Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review- WONDER WOMAN: THE TWELVE LABORS


WONDER WOMAN: THE TWELVE LABORS (DC, First Printing, 2012; Softcover)

Collects Wonder Woman #212-222 (cover dates July, 1974- March, 1976)
Writers: Martin Pasko, Elliot S. Maggin, Cary Bates, and Len Wein
Artists: Pencilers- Curt Swan, John Rosenberger, Irv Novick, Dick Dillin, Kurt Schaffenberger, Dick Giordano, and Jose Delbo; Inkers- Vince Colletta, Tex Blaisdell, Phil Zupa, Kurt Schaffenberger,and Dick Giordano

Coke Vs. Pepsi. GM Vs. Ford. Marvel Vs. DC. These were the battles that in my mind as a child there could only be one winner and one loser, seemingly oblivious to the concept that one could like both. I grew up a Marvel kid from 1979-on, snobbishly thumbing my nose up at anything published by the Distinguished Competition as automatically inferior. A friend of mine that I met in adulthood was the flipside, believing DC to be the way. I once thought that DC fans were like Jehovah's Witnesses, well-intentioned if misguided, but I have long since softened my stance.



That brings us to this book, an eleven issue beast of an arc that there is no way that Marvel would have attempted during this point in time. Wonder Woman was a role model for the girls who would grow up to become the feminists of the women's lib movement of the 1970s, and it makes perfect sense for them to give her a spin in the then-zeitgest. This touches on the late '60s reboot where Wonder Woman shed her costume and became more “now”, which was collected across four trades that I may actually get around to reading and review for you someday. It turns out that that Wonder Woman's memories were hidden by Queen Hippolyta so that she wouldn't remember being powerless in Man's World. This is what the kids call a “ret-con”.

Imagine the Internet OUTRAGE if this exchange occurred in a comic book today!

The JLA wants her to rejoin them, but Wonder Woman feels unsure of herself since she does not have all of her memories and decides to embark on “Twelve Labors” like Hercules to prove to herself that she is worthy. This book almost feels like a Justice League book, as they are featured in each issue with a different member stalking following her around and reporting their findings to the rest of the team in each issue.

My suspension of disbelief was pushed beyond the breaking point in three places. One: The fact that her Magic Lasso is elastic enough to stretch from the ground to the top of a skyscraper. If this were the case then how could it keep anyone captive? Two: Her Robot Plane (or Invisible Plane) which responds to mental waves. While not entirely without precedent in the Golden Age version of the character, something about it felt off. Three: Wonder Woman's seemingly intermittent ability to fly and/or glide on wind currents. It is this lack of consistency that cost DC early on in life for me.


This was a great read and a good time. If you are not a cynical bastard and like fun superhero comics you can't go wrong with this book...especially since it is now out of print. I enjoy the fact that it often takes so long for me to rotate books through my backlog that they are often out of print by the time that I get around to reading them. It is a scientific fact that out of print books are more enjoyable to read than in print books.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- DC needs to get in the ring with Marvel and do more of these types of collections. Eleven consecutive issues clocking in at 232 pages. I would be all over a comprehensive line of trades that cover this kind of ground.
Linework and Color restoration: The integrity of the linework is incredible. No complaints there. The original color palette, while faithfully maintained, is marred by inauthentic gradient shade blends which have a harsh look to them. A softer, hand colored (on computer) approach would have made things perfect. The degree of cheesy, inauthentic blends vary from issue to issue, likely depending on who worked on it.
Paper stock: Typical toilet paper stock that DC uses in collections of vintage material. This stuff will brown and yellow over time and it feels cheap.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.

Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock.

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