In honor of Wonder Woman’s solo film debut this weekend, DC has proclaimed Saturday, June 3rd Wonder Woman Day. Created 76 years ago by William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter as both a superheroine and symbol for women’s equality, Diana has had an eventful history. Her legacy is a rich one, which the staff of Nothing But Comics have often revisited. So, for those wishing to delve deeper into Wonder Woman and what she represents, here is a selection of writings from Nothing But Comics on the adventures of the Princess of Themyscira.
On Friday, Woman Woman’s first solo live action film will premiere in US theaters. Fittingly her primary antagonist will be Ares, a character possessing a long, storied history with the Amazonian princess. He is the Joker or Lex Luthor of Diana’s Rogue’s Gallery, the mirror image which defines who she is. Played by the talented British actor David Thewlis, there are high hopes for Ares to be a commanding presence on screen. In addition, Warner Brothers has confirmed what many fans have long suspected: Diana will face off against a second adversary, namely Doctor Poison. While Doctor Poison debuted several months prior to Ares, the character has never had the prominence of the God of War. Still Doctor Poison’s roots are tied to the earliest of Wonder Woman’s exploits.
“The next 100 years will see the beginning of an American matriarchy—a nation of amazons in the psychological rather than the physical sense. In 500 years, there will be a serious sex battle. And in 1,000 years women will definitely rule this country.”
-William Moulton Marston, 1937
William Moulton Marston was never one to shy away from publicity; indeed he reveled in it. In 1937 he held a two hour press conference during which he elaborated on his theories concerning the inevitably of an American matriarchy. He must have sounded convincing as a Los Angeles Times headline claimed “Feminine Rule Declared Fact.” All this hub-bub was to promote the release of his new book Try Living, in which he stated the secret to happiness was doing something you love. According to the Times, he offered up six individuals as exemplars for his theory. Ranking them in order of importance, he held Margaret Sanger as #2, right above the current president, Franklin D. Roosevelt. (For those playing along at home the first was Henry Ford, a reminder that Marston’s egalitarian views sadly did not extend to racial issues). Still, sweeping away the pseudo-psychological language Marston was so fond of, he was not entirely out on a limb on this matter. The changing role of women in society (what used to be called “The Woman Question”) was a serious political topic. Louis Howe, secretary to President Roosevelt, wrote that the election of a female president was a definite possibility at present, not in some distant future. Howe may have crouched his opinion in more cautious statements than Marston’s grand speechifying, but they were both speaking of the same cultural trends. In an era of Sanger and Eleanor Roosevelt, surely women could only expect further improvements in their status?
Last week, I discussed the earliest adventures of Catwoman, aka The Cat. Today I shall continue my celebration of Catwoman’s 75th Anniversary with an examination of Alan Brennert and Joe Staton’s classic revisiting of Selina’s Golden Age days.
In 1983 Alan Brennert wrote “The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne” for The Brave and The Bold #197. Brennert is mainly a television writer, who wrote a handful of comics, most prominently some Batman tales. One of these “To Kill a Legend” from Detective Comics #500, is a classic which deserves an article of its own sometime (the ending is a compelling statement on the nature of Bruce Wayne and the role of fate in his life). “Autobiography” revisits the past, presenting itself as “a very special tale of The Golden Age Batman.” The narrative conceit is that an older, retired Batman is writing his memoirs. “The Autobiography” centers on a specific incident, a late career adventure with the Catwoman.
Continue reading The Golden Age Catwoman, Part 2: The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne
This year, Catwoman celebrates her 75th Anniversary. She has had a rich, eventful career as one of The Dark Knight’s greatest enemies and/or allies. Along the way, she has also become one of the most iconic female characters in comics. (Arguably only Wonder Woman or Supergirl have greater name recognition). Over the next two weeks, I shall be tracing the evolution of her original Golden Age persona, exploring how it set the framework for the stories which followed.
Like many aspects of The Caped Crusader’s early days, Bob Kane would later claim that the inspiration for The Catwoman at least partially came from the Silver Screen. He and Bill Finger were looking to spice up Batman’s adventures with some sex appeal, so Kane turned to the original Blonde Bombshell, Jean Harlow. Never mind that Catwoman’s hair has been dark since she first vamped her way into Batman’s life with a defiant “Well, what’s the matter? Haven’t you ever seen a pretty girl before?” Well, yes, the wealthy playboy had, but none like this. Bruce Wayne’s first female companion was generic eye candy, a plot device in need of rescuing. This new woman was something quite different. She was proud, clever, resourceful, as well as eye catching. In the end, she probably more resembles the dangerously seductive Rita Hayworth than the plucky Harlow. (Hayworth also had the darker tresses). Regardless, 75 years ago Finger and Kane created one of the most enduring, iconic member of Batman’s cast.
Continue reading The Golden Age Catwoman, Part 1: Her Earliest Heists
Throughout the month, NBC! has been discussing various aspects of the Flash’s long history. Along the way, we have spent time with Barry Allen, Wally West and Bart Allen. Twice we have examined the colorful criminals who make up the Flash’s Rogues. However, so far we have not paid much notice to Jay Garrick, the original Fastest Man Alive, whose 75th Anniversary is the reason for this year’s Flash celebration.
Jay Garrick debuted in Flash Comics #1, dated January 1940, in a story by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert. The story opens with college man Jay Garrick attempting to ask out Joan Williams to be his date for the Victory Dance. Joan turns him down rather brusquely on account of his being a scrub on the football team. Joan insists that her rejection has nothing to do with his being a scrub per se, but the fact that he is not living up to his potential to be more than a scrub. If he could simply aspire to being captain of the team, then he would become so, and Jay would be able to take her to the dance instead of current Captain Bull Tryon. Problem is, things do not go quite as smoothly when Jay “Leadfoot” Garrick is out on the scrimmage field.