Dec 6, 2014

Best Read of November: The Twelve Labors

Wonder Woman's been stuck in my mind since October when I decided to be her for Halloween. (It was a failed attempt, otherwise there would have been photos.) So, using my handy dandy library card I pretty much requested every Wonder Woman comic in the SF library system. It was a heavy backpack I brought home that day.

This is an omnibus collection, gathering 12 Wonder Woman stories from the 70s written & illustrated by Len Wein and Curt Swan. They all center around Wonder Woman attempting to rejoin the Justice League.  Apparently in previous issues she lost her powers and this collection starts shortly after she's reclaimed them. The only issue is she can't remember the months she was powerless, and in accordance with her Greek roots asks to prove she's ready to rejoin the league by having the performance of her next 12 adventures monitored and judged by other Justice League members. Needless to say, the collection is called The Twelve Labors.

Each story is told from the perspective of a different super hero, from Black Canary to Batman, and are true reprints from when these stories debuted in '75 and '76. That alone made then interesting to me because I've never seen/read anything where Wonder Woman plays a large part. It was lovely to discover her tropes and basics - such as how she plays 'bullets and bracelets' with villains and her clothing is chemically treated to switch between civilian and superhero costumes based on her lasso's vibrations.

The stories are fun, even now 40 years later. You have to take them with the comic superhero genre in mind - villains who are simple and one dimensional - but the premise of them are interesting, vary from story to story, and all flow very logically in the world. I'm always impressed by how Wonder Woman wins; I've never considered her a fast thinking, clever heroine but she makes good one-the-spot decisions that turn enemy plots against them.

I also got a kick out of how Wonder Woman, and her alter ego Diana Prince, and positioned in this 70s world. You get to know a bit about the other Justice League members through their narration (which was nice cuz I don't know much about most of them), and none of them seem to have as impressive an alter role as Diana. She's working at the UN Crisis Bureau, actually involved in solving issues that crop up.  The others are journalists, news casters, or unemployed cuz they're not actually from Earth. Or billionaires. Looking at you, Bruce Wayne. The comic also seemed very progressive to me, based on my 90s childhood viewpoint of the 70s, and some of the panels are still powerful today because they show ideas that don't always make an appearance in female led stories.  Take a look.

I can't wait to read the rest of my library haul.


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