Funny, it occurs to me, with these two runs of Wonder Woman and Superman penned by J. Michael Straczynski, it’s like these two mighty giants of comics have been pulled aside, busted and grounded, as a colossal overhaul is performed on each of them, while in front of their respective mighty readership. Notice on the cover of Wonder Woman that at the top is states, “The All-New,” as if that had to be made clear. Hey kids, it’s the new and improved Wonder Woman! The same with Superman in its own way. These last two covers are so stilted that they could only appeal to the most fevered fanboys holed up in the deepest, darkest, dankest basements.
I was listening to the fuzzy stoner rock of Boston in a shaggy coffee shop, fit for only diehard fans of kitsch, and that really helped as I caught up on the JMS stuff. Wonder Woman #601 rocked for me, as I ingested the syrupy corporate rock of yesteryear. Maybe it was because WW is starting to look like the syrupy corporate rock of yesteryear. I don’t know. Maybe I’d had too much coffee by then. But maybe not. There is one panel in the comic, JMS or not, that really rocks. It is Wonder Woman back in her old gear and looking very freaky, like she led of some stoner cult. A whole issue, no, a whole story, could be devoted to that moment of witchy WW.
What actually happens in WW #601 is less compelling than a witchy WW. It’s looking more like a comic book that has been slowed down to the pace of a television soap opera. There’s a little of this and a little of that. WW talks to the shaman again for awhile. The shamn asks for gum again. Is that supposed to be what the cool street kids do? Ask for gum all the time? And then there’s another faux gritty urban scene with a kid demanding an “Orange Doodle Whizbang” popsicle from a strange clown in an ice cream truck. Finally, WW pursues the baddies that are after her for a bit. The art to all this is fun. Don Kramer gets in a lot of sexy determined looks from WW, including that really freaky look.
For Superman, I caught up with #701 and #702 and, again, music helped while I read. This time out, Blue Oyster Cult fit in nicely with “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” Some critics are dismissing the JMS Superman out of hand but sitting on the fence about Wonder Woman. Well, I say, just enjoy the spectacle. Superman is Superman, always vulnerable to hokum. But it is when the genre is fully embraced and done with style that you get gold like Richard Donner’s “Superman.”
Of the last two issues, I got a kick out of Superman doing his level best to help a girl in crisis. Superman puts on his therapist hat and gives a potential jumper all the time she needs to calm down. When she asks if he could do something about the spotlight shining right in her eyes, he zaps it off. Given enough time, Superman could keep at it with his super therapy and zap Prozac right out of existence. Now, that’s a superhero.