Of the Justice League: Gods and Monsters

Almost every superhero comic has its own alternative “what if” stories. As a fan myself, it can sometimes be difficult to suspend my disbelief when reading these tales. At the very least, I keep thinking to myself “that’s fascinating, but that’s not how — for example — Superman would be, or that person is not Superman.” We have an interpretation of a hero, villain, or character and we generally compare the alternative to the original. That is how a lot of alternative comics universes work: they work by comparing and contrasting the new with the original.

With superhero comics universes like DC, it often goes further into making those alternate worlds actually relate and connect to each other. Alternate Superman will meet the “real” Superman and we can go home thinking about how fascinating that was, but ultimately finding “our” Superman more valid.

Justice League: Gods and Monsters does something similar. We can see echoes of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman in these characters: or at least their roles. However, at least two of the characters already exist in the DC Universe in a different form, and this darker take on that universe says something about what it takes to be a hero with it.

Machinima and Warner Bros. have teamed up to create a trilogy of sorts: of three shorts that will provide backgrounds for the heroes of the main feature Justice League: Gods and Monsters: a DC Universe Animated Movie that will go straight to DVD.

You can view all three of these shorts: “Twisted,” “Bomb” and “Big” online and right here for your viewing pleasure.

Episode One: Twisted: In which there is honour even in one of the darkest of souls.

Episode Two: Bomb: In which the Son of Zod wishes he was a good man, rather than a Superman.

Episode Three: Big: In which Steve Trevor realizes that it is sometimes okay to ask for help. And that “help” can be a safe word.

This season of three shorts will lead into another ten episode long series in 2016. A four-issue prequel comic by J. M. DeMatteis and Bruce Timm will be released along with the movie: which will come out in July 28, 2015. Hopefully we will get to see these three characters stand on their own and look at where they are headed next into the dark, but honest horizon.

Emerging From Paradise Island and A Golden Age, Wonder Woman: The Complete Newspaper Strip

During what many call the Golden Age of superhero comics, newspaper comic strips were still a force to be reckoned with. After all, before superhero and other genres of comics were even thought of, or implemented, it was from these strips from which the medium actually came.

Chris Sims in his Comics Alliance article IDW To Publish First Ever Collection Of Golden Age Wonder Woman Newspaper Comic Strips acknowledges this history and the fact that while we have seen the original Superman and Batman Weekday and Sunday reprinted many a time, we had yet to see the Amazon Princess’ newspaper adventures printed until now.

Compared to Superman’s 1939-1966 span and Batman’s on again, off again paper incarnations from 1943-1946, 1953, 1966-1974, 1978-1985 and even something as recently as 1989-1991, Wonder Woman’s 1943-1944 stint is a brief run indeed. In fact, when you really look at it, the newspaper adventures of Superman made it through the Gold and Silver Ages of comics while Batman continued from Gold, to Silver, Bronze and the modern period.

Wonder Woman’s time in the newspapers, her stories written by her creator Dr. William Moulton Marston and illustrated by Harry G. Peters resides solely in the Golden Age. But whereas we know that there are different stories of Batman and Superman in their strips compared to their comics, it is uncertain just what kinds of stories Wonder Woman’s run still holds. But it is an exciting prospect.

Here we have some long-unseen Wonder Woman adventures made by her original creators to be collected into a nice hard-cover edition titled Wonder Woman: The Complete Newspaper Strip: 1943-1944 for all fans to enjoy. I myself look forward to them with the hopes that they might inspire some new adventures of their own.

Amazons are to Kryptonians as Wonder Woman is To …?

Here is the scene.

We have Christopher Nolan’s Batman, who sounds like a chain smoker requiring subtitles, and Zack Snyder’s Superman, who might as well be renamed Collateral Damage. They will be in the next Collateral–I mean Man of Steel film (which might as well, from my understanding, be called Batman Vs. Superman). Just from my tone itself, you can already figure out how I feel about that. Based on how Superman leaves Metropolis at the end of Man of Steel, and also considering that Batman is going to be played by another actor, it already feels clunky in and of itself. But perhaps they can salvage something. Ben Affleck could possibly do a good job representing the Dark Knight and perhaps Snyder’s Superman might start to actually symbolize the House of El Kryptonian symbol of hope on his chest.

But all right. Fine. At least we are going to see a live-action Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot, on the big screen for the first time since, well, ever as all the other iterations have been television shows, pilots and a direct-to-video animated film. I mean, Wonder Woman’s presence in this very film can be seen as a segue into her finally having her own film. Perhaps DC and Warner Bros. believe that having her in this crossover will cement her presence in this gritty, contemporary, realistic version of the DC Universe or build up her market presence to the point of thinking that they will make an equal amount of box office returns from her as they would her male counterparts. All right. Fine. I would have loved to see that standalone Wonder Woman film directed by Joss Whedon we’ve been hearing about for years now, and I thought maybe that this still doesn’t rule it out.

And then this rumour came out.

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Take a moment to read that article and let the prospect of it sink in. You know, it’s funny. In some ways this potential origin is an interesting interpretation. Wonder Woman and the Amazons, at least in one retelling of their origins, were created directly from the Earth by Hippolyta and the gods. In the spirit of the ancient Greek myths they come from, the Amazons literally “sprang from the soil” of their land. In other words, DC’s Amazons were not born of man and woman and neither were the Kryptonians if you look at Man of Steel and some Superman origin reinterpretations. Also if you want to interpret the Amazons from a scientific, as opposed to a supernatural, perspective it makes sense that advanced genetic engineering over time is how they can reproduce without a male breeding partner.

And you know, it is very clever to think about the descendants of some of the lost Kryptonian colonies evolving in this way, adapting to another world, making “truth-telling” technology in the form of a lasso, Invisible aircraft, and becoming something different from Superman is all very well and good except that these should not be Amazons …

And Wonder Woman should not be a descendant of watered-down Kryptonians.

Let’s put aside, for the moment, the question as to why Kryptonian settlers would feel the need to engineer solely female descendants over time and the fact that there is absolutely no reason as to why their descendants would become less powerful under Earth’s sun when you consider that Superman–first generation Kryptonian or no–lives on Earth for many years and only somehow gets stronger for it. We can look at continuity. I mean, you would totally think in Man of Steel that Zod or Jor-El would have known there was a colony on Earth and made some mention of it. There was also an old Kryptonian surveyor ship on Earth too that didn’t seem related to anything aside from being a plot-point to allow Superman to access his father’s AI. And when the Phantom Zone soldiers, and Superman himself, were causing chaos and havoc in Metropolis … I don’t know, you’d think that Wonder Woman would have stepped in at some point?

I mean, we can explain that away too. Perhaps the Amazons are on Paradise Island and don’t want to interfere with the dysfunctional nature of “Man’s World.” Perhaps they tried to a long time ago and they, and perhaps their male and female ancestors, were considered to be gods before that “experiment” didn’t work out. Maybe this is Wonder Woman’s first ever time away from Paradise Island, or its equivalent, and she has some kind of mandate that may, or may not, be like the one she has in the comics. I can even understand that DC and Snyder want to make a more contemporary “realistic” take on all DC superhero origins and come up with yet more “realistic” interpretations of these stories. I mean, it’s no accident that Snyder was the director of the film adaptation of Watchmen: the comic that was central to making an era of cynical and Revisionist superhero mythology. Ever since that comic and others like it, that gritty, hard realism has become a genre for comics and film.

But look at it like this. Despite the grittiness added to The Dark Knight trilogy, which admittedly didn’t take much, Batman’s origins are pretty much the same: Bruce Wayne’s parents die by crime and he decides to become Batman. Despite the grittiness and outright destruction in Man of Steel, Superman’s origins are also pretty much the same: Krypton is destroyed and Superman is sent to Earth and is raised by the Kents and so on. So the male orphans lose their parents, gain their surrogate parents, and go on. But Wonder Woman, who is one of many daughters born from what seems to be a single mother isn’t a demigoddess anymore. She isn’t born from the clay of the Earth. Wonder Woman isn’t born from a race of immortal women gifted with wisdom and power by the gods with their own traditions, cultural artifacts, and philosophy. She isn’t different from Superman with her own background and advantages.

No. Instead, after having stripped her world and origins of myth and magic (thus eliminating it entirely from the DC Universe on film) Wonder Woman is essentially a less-powerful genetically-modified descendant of Kryptonians and not nearly as strong as Superman.

And I know. No one in the DC Universe is as powerful or as skilled with that power as Superman. But the fact is: Wonder Woman has her own origin story. She had her own unique background that is completely unrelated to Krypton. Wonder Woman stands on her own. So while the idea of the Amazons or something like them being genetically-modified descendants of Kryptonians is clever, I’d rather it be someone else’s back-story as opposed to Wonder Woman’s. Would it seriously kill them to try something else? For instance, Paradise Island itself often feels like it exists in another interrelated, but separate reality from Earth’s. Perhaps millennia ago, there was something like magic a long time ago and the beings known as gods and their creations fled to this other reality when the world began to change. Maybe magic is the science and physics of Paradise Island’s dimension and Wonder Woman is sent back into “Man’s World” to address a cosmic balance that is in danger of being even disrupted further than it already is. Yes, this example of what else could be done does sound like a comic book idea, but for a comic book film I’d think that sort of logic would make sense and it would keep Wonder Woman’s story, and importance, relatively intact.

It’s almost like DC and Snyder want to adapt the mentality behind the Thor movies to this character and the world they are trying to remake while not realizing that the Asgardians were already given their science-fictional origins in the comics from whence they came. Perhaps it is a marketing ploy, or their idea of how to make Wonder Woman “relatable” to a particular demographic. I don’t really know. But I believe that in what feels to be an immensely clunky and haphazard film to come that Wonder Woman should stand on her own merits  and I sincerely hope that sigil of the House of El can be applied to this rumour and not to the Princess of the Amazons.

UPDATE:

Like mythology, a rumour spreads like wildfire: to the point where you don’t always know where it begins. Unfortunately, in this case, we at G33kPr0n have been made aware of where this rumour began and it was not from a reputable source. According to one commenter SuperheroEnthusiast, who was kind enough to link us to this following article (http://www.newsarama.com/19980-wonder-woman-is-kryptonian…), the rumour of Wonder Woman being a descendant of Kryptonians is not something that sanctioned by DC, Warner Bros. or anyone associated with them. Instead, it simply an opinion/theory by a Blog poster named Bill “Jett” Ramey. You can find Jett’s original post, who is in no way affiliated with the film project, at his site Batman-On-Film (http://www.batman-on-film.com/BOF-Mailbag_1-1-14.html). The fact of the matter is that our post on this subject was always based on a theory: a theory that became so widespread that it caught the attention and circulated through many other online magazines. Once again, thank you SuperheroEnthusiast for bringing this to our attention.