Incoherent Wonder Woman Writing

I keep hoping that one of the new Wonder Woman writers will put together a good story, but I’ve been disappointed so far. (Although the next one up, Gail Simone, gives me renewed hope.) Currently up on the short-run roster is novelist Jodi Picoult, who’s been particularly disheartening… how can a published author be so clunky?

I was flipping through the latest issue of Wonder Woman when this particular quote from the title character caught my eye:

So, who’s this famous Frank Miller fan that’s working for Circe?

Um, what? I know I haven’t been following the series, but does that make any sense to anyone? It’s wrong for the story, wrong for the character, and doesn’t even work on the meta-level, since it’s so confusing.


20 Responses to “Incoherent Wonder Woman Writing”

  1. Ragtime Says:

    It is a stupid joke that didn’t work the first time, and yet the trotted it back out to remind us of the first failed joke.

    As best as I can figure. In Arthur Miller plays, the hero can often be described as a sort of “everyman.” This is true in many plays, however, not only — or particularly — Arthur Miller plays.

    So, the joke in WW#9 that the new supervillain “Everyman” must be an Arthur Miller fan fell flat. He could just as easily be a fan of the Middle Ages play called “Everyman,” or any any other writer who includes everyman-type characters.

    So, the joke in WW#10 only works if the you thought the first one was so funny that it deserved a running gag.

    Which it didn’t.

  2. Graeme McMillan Says:

    It’s a really crappy metatextual joke – The next line has a character correcting Diana by telling her that it’s Arthur Miller, not Frank Miller.

    Not that an Arthur Miller reference makes much more sense, however.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Oh wow. Understanding more about it (thank you) somehow makes it worse.

  4. Michael Rawdon Says:

    I dropped Jack of Fables this month, and Wonder Woman is next on my drop list. Other than the artwork, I don’t think any of these first ten issues have been remotely readable. Picoult’s run started poorly and got worse, since it was mired in Stupid Event Hell. I especially disliked the way she belittled Diana’s lack of understanding about how everyday folk live.

    I think I’m too fed-up with this book to even give Simone’s run a try.

  5. Johanna Says:

    That’s a shame, and a risk companies face in making bad choices for series. They can’t count on people coming back, or even knowing when a creator or direction has changed.

  6. caleb Says:

    Wait, I don’t get it. Who’s the famous Frank Miller fan?

    And Frank Miller in the DCU…what comics do you figure he’s done? Or is he a journalist, who’s main claim to fame is revealing look behind the mask of urban legend “Batman”?

  7. Scott Says:

    I think Picoult’s run was hamstrung from the very beginning by having to include large portions of Amazons Attack, not to mention some of the remaining detritus from Heinberg’s run. There’s no way it could have succeeded.

    I’d be willing to give her another chance at WW (maybe in stand-alone miniseries), because I still think she has potential to be a good WW writer (but she needs to tone down some of those conversational tics mentioned already)

  8. Kelson Says:

    Or is he a journalist, who’s main claim to fame is revealing look behind the mask of urban legend “Batman”?

    That reminds me of a Flash story from 1998 or 1999, in which Mark Millar — writer at the DCU’s version of DC Comics, which specializes in “real life” super-heroes — is stumped for a deadline and calls up the Flash to get some ideas.

  9. Anthony Says:

    In the DC Universe, DC Comics exists as a company that publishes “true crime” adventures about Superman, Batman, Flash, and the JLA, along with the various Golden Age characters. The Barry Allen-era “Flash” comics showed Barry as a superhero comic fan, owning various DC Comics back-issues; the classic “Flash of Two Worlds” story also makes reference to Barry’s world’s comics.

    There’s also IIRC a Batman story from the late 60’s where Batman’s on a case involving the writer for his world’s version of the Batman comic… can only imagine how it’d be “updated” for today’s comics (presumably it’d be tied into the 90’s comics’ “urban legend” junk, though believe they’ve recently ditched that bit of nonsense…).

  10. Rob Spencer Says:

    I’m not going to blame Picoult alone; this was obviously bad or neglectful editing, and senior editing. When someone is doing a job for the first time, any job, they need a fair amount of guidance. And usually a helpful “We don’t do that like that around here,” now and then. I’m not giving the talent scouts a free pass either. This has been a botched relaunch from issue 1.

    On the bright side, Gail Simone summed up Wonder Woman in a great (loosely, from memory) quote: When an invading army shows up on your doorstep, you call Wonder Woman.

    I doubt either of the previous writers could be as succinct or evocative.

  11. Rob S. Says:

    Scott said:

    I think Picoult’s run was hamstrung from the very beginning by having to include large portions of Amazons Attack, not to mention some of the remaining detritus from Heinberg’s run.

    Did it even conclude? Or is the story just continued in Amazons Attack? I didn’t bother picking up this issue, since it seems like the latter. I honestly can’t figure out why Picoult would agree just to be a cog in the crossover factory, and why DC was interested in getting a writer of her profile for a journeyman’s job.

  12. Rob S. Says:

    (By “Did it even conclude?”, I meant Picoult’s story. God knows Heinberg’s hasn’t wrapped up yet.)

  13. Ray Tate Says:

    You know, I’ve got nothing for or against Picoult, but she was given a really lousy continuity to work with.

    I mean, what’s Nemesis doing in a Wonder Woman comic book?

    Why is Donna Troy Wonder Woman all of the sudden?

    Why do you need a second government branch to deal with super-hero issues? I thought that was what the DEO was for.

    Why does the government want Wonder Woman’s head on a silver platter, given that WW was cleared of wrong doing in Manhunter a year before? Makes my head hurt just thinking about DC’s cockamamy time line.

    I think had Picoult been given a relatively clean slate with which to work, she could have done a spectacular job.

    For instance, suppose OYL Wonder Woman returned from her sabbatical as a super-hero, who was simply trying to regain the trust of the people suspicious of her. Suppose she did gain a secret identity–Diana Prince, but instead of working for some make believe agency, she had joined up with the NSA, FBI or CIA–cleansed in the DCU. Suppose Nemesis never set foot in Wonder Woman, and the cast had been whittled down to oh, I don’t know, Wonder Woman.

    I think a competent writer might have been able to get some stories out of simpler background material.

    The DCU has simply been as broken as Babs Gordon’s spine since the Crisis of Infinite Earths, and every Big Stupid Event just makes things horribly worse.

    Ray

  14. Johanna Says:

    Rob, no one knows what discussions were like between this author and DC (or any creator), but I find it conceivable that one or both of the parties may have considered the crossover a plus. Perhaps DC pitched it as a popular way to bring more attention to Picoult’s run, or Picoult found it something unique to the superhero genre that she wanted to try.

    I agree with you, it’s a big factor driving my disillusionment with the title (and DC’s superhero publications), but the production perspective might be very different.

  15. scott h Says:

    Ill start picking this up as soon as Gail Simone, a PROVEN COMICS WRITER stars writing it. I hope DC has learned something about x-over talent from their WW and Flash experiences. If Gail had been given WW from the start it might very well be in a sort of renaissance right now instead of closing in on vertigo numbers in sales.

  16. Rob S. Says:

    Good point, Johanna. I guess it says something about the percieved quality of the corssover (on my part, at least), that I never once considered the crossover anything but a hurdle.

  17. Michael Rawdon Says:

    The sad thing is that I originally picked up the new Wonder Woman series because I liked the premise: Donna Troy as the new Wonder Woman, and Diana as a government agent seemed like a premise for some interesting stories. Although I didn’t follow the previous title after Phil Jimenez’ run, the notion of Diana adopting a new identity and working for the government as some sort of penance for her actions appealed to me.

    When Diana got back into costume almost immediately, my interest flagged quickly.

    When Hippolyta came back from the dead in Picoult’s run, I knew the series had jumped the shark. Jeez.

    I’m long past the point of expecting decent continuity from DC or Marvel, but I do demand good stories and decent characterization at least within a single writer’s run. This Wonder Woman series so far has been the antithesis of that.

  18. Tim O'Shea Says:

    “I’m not going to blame Picoult alone; this was obviously bad or neglectful editing, and senior editing. When someone is doing a job for the first time, any job, they need a fair amount of guidance. And usually a helpful ‘We don’t do that like that around here,’ now and then.”

    Could not have said it better. DC had a great opportunity here. Picoult was granting interviews with mainstream sources discussing her work, a good product could have brough new mainstream WW readers. The point of bringing her onboard was first to boost sales, the second priority seemed to be to entertain. The priorities were not in parallel.

    I speculate Bob Schreck tightly edited Meltzer’s first run on Green Arrow–for an example of how to do things right.

    Crossovers can hurt a book, and they did with this one. “When Hippolyta came back from the dead in Picoult’s run, I knew the series had jumped the shark.” It didn’t happen under Picoult’s run, per se, it was a shared universe development in Amazons Attack that clearly had an impact and had to be featured in the monthly book. That being said, as a consumer, you can’t care how a plot point came to be, all that really matters is that you enjoy what you are reading.

  19. Michael Rawdon Says:

    It didn’t happen under Picoult’s run, per se, it was a shared universe development in Amazons Attack that clearly had an impact and had to be featured in the monthly book. That being said, as a consumer, you can’t care how a plot point came to be, all that really matters is that you enjoy what you are reading.

    Sure. Although I’m interested in how books come to be, ultimately the end product is more important to me.

    Although I admit I’m not always this careful in my wording, that’s why I said “in Picoult’s Run”, not that “Picoult brought her back from the dead”. This is important for two reasons: First, because the fact of the crossover means I can’t specifically attribute this decision to her. But second, because it happened during her run, her name is associated with it.

    While Picoult may not have been responsible for everything that upended her five issues on the book, ultimately those 5 issues were presented as a package with her name prominently attached. And, well, that’s one of the risks of doing work-for-hire using corporate-owned characters.

    (I wonder what Picoult’s opinion is of her run and her experience working on the book? I don’t recall reading any public comments from her.)

  20. Tim O'Shea Says:

    Michael:

    As for your question “I wonder what Picoult’s opinion is of her run and her experience working on the book?”

    Consider this exchange I pulled from the DC message board (from April)
    http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?messageID=2003674458&#2003674458

    ——-
    Novel author and current Wonder Woman comic book writer Jodi Picoult was at a book signing in Pasadena, CA yesterday to promote her newest book “Nineteen Minutes”. The line to see her was long but when I finally got to her the conversation went pretty much like this:

    Peter: It’s a pleasure to meet you.
    Jodi: Thank you! (sees I have the Wonder Woman comic) Wonder Woman! So, how did you like it?
    Peter: Well, I was wondering… when you were writing it did Diana still have her history of working at Taco Whiz?
    Jodi: Why do you ask?
    Peter: Well, in your first issue I thought the writing quality was good but she did come across as a bit Pollyanna-ish.
    Jodi: I totally know where you’re coming from and believe me, just wait for it. It’s a five story arc and I don’t have any plans on dumbing her down.
    Peter: That’s great to hear.
    Jodi: Yeah, I probably would have had a better grasp on the first issue but the writer before me, Allan Heinberg, was SO slow with turning in his work that I just had to jump into it more blind that I would have liked. I just couldn’t wait for him to finish his arc so I just started working on it before DC gave me the green-light to begin. Having Diana work for the Department of Metahuman Affairs was SO not my idea.
    Peter: Will Artemis have any part of your run.
    Jodi: (stops to mentally scan her brain) No, unfortunately no.
    Peter: (notices the annoyed people in line behind him) Well, it was nice to meet you. Thanks for signing my comic book.
    Jodi: No problem. I hope you enjoy the finished story!
    Peter: (smile)
    ————-

    Then there’s this:

    http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000104570&tstart=0&start=345

    (again sourcing of questionable value)

    “In other business Jodi Picoult has aroused my anger. Have you read the latest SFX? (I’m in it again BTW lol)
    Here are some choice bits….

    ‘You have to keep it in continuity or you will be attacked by the messageboards, which are made up of really scary people who live in their parents’ basement. if you mess with any details at all, they’re all over you. They wanted to know why there isn’t more about the Greek Gods. you’re not allowed to mess with the past (Too f*cking right)
    they’re very serious about that.

    I’m not going to do any more comics right now now because I actually have to write more books. ”

    ———

    Neither item of course can be confirmed as really being what she said or wrote, I’ll admit. A visit to her message board reveals no WW discussion that I could find.

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