Friday, April 27, 2012

Review- WONDER WOMAN ARCHIVES VOL. 4

WONDER WOMAN ARCHIVES VOL. 4 (DC, 2003; Hardcover)
Collects Wonder Woman Nos. 8, 9 and selections from Sensation Comics Nos. 25-32 (cover dates January- August, 1944)
Writer: Dr. William Moulton Marston
Artist: H.G. Peter
Another charming, loveable addition to the Wonder Woman Archives line. This one is paltry, clocking in at 197 pages. This is forgivable, though, since Volume 5 clocks in at almost 240 pages. Marston's writing is as superb as ever, ditto Harry G. Peter's artwork. His brilliance shines, even with the occasionally washed out linework in this book. (See The OCD zone for more on that.) This is an outstanding read, in spite of the handful of marred panels. 
I have been reading these Archives in an on-again, off-again marathon since Christmas time, and have been savoring the experience. Volumes 5 and 6 are in queue, and if I read them slowly enough, Volume 7 will join them in October. 
The bondage, S&M, dominant/submissive, and slave references are everywhere. It doesn't even phase me anymore, whereas it made me laugh hysterically when I first read these Golden Age Wonder Woman comic books. It's still funny to think that this was scooped by children by the boatload, with sales near two and a half million copies every month*. I wonder if people were unaware of these references or bought them because of them.
*Source: The Comics, by Colton Waugh, published in 1947.
The OCD zone- The color palette is nearly 100% faithful to the original issues. I should know, I did some digging and found scans of the original issues online and did side by side comparisons. I was horrified at how much of the fine linework was buried by the computer recoloring, though. It's a damn shame that DC uses the “airbrush” method to re-color rather than doing it by “hand” on computer, which better replicates the original brushstrokes and helps to maintain the integrity of the linework of the original issues. You would not notice this unless you did some side-by-side comparisons. I skew on the uber-anal-retentive side on the OCD scale, though. 
Another problem with letting the computer determine which shapes to fill in is that the shadings look fuzzy at times, almost airbrushed, instead of the soft fades found in old comic books. I wish that DC did what Marvel does, and remaster their material when advances in technology allow for a better overall product. Marvel has let Cory Sedelmeier raise the bar on the Marvel Masterworks. DC should also preserve their history better than this Archive does.
The paper is wonderful. It is a dull matte finish coated stock. The book also has sewn binding, and will likely outlast me on this planet. 

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