Friday, April 08, 2005

WONDER WOMAN #143 DC Comics 1999

Here's an issue from Eric Luke's run as writer on Wonder Woman. Luke, who previously worked on Dark Horse's Ghost, had a mixed run on the book. He introduced the "Wonder Dome" (where I think there's going to be an Amazon Monster Truck Rally this weekend), had a mini-epic called GodWar! or something like that, and created this issue's villain, Devastation. refers to this era of Wonder Woman comics as the "Pre-Jimenez Era," because artist/writer Phil Jimenez soon took over the book for a run that I guess you would have to call the "Jimenez Era." I just think that's funny: Pre-Jimenez Era. Using that standard, my life right now could be summed up as the post-Jamie Farr*, pre-Monica Belucci stage.

I appreciated Eric Luke's run on this book because darn it, he tried. Luke created Devastation, the arch-enemy that never quite became the classic villain Luke intended her to be. Made by the evil titan Chronus (I think) as a dark counterpart to Wonder Woman, she was as powerful as our heroine and also had strange mind-voodoo powers, and she usually appeared as an evil 12-year old girl. This issue sets Devastation up as a major threat, spreading hatred and violence through Smalltown, USA. When Wonder Woman shows up she gets her ass handed to her by Devastation, and retreats back to the Wonder Dome with a gunshot wound.

And that's where they lose me. Wonder Woman - with a gunshot wound? From like, a 9mm pistol? That is bullshit.

Let's examine this issue in greater detail. Below are the panels (with art by Yannick Paquette) where Devastation shoots Wonder Woman. She aims at our heroine's head, and when Wonder Woman moves to block the shot - psych! - Devastation moves the gun at the last nano-second and shoots her in the side. In the next issue she has the bullet taken out in the Wonder Dome.

I ask you: should you be able to a) psych out Wonder Woman by moving the gun right before you fire, and b) actually break her skin with a bullet? I'll answer for you: no.

Let's tackle the bulletproof issue. I think this is an issue of the writer just not understanding what the hell Wonder Woman's powers are and confusing the classic, pre-Crisis, and post-Crisis versions of the character. I submit to you, gentle reader, this thesis:

Wonder Woman is bulletproof.

Why does she have those bracelets, then?

The original 1940's Wonder Woman, as created by William Marston, was, like Superman, not nearly as poweful as their modern-day incarnations. Superman couldn't even fly back in the day; he hopped around and ran on telephone wires and whatnot. The classic Wonder Woman was strong, but only lift-a-car kind of strong, and she deflected bullets with her magic bracelets. Classic version of Wonder Woman: not bulletproof.

The modern version of the character is a different story. DC is always saying that Wonder Woman is part of the Big Three, she's the greatest heroine on Earth, she's second only to Superman in power, et cetera. She is now lift-a-train strong, can fly, and is super-tough. How tough? She's fought Superman, Darkseid, and Doomsday. An average fight for her might mean getting thrown through a skyscraper or getting a car thrown at her.

Why does she have the bracelets? Those are for lasers and deathrays and deflecting shrapnel and shit.

Wonder Woman can withstand blunt trauma, but a gunshot is different. A bullet is a lot of force focused in a very small area; it would pierce her skin. It wouldn't do as much dam--

Shut up, you don't know what you're talking about. Listen: she has fought Superman. If you're tough enough to take a full-on punch in the face from Superman, the Strongest Guy Ever, that to me would indicate that your entire body - your bones, your muscles, your skin -- is superhumanly tough. Wonder Woman flies at supersonic speed in a swimsuit, for Chrissakes. Her skin would have to be super resilient. I'm sorry, but if Superman can punch you through a skyscraper without killing you - you're bulletproof. It's the new rule.

Okay, how come we never see bullets bouncing off Wonder Woman, then?

Because Wonder Woman isn't slack. If you had bracelets and you were bad-ass enough to be able to deflect bullets, wouldn't it be sort of a point of pride to always deflect stuff? If she let a bullet get through, it might hurt her reputation. People would start to talk about how Wonder Woman's getting slow. No, if you could block bullets, you'd do it every time. Next question.

You've convinced me, Dave. I see know that Wonder Woman really IS bulletproof.

I'm glad you understand now.

*I met Jamie Farr in 1997; fabulous guy, gay as a whistle.


NiolK said...

Why the fuck does she have that stupid invisible plane if she can fly?

Anonymous said...

I've had the same argument, I mean, sophisticated intellectual debate, concerning Thor. He endures mega-flames from cosmic demons and haymakers from the Hulk, but several times he's whirled his hammer to deflect bullets.

Maybe it's a mythological handicap. Bullets and guns weren't invented in ancient times, so WW and Thor are secretly a little nervous about them...

Anonymous said...

LOL I was just bored at work and did a google... I was looking for the same answers... (hearing the guitar from JLU playing in the background and WW blocking bullets.)

niolk - I don't think I seen WW jet for a while now.

I can see how wonder woman blocking bullets could be a female cocky thing... like Superman sticking his chest out to say... go on...

Guys are more... lets see you do it...
Women are more... Please bitch... you know who I am?

love it.

Anonymous said...

A bit late to the party, but suffice it to say, Wonder Woman is explicitly NOT bulletproof. Neither is she arrow proof, nor sword proof. She IS fireproof, fist-proof, and generally much tougher than your average human, but she is not now, nor has she ever been as physically impervious as Superman.

I thought she was once too, but they've pointed it out a few times in various Secret Files and whatnot. Diana (and Cassie for that matter) is only tough enough to stand her own powers (ie not be crushed under the force of her own punches or burn from the friction of her own speed), but ti doesn't protect her against things like bullets.

Why? Because her powers are MAGIC, not physics based. Magic has all kinds of stupid rules, like how Mistletoe is the one thing that can kill Balder, or how the Hulk can't lift Thor's hammer but H.E.R.B.I.E. can. Magic.

Anonymous said...

Aside from the simple fact that it's just a part of her character background, Wonder Woman uses the invisible jet for perfectly sensible reasons like: that way she's at 100% when she gets where she's going. Sure, she's WW, but constantly using her powers has to take at least a little something out of her. Enough to make a difference in battle? Who knows? But would you take the chance against the level of opponents she faces every day if you had a nice spiffy plane to do the flying for you? And her flight speed is pretty fast, but that doesn't mean that her plane couldn't be even faster. Plus it's way more comfortable--even Amazons don't enjoy getting bugs in their teeth. It's also a lot easier to take passengers, and if they're normal humans she's not slowed down by their physical limitations. And it gives her the option of kicking on the autopilot and doing other things, like polishing her bracelets, or doing crossword puzzles, I don't know. Not only that, I think there's a bathroom on it, which seals the deal right there.

That shooting scene is just moronic, even aside from the fact that WW can probably deflect a single bullet with one eye closed, half-asleep, and with a cold, even at that range. And apart from the question of whether WW is bulletproof--and personally, I agree that she is--apparently Eric Luke never gave any thought at all to just how tough WW's costume has to be in order to survive combat at the power levels she operates on. How often do you even see her costume get torn? If it wasn't pretty damn durable, she'd be running around naked all the time--which, hey, I'd enjoy, but that's beside the point. Does anybody seriously think it won't stand up to one wimpy small-caliber bullet? Now a better writer could easily get around objections like that, but obviously Eric Luke wasn't a better writer.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, she (WW!)actually explained at a book signing in the comics that she uses the plane for cargo or crap load of people. Superman uses like a wall with a bunch of people standing on it. WW isn't just running around carrying a Katamari's worth of people in her hands. She uses a plane. She isn't bulletproof. She just isn't hurt much by bullets. The gauntlets are just f'in awesome and a reminder that they exist.

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