Anybody who knows me probably knows how I feel about Wonder Woman as a property. I believe that it is one of the most damaged brands in the comics world as it stands right now and it’s mostly the fault of the fans.
There, I said it.
Never has there been a fanbase, that I can think of anyway, that is so divided and prone to bickering as with Wonder Woman. That’s saying something considering the sort of esteem I hold Batman fans in. Those guys are sane and reasonable compared to fans of Ms. Prince. The problem is that seemingly every fan of Wonder Woman became a fan at a different point in her development, thereby attaching themselves to a depiction of the character as it was at one point and then getting offended with every subsequent change to her convoluted continuity. This happens every other month it seems.
I am a fan of Wonder Woman in theory. I think she has the potential for amazing stories, as evidenced by the fact that there are some amazing runs on her title that are prime examples of what can be done with a strong female character in the comics medium. Greg Rucka is probably my favorite Wonder Woman writer (all due respect to Gail Simone and George Perez) and I know there are people who agree with me. There are also people who refuse to accept anything not written by George Perez. There are also people who would probably spit in JMS’ face for what he did during his stint. The different factions tend to be at odds over Wonder Woman’s character on a base level. It’s a testament to the character that such detailed discussion can be held on a level that allows for such dissection of the essence of what defines her beyond costume or continuity. It’s a far cry from the discussions of Batman where people mostly seem to argue over whether or not he needs a yellow oval. Batman draws from a very basic premise for his establishment; the death of his parents. Wonder Woman has the Greek mythology aspect as well as the American diplomat angle among others and nobody can quite agree what defines Wonder Woman at her core.
So now we come to the new TV show where we get the costume pictured to the left. It’s not horrible. It looks a little cheap, like it was bought from a Halloween costume shop for a theme party, but it’s recognizable as a Wonder Woman costume. The only nitpick I have is that the boots need to be red to break up the color scheme a bit.
Adrianne Palicki looks a bit awkward in the suit but from what I’ve gathered that may because it’s a photoshop manipulation of a prototype. The shots of her in civilian clothes have her looking far more comfortable and at ease, whereas here she looks a bit stiff and unsure of what sort of look she needs to project. That and the red lipstick is a bit overpowering.
My point here is to appeal to Wonder Woman fans by saying that this new version may very well be the definitive version for some young fan who is introduced to the character through the show. Don’t cut it down because it doesn’t fit your mold. Be glad that they’re getting anything right at all, as it’s more than can be said for some comic adaptations and at least with TV there’s a lot more room for evolution than if it were a standalone film. There will be growing pains, but all TV shows grow if they expect to survive. I think this one will, if only because Smallville has lasted ten seasons and that show is more offensive to continuity than anything I’ve seen for this project. That’s enough for me.
At the NYCC this past weekend, both Marvel and DC promised that costs on their publications would drop in early 2011, with DC stating that their books would drop two pages of content and return to a $2.99 price tag. A good majority of comic fans rejoiced, knowing that most of their books have been $3.99 for a while and that saving a dollar on each of those books would be a huge relief in the long run. Others voiced concerns that cutting content is not the answer and that paying what was the norm not too long ago for less material is not an acceptible comprimise.
Marvel has remained vague on their price changes, noting only that no new regular books will be launching next year at $3.99. I doubt that their major moneymakers like the Avengers or X-Men franchises will decrease in price anytime soon. I think they would sell more issues at $2.99, especially considering the way Bendis writes. I’m not going to lie, sometimes I feel like I don’t get my money’s worth with his decompressed writing. In the long run I greatly enjoy his work, but if I had to pay $3.99 for his Daredevil run way back when I might have gone insane. Seriously, go back and read that run sometime, it’s amazing stuff but I’ll be damned if it isn’t a little padded in some areas.
But I digress…
What does this mean for those of us who still have the disposable income in this economy to collect comic books? I think a good majority of people won’t change their buying habits one bit. They’re not going to use the money saved to buy other titles, they’re going to put it back in their pocket and walk away. It’s not going to do anything to help out the comic publishers. While I’m sure a select few will spread some money around, the majority most likely will not. I’ve been working in a comic shop for close to five years now and I see the way people react to price changes. Granted, this is the first time prices have dropped after going up, but it’s not that dissimilar to running a discount sale. You offer a discount and people will use it on what they were already getting and then shove the money they save back in their wallet and walk away. I don’t blame them. All I hear from people is how most of the mainline books have been declining in quality while the prices increased. I hear that gripe about Amazing Spider-Man just about every week. Not everybody feels this way. I personally haven’t liked Spidey this much in years. But the mindset of the consumer right now is heavily influenced by the recession we’re in. They’re picking and choosing their books with a lot more insight. I’m hoping that this price cut will help people discover new books. Take that four extra bucks and buy a book you normally don’t. Jonah Hex is amazing. Supergirl is getting a new creative team and looks like it should be pretty epic. Freedom Fighters is solid. Over at Marvel you’ve got Avengers Academy, Young Allies, or the new Spider-Girl. I’m just saying there’s good stuff out there you should give a chance.
The real interesting element of all this will be to see how the stores handle it. If people do only buy the same books they buy now, that means that the shops will be looking at a smaller profit for the same amount of books sold. In an industry where a lot of stores are hurting for business, this isn’t going to help. I’m lucky enough to work in a shop where even if one department starts to dip, like comics, the others can pick it up; ie. gaming, toys, statues, etc. But what about the small shop in the strip center down the road who works on a very thin margin? It’s not fun to think about but it needs to be discussed so that everybody can stay in business.
Basically this is just me telling you that if you’ve got the extra cash and you really love this industry, put it toward another book when these price shifts happen. You’ll get the added enjoyment of reading something you previously didn’t have the chance to and everybody from the writers and the artists to the people who sell the books get to keep doing so for a long time to come.