WW Chicago: Wonder Woman Spotlight

The focus shifted to Wonder Woman at WizardWorld Chicago this Saturday morning when DC presented their spotlight on the Amazonian warrior with current Wonder Woman writer Gail Simone, penciller Aaron Lopresti, and former Wonder Woman writer Greg Rucka. While there were a few teases of things to come, the panel's main focus was on Diana's place in the DC Universe.

The first topic given the panelists discussed was the challenges and rewards when writing, or drawing, the Amazonian princess.

Simone said the biggest challenge was honoring Wonder Woman's 60 year history. She said it's something she won't ignore or sweep under the rug, since the character's past means a lot to fans.

She said the reward was getting to travel all over the world and see how the character resonates beyond comics. People come up to her and tell her how a strong female icon like Wonder Woman has helped them get through chemo or an abusive relationship.

"What Gail said," Lopresti added with a laugh.

The challenge for Lopresti was the pressure to draw the character right. "I was a little bit reluctant to take the assignment because I thought man, people out there are going to be looking at the emblem on her chest and say that's not right," he said.

After some thinking about it though, he said it was something he couldn't pass up.

He said the reward for him was the honor in being able to draw one of the biggest heroes in the world.

"She's a devastatingly difficult character to write well," Rucka added.

Rucka said that inherent to the Wonder Woman concept are design flaws that are indicative of the time she was created. He said it's hard to balance having the character keep pace with the real world while staying true to those original stories.

Creators that have a hard time writing her have a tendency to write her as a female Superman, Rucka said, but to write an effective Wonder Woman story you have to embrace the fact that Diana is inherently political.

The next topic was what each creator thought Wonder Woman's role was in the DCU.

Simone said that Wonder Woman was the first female superhero, adventurer and her role should reflect that. "Diana needs to be strong female character who can keep up with male characters," Simone said. "But she has to have her own set of motivations so that she isn't just a man in a woman's body."

On the art side, Lopresti said that, despite Wonder Woman having a built in sex appeal, he didn't think it was appropriate or true to the character to sex her up.

"My idea is to draw her as a strong athletic woman, with dignity," Lopresti said.

Rucka praised his co-creators answers, and added that Wonder Woman's visual portrayal has been problematic, but the last couple of artists have moved away from the exploitative artwork.

He joked that the artwork isn't just pages of crotch shots anymore.

As for her role in the DCU, Rucka again said you can't run away from her political nature. She is a feminist character and that's what makes her strong.

"I don't know who started the belief that --ism makes something bad, this is not Facism, it's feminism!" Rucka said to laughter and applause.

All three were then asked about past creators who've impacted their approach to the character.

Lopresti said he largely stayed away from studying and using other artists' styles.

When he took over he wanted Diana's look to stay consistent for monthly readers, so he kept the same part in her hair that Terry Dodson drew, but outside of that doesn't do much referencing.

Going way back to the characters origin, Simone said there were a lot of great things, but also some really bizarre things. She said she couldn't put those old stories down because of how far out there they were sometimes.

Her favorite writers on the title were Phil Jimenz, George Perez, and Rucka. She talked about writing e-mails to those three when she had questions or concerns about writing Wonder Woman, she said all three write back.

"I can't think of any other character that anyone is as committed to 'making it right' than Wonder Woman," Simone said.

"She supercedes ego, which is unique in this industry," Rucka said. When he took over writing on Batman and Superman, Rucka said creators were actively hostile going as far as trying to screw up things for when he took over.

Wonder Woman's rogues gallery was next.

Rucka said his one big regret from his run was not doing more with her rogues gallery. When he took over he thought they weren't that strong, but now kicks himself for not writing more with them.

He said the Cheetah story he did was one of his favorites.

Simone praised her rogues gallery, but stressed that Wonder Woman needed some new ones. She said she is creating Wonder Woman's "Doomsday," named Genocide, which she is excited about.

"I was surprised how little I was aware of Wonder Woman's villains," said Lopresti.

He said he was drawing a two-page spread for an upcoming issue with a lot of former villains and after three or four, he couldn't come up with anymore.

Rucka said it was the same thing with Superman.

Simone was then asked if she could give the audience a few teases of things to come.

She said she has focused a lot on telling quick stories, but now they are shifting towards telling an epic type of story. Fans will see Diana losing something she always had (but is dear to her), a war between two gods, the Manazons storyline and the rise of the Olympian story which will introduce a new Wonder Woman that is a man.

For the remaining ten minutes fans got to ask the creators questions.

The first fan up asked about Wonder Woman's place in the trinity of the DCU.

Simone called her the best tactician and war strategist out of the three, but she also had the most compassion. Rucka said she was the complete solder Batman and Superman aren't.

The next fan asked Rucka about his "Sacrifice" storyline and if he thought that DC has ignored the ramifications of Diana killing Max Lord?

Rucka said that was his biggest heartbreak.

He animatedly talked about how he didn't think the story was given a proper resolution. He felt DC editorial used the one year later jump to sweep Diana's actions under the carpet, after they had been pushing for it to happen in the story. He thought the whole thing was a disservice to fans since there was a huge story to be told.

"Which Gail has no obligation to follow-up," he said, making it clear that it was an editorial decision and that people were told - no one touches the stuff that Rucka did.

"It bugs me," Rucka said. "She killed a guy and that's a huge deal."

Gail responded that she wasn't given any mandate by DC editoral to not work with any of that.

"They did it to the two before you," Rucka said.

The panel ended on a lighter note with quick questions from shouting audience members...

Skirt or no skirt?

Rucka -- skirt.

Simone and Lopresti -- Both said it depended on situation. Lopresti said that a skirt might not be great for fighting monsters.

Will there be more than one Wonder Woman book a month?

Simone said DC was looking at creating more product now.

Now discuss this story in CBR's DC Comics forum.

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