Redefining The Princess of Power
♦ Tripwire’s contributing writer Scott Braden gives us his latest in a regular series about comic series that never were. Today it’s the turn of Dan Mishkin’s Wonder Woman…
Dan Mishkin’s Wonder Woman
When it comes to the post-Crisis take on Wonder Woman, readers tend to think of the idea originally developed by Greg Potter before comics legend George Perez later came on board. But, what most fans don’t know is that Potter and Perez weren’t the only creators who set their sights on the “Amazing Amazon” during this time – as readers will soon discover with this latest lost tale by acclaimed writer Dan Mishkin.
“In the run-up to Crisis on Infinite Earths,” said Mishkin, “there was plenty of discussion about what the rebooted universe and characters would look like. Everyone hoped, for instance, to avoid the obvious move of having Wally West become The Flash…though that’s what happened. (No one went for my suggestion that FLASH could be the acronym of a group known as the Freedom-Loving Armenian Super Heroes.)”
“Having written Wonder Woman for about three years prior to Crisis,” Mishkin explained, “I had an idea about how to make that character work better, based on what I thought was the biggest flaw in the original WW concept—or at least everything that came after Marston’s odd obsessions were no longer part of the stories—which was that she was basically flawless, and as a result faced a real danger of coming off as preachy. Paradise Island contained perfection in its name, after all: a Garden of Eden compared to the fallen nature of Man’s World. Crucially, in my view, this meant that Wonder Woman had nothing to learn, and I think that makes for a less sympathetic character.”
“My idea—not really a reboot because it didn’t alter what had gone before—was to have Wonder Woman disappear during the Crisis, and to begin a new series with a character who would have to learn what it meant to be an Amazon.”
“The plan was to open at an art museum after hours,” Mishkin said, “amid a display of artifacts from an island in the Bermuda Triangle that had somehow remained uncharted until its recent discovery. The reader would quickly grasp that this was Paradise Island, and that when found, the place was unpopulated. The artifacts on view were items that appeared to have arrived in pristine condition from ancient Greece. We meet the main character as she breaks into the museum…to steal them.”
“She is a high-class art thief for whom the pieces from Paradise Island would net a small fortune. But while she has the skill to avoid detection, she hasn’t reckoned on encountering supernatural beings—minions of Ares who have chosen that same night to raid the Amazon artifacts for whatever powers and secrets they might possess.”
“The thief is no match for the new arrivals, but as she is knocked away and struggles for consciousness, a vision appears to her. The goddesses Athena, Hera and Aphrodite, in ethereal form, say they have a mission for her, and point to artifacts that were not there before: a costume, a lasso, a tiara and a pair of shining bracelets, which the thief suddenly finds herself wearing and wielding. Already a skilled athlete, she’s able to repel her foes using the Wonder Woman gear and newfound strength.”
“But she has no idea what to do next…except for her decision not to take anything else. As she’ll soon find out, the goddesses don’t show up just because she calls out to them. So, she has to learn about the Amazons and her new abilities on her own, which means learning as well about the Amazons’ philosophy and calling into question her criminal ways. She also has an interest, of course, in finding out what happened to the original Wonder Woman and her Amazon sisters. My plan was to leave open the possibility of bringing the original back, and maybe even showing her perilous journey back to Earth, during which journey she might also find that there are still things she needs to learn. Diana, daughter of Hippolyta, could eventually retake her place as the lead character.”
“To me, the idea of a character’s learning the ways of the Amazons, while coming from a place where doing that meant she would have to reform herself, seemed right in line with the history and philosophy of the series,” insisted Mishkin. “During my run, I introduced a criminal/terrorist gang and then sent a female member of that gang, eager to change her ways, to Paradise Island. And she was far from the first to be transformed from evil to good in the history of Paradise Island.”
But, this exciting new take on comicdom’s premier “Princess of Power” was not meant to be.
“(Former DC Comics Publisher) Jenette Kahn hated it,” Mishkin explained. “A couple of DC editors went to bat for my approach, but the idea that Wonder Woman was ever anything less than pure seemed to be something Jenette just could not countenance. Which maybe makes sense from a publisher’s big-picture perspective, but I still think I had a terrific story.”
With many of his (and writing partner, Gary Cohn’s) ideas seeing new life in 2019 – Blue Devil co-starring in the DC Universe Swamp Thing TV series and Amethyst taking center stage in Brian Michael Bendis’ hit YoungJustice comic – Mishkin has also kept himself busy working on various projects.
“I’ve got a webcomic coming out called Amazon Academy with the artist Jerzy Drozd (it’s at amazonacademy.net),” Mishkin said, “and I’m really enjoying doing an adventure with fantasy elements that’s aimed at younger readers and has interesting and emotionally nuanced kid characters. The first 24 pages of the story, comprising the prologue and first chapter, are available in print at IndyPlanet (http://www.indyplanet.us/amazon-academy-1/). Fans of my work on Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld and on Wonder Woman should like it.
“Jerzy and I also have a nonfiction comic proposal about the Apollo program that’s being looked at. I’ve written a prose novel for middle-grade readers that’s got fantasy elements based on Jewish folklore, and my agent is sending that manuscript around. And I’m researching another nonfiction comics project about the golden age of American carousels in the early 20th century.”
Lost Tales©2019 Scott Braden. All Rights Reserved