DC Message Boards: July 26, 2003 [I didn't note who asked the question, sorry]:

Walter -- BTW, I'm curious. Was it an editorial edict that Trevor die so [Greg] Rucka [the writer following] can have a realatively clean creative slate, or did you (Walter) present the notion to DC?

Walter Simonson: It was me (Walter).

The occasional speculation on this board to the contrary, the entire storyline for the six issues was mine and was not derived either from any input from DC or a request from Greg.

I did know before I had written anything that Greg had no plans to include Trevor in his ongoing series so that Trevor would simply have disappeared form the title if I'd not used him myself. That wasn't the reason I did use him but the fact that he was going away suggested dramatic possibiliites that woudn't have been available otherwise. And my goal was to tell a story with some emotional resonance. So I spent some time on Trevor and tried to show a bit more both of his professional and personal lives. If I'd only been doing two or three issues, that woudn't have been long enough.

I also knew that by the time I reached the end of my series, Greg would already be three or four issues into his run. There wasn't really any way of coordinating some sort of cross-over of material so I couldn't leave any loose ends lying about when I was through the six issues. The same thing was true of my run and Phil's run; I was two issues into my own story by the time Phil had completed his final issue so I had to start more or less from scratch. I did try to dovetail with Phil's work as much as possible under the circumstances. Essentially, I needed to do a six issue stand-alone story. For the sake of new readers, I wanted to do one that would not require an extensive knowledge of Wonder Woman continuity pre-WW 189. And to that end, I tried to include enough backstory to introduce the characters and situations in these six issues. And, just for me, I wanted to do stuff in the story arc that I regard as classic Wonder Woman thematic material.

One of the centers of my story was Diana's own identity. I've always found her identity interesting because, given her origin as a statue, she provides some unusual food for thought regarding nature vs. nurture. She's lost her identity at the beginning of my story, recovers it slowly through the next few issues, and then apparently has it taken away again by the Shattered God in the next to last issue -- except that this time, that doesn't entirely happen. Even without her goddess-given powers, she's too much herself to lose it all again.

I was able to use the three items I regard as the essential Wonder Woman accessories as representative icons of her identity recovery efforts -- the tiara, the bracelets, the lasso. I got to use the clay infant; I got to include a variety of statues. And I was able to use one statue as an instrument of vengeance. I even got to tie Diana up, however briefly. I used a Greek fable as the thematic center of the story. And even though I didn't stick strictly to the tenets of Greek mythology a la Wonder Woman, the relationship between gods and mortals was the core of the story. Borrowing a little structure from Greek drama, I used Ganthet as a Greek chorus, a commenting observer of the action who does not participate but nevertheless remains present somewhere on the stage off to the side.

If I were doing the book on a regular basis, I don't know that I would have gone the same direction but having the opportunity to do such a limited run afforded me some possibilities that wouldn't have been there in the same way in an indefinite series. And having done all this stuff once, I wouldn't do it the same way again should the opportunity present itself. But it was fun to do it this time.

Best/Walter


In another thread, he said:


What I have found is that writing the book has been a lot more fun than I imagined. And I hope that won't be taken the wrong way although I'm sure it will be somewhere.

It isn't that I expected not to have fun with the title; I've been lucky enough in my time to have been offered jobs I thought I would like, including this one. And I thought that writing Wonder Woman and working with Jerry, Craig, Trish, John, and Ivan would be enjoyable. It's turned out that not only has working with the team been enjoyable, but working on the book and the character herself has been a treat. And has really been more fun than I anticipated.

Partly it's figuring out who the character is as I understand her and then trying to write in that direction. (For instance, considering her upbringing, I figured that she probably hadn't had a massive exposure to American pop culture before she got here. I think she has a sense of humor about stuff, I think she thought pop culture was a riot, and I think she soaked it up like the proverbial sponge once she got here. And with a memory like hers, I think it would all stick! Hence the use of such references in my story.) And you do look at the previous work, see where it's gone, what the character was like, and then step to the diving board yourself.


COMMENTARY:

The Simonson Arc
WW 189-194

Wow -- talk about a superstar lineup! Walter Simonson, Jerry Ordway AND P. Craig Russell, all in one book! And Walt saying how much he wanted to do this story. This time we had someone who not only liked the character, but knew very well how to write.
We were treated to an action story that zig-zagged over Earth, through dimensions, and made a couple of hops to the center of the universe. The pacing rarely flagged, and for the first time in YEARS, Diana acted like a more-than-competent HERO worthy of her title role.

The story had some unfortunate (and easily-fixed) flaws. It began with four prologues, reining back the beginning of the action until the middle of the first book. There were concepts that didn't quite work: the universal scope, when the book seemed more aimed at a Terrestrial threat (large enough scope right there, if you ask me, and more personal). The invoking of an Aesop fable. Seasons that changed in a story that took place over one week and required the reader to know what the weather was during one important scene. The use of Ganthet as "Greek chorus" (a role he really didn't fill that well) used up pages of repetitive and, well, just plain annoying scenes that would better have been devoted to the main story, imho.

But take a gander at Trevor Barnes.

From the very start, Walt gave us a Trevor who was efficient, good at his job, caring, and action-oriented. In one panel Walter did what Jimenez hadn't been able to do in two years: he made me like Trevor B.

Okay, so the art crew got the hair wrong. And the writer the relationship wrong. Walt told us on the boards (where he came across as an incredibly friendly and professional person) that he'd consulted with both Phil and followup writer Greg Rucka. Judging from some of the elements -- the way-too-deep relationship particularly -- that popped up here and there in the story, someone had to have said some peculiar things. Plus Trevor's hair wasn't right at all. Even taking into account a two-issue overlap (as has been said the eras had), Trevor still had his hair much different -- much more shaved -- than he did when he appeared in this arc.

This is something the editor should have handled. The editor should have handled a lot of things, methinks.

Walt said that he likes his stories to follow the seasons of when they're published. That's why the story starts off in winter and ends in summer though the action takes place over the space of less than a week. This is a cute little gimmick, but sometimes gimmicks don't work. A major scene depends on the reader knowing that it's a midsummer drought that has caused the leaflessness of Central Park, when they (like me) could be under the impression that it's still mid-winter, so the odd thing is that this one tree is in leaf, not that the others aren't.

Editor should have stepped in.

Also, the editor should have said something at the very beginning about the protagonist of the story. It starts off as Trevor, switches to Diana, and around the midpoint switches for the rest of the story to Trevor. Diana had not been the star of her own book in YEARS. An editor should have insisted that this be her story, even if Trevor had to die.

Now, Trevor got an excellent comic book death, one of the better ones around. It was full of bravery and love and dying for the good of the universe -- wow. I mean, wow. Even better, it got Trevor Barnes, the otherwise pain in the, um, neck, permanently OUT of the book.

Three cheers for Walter Simonson!

We were also treated to the wacky Becca Doherty, a hairdresser who needs a lot more training (and exposure in the comic); a tabloid TV slimeball, Ransome Mackelvane; and the deliciously off-kilter Mrs. Cranmer, who displays enough magic that I hope she is able to pop up again, this time in the 21st Century.

Walt used one of his favorite fables, that of the clay and bronze pots, in this story. I'd never heard of it and really don't think it strong enough to carry the story as it didn't really carry its theme through. A motif, maybe. Theme... I don't think so. I dunno; it seemed a bit off-target or under-explained or something. A narrow miss.

Walt also got to play with Diana as Di Prince, the white-clad modster of the Sekowsky days. Why, he even threw in Ching as a demon. You just KNOW that such depiction is going to go a long way with me, but Diana struttin' her stuff so decisively even without powers was exciting to watch.

Through her "powerlessness" we even got a chance to see just how strong a regular Amazon is. Unfortunately, there were some mistakes and we saw her floating in the air, etc. while without powers. Editor?

One of the villains of the piece is named "Diana." Now, I don't know how Artemis the god would miss not having been reincorporated with Diana the god way back in -- where was it? War of the Gods?, but perhaps we can write it off to the Shattered God's influence. And I don't know why Diana-god would present herself consistently as a warrior goddess instead of a hunter. Walt gave her (and Diana-WW, when she incorporated with the SG) a halo because he'd seen old paintings showing gods with halos. It was a cool touch, but a bit unsettling as it was new symbology we god-familiar Wondie fans hadn't seen before.

Walt also turned the populace of Paradise Archipelago into statues. His successor, Rucka, didn't bother to restore them before using them. ??? Editor? Even odder when Rucka began turning people into stone himself.

There was a lot of discussion on the Message Boards about the possession of Diana by the Shattered God. Some saw it as unnecessarily sexual, a rape sequence, while others didn't see it that way at all. I think it pretty much rode the fence, but could have used with less sexual innuendo. This is a female star we're talking about, one we were reading in the year 2003, and you've got to rein back on some things when to suggest otherwise could easily cross bounds with some people and get in the way of the story.

Walt also had Amazons and a mortal like Trevor (though it could be argued that at this point he was no longer quite mortal) visiting Olympus. To me, this is a grave error. There is no tea-time train that runs between Paradise and Olympus. Olympus should be completely off-limits to anyone even approaching mortality. Visitation should be by Most High Invitation, no, Command Only, And Take Your Shoes Off At The Door, You Unworthy One. Yet the Amazons acted as if it were an everyday thing to visit Olympus, tra la.

A final problem with this story was that it failed to give the universal scope that Walter was trying to write. I didn't know before this that Oa was not located at the center of the Milky Way, but rather was at the center of the entire freaking universe. What an idiotic concept! And decades old, so don't even THINK of blaming Walt. But even if we saw that things were happening around Oa, the only other places we saw were New York City, India and Zambia. We didn't even see that NYC was affected by the drought until towards the end.

It didn't help that Justice League had just come off a major story arc dealing with a world-wide drought. In their instance, it wasn't a gradual drought like in the WW story, but rather a water-sucking anomaly. Still, it lasted for a long story arc.

If S.G. was supposed to be a universal threat, he fell flat on his face. Now, if it were a terrestrial story, it makes so MUCH more sense. Eliminate all the Ganthet stuff -- he doesn't contribute anything to the story anyway -- and have Shattered God be Chaos, father of Gaea. Then we see that only having Terrestrial gods affected by the SG's statue spell makes sense. Only seeing Terrestrial scenes of drought makes sense. The story is just as grand, but it fits together better.

And make no mistake: a grand story it was. Diana as the balance between gods and men, Trevor as the human rushing to save the world and then giving his all because of his love and his complete integrity to the good of the world -- wow.

The best part of it was Diana's character. She was more vibrant, more capable, more loving than we'd seen her since the first part of the Messner-Loebs era. She was WONDER WOMAN again!!!! HOORAY! Very nicely done! Certainly this was one of the better story arcs of the Modern Era. If only the editor had stepped forward to take care of the continuity glitches and slight structure/scope problems, it could have been in the Top Five.

The art was surprisingly okay; I'd expected to be blown out of my seat by it. Diana looked gaunt in many scenes and didn't seem to fit into the same universe of body shapes as appeared in the rest of the story. And her hair--! Ick.

I have nothing against Wondie having short hair; in fact, it makes sense. But I'd like her to have a CUTE hairstyle if she ever switches over.

This story revealed that part of her "beauty of Aphrodite" included long hair. Note that when Diana gets her powers back, her hair instantly grows. Thus, it's one of her powers/gifts. Interesting. (And something Walter said later that he didn't intend. Ha ha!)

But the art was professionally done. We could clearly see how the story moved and could feel the full brunt of the action sequences (except for the Aegis effect). Too bad the colors were so bad, but that was a long-standing problem with the book.

Anyway, DC got a LOT of publicity -- this time correctly timed, unlike the attempt in the Jimenez era for a publicity stunt -- out of the hair bit. Plus the original reporter for one of the major wires looked at a b&w copy and concluded that Wondie had gone camoflage in the bustier area, not thinking that it could be reflections on metal instead, so that got a lot of buzz.

Anyway, the rumor now is that the publicity about the costume at this time prevented a costume revamping during the Rucka era. I saw some promotional sketches of the loincloth and nosepiece'd costume, and wasn't impressed at all. Ew. So thanks again, Walt!

Adam Hughes was finishing up his tenure as cover artist. Issue 189 shows Diana in the white with her shirt unzipped to show her breasts, of course. (Insert curse here.) The cover was modelled after one of the outtakes on Kate Bush's album, "Lionheart," which I don't own and am not about to buy just to scan it for this index. Why Kate Bush?

Issue 193 gave us an unneeded crotch shot cover. Diana's legs in no way needed to be positioned that way, but I guess Adam thought we needed a crotch shot since he couldn't show a peekaboob shot from the back.

Issue 191 gives us a spectacular vision of Paradise -- and a very boy-like figure of Wondie in the foreground. How I'd love to have a poster of this, if the Wondie figure were taken out or redrawn! It really is a glorious landscape.

AH!'s version of Diana's short hair-do was cute, the way it should have been.

This was an interesting run in the Wondie book. A lot of action (Wondie as a kick-ass heroine! Imagine!) and some great characters -- heck, Walt made me REALLY LIKE Trevor! I would have thought that impossible!! -- but some startling errors that an editor at least should have seen to correct.

Trevor Barnes was completely dead at last. Oh, happy day!

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