Monday, August 18, 2008

Wonder Woman and Mrs Peel

Is there a connection between Wonder Woman and Mrs Peel? There is actually more of one than you can imagine. Obviously Wonder Woman, along with Superman and Batman, is one of DC comics "Big 3". They are currently co-starring in a series called "Trinity". Wonder Woman is a comics icon. Mrs Peel is a tv cultural icon, being one of the first popular culture hip, cool woman warriors. However, Wonder Woman possesses powers that rival that of Superman, while Emma Peel relied on wit,charm, and martial arts skill. But for a more than brief run in the '70's, the gap between them closed. Wonder Woman was temporarily stripped of her super powers, which were replaced by ultra-mod outfits and martial arts prowess. And some very entertaining stories.

Even though the Avengers were in re-runs, fans like me watched them over and over again just to see Diana Rigg's Emma Peel. But there were no new stories being made. So when I stumbled upon what was called "The New Wonder Woman", I realized that the character was being shaped into a Mrs Peel-type. Which was okay with me. My mind could translate what the character in this incarnation was doing by substituting Mrs Peel for her. The Incredible I-Ching was her teacher and mentor, teaching her to substitute Mrs Peel like moves for Amazonian super powers. He wore a bowler hat and added a male prescence to the comic.

It helped that Wonder Woman's name was Diana. In fact in a memorial edition re-print of the first issue with the new Wonder Woman, the writer, Dennis O'Neill outwardly stated that they modeled their heroine in this changed form after Diana Rigg. I am adding a link that explains the whole thing in much greater detail:

But the stories were fun in and of themselves. It was funny that due to the fact that Diana Rigg was replaced in The Avengers by Linda Thorson, the name Linda always took a negative connotation. You would watch Diana Rigg episodes in syndication, than have to wait months and months to miss the Linda Thorson episodes, only to eagerly await the return of the Rigg episodes. We are talking many, many years before you could catch shows on a video recorder. Any way, the Name Linda was redeemed for me when Lynda Carter(Linda with a "y") became the tv Wonder Woman.

Of course, Wonder Woman eventually got her powers back. And Denny O'Neill himself said it was something he never should have done to strip her of them. But for Avengers and Mrs Peel fans, it was a real treat.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dark Knight & Iron Man

This has been quite a summer for superhero films. I recently saw "Iron Man" again with a friend in San Francisco. It was my third(I think) time, and it is a very entertaining film. When I was reading Marvel Comics in the '60's, Iron Man was definitely a second or third tier character in the Marvel universe. My favorites were initially Spider-man, the Fantastic Four, Thor.... Later my tastes shifted to Dr. Strange and the Silver Surfer. But I always read Iron Man. I actually liked his first incarnation in the bulky, unwieldy suit. He was sort of like a walking trash can with metal arms. They soon streamlined his suit. I remember Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan were initially drawn(by Don Heck, I think) as almost cartoon characters. As the series progressed, they made the secretary more and more attractive, until she became a primary love interest for Tony Stark. Robert Downey IS Tony Stark. His one liners are incredibly entertaining. Gwynneth Paltrow is a great Pepper. Jon Favreau plays the chauffeur, as well as directing the film. I thought he was a perfect Foggy Nelson to Ben Affleck's Matt Murdock in Daredevil. My favorite aspect of the film was seeing the transformation of playboy military industrialist Tony Stark into a warrior with focused goals and a global sense. A person who is willing to take responsibility for what he himself has brought into the world. The flight sequences go from spectacular to very humorous. I had a great time every time I saw it.

"The Dark Knight" is a much better film, although possibly not as much fun. I am on my third viewing. I don't know if there will be a fourth until the dvd. Heath Ledger's Joker is mesmerizing. Christian Bale as Batman has become my favorite by far, surpassing the Michael Keaton Batman of the first 2 film. It is quite a feat to give the public everything they look for in a superhero/action film and at the same time tackle topics many more serious films shy away from. What is the line between sanity and insanity? Once you cross the line, can you go back? Should Batman for the greater good kill the Joker? Can the Joker be killed at all? After all, insanity can't be killed, only, possibly, healed. My favorite line in the film was where Batman is asked by one of his imitators, also a vigilante, what separates the 2 of them. Christian Bales answer? "I aint wearin' hockey pants!"