Zod’s ship. She’s also the first human outside of Clark’s family to accept him for who he is and unlike previous Lois Lanes she already knows Clark and Superman are one and the same.
  • Zod’s right hand “man” Faora wears armor instead of a tight jumpsuit and there’s no hint of a sexual relationship between her and Zod.
  • According to this postMan of Steel had the highest female audience demo.

Now why do I point this out? Because it was these feminist moments in MOS that made me confident that DC and Warner Bros. could pull of a successful, feminist Wonder Woman movie and if it wasn’t for the success of Man of Steel, we wouldn’t have gotten Wonder Woman. If Man of Steel had failed at the box office, DC and Warner Bros. would’ve never had the confidence to go forward with a planned movie universe and we’d still have to wait to see Diana’s story on the big screen.

Now here’s the third problem with Mr. Lecaros’ article: he singles out MOS as an example of “uncertainty and cynicism”. Hasn’t he ever heard of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy? Or Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Or Logan? Weren’t these films also uncertain and cynical? Weren’t these films also about angst-ridden loners with a predilection for killing and destruction (I don’t know which film he saw but Superman was nothing like that in Man of Steel. Your describing General Zod, honey.)  Or do they get a free pass because they received high scores on Rotten Tomatoes? Why is Batman allowed to evolve from a batusi dancing good citizen to a brooding loner still moping over his dead parents? Why can Captain America get away with being such a sad sack? Why is Aquaman cool all of a sudden because now he’s some beer guzzling biker dude? Even the new Wonder Woman is tougher and hardened (at least by the end of the movie) than her ’70s predecessor. But Superman can’t do a little soul searching? He has to be some happy go lucky goody-two shoes stuck in the ’50s or ’70s?

Despite being lighter and softer than its forebears, Wonder Woman was still a serious film. It did not hold back from showing the audience the horrors of World War 1. It showed gas poisoning, wounded soldiers with missing limbs, a character suffering from shell shock, a whole village bombed to death, horses getting whipped, people starving, refugees. And (spoilers!) a character blows himself up in a Zeppelin-Staaken R. VI. When I first saw the film, I walked out of the theater feeling a little depressed by what I saw, not because the film was depressing but because WW1 is a depressing subject. I read a lot of books about World War 1 and let me tell you I can feel the turmoil jumping off the pages.

Now I’m not saying you have to like Man of Steel. In conclusion I’m saying this: judge Diana’s movie on Diana’s merits. Don’t give in to hate and haughtiness and throw shade at her male cohorts. Just enjoy the movie and be glad she’s finally on the big screen.

Take that, haters.

 

 

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Filed under DC Comics, female characters, Wonder Woman

In Memoriam: Adam West 1928-2017

A sad day for comic book fans. Adam West, 60s icon and our original Batman, succumbed to Leukemia on June 9th and I found out on Twitter late Saturday, June 10th. Batman has always been a part of my life. I would occasionally see reruns on television as a kid, thinking it was a straight up action show, unaware of the camp factor. Then it came back into my life when in 2002 TV Land added it to its schedule by airing a “Batmanathon” hosted by Adam West himself.  Last year, I was able to buy all three seasons – digitally remastered – on DVD.

Batman was not Batman without Adam West. The man knew how to deliver campy lines with a straight face, but not take the role too seriously. Can you imagine any one else in that role doing the same thing? I can’t. Maybe it helped that he had that distinctive voice which helped him land voice over roles in his later years. Just yesterday, I watched “Beware the Gray Ghost”, an episode of Batman: The Animated Series in which West lent his voice to the character of Simon Trent, a washed up actor who portrayed a childhood hero of Bruce Wayne’s, The Gray Ghost, and helps Batman catch a serial bomber. It’s one of the most touching episodes of the series as it shows Batman helping a down on his luck actor come to the realization that his role as the Gray Ghost wasn’t a waste but an inspiration to others. It was also art imitating life as for years West found it hard to find roles due to being typecast as Batman. But those that grew up watching Batman in the 1960s never forgot the Batmania that swept the country and turned Adam West and Burt Ward into superstars. Despite disappointment from some die-hard fans than the series betrayed the comic’s more serious roots, some (myself included) are finding the series to be a breath of fresh air in an age of a dire, gloomy Dark Knights. You can keep your Keatons, your Bales, your Kilmers and your Afflecks, Adam West … is … Batman and I’m sad that I never got to meet him. But he will live on in the roles he played on television and on Thursday, June 15th, the Mayor of Los Angeles will light a Bat-Signal in honor of West.

In the meantime, let’s list some of the most memorable (and hilarious) quotes uttered by the Caped Crusader:

“I’ll stand at the bar. I shouldn’t wish to attract attention.” – Hi Diddle Riddle 

“What a terrible way to go-go.” – Smack in the Middle

“If you can’t trust Santa, then who can you trust?” – I’m not sure which episode this one comes from but it was one of the famous “window cameos”.

“I’d like to think that it’s because our hearts are pure.” – Or this one but it’s more than likely a Catwoman (Julie Newmar) episode.

“Boys and girls, go back to your studies. Believe me, nothing in life is free!” – The Joker Goes to School

“Bartender, a bit of advice. Always inspect a jukebox carefully. These machines can be deadly.” – He Meets His Match, the Grisly Ghoul

“Another trap! And I intend to walk right into it.” – The Bookworm Turns

“Batman to Gotham City police, Batman to Gotham City police! Red alert, red alert! We are trapped inside a cookbook at 5th & Cedar!” – While Gotham City Burns

“It fits like my glove!” – Death in Slow Motion

“You owe your life to dental hygiene.” – The Riddler’s False Notion

“Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb!” – Batman the Movie

“Man cannot live by crime-fighting alone.” – Batman’s Waterloo

Goodnight and Godbless Mr. West. We will never forget you.

 

 

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4 Stories Worth Reading From “Elseworlds: Justice League Vol 1”

In Elseworlds, heroes are taken from their usual settings and put into strange times and places – some that have existed, or might have existed, and others that can’t, couldn’t or shouldn’t exist. The result: stories that make characters who are as familiar as yesterday seem as fresh as tomorrow.

DC’s official description for their Elseworlds imprint.

What if Batman lived in the Victorian age? What if baby Kal-El’s rocket landed in the U.S.S.R.? What if Scheherazade (you know, the author of the 1001 Nights) was secretly a Green Lantern? These were some of the many stories published under DC’s Elseworlds banner.

What is “Elseworlds” you ask? It was a 1989-2003 imprint published by DC Comics that took their licensed characters and put them in stories that took place outside their canonical timeline. An alternate history for superheroes you might say. Oftentimes they were published as mini-series, one shots and annuals and they were published with a logo that looked like this so as not to confuse readers. Other comic companies like Marvel and Dynamite also got in on the act. The story possibilities were endless. I own a few titles: Superman: Red Son, Green Lantern: 1001 Emerald Nights and Superman: War of the Worlds. But there are other titles that I was coveting but couldn’t find any copies because most of them are out of print. Sure, I could buy some titles but they aren’t always cheap and some are incomplete – meaning you can only find issue #1 of JLA: Shogun of Steel and that’s about it.

Until now.

From the kindness of their hearts, DC is reprinting these long lost stories as trade paperback anthologies. Elseworlds: Batman Vol. 1 was released in April of 2016. Batman Vol. 2 was released in October of 2016 and Elseworlds: Justice League Vol. 1 saw the light of day on July 19, 2016 (Elseworlds: Batman Vol. 3, Justice League Vol. 2 and Superman Vol. 1 & 2 will be released this year).

It was on one rainy day, I was perusing through my second favorite comic book shop that I happened upon a copy of Elseworlds: Justice League Vol. 1. It had the stories I had been dying to read for years and then some. I will recommend four stories from this anthology along with their authors and main artist.

Elseworld’s Finest Parts 1 & 2 (John Francis Moore & Kieron Dwyer)

1928 versions of Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen, Bruce Wayne, Lana Lang, Ra’s al Ghul and Lex Luthor in a story that pays homage to pulp adventure stories, Jules Verne, archaeology and hidden cities. Oh yeah, and Jimmy reads Captain Marvel.

Justice Riders (Chuck Dixon & J.H. Williams III)

It’s 1873 and US Marshal Diana Prince is horrified to discover that Paradise, the town she has sworn to protect, has been blown to smithereens (literally) while she was away. She enlists the help of Kid Flash, a quick draw gunslinger and Katar Johnson, a Cheyenne warrior who flies with help of artificial hawk wings. As they are attacked by Maxwell Lord’s mechanical henchmen, they’re saved by Booster Gold and inventor Ted “Beetle” Kord. It turns out that Maxwell Lord and Felix Faust were behind the annihilation of Paradise all along and together, with the extra help of Pinkerton agent Guy Gardner and man hunter John Jones, the Justice Riders (a name coined by Kord) take down the robber baron and the sorcerer.

Wonder Woman: Amazonia (William Messner-Loebs & Phil Winslade)

Originally published in an oversized 8″ by 11″ format to show off the “engraved” (and occasional art nouveau) artwork.

Queen Victoria is dead! Long live King Jack Planters! Yep, the Victorian era has given way to the Plantagenet era and the misogyny and the imperialism of the era is taken up to 11 thanks to the toxic masculinity King Jack preaches. But in these dark times, one amazing woman stands out: Diana Trevor, the Wonder Woman, who by day performs feats of strength for audiences and by night, protects the lives of threatened women. It’s her courage and kindness that eventually brings down Jack’s cruel regime. This story is a must-read for all fans of steampunk and the Amazon princess.

Elseworld’s Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl (Barbara Kesel & Matt Haley)

Bruce Wayne isn’t Batman. Bruce Wayne mentors Barbara Gordon. Barbara Gordon is Batgirl. Batgirl rules Gotham City with an iron fist. Batgirl mistrusts metahumans. Lex Luthor shows up in Gotham with Supergirl. Supergirl loves Lex. Lex gets abducted by the Joker, who loves Batgirl. Supergirl wants to rescue Lex. Batgirl won’t let her. The two team up reluctantly. They discover Lex and the Joker are working together and Lex has been hiding a very dark secret…

Well that’s it. Agree? Disagree? Have you read Elseworlds: Justice League Vol. 1? What were your favorite stories? Have you read any other Elseworld titles/anthologies? Let me know in the comments. I can’t wait for vol. 2!

 

 

 

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Filed under comics, DC Comics, Short Stories Worth Reading, speculative fiction, Wonder Woman