In 1942, “Sensation Comics” hit newsstands across America. Launching a variety of characters, the comic would soon become known — and remembered best — for the character anchoring its lead feature: a Nazi-fighting, peace-loving, Amazonian super heroine known simply as Wonder Woman.
Published by the company that would become DC Comics (and was colloquially known as DC at the time) “Sensation Comics” ended its run in 1952 — and now, sixty-two year later, DC is bringing “Sensation Comics” back as an all-new digital-first anthology featuring the star of the original title: Wonder Woman.
“Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman” begins in August with a rotating cast of artists and writers telling various non-canon stories about Wonder Woman. Among the first creatives to work on the series is writer Gail Simone, one of the handful of women to have written the main “Wonder Woman” ongoing series, her run lasting from 2007 to 2010 (right before the New 52 launched) when J. Michael Strazcynski briefly took over.
Kicking off the first issue of “Sensation Comics,” Simone is clearly no stranger to the Amazing Amazon — nor is she a stranger to the idea of bringing back “Sensation Comics” for a modern audience.
“I love Wonder Woman, obviously, and a ‘Sensation Comics’ anthology was something we tried to get off the ground when I was on the main title. But it didn’t come to pass, so having Diana get a second book was always a dream of mine,” Simone said, speaking with CBR about her contribution to the digital-first anthology series.
“But the cool thing was how it kept getting better — when I was first asked, I didn’t know it was an anthology, I didn’t know we would be the first issue, and I didn’t know the amazing Ethan Van Sciver was going to be drawing it. So it just got more exciting as the details emerged,” Simone said.
Adding that her first reaction to hearing Wonder Woman would be getting her own anthology series was, “Well, giggles, mostly,” Simone also stated that it was a big thrill to be working with her old “The Fury Of The Firestorm” co-writer Ethan Van Sciver, this time utilizing Van Sciver’s talents as an artist rather than writer.
“I’m a huge fan of Ethan’s work, and he has been hugely complimentary of my ‘Wonder Woman’ run; he really got it and we spoke of it a lot,” Simone said.
“If I understand correctly, he was the one who asked for me to write his story, and I’m honored by that. He just wanted to do one, fun, killer Wonder Woman story, and that’s what I think we have done. We both have dark senses of humor, and we thought we might do something a bit subversive!” the writer added.
Similar to DC’s Batman and Superman digital-first anthologies, “Legends Of The Dark Knight” and “Adventures Of Superman,” the stories in “Sensation Comics” are set outside of main DC Universe continuity and range over different eras of the character’s past. Simone and Van Sciver’s tale is no exception, set in the pre-New 52 Universe and featuring Oracle, another DC super heroine Simone worked on for years in the pages of “Birds Of Prey.”
“Oracle is in this, but I wouldn’t call it a team-up, exactly. It’s much more a Wonder Woman story, but in the reality of our timeline, Oracle is an absolute fixture in Gotham, where our story takes place,” Simone said.
“It’s fun to have them in the same story, though. It was very emotional for me writing those moments,” the writer added.
While Simone had the privilege to writer Barbara Gordon as Batgirl in the New 52 Universe for the last four years (the new creative team of Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher Babs Tarr take over the “Batgirl” title in October 2014), Simone expressed feeling bittersweet about getting a chance to write Barbara as the wheelchair bound computer whiz again.
“Like a lot of people, I miss [Oracle] incredibly,” Simone explained. “I do think of Batgirl and Oracle as two phases of the same character’s life, but there is definitely something about Barbara as that character, and that age, and that level of experience.”
“I think the DCU needs an Oracle. I still feel it will happen, I just want to see it happen soon,” Simone added.
The writer also confessed that while she has been able to write Barbara both as Batgirl and as Oracle and keep track in the differences between the two, she found it much harder to keep up with “Wonder Woman” after leaving that series.
“This is awful, but I haven’t really kept up on the current title. The creative team is two giants that I really love and admire, but I haven’t followed the title,” Simone admitted.
“It’s not about them, it’s just hard for me to follow a book for a while after I stopped working on it,” Simone continued. “I have had many pro friends tell me the secret is not to get emotionally invested, because we don’t own the characters and don’t really control their fate, but I find I can’t write that way. So when I leave a book for whatever reason, it’s really hard to read it objectively, even if it’s completely brilliant.”
“I wrote the Wonder Woman I know and believe in, that’s all,” she added.
Though Simone had the chance to write any version or era of the character, and while she admitted, “We did briefly consider a story with the [Golden Age] kangaroos and all that stuff, and that would have been fun, too,” at the end of the day Simone decided to go in a different direction for the inaugural issue.
“As it’s the first issue of ‘Sensation Comics,’ I wanted to do a little contrast between Diana and everyone else in comics. So she’s in Gotham, and, well — let’s just say we play with that pretty good. Bruce wouldn’t approve,” Simone said.
“It’s an adventure — it has some funny moments in it, but it’s also got a bit of subtext that I think is an important reminder of who Diana was meant to be,” the writer added.
Looking at the anthology series as a whole, Simone told CBR that what she hoped to see from the anthology, and what she ideally would love to see from all involved with “Sensation Comics” is, “Variety, and memorable stories.”
“The thing with Diana is, people say a lot of things that just aren’t true; that she has a lousy rogue’s gallery, that she is thematically confusing, that she doesn’t have interesting stories,” Simone said. “Those things, they just aren’t true. But many of the best stories have been sort of aimed at people who were already fans of Wonder Woman, and can be poor gateways for new readers.”
“My hope is that this book appeals to people who are looking to try Diana for the first time, so that they can see why we love her so deeply. That’s my hope, anyway!” Simone concluded.
“Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman” comes out digitally August 13 via DC and comiXology; a print version will be available August 20.