Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Up And Atom

Charlton Comics has been called “the low-rent district of the comics industry”, having some of the cheapest rates in comics. But they granted their underpaid creators more creative freedom than their bigger competitors, and the company served as a proving grounds for new talent. During the 1960s they produced an innovative line of “Action Heroes” that were fondly remembered by fans of that generation: characters like the Blue Beetle, the Question, Peter Cannon – Thunderbolt, and Captain Atom.

The company dwindled in the '70s, and finally shut down its comic book division in the early '80s, selling most of its characters to DC Comics. Writer Alan Moore originally pitched his WATCHMEN series with the idea of using the Charlton heroes as characters, and the trivia-minded comics fan can easily see the inspiration Moore's characters took from the Action Hero originals. DC did not use the Charleton heroes much until CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, which re-booted the DC Universe and combined the myriad worlds of the Multiverse into a single, theoretically simpler, continuity. This gave DC the opportunity to fold the Charlton heroes into the Post-Crisis Universe.

Some of the characters, like Blue Beetle, were fairly easy to port over; but Captain Atom posed some special problems. His origin story was tied pretty closely to the Space Race era and difficult to update. He was a scientist named Allen Adam making last-minute adjustments to a rocket when he had to climb down into the rocket to retrieve a dropped wrench and found himself trapped inside when the rocket blasted off. The rocket exploded in the upper atmosphere, atomizing him. But he got better. He somehow re-assembled his atomic structure, gaining atomic powers in the process. (“Adam”, “Atom”. Geddit? Yeah, you got it.)

By the late '80s, rocket scientists were no longer as cutting-edge cool as they were in 1960 when Captain Atom premiered; and the US no longer performed atmospheric atomic tests. And I suspect that, a year after the Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster, DC might have thought that giving a hero super-powers in a rocket explosion might have been a little tacky.

Whatever the reason, writer Cary Bates came up with a new origin for the re-tooled Captain Atom that was grounded in the present-day but also had ties to the 1960s era, and managed to incorporate the character's adventures as a Charlton Hero in a clever and unusual way.

In the new version, he was Captain Nathaniel Adam, a US Air Force pilot serving during the Vietnam War. Court-martialed for a crime he did not commit, Adam is sentenced to death, but is promised an unconditional presidential pardon if he volunteers for a dangerous experiment. The Military has recovered a crashed alien spaceship composed of a strange metal with weird properties; and they want to test the metal's durability by putting a human test subject in a shell made of the metal and detonating an atomic bomb on top of it. Makes sense to me. Unexpectedly, both the metal and the subject disappear.

Nearly twenty years later, Adam re-appears, the metal now fused with his body. The metal has the property of absorbing energy, but it has a limit as to how much it can absorb all at once. When that limit is exceeded, as it was in the bomb test, it becomes displaced in time and kicked forward. In addition to invulnerability, he has gained the power of flight and the ability to tap into the “Quantum Field” to shoot blasts of energy.

Dr. Megala, the scientist working on the “Captain Atom Project” has been studying the data from the initial test and figured all this out; so he and the Project's head, General Eiling, have been waiting for Nathaniel to pop up. They see this as an opportunity to create their own super-hero, working for the Pentagon and American Interests rather than abstract concepts like Truth and Justice and All That Jazz.

So Eiling and his people design a media roll-out to introduce their “Captain Atom” to the world, complete with a fake background claiming that he had been active as a super-hero in secret for many years. The character's adventures as a Charlton Action Hero were retconned to be this fictional backstory. Of course, the fact that Captain Atom would be working for the Government was not part of the press package. This bogus background was referred to in the comic as “The Big Lie”.

As far as the world is concerned, Nathaniel Adam died two decades ago, a dishonored traitor. Because he was presumed dead, his presidential pardon was never signed, and the current Administration does not acknowledge that the promise had ever been made. Adam's only hope to exonerate his name is to go along with Eiling's plan and become, essentially, a covert government agent whose cover is being a super-hero.

Eiling is a real piece of work. He had been Nathaniel Adam's commander during the War and presided over the court-marital. We also come to learn that Eiling was the true culprit in the crime for which Adam was convicted. What's more, after Adam's “death”, Eiling married his widow and raised his two children, now adult, to believe that he was a traitor. It's like Eiling went out of his way to make Adam's return to life a living hell.

It takes a while for Captain Atom to get the hang of being a hero, especially as he has all this other angst to juggle. About this time the Justice League was granted sanction by the United Nations, and the title of that series changed to JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL. As part of that deal, the Security Council, (well, okay; the United States and the Soviet Union), required that the US and the USSR be allowed to each appoint a hero to the team. The US-backed hero, (as if Batman and the others weren't America enough) was Captain Atom. So now Captain Atom is not only pretending to be a seasoned hero, he also has the job of spying on the Justice League.

(I suspect that part of the reason why he was placed on the Justice League was that the first issue established that he had a fondness for bad jokes, and that it perhaps was thought he might make a good fit in the lighter Giffen/DeMatties incarnation of the League. But apart from that first issue, where the jokes serve a plot function establishing his tension waiting for the bomb to go off, we never see him cracking any more. In fact, in the Justice League he acts more as a straight man; especially after he is appointed leader of the European branch of the JLI).

Captain Atom gains a rival in the form of Major Force, a second test subject for Megala's experiments: this one a brutish thug who instead of shooting energy blasts can create masses of “dark matter” out of the Quantum Field.”

Throughout the series, the Big Lie keeps resurfacing to complicate Captain Atom's life. Early on, an investigative reporter digging at Captain Atom's revealed history deduces the identity of one of his arch-enemies, Dr. Spectro. Actually, Dr. Spectro doesn't exist; but the reporter finds a scientist with expertise in the same fields as the fictitious Spectro and who has a shady criminal background. The guy she's found really is a crook, and faced with the prospect of being exposed for his true crimes by her mistaken allegations, he decides he might as well embrace the role that has been created for him. It ends up with Eiling having to put both the reporter and the imitation Spectro on the Project Captain Atom payroll in order to keep the secret.

Later on, Captain Atom tries to use the Big Lie for his own purposes. He tries to persuade JLI team-mate (and one-time fellow Charlton hero) Blue Beetle to help him with his investigations to clear Nathaniel Adam's name by claiming that he had previously worked with Beetle's predecessor, Dan Garret, (the Golden Age Blue Beetle). But this comes to bite him in his shiny silver butt. Beetle may be a goof in the JLI, but he's not stupid. He spots the holes in Atom's story and figures out he is lying. He then becomes obsessed with exposing his teammate, whom he now privately calls “Captain Traitor.”

Over the course of the series, Captain Atom is able to resolve many of his problems. He is able to re-connect with his children and earn their trust; he finds the evidence to exonerate him and expose Eiling's crimes; he confesses the truth about the Big Lie and he manages to grow into becoming the hero and the leader he was pretending to be. But although as a reader I appreciated this resolution, I have to admit that tying off these plot threads also lessened my interest in the series a bit. Partly, this was due to the loss of Pat Broderick, the artist for the early part of the run. I did not care much for his replacement.

Over the course of the series, it seemed to me that Captain Atom managed to pick up more girlfriends than most super-heroes. In an early issue he fought, and developed a romantic tension with, Plastique, a super-powered Quebec separatist terrorist, originally appearing in FIRESTORM. He encountered her a number of times and eventually married her, although the marriage did not work out.

He also met the fellow Charlton hero Nightshade, a super-powered government operative who allows the Captain Atom Project to borrow some of her cases to pad his fictional resume; and they develop a friendly, somewhat romantic relationship. She becomes a member of the Suicide Squad as one of the minders keeping the criminals on the team in line; and in one memorable crossover where the Squad battles the JLI, they pretend to fight, in order to preserve each other's cover, but are actually flirting.

Later on in the series, he briefly has a relationship with a woman who used to be a hippie war protestor during Vietnam and now runs a nostalgia shop. Although the pairing might seem odd, she actually has more in common with him than one might think, having lived through the same era. And in the pages of JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL and JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE, Captain Atom frequently found himself the object of romantic teasing from Catherine Colbert, the sexy UN liaison with the JLI's Paris embassy, and from the Crimson Fox, a flirtatious French crimefighter.

Near the end of the series, Captain Atom began exploring the nature of his powers, discovering that the alien ship whose metal now forms a part of his body is actually a sentient creature. One issue strongly suggested that through his “death” and “rebirth”, he might have become an Elemental Force, the way Alan Moore had re-defined Swamp Thing as a Plant Elemental and how Firestorm had been re-defined as a Fire Elemental and Red Tornado as an Air Elemental.

But as Captain Atom's series wound down, another crisis loomed. DC announced a cross-over series called ARMAGEDDON 2001 which would take place over that year's summer annuals. The premise was that a Time Traveler from the Future named Waverider reveals that in ten year's time (the year 2001), a villain calling himself Monarch would kill all the heroes and rule the world. Waverider does not know Monarch's identity, other than that he was once a hero himself; but he does have the power to see an individual's future timeline by touching him. So the idea was in each title's Annual, Waverider would meet a different hero and see what that hero would be doing ten years into the future. And that the readers would be kept in suspense as to who would ultimately turn evil and become the Monarch.

Problem was, there was no suspense. It was said at the time that the news was “leaked”, but anyone with access to DC's publishing schedule, available at any comic book shop, would see that only two titles were being canceled that summer: HAWK AND DOVE and CAPTAIN ATOM; and that the JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE ANNUAL, which had Captain Atom as a member, would be the last one published. It was pretty obvious that they were setting Captain Atom up to be this Monarch villain.

DC had to do some frantic re-writing to change the ending. They made Hawk, from HAWK AND DOVE be the villain instead. A lot of fans were upset by the slapdash inconsistency of this ending, especially fans of H&D, since this face-heel turn ripped up everything that had been established between the characters of Hawk and Dove in the preceding series.

Captain Atom kind of fell out of the DC Universe for a while after that. Oh, he headlined in a spin-off miniseries titled ARMAGEDDON: THE ALIEN AGENDA in which he battled Monarch through time, and he made other appearances; but I lost interest in them. And often when he did appear, his writers seemed to make him a two-dimensional “Gung-Ho Army Guy” and ignored Cary Bates's characterization.

He has gone through further re-boots; which I suppose is appropriate, since today is as distant from the Reagan Era as DC's CAPTAIN ATOM #1 was from the Vietnam Era. Still, CAPTAIN ATOM was an interesting series and I enjoyed it.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

FAKE NEWS? Or just unpopular views?

There are many things humans know.  There are far more that they don't.  A number of different theories pop up whenever a question has open ends.  And sometimes when an event happens and the official story happens, people think a conspiracy is going on to hide the truth.

I do not accept nearly all conspiracy theories about most events in question.  But there is a question in my mind about any time a timeline is presented as fact when all there is, is, theory and conjecture.  I do not take specific issue with any theory. But I also don't consider the case closed when faced with an official explanation or theory, or facts that seem to be manufactured to make a specific case.

You might think, oh, he is a redneck gun toting rural living moron who voted for Trump.  He hates science and wears a tinfoil hat.  If you do, you'd be wrong on every aspect of the question. At the same time we are meant to question everything, use our own minds, and use science as a tool to help understand the various questions we are presented.

That is, I don't believe that just because a fact is presented that it is a better fact than others.  Speculative theories do often make enormous leaps of reasoning.  But, as a degreed historian, I know that humanity has existed for at least 200,000 years with a modern sized brain.  That suggests that our 5000 years of history that we are mostly agreed upon, is a drop in the bucket of time. 

In that time so many things could have happened that make our understanding of the world different.  And these could be the basis of legends and myths.  And we will never be able to prove them, regardless if they happened.

The average skeptic will say, but that doesn't mean it happened.  Surely, that is true.  But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.  Watch the power of earthquakes, tsunami, or hell how about nuclear weapons.  We live in changeable world and have fragile bodies.  Just because you find a skeletal foot doesn't mean you know the whole picture.

I include here pics that would be defined as those of Ancient Aliens phenomenon.  They are not proof of anything but they don't fit some of the speculative definitions that science makes.  So, some thinkers of odd theories filled in the blanks. 

I don't believe that humans were only able to advance with assistance from aliens, as some suggest.  I don't believe in prehistoric nuclear battles.  But I absolutely believe that there are unknown or unknowable ages of technology that have been lost.  Greek fire is just one of those unknown technologies made in the past that is still impossible to replicate.  A lost age of steel could well have happened, and an earthquake or flood or plague destroyed them all.  And if no one finds evidence of that, it never happened?

My point is, people call theories that divert from the official story by historians and archeologists alternative or fringe science or pseudo science.  By calling them this there is a stigma attached to the alternative views, and there is no argument you can make to me that it is reasonable. 

Read, think, write, explore everything.  There is no "proper" thinking regarding unproven history, science or theories in general. 

Some writers in the popular culture suggest that fake news helped defeat Hillary Rodham Clinton.  In my mind if this is true, then the people saying it are underestimating the human ability to think.  I don't believe in, and don't share news of the Fake.  But how much labeled fake is truly fake?  Beware of labels that try to stop you from thinking.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Homework for the upcoming Pandemic and Plague events

You might wonder at the title here.  It is intentional.  The people of the world are often unaware of how far we have risen from the era when plagues and pandemics would strike and wipe out forward progress, families, and hope from the world populations.  Black Death, Bubonic Plague, Ebola, and Spanish Flu have killed multi millions of people.  And, with human population numbers increasing, and the density of humans per mile increasing, a major event that will once again adjust the numbers of humans, as well as strike fear into the heart of people who have no defense against the villain, will absolutely happen.  Just when, how badly, and why, I don't know.

Such horrors have been fictionalized, in small scale as in Daniel Defoe's plague year journal, which was fiction, though based upon real events, or upon a major scale, such as found in the Stand by Stephen King, or Michael Crichton.  Whatever humans do we cannot escape the possible outbreak of disease, or plague.  We don't control all of our risk areas.

But some authors study plague, pandemics, and place them in a context of numbers and world history events.  Plagues affected great empires, and weakened them allowing for rebellions to succeed.  Pandemics caused wars of limited nature to be far worse than we could ever have imagined.  The Spanish flu left few American families untouched, and the terror of World War 1 was made worse by such a pandemic beast.

On occasion I've been accused of being to pessimistic about the future.  This isn't one of those times.  This is a time where I point to what has happened, and how some research it, and others use fiction to explore it.  One can live a perfectly normal life without knowing about all of this, but, who knows who might be inspired to fight it all, and perhaps improve the species' chance in the future?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wonder Woman's Lib

A fellow I know recently told me about a conversation he had with a lady who claimed that Wonder Woman was a Feminist Icon. He asked how Wonder Woman could be considered such when she runs around all the time in that skimpy outfit. After all, real Feminists get all huffy about objectifying women, right?

The lady didn't have an answer to that, so my friend counted that as a “win”. I'm not sure if I agree with him, though. A lot depends on your definition of what being a “feminist” means. But it occurred to me that I could probably get a column out of it.

To me the question of whether or not Wonder Woman is a feminist seems obvious. Of course she is. The fact that Feminist Icons consider her a Feminist Icon seems to me more relevant than what Wonder Woman wears. Second Wave Feminist Gloria Steinem grew up reading Wonder Woman comics and regarded her as powerful, woman-affirming figure; and when she co-founded, Ms. Magazine, in 1972, she featured the Amazing Amazon prominently on one of the first covers.

But more importantly, Wonder Woman is a feminist because that's what her creator intended.

William Moulton Marston was, to put it mildly, an interesting guy. He studied psychology at Harvard in the 1910s and became interested in the suffragette movement. He contributed to the DISC theory of behavior assessment and developed and heavily promoted an early version of the lie detector. He believed that in many ways women are emotionally and intellectually superior to men and that in time, they would come to be the dominant sex in society.

The two important women in his life were also feminists. His wife, Sadie Elizabeth Holloway, was a strong-minded “New Woman” who had become a lawyer after graduating from one of the oldest woman’s colleges in the country. His mistress, Olive Byrne, a one-time student of his who officially became a kind of live-in housekeeper/nanny but was unofficially more of a co-wife, was the niece of the woman's health advocate Margaret Sanger and her mother, Sanger's sister, helped open the first birth control clinic in America.

Byrne was also a writer and would do pieces appearing in the magazine Family Circle in which she'd interview the famous Dr. William Moulton Marston on a variety of subjects. One of them was on comic books, which already were beginning to worry parents and professional thinking persons. Superman was a fascist; Bat-Man was a violent vigilante. Are they corrupting our children?

Dr. Marston said no: for the most part, comics were simple wish-fulfillment and perfectly healthy. Surely a character like Superman, whose motivations are to protect the innocent and to defeat evil, couldn't possibly be a bad influence on children. The bad comics out there, Marston insisted were rare.

M. C. Gaines, the publisher of All-American Publications, (the company that became known as DC Comics), was impressed by the article and decided it would be a good idea to have a consulting psychologist on staff. He hired Marston to sit on an Editorial Advisory Board which would evaluate and endorse the comics his company put out. Marston soon persuaded him that what his company really needed was a female hero.

“A male hero, at best, lacks the qualities of maternal love and tenderness which are as essential to a normal child as the breath of life. Suppose your child's ideal become a superMAN who uses his extraordinary power to help the weak. The most important ingredient in the human happiness recipe still is missing – LOVE. It's smart to be strong. It;s big to be generous. But it;s sissified, according to exclusively masculine rules, to be tender, loving, affectionate, and alluring. 'Aw, that's girl's stuff!' snorts our young comics reader. 'Who wants to be a GIRL?' And that's the point; not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, power. Not wanting to be girls they don't want to be tender, submissive, peaceloving as good women are. Women's strong qualities have become despised because of their weak ones. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.”

Gaines liked the idea of publishing a comic that would appeal to girls as well as boys, so he gave Marston the task of creating this new feminine hero. But Marston's idea wasn't just to create a role-model for girls; he also wanted to introduce boys to a heroic archetype of womanhood, who would embody what he saw as women's positive attributes. Initially Marston called his heroine “Superba the Wonder Woman”, but this was quickly abbreviated to “Wonder Woman.”

It went without saying that Wonder Woman would be beautiful – “As lovely as Aphrodite “ is how Marston described her. Although an ambassador for Peace, she would be willing to fight for Democracy. Captain America had recently debuted over at Timely Comics, and they wanted Wonder Woman to have a similar flag-based costume. And, recognizing that cheesecake always sells, Gaines wanted her to wear as little as the postal regulations prohibiting delivery of obscene material would permit. Marston suggested their artist, Henry Peter, take inspiration from Antonio Vargas, who was drawing luscious pin-ups of women draped in brief, revealing outfits for Esquire magazine. Marston also gave Wonder Woman her iconic bracelets, inspired by similar bracelets always worn by his companion Olive Byrne.

The bracelets bring up another weird quirk about Wonder Woman's creator. He had a thing about bondage. Hardly an issue went by without Wonder Woman being tied up, chained up or bound in one way or another. Which you could simply put down to the convention of the Damsel in Distress from Adventure Fiction, if not for Wonder Woman's earnest musings on the Amazonian doctrines of Willing Submission. And spanking games. The modern reader can be weirded out by the not-terribly-subtle kinkiness of these Golden Age stories... and to be fair, some of the readers back then were too.

Marston answered these critics by saying that these kinds of fantasies were perfectly healthy and that he was a consulting psychologist so he knew what he was doing. It's a matter of conjecture whether his interest in bondage grew out of his theories about submissive and dominant behavior or if his theories were justification for his unconventional personal tastes.

Yet on another level, the theme of bondage fits in with Wonder Woman's feminist themes as well. The image of the woman shackled in the chains of Society goes back to the very beginning of the movement, when the Suffragettes were a sister group to the Abolitionists and shared many of the same goals and much of the same rhetoric. Every time Wonder Woman found herself chained up and had to break free, she was in a sense re-enacting one of the central narratives of feminist thought: that women are enslaved by male-dominated culture and society and need to liberate themselves.

In most of those Golden Age adventures, Wonder Woman is helping women who are trapped, or being exploited, or just plain brow-beaten. She aids them, not just with her mighty Amazonian strength, but also with her heroic example and her inspirational words.

“Oh you stupid girls! When you let your men bind you – you let yourself be bound by war, hate, greed, and lust for power! Think! And free yourselves! CONTROL those who would oppress others! YOU CAN DO IT!”

In another story, she helps a community of women overthrow the male tyrants who have conquered them. “You've shown us, Princess, that clever women can conquer the STRONGEST men!” they tell her. “And don't you ever forget that, girls!” she replies.

She doesn't just give inspirational lessons to the women she meets. A big part of her mission is teaching men to treat women with respect. Her awkward dance with clueless love-interest Steve Trevor reflects this theme. She really feels attracted towards him, but she generally keeps him at arm's length, like an adorable puppy who needs to be taught where not to poop.

“You'll never get an Amazon THAT way –“ she says stiff-arming him as he impulsively tries to embrace her; “try your cave man style on MAN'S World girls!”

“You were superb, Angel!” Steve says in another story. “If only you'd marry me ---!”

“If I married you, Steve, I'd have to pretend I'm WEAKER than you to make you happy--” she replies, “and that, NO woman should do!”

I wonder, though, if the most feminist character in WONDER WOMAN might be her sidekick, Etta Candy. She was a student at Holliday College, a girl's school inspired by Mount Holyoke, Elizabeth Marston's alma mater and by the women's college at Tufts University, where Martson taught; and belonged to the Beeta Lambda sorority. In contrast to the leggy Amazonian Etta was short and pudgy with a fondness for sweets. She had once been sickly and malnourished, but Wonder Woman had encouraged her to embrace the things that brought her joy. Which happened to be candy. Lots of it. Etta was no marshmallow; she had an irrepressible confidence and was fully capable of beating the ever-living snot out of any jerk, crook or Nazi who gave her grief. She once stormed a Nazi concentration camp single-handed, armed only with a box of chocolates, and on multiple occasions rescued Wonder Woman when she had been captured by bad guys.

She liked to say that she owed all her success to candy, and had no patience for body-shaming. “You ought to cut down on the candy,” Wonder Woman once told her. “It will ruin your constitution.”

“Nuts, dearie! My constitution has room for lots of amendments.”
“But Etta, if you get too fat you can't catch a man --”
“Who wants to? When you've got a man, there's nothing you can do with him --- but candy you can EAT!”

Etta did not object to men on principle – she had one or two boyfriends over the years and even almost got married once (to a Hungarian prince who turned out to be a Nazi spy; so she decked him) – but she clearly knew her priorities.

Later writers made Etta shy and self-conscious about her weight, and maybe even a little envious of Wonder Woman. Marston's character had none of that. I like the fact that the Golden Age Etta had zero awe of Wonder Woman but that they regarded each other as equals and as friends. If Diana is a near-goddess and an unattainable ideal, Etta was more down-to-earth, yet still a strong, positive character.

Marston wrote WONDER WOMAN until his death in 1947. About this time, the popularity of super-hero comic books was waning, and one by one, the costumed crime-fighter comics of the Golden Age were being replaced by other genres, like westerns, science fiction, romance and funny animals. At National Comics, the only heroes to survive were their flagship characters, Superman and Batman, and also Wonder Woman. Under the agreement with Marston, the company was required to publish at least four Wonder Woman comics per year or the rights to the character would revert back to him. Even though her sales were not quite as high as those of her male colleagues, the company recognized that Wonder Woman was a valuable property and so they kept her in circulation.

Wonder Woman fell into the hands of writers who didn't get, or were uninterested in, Marston's vision of female empowerment. Robert Kanigher, perhaps best known for his war comics like SGT. ROCK, took over the book and wrote it for the next two decades. His Wonder Woman stories were sometimes imaginative, sometimes erratic, sometimes just weird, (he created the WW arch-foe Egg-Fu, a gigantic talking... uh... egg), but the Higher Purpose was missing.

Around 1968, artist Mike Sekowsky and writer Denny O'Neil undertook to revamp Wonder Woman for the Modern Era. They took her out of her skimpy star-spangled pinup girl outfit and into a mod Emma Peel jumpsuit and had her renounce her Amazon powers and train with an aged Kung-Fu master named I Ching. The idea was to make her more relevant for the Woman's Lib Era, but the Second Wave feminists who were embracing Wonder Woman at that time didn't see it that way. They argued that stripping Wonder Woman of her iconic costume and props diminished her identity; and stripping her of her super-powers diminished her as a hero. Eventually, Denny apologized for the re-vamp and Wonder Woman reverted to her old powers and costume.

DC tried re-booting her again, more successfully, in the late 1980s, following their CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS series. George Perez and Greg Potter combined elements of the Golden Age Wonder Woman with some of Robert Kanigher's additions and bits of Greek legend. This version emphasized her role as an ambassador from Themyscria, the Island of the Amazons, to the Man's World, with a mission to teach mankind to Give Peace a Chance. As part of this mission, she helps create a foundation devoted to helping young women develop their potential.

Since then other writers have offered their takes on the character, emphasizing different qualities. It's become more common in recent years to emphasize the Amazon's warrior culture, sometimes at the expense of her mission of Peace. For a time, recently, there was an attempt to have Superman and Wonder Woman date each other; a move which to me seemed more diminishing than the pants suit and the fortune-cookie oriental master.

And people are still ambivalent about the whole “feminist” label. A couple years ago, in an interview with writer Meredith Finch and her artist husband David, who were at the time taking over the creative duties on the comic, David Finch said: “We want her to be a strong – I don't want to say feminist, but a strong character. Beautiful,but strong”. Even back at the very beginning, when Wonder Woman was first becoming popular, her editor, acting on a reader survey, decreed that she be added to the JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA comic. The writer, Gardener Fox, had to comply, but he made her the group's recording secretary only and never had her go out on missions with the rest of the team.

Still, no matter who is writing her and no matter what kind of an outfits she's wearing, Wonder Woman will always be a gal making it on her own in a Man's World, acting and succeeding in a predominantly male profession.

Not a bad aspiration for a feminist.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December 7th, 1941- December 7th, 2016

I believe that 75 years of holding a grudge is enough.  Japan attacked the US at Pearl Harbor, prior to a declaration of war.  Legally that made the attack akin to murder.  It stirred Americans to hate, and brought the isolationists and globalists together in a crusade to defeat fascists across the world. 

This crusade ended with two atomic weapons.  The number of dead in Nagasaki and Hiroshima far outweighed the dead of the Pearl Harbor attack.  And most of all of the dead in Nagasaki and Hiroshima were civilians.  Vengeance is said to be a dish best served cold.  The dead are more than cold, they are dust.  Isn't it about time to find forgiveness in your heart?  The event happened, and is over.  It has been avenged a thousand times over.  Let us make peace.  Those who were lost from the violence of the Pearl Harbor attack deserve to be commemorated.  But let us realize, the world moves forward, regardless if we forgive or not.  It is time to forgive the Japanese for their act.  And if they accept that, perhaps we might apologize for using a much worse act of vengeance to end the war.

Or maybe I should shut up.