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Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.05 – Wonder Woman #51 – Stanley Lau

Welcome once more, oh fellow fans of fantastic fiction, to the Precinct’s capacious and compelling continuous countdown of cool comic cover collectables. If you partook in our previous post, you’ll remember that we celebrated the titanic talents of the astounding Amy Reeder Hadley, and her radiant rendering of Madame Xanadu. This inspirational instalment we shall acquaint you with the sublime skills of Stanley Lau, one of the very finest artists currently working in the field of comic art, and his stellar take on the Themysciran Titan with – Wonder Woman #51.

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Astonishing artistic auteur Stanley (Artgerm) Lau is a Hong Kong born illustrator and designer and co-founder of Imaginary Friends Studio, an acclaimed art studio that has produced work for the likes of DC Comics, Capcom and Marvel. Stanley is best known by his sobriquet – Artgerm, with his art faultlessly blending both eastern and western art styles, giving his wonderful work a unique and easily recognised quality almost unmatched by his peers.

As a cover artist, Artgerm has been both lauded and loathed by yours truly… lauded because every single time I see a new cover by this maestro, I just have to buy it, because it’s gorgeous! and loathed because every single time I see a new cover by the sagacious scribbler, I just have to buy it, and it’s getting really bloody expensive! The Wonder Woman #51 cover is without a doubt my absolute fave cover by Artgerm, that said it was a close tie with three other covers (pictured below), all depicting the great Kara Zor-El (better known as Supergirl) he seems to capture the carefree, insouciant charm that Kara exudes better than any other artist I’ve ever encountered, and we are honoured to induct him into the Precinct’s top ten comic-cover hall of fame!

sg Why Not Join Us Again Next Time, Fellow Agents Of Precinct1313, For Our Continuing Celebratory Countdown Of Cool And Crazy Comic Cover Collectables!

Precinct1313’s End Of The Year Geekstravaganza…

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Well hey there fellow agents of Precinct1313, and welcome once again to our annual Geekstravaganza! Our celebratory destination is, as ever, the Precincts famous ‘Halls of Quaffing’ where we shall ultimately gather to rid ourselves of what, lets be honest, was an interminably intense and excruciating year. But, let’s forget about that for now and make our way down through this majestic mansion of mystery’s convoluted and ever changing corridors and chambers and stop by the colossal Comic Crypts to celebrate the year of glorious geekdom!

Our Favourite Comic-Book Series: Wonder Woman – Dead Earth

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DC Comics’ Black Label series has been a fantastic phenomenon, a line of limited series aimed at the more mature market that began with the bombastic Batman: Damned, and then continued to build upon that success by regaling us with even more classic characters in this distinctly adult line, with this particular stunning series focusing on our absolutely favourite hallowed Hellenic herald, Wonder Woman.

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Wonder Woman: Dead Earth is a four issue mini-series written and illustrated by Daniel Warren Johnson, and is my first ever encounter with the writer/artist, and I must say after this seminal series, I am now a huge fan. This comic is the perfect parable for the world we reside in today, encompassing climate change, oppression, racism and tribe like mentality, with even Wondy herself struggling to stifle the causes of these worrisome traits. Grim, dark and gritty, but ultimately a tale of optimism and mutual respect for the planet that nurtures us and our fellow species. Highly recommended!

(Fave comic-book runners up – Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed, Zatanna and the House of Secrets)

Favourite Comic-Book Movie: Birds Of Prey

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That’s right fellow fans of fantastic fiction, the hellacious Harley Quinn teamed up with the bad-ass Birds of Prey for Cathy Yan’s glorious take on one of DC’s most beloved franchises. Margot Robbie was born to play the role of the clown princess of crime and once again gives a remarkable and laugh out loud turn as the long suffering sociopath, ably supported by Mary Elizabeth Winstead as The Huntress, and a perfect performance by Jurnee Smollet-Bell as Black Canary, plus, if that wasn’t enough of a geek overload, narcissistic psychopathic crime-lord Black Mask was expertly brought to vivid life by brilliant British thesp, Ewan McGregor. A deliriously fun and fourth wall breaking delight, Birds of Prey is an absolute must watch! (May I just say, at time of writing this, I haven’t yet seen Wonder Woman 84, due to pandemics and closed cinemas, but will hopefully reverse this in early 2021)

Favourite Statue/Toy I Personally Purchased: Bombshells Death Statue

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You know what, I have way too many statues, action figures and toys, so many in fact that some are still retained in their boxes through lack of space. It’s a shame I know to keep such gloriously geeky works of art in their packaging, but I have literally zero willpower, and whenever I encounter another cool collectable, all reasoning and monetary value goes out the window as my inner child takes over, and I buy yet another awesome addition to add to my overwhelming pile of geek. That said, the Death statue was whipped out of her protective polystyrene tout suite, because it is quite possibly one of the most beautiful pieces I have yet laid eyes upon. Based upon the Endless version of the Grim Reaper, Death is a favoured character of mine, so she now resides upon the fabled Superlative Shelf of Superhero Statues alongside the other spectacularly sublime sculpts. And just how much geeky toy goodness have I managed to stuff the Precinct with, see below for just a small glimpse into my fevered collecting brain…

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And there you have it fellow agents of Precinct1313, a few of the things that have helped me personally cope with this torrid year. What has brought you personal joy throughout 2020? why not sound off in the comments below. May I just say a huge thank you to everyone who has visited, commented and followed the Precinct over the past twelve months, it’s really, really appreciated. And so… Happy New Year!

Oh, And As Ever… Make Mine DC!

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Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.09 – Wonder Woman 77 Special: Phil Jimenez Variant

Welcome back fellow fans of fantastic fiction to our top ten countdown of the Precinct’s absolute favourite comic-book covers of all time. With well over eight enthralling decades of comic-book publishing and literally millions of cool comic cover collectables, it’s been an arduous task picking out just ten (even the 12 labours of Hercules pale in comparison to this epic odyssey!) Our first perennial pick was Bill Sienkiewicz’s haunting variant for Frank Miller’s epic Batman return with Dark Knight III. However, this enraptured episode focuses on one of my favourite Wonder Woman artists of all time, the masterful Phil Jimenez and his esteemed take on the illustrious icon that is none other than sensational seventies superstar, the lovely Lynda Carter, with Wonder Woman 77 Special #1.

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The fantastic Phil Jimenez has been writing and drawing comics since 1991, and has spent a large swathe of his career working for DC Comics and has, over time, created some of their greatest ever storylines with absolutely astonishing paradigms including such gems as – Infinite Crisis, The Return Of Donna Troy and Teen Titans, but it is the Themysciran Titan that Phil’s outstanding oeuvre is still  staunchly synonymous with.

Phil is clearly influenced by his (and one of my) idol the great George Perez, and was delighted when he was taken onboard as the ongoing writer /artist for Wonder Woman beginning in issue #164 in 2001, and would continue in this creative capacity for a full two years, defining that run as one of the greatest in WW’s long and varied history. Phil is also an eternal enthusiast of Lynda Carter and her terrific take on Diana Prince, so was the definitive choice as the cover artist for this WW77 variant, and it is glorious!

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Why Not Join Us Again Next Time Fellow Agents Of Precinct1313 For Our Continuing Celebrative Countdown Of Commendably Cool Comic Cover Collectables!

 

Happy Holidays From Wonder Woman And Precinct1313…

Precinct1313 welcomes all it’s loyal agents to rousing revelry and much celebratory carousing in the majestic mansion of mystery’s ‘Great Hall of Quaffing’ (Eldritch, our resident carrion crow of woe will show you the way, it’s near the end of the Corridors of Collation, just take a left at the Comic-Book Crypts, if you reach the Mortuary of Movie Mayhem then you’ve definitely gone too far) But before we take our seats at the titanic table of terrific tales and indulge in holiday merriment how about a quick jaunt through the Ancient Amazon Archives to catch up with our favourite Themysciran Princess’ festive adventures.

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We have some absolutely Classic Wonder Woman here my astonishing Amazonian associates, Sensation Comics #38 was published in December 1944, written by WW’s genius creator William Moulton Marston and illustrated by the legendary Harry G. Peter. We follow our heroic Hellenic herald as she decides to play Santa in a notoriously poor and downtrodden neighbourhood, to bring some festive cheer to a local orphanage. Upon arrival the Themysciran Titan accidentally stumbles across a nefarious plot to rob the US treasury, with the events quickly escalating to a hostage situation involving the children themselves.

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December ’44 was a busy month for the delightfully dynamic duo of W.M Marston and H.G Peter as they also presented us with the festive edition of DC Comics’ timeless ‘Comic Cavalcade’, comprising three tenaciously terrific tales and a cadre of classic characters that includes The Flash (original Jay Garrick version) Green Lantern and, of course, our illustriously immortal idol Wonder Woman!

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Sensational seventies superstar Wonder Woman, the lovely Lynda Carter came face to face with ‘The Deadly Toys’ in a holiday themed episode of the scintillating seventies show that formed part of the second season and aired in 1979. Once again penned by Wondy’s ceaseless composer of creation W.M. Marston (writing under his oft used pen name of Charles Moulton.)

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This effervescent episode found the wondrous one investigating a suspicious toy maker (played by none other than sixties Batman villain – The Riddler’s Frank Gorshin) who had replaced three scientists with his own android creations after they refused to create a weapon of mass destruction known as Project XYZ. As Diana nears the source of her investigation, the dastardly Toy Maker whips up his own android version of Gaea’s Glorious Gal, and the two Wonder Women engage in a (delightfully camp) fracas, only in seventies Wondy can Hula Hoops become weapons of mass destruction!

Happy Holidays Fellow Agents Of Precinct1313, And How About We End With A Few Festive Felicitations From The Batman Himself…

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Well, What Did You Expect… it’s Batman!!

Great Hera, Wonder Woman 84 Is Almost Here!!

Suffering Sappho! the torturous wait for the sequel to Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins’ dynamic 2017 Wondy debut is finally (finally!) coming to an end. Its original release date was set for December 2019, then later moved to June 2020, but during this time, the world went rather topsy-turvy with the Covid pandemic shutting down the planet as we knew it, including cinemas… so no Wonder Woman for you then (sob!) But, in less than eight days (in the UK at least) Diana will once again don her golden lariat of Hestia, and bullet deflecting bracelets formed from the sacred shield of Aegis… and kick major Cheetah butt!GEA ww2You probably realise by now that we are huuuuge Wonder Woman fans here in the Precinct, she is our absolute favourite comic-book character of all time, so the delay has been almost unbearable, but, as previously mentioned, in eight short days that interminable intermission shall be over and we shall once again bask in the golden light that is Diana of Themyscira. So, to help pass the time and ramp up our excitement even more for Wondy’s return (not sure if possible!), we thought we’d share with you, our astonishing Amazonian associates, some of the latest screenshots, posters and trailers of the Themysciran Titan’s newest odyssey… by the mighty horns of Amalthea, it’s going to be legendary!

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Diana dons her legendary Golden Eagle Armour to fight arch-enemy, Cheetah! (P1313 Fun Fact: The Golden eagle Armour made it’s first ever appearance in Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ fantastic 1996 series – Kingdom Come)

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Kristen Wiig as Dr Barbara Ann Minerva and in full feral form as Wondy’s nemesis, The Cheetah! (P1313 Fun Fact: There have been four variants of Cheetah since her first ever appearance in Wonder Woman #6 in 1943, With Babs Minerva resolutely being the all time favourite amongst fans)

Merciful Minerva! Are you as excited for WW84 as we are here in the Precinct? Then why not sound off in the comments below, my absolutely astounding Amazonian affiliates!

That Time Wonder Woman…

Became A Crouton!

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Hola my absolutely astonishing Amazonian associates, and welcome to the very first episode of – That Time Wonder Woman… a brand new ongoing chronicle of the Themysciran Titan’s strangest and most obscure adventures across the past eight enthralling decades of Diana’s reputable reign as THE queen of female superheroes. Beginning with this surreal soup de jour – Wonder Woman #217 from January 1975.

Over the past seventy nine years the scintillating scion of the sublime known as Wonder Woman has graced our lives with her ongoing odyssey to spread the message of hope, love and empowerment.

Throughout this formidable reign she has battled the causes of all societal ills including misogyny, racism, and poverty, but also… Gods of War, Tri-headed Demonic Dogs, Minotaurs, Alien Invasions and more. But do you remember that time she – became a surrogate mother to a dinosaur, fought a giant sentient egg (!?) teamed up with her teenage and toddler self to fight Mer-men, and, at one point, even took a job as a coffee shop barista to pay her rent… you don’t? well allow Precinct1313 to regale you with these outlandish tales and more through this surreal series, and introduce you to this oft overlooked wild and wacky world of wonder.

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Wonder Woman Vol 1 #217 encompasses three tantalisingly terrific tales of the Themysciran Titan, including our cover story – The Day That Time Broke Loose. This crazy caper finds Wondy team up with the Emerald Archer – Green Arrow to fight that mighty master of illusions – The Duke Of Deception.

The hilarious hi-jinks included in this eccentric excursion include such delirious delights as, Diana believing she has used her golden lasso to truss the tenacious trickster, only to find that it is she herself that is entangled within her legendary lariat of Hestia. Green Arrow becoming so confused by the diabolical Duke’s mental malarkey he turns to hypnosis performed by none other than The Batman himself (I mean, is there anything the Bat is incapable of?) to set him straight, oh, and, a large bowl of soup with our heroic Hellenic herald as seasoning!!

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Merciful Minerva, what a melodious mix of mirth and mayhem, yet in the wild world of weird Wonder Woman waxings this particular parable is rather run of the mill. So why not join us next episode on our ongoing obscure and outrageous odyssey with – That Time Wonder Woman…

Precinct1313 Recommends: Wonder Woman – Dead Earth

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Precinct1313 is a dilemma within a mystery, contained in an enigma… it has been over six years since this majestic and malefic mansion first welcomed us into it’s darkened ceaseless corridors, herculean hallways and cavernous crypts, yet even now, after all this time we are still discovering new chambers and secreted areas. Recently uncovered is a mysterious room aptly named ‘The Scrying Chamber’ within this portentous place stands a single stone table bathed in ethereal light upon which sits an ominous black crystal ball.

So, gaze deep dear readers, unto manifold destiny through Precinct1313’s mystical crystal ball of wonders towards an apocalyptic future where the Earth itself has been laid to waste, and only one solitary hero can ultimately save humanity from itself…

13wondyDC Comics’ notable recent imprint – Black Label is a line of limited series aimed at a distinctly mature audience that began with the bombastic – Batman: Damned. Building upon the success of that first series DC have regaled us with other classic characters within this more adult format, with this particular superlative series starring our hallowed Hellenic heroine, the Themysciran Titan herself – Wonder Woman!ww de3Wonder Woman: Dead Earth is a four part, forty eight page prestige format mini-series written and illustrated by Daniel Warren Johnson, that initially released in December 2019. 

Princess Diana originally left her home of Themyscira and her beloved Amazon sisters to save the world from mankind itself, yet, after waking from an unexpected centuries long sleep and discovering the Earth has been reduced to a nuclear wasteland, she knows she has ultimately failed in her divine mission. The Earth has been destroyed, and it’s former protectors, it’s pantheon of Superheroes have failed and are long gone. Trapped and alone, in a post apocalyptic dystopia, Diana is tasked with protecting the last human city on the planet from dire monsters that have overrun the Earth, whilst also uncovering the dark secret behind the planet’s demise… and how she may be responsible for it!ww de4Wonder Woman: Dead Earth is sublime and a must have for any fan of the wondrous one. This is my first encounter with writer/illustrator Daniel Warren Thompson’s work and I must say I am now a huge fan, initially the grim and gritty artwork put me off, but in hindsight after experiencing the post apocalyptic landscape that this superb tale resides, the visuals are a perfect match for the mood set by Johnson’s stupendously sombre script. ww de 5To be honest even if you aren’t a fan of Wonder Woman (say it isn’t so…) or comic books in general this still comes highly recommended as a perfect parable about where we, in the real world, are ultimately heading. Climate change, oppression, racism and tribe like mentality are all encompassed in this tremendous tome, with even Wondy herself struggling to stifle the causes of these worrisome traits. Grim, dark and gritty, but ultimately a tale of optimism and mutual respect for the planet that nurtures us and our fellow species. 

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Happy Wonder Woman Day!

On this day on October 21 1941 an inspiration was born, Diana, Princess of the Amazons made her dynamic debut courtesy of her celebrated creator William Moulton Marston. And so in celebration of Wonder Woman Day, I present to you, my astonishing Amazonian Affiliates, an extra special instalment of ‘Comic Cover Of The Week’ a hearken back to my first ever encounter with the Themysciran Titan, way back in that glorious decade known as the 1980s!

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Ah the eighties, it was an interesting and rather revolutionary time in the UK. It had just gotten over the phenomenon that was Punk Rock, a rebellious anti-establishment movement that, really, was more about freedom of speech and giving voice to the people than it was about the music itself. I was actually way too young to appreciate the campaign for acceptance and diversity that Punk represented, but looking back on that era now, have come to realise how much Superheroes fit into the same mould as the punk rockers of the day, working outside of Government control, for the benefit of the people themselves.

I grew up in the greatest decade in the history of human kind (at least it was to me) the 1980’s. Icons from my era included such luminaries as Siouxsie and the Banshees (my all time favourite band… yes I was a Goth!) ridiculously over the top action heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Wesley Snipes, Cynthia Rothrock and Moon Lee (my favourite female action stars.) Video Games began to really evolve from their previous very simplistic and basic look and premise in the seventies, adding more complexity and depth in both the graphics and gameplay. But even with all these wonderful new distractions available to me, Comic-Books were still my first love, my go to for escapism and ultimate reverie.

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It was the shadowy Masked ManhunterThe Batman, who initially introduced me into wonderful world of Superheroes. My first encounter with this iconic character was when I was six years of age, I was captivated by his world, so very different from my own (yet at times eerily similar.) Gotham was a terrible, seething place of corruption and murder, yet it had a redeemer, someone who swathed himself in darkness, and was scarier than even the worst denizens of this malevolent city… and yet, fought for good!btec

The character beguiled me, and it was through him that my love of not just comics, but also literature itself began. It wasn’t until I was nine that I experienced my first foray into the legendary world of the Amazons, I knew who Wonder Woman was of course, through the occasional crossover story in ‘Batman’ and ‘Detective Comics’ but had yet to branch out fully into other realms, feeling contented in my protracted residence in Gotham City.

Wonder Woman #271 was the first time I invested heavily in a character who didn’t have a cape, a cowl and a fatalistic outlook to the world around him. In fact the two characters are literally night and day, which is why I believe that I began to love the Themysciran Titan with the same amount of reverence as I did the Dark Knight, because they were so different. She offered hope, and an optimism that The Bat just didn’t have, a figure who inspired goodness in those around her, with the strength and fortitude to fight the evils of man, yet show compassion and kindness to those deserving (and those who also were not, thus is her leniency and benevolence.)

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I have always seen the two characters as my diametrically opposed halves, Batman represents my love of the darkness, gothicism (technically not a word, I know, but I like it) horror movies, the supernatural et al, and Wonder Woman has always constituted my hopes for the future, my work to forward animal rights, vegetarianism, and a general aspiration for betterment of myself and the world about me, and so…

Happy Wonder Woman Day!

Six Years In The Precinct… An Anniversary Special

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Well hey there fellow agents of Precinct1313, it’s fantastic to see you, and we’re so glad that you could make your way over to the majestic mansion of mystery in time to partake in our sixth anniversary celebrations. In a few moments we will wind our way down through the Precinct’s interminable depths as we head towards the infamous  ‘Halls Of Quaffing’ to celebrate in style. 

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Unfortunately our usual anniversary tour guide, the Precinct’s carrion crow of woe – Eldritch won’t be available to usher you through this arcane abode, as he’s still in the dog-house (uhh, crow house?) for leading us astray through a preternatural portal that lead to Raven’s Reach Sanitarium and a padded cell! (For more on that tantalising tale, why not click right HERE

But fear not, oh fellow fans of fantastic fiction, as I am able to stand in as the (distinctly human) Corvidae conductor for this sixth anniversary commemoration. And so, without further ado, let our peregrinations begin…

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The mystical mansion of mystery known as Precinct1313 first materialised unto this dimension in 2014, this paranormal palazzo, oft thought to be a sister building to the sinister House Of Secrets has housed many scribes throughout the countless alternate realities it has dwelled, and in 2014, I discovered it’s many dimensional delights when it revealed itself in terrifying fashion (which you can read about right HERE) and have been trapped within it’s herculean hallways and reality shifting structure ever since. Which actually turns out to be a good thing as it has given me copious amounts of time to relay to you, dear agents, the wonderful world of comic-books, cult movies and general geekery!

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And so, fellow fans of fantastic fiction, thanks to this mythical edifice’s psychokinetic power, we are able to transport you back in time (it doesn’t hurt too much, honest!) to visit our most popular posts of yore…

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As you are more than likely aware if you’ve been an agent of the Precinct for awhile, our absolute favourite comic-book creation of all time is the Themysciran Titan herself the glorious Wonder Woman, I first discovered the dynamic delight that is Diana, Princess of the Amazons when I was a mere nine years of age, and have been a super fan ever since. A myriad of reviews, overviews and gushing posts have ensued from the Precinct since its inception, and looking at the ol’ stats the most popular of these is… Wonder Woman #600

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Another mesmerising mainstay of the Precinct over the years (and my absolute favourite posts to write) has been the – World’s Finest: Interview – series, where each episode we invite one of our most treasured Superheroes, SuperVillains, Costumed Crimefighters, Dimension Dwelling Demons and Super-Pets to answer a quotient of quintessentially quirky questions about life, the universe and cake (’cause everyone loves cake) Such classic characters as Harley Quinn, Circe, and Cheetah, have darkened the Precinct’s media studio and have harassed, bludgeoned, nibbled, and vexed our poor hapless interviewer (why, at one point he was even turned into a worm! an actual worm!!) Checking that ol’ stats page again turns up that the most popular of these was… World’s Finest: An Exclusive Interview With V

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Another character that has helped form the foundings of the Precinct alongside Wondy has been Gotham’s grim guardian, the big bad bat! I have been a fan since the age of six, he was instrumental in ushering in my love of the comic-book medium and my fave company, DC Comics. And just like the Amazon Princess, I have written a multitudinous amount of material on his dark crusade to clean up Gotham and absolve himself of the guilt of his parents death by dressing up as a giant bat and beating seven shades out of crazy costumed villains. And, heading on back to that trusty ol’ stats screen, the most read of all those is… Comic Cover Of The Week: Batman Rebirth #22

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Phew! thanks so much fellow agents for joining us on that timely tour of the Precinct’s past, and as we near the Halls Of Quaffing for many a beer and celebration, may I just say a massive thank you to all of my fellow bloggers, followers and readers for making this blogging odyssey such a fantabulous experience, it is YOU that have made this journey worthwhile… now, beer!!

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Comic Cover Of The Week: Wonder Woman #759

Suffering Sappho! This month’s Wonder Woman cover surely must be a celestial gift from the old gods of Olympus, as artist David Marquez’s captivating celebration of the Themysciran Titan has become one of my fave recent renditions of the warrior princess, and the interior story and art by marvellous Mariko Tamaki and majestic Mikel Janin most certainly live up to the covers powerful promise!

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The celebrated creative team up of Tamaki and Janin once again hits all kinds of highs as they bring their visionary mastery to Diana’s ongoing odyssey. Writer Mariko Tamaki is the 2020 Eisner award winning author of the much lauded DC Comics’ YA novel – Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass. Interior artist Mikel Janin also provides the glorious goods with his stunning illustrations, riding off the back of his sterling work on Trinity War and Justice League Dark, Janin once again proves to be one of the very best artists currently working in the formidable field of comic-books.

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It’s a fresh start for Wondy, as Diana begins to pick up the pieces of her life after her apocalyptic clash against the Four Horsewomen and her run in with the Phantom Stranger. It seems everyone has a view on who Wonder Woman should be – some who look on her heroics as admirable, and others who lie in wait, seeking revenge. A familiar threat is seemingly watching Diana’s every move, and now seems the perfect time to strike… 

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Wonder Woman #759 is a bold new start for Diana, and is a fantastic starting point for new readers of Zeus’ favoured daughter. Plenty of over the top superheroics are involved, of course, but also the mundane every day tasks that us mere mortals must travel through, with Diana perusing furniture at her local IKEA!! It’s these more grounded moments that I love the most, with Diana’s quirky fish out of water personality shining through, masterfully woven by the titanically talented Tamaki, with gorgeously rendered art by Mikel Janin who showcases some absolutely stunning splash-pages. Highly Recommended.

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Precinct1313 Recommends: Wonder Woman – Tempest Tossed

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Great Hera! the glorious gods of Olympus once more shine their light on the Themysciran Titan – Wonder Woman, as their halcyon hall of heroes bestows yet another fascinating fable from DC’s Young Adult range of graphic novels. This titanic tome is akin to a previous tale in the younger readers comic-book category, the fantastic “Diana: Princess Of The Amazons” and whilst that particular odyssey was most assuredly stunning and a must read for all ages, Tempest Tossed is on a whole other level of sublime.

Celebrated author Laurie Halse Anderson and illustrator Leila Del Luca provide us with a fresh new take on Diana’s early upbringing as the only child on the paradise island of Themyscira, and it’s ended up being one of my absolute favourite takes on the wondrous one. Beginning with a retake on Diana’s birth, we witness the Five Mothers – Athena, Aphrodite, Demeter, Artemis and Hestia as they weave their old magic to create the immortal female race known as the Amazons, a race of peace loving warriors, sworn to protect the planet. Hidden away from the world on their isle of tranquillity and tasked to one day save humanity when a great evil once more rears its head.

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Yet, all is not contentment, revered Amazon queen, Hippolyta yearns for a child and upon hearing her cries of anguish the gods grant her wish, forming an infant from clay, Hippolyta’s dream becomes reality as the five mothers breathe life unto the lifeless form, giving birth to Diana, esteemed Princess, Amazon ambassador, emancipator and superhero, but these are titles yet to be won, as the Diana we follow in this monumental manuscript has just celebrated her sixteenth birthday, a unique concept on Themyscira known as Born Day, amongst a race of immortal adult females the abstraction of atypical birth is mystifying. 

Her Amazon sisters have begun referring to Diana as “changeling” watching perplexed as her body goes through the normal changes of all adolescents as they hit puberty, once again a concept not familiar to the sheltered island residents of Themyscira. Mood swings, sudden growth spurts and occasional clumsiness mark her as different to her beloved sisters, Diana wrestles with her feelings of being an outsider, yearning to spread her wings and pondering upon what lies beyond her celestial homeland. All of this she will finally experience on her born day, as refugees wash up on the isle’s illustrious shores having passed through a break in Themyscira’s magical barrier.

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The books opening chapter is comparable to how Diana originally saved Steve Trevor, with her diving fearlessly into a tempestuous and tormented ocean to save the refugees and bring them to safety, yet instead gets swept out to sea passing beyond the mystical shield and seemingly unable to find her way back. Joining the refugees she ends up alongside them in Greece, once there she is detained and placed in a refugee camp. This is her first taste of humanity beyond the shores of her cherished island, and it doesn’t leave a good impression as she witnesses in incredulity the depths of mistreatment, abuse and neglect the refugees suffer on a daily basis.

Railing back at the internment guards and treatment of refugees, Diana comes to the notice of two UN officials, Steve Chang and his husband Trevor (yep, Steve Trevor) as they pluck her from the camp and introduce her to a new life in America, with the promise that Diana can do more to help the downtrodden by securing a formal education and thus later returning to save the refugees, Diana reluctantly agrees. It’s here that we are introduced to the two most influential people in Diana’s new life, Henke, a Polish grandmother and her capricious grand-daughter, Raissa.

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Tempest Tossed is a superlative piece of art from Anderson and Del Luca, showcasing their wonderful talents for empathy and enlightenment. Dealing with Diana’s integration into a strange new world, there is a lot of joy, from taking part in a Polka dance off, through discovering a secret parkour group run by Raissa, of which, of course, Diana excels in. The book also delves into the problematic areas of poor neighbourhoods and poverty, with Diana becoming increasingly alarmed at how badly people are treated by their peers and vowing to cease and educate on such practices. Throw in a crooked property developer and the increasing and upsetting dilemma of missing children, it seems adolescent Diana certainly has her work cut out for her. 

Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed is an absolute must read, from the moment I got home from my local comic-book emporium clutching my hallowed copy I was engrossed, a superlative coming of age drama that’s not afraid to delve into the darker sides of humanity but is ultimately a book of family, friends, love and emancipation. One of the very best Wonder Woman tales I have ever read. Highly, highly recommended.

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Wonder Women – Nubia

Wonder Woman has always been an icon for change, since her inception by her genius creator William Moulton Marston in 1941. Marston was a psychologist, author and a staunch supporter of the women’s rights suffragist movement of the 1930’s and 40’s, and specifically created Wonder Woman to counter the dominant male oriented comic-book market of the time. Diana easily matches her male counterparts in both strength and skill but is also filled with love and compassion for her friends, and enemies, her heritage has always been tied to her ability to empathise and forgive, traits that are not necessarily intrinsic to a large swathe of Superheroes who tend to rely on the fist.

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Diana’s mantra of inclusion goes further than the emancipation of women though, she has also fought the causes of all societal ills that tend to plague “man’s world” she has been a shining bastion of hope and change for almost eight decades, and so have the other Amazons that have also borne the mantle of Wonder Woman, none more notable than her Amazon twin sister – Nubia.

There have been instances throughout Diana’s formidable reign as Wonder Woman that she has had to step back or hand over the reins to another worthy Amazon to forge their own path through inequality, Artemis, Donna Troy and even her own mother Queen Hippolyta have bore the responsibility of this, and yet unlike these other worthy warriors of cause, Nubia was never handed down that title, since her inception in 1973 she has always been Wonder Woman.

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Nubia’s creation by Robert Kanigher and Don Heck in the 1973 issue of Wonder Woman #204 was a response by DC Comics to the civil rights movement of the sixties, she is historically DC’s first black female Superhero. As is the norm with comic-book heroes, Nubia’s origins over the years have been many – taken from her island home of Themyscira at a young age by Ares, and forcibly made to train in the ways of war to use as his weapon against her Amazon sisters. Post DC’s groundbreaking Crisis On Infinite Earths series an alternate version of the character was introduced – Nu’bia, whom upon meeting Diana for the first time divulged that she was the first Themysciran to win the ‘Grace and Wonder’ tournament, thus cementing her as Themyscira’s first ambassador to man’s world, the original Wonder Woman.

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Now, social commentary isn’t something I tend to write about, I am lucky in as far as I was born with a certain amount of privilege, I am a white male living in a rather lovely part of the UK, and while I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs, nothing in my life compares with the atrocities that I see taking place across the pond to our American cousins. People are people, skin colour matters for naught, and Precinct1313 stands with the Black Lives Matter cause. Nubia and Diana would not only be proud of the protests against racism and inequality, but would be actively campaigning alongside these outstanding individuals. Hate is destructive, love is encompassing, so lets try that instead shall we…

Precinct1313’s Comic-Book Classics: Wonder Woman/Conan

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The pairing of two of fictions most legendary and popular warriors seems like a fantastic idea, throw into the mix superstar writer Gail Simone and equally talented artist Aaron Lopresti and you most certainly have a match made in Olympus, or in the case of this tantalisingly titanic tale – Hyboria.

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A decade before our favourite Themysciran Princess first debuted unto the World stage, a Cimmerian, black haired and sullen eyed, sword in hand and ready to tread the jewelled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet first appeared, his name was Conan – thief, warrior, reaver and slayer. Robert E. Howard’s cult character became a huge hit and has spawned myriad novels, comics and movie adaptations since his first appearance in December 1932. This virtually superhuman barbarian has crushed all who have stood before his powerful presence, man and beast has befallen his blade, but has he finally met his match in the form of Zeus’ favoured champion – Wonder Woman?

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Gail Simone And Aaron Lopresti’s Run On Wonder Woman Is As Legendary As The Character Herself!

And since we’re talking legendary pairings, how about the venerable pairing of acclaimed scribe Gail Simone and prestigious penciller Aaron Lopresti, coming together once more to bestow upon us, humble comic fans, another glorious interpretation of the Themysciran Titan. Their previous collaboration on Wonder Woman a few years back was literally one of the greatest runs in comic-book history, and lo, once more their particular brand of magic artistry brings forth yet another astonishingly epic saga.

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Now, at first glance the idea of teaming up Wonder Woman – the poster child of female liberation and emancipation, a shining emblem for feminism with a character in whose reality treated women often in the tired damsel in distress trope may seem like an odd pairing, but it’s for these exact reasons that this comic works so well, like popular heroine Red Sonja before her, Diana is able to turn the tables on the barbaric Cimmerian to prove that, not only can she match him in strength and fortitude, but ably surpass him.

Simone’s deliberate slow build up in the story allows us to richly immerse ourselves in Conan’s world, she is the Queen of immersion and deftly drags the readers into his cold and savagely tempestuous reality. Alongside Gail’s impressive writing talents stands Aaron’s always astonishing artwork, these two creators compliment each others work like no other, and Aaron’s pencilling is some of the best I’ve seen in comics for years.

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“What makes one a legend? How do legends carve their name into history when countless others are forgotten? Wonder Woman and Conan the Barbarian are destined by the fates to be legendary, but when their stories collide, will both emerge victorious or will the fickle Gods cut their lives short?

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The collected version of Wondy/Conan is available in both soft and hardcover variants from your local comic-book emporium. And now is an excellent time to support your local comic-book shop, as most offer a home delivery service and I can’t think of a better way to spend quarantine than indulging in the wonderful world of high fantasy! Take care and stay safe fellow fans of fantastic fiction.

Precinct1313 Recommends: Diana – Princess Of The Amazons

Suffering Sappho, you’ve got to love DC Comics (no, I mean you really do, it’s literally the law in these here parts!) not content with thrilling it’s insatiable long term fan-base with stellar stories and astonishing art of superheroic stature for the past eight decades, they also provide many starting points to their ubiquitous universe, especially for younger readers.

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Now, the oft overused term – “comics are for kids” is obviously complete nonsense, and usually comes from the mouths of those who don’t (and have probably never) read comics, if comics are really just for the little ‘uns then how do you explain Watchmen, or The Dark Knight Returns or The Punisher! You see comics are just a visual medium for telling stories, surprisingly they’re just like novels, except, they also contain incredible artwork, they’re as much a legitimate form of story-telling as any other medium, and conversely are actually less for “the kids” because of their narrative complexity and adult content. Yet there absolutely needs to be jumping on point for the younger reader, and DC Comics have been providing this essential option for many years now, and continue to do so with a brand new line of graphic novels for kids.

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Diana – Princess Of The Amazons tells the tale of the Themysciran Titan many years before she became the icon known as Wonder Woman, an eleven year old girl growing up on the idyllic paradise island of Themyscira. And though her life and upbringing are verging on peaceful perfection, she is starting to feel ever more cloistered and isolated due to the fact that she is the one and only child on an island of millennia old adult women, and despite the fact she is well loved by her mother, Queen Hippolyta, and her many, many Amazon aunties, Diana is lonely.

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With repeated feelings of being shunned by her mother, Hippolyta, due to her time commitment as Queen, and being too young to take part in the training and ceremonies of her Amazon elders, Diana’s feelings of isolation begin to grow into utter despondency, until that is she decides to create her own companion, one formed from clay, not unlike how she originally came into being, things however seldom turn out the way we expect or ultimately wish them to.

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Diana – Princess Of The Amazons is an uplifting fable that touches upon loneliness and insecurity, it’s about facing yourself and your life and embracing everything that is good about them, but also dealing with the inevitable growing pains that everyone ultimately experiences on their emotional journey into adulthood. Shannon Hale and Dean Hale’s glorious narrative is a heart-warming and touching tale, and though it is fundamentally aimed at the younger reader it still proves an absorbing and surprisingly deep chronicle for all ages.

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It’s not just the story that shines though but also Victoria Ying’s gorgeous illustrations. Her cartoony style visuals are wonderfully bold and beautiful and even though much simpler in design to most of DC’s “grown up” comics, still convey all the emotion and intention of her peers work in other fields. The vivid bright colours bring Diana’s world to emphatic life, and though the book is aimed at the younger reader, Wondy fans of all ages (I loved it!) will absolutely adore this little slice of Themysciran heaven… Thoroughly recommended to kids of all ages!

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Wonder Woman is copyright – DC Comics

 

Wonder Woman #750: Celebrating An Icon

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Iconic is absolutely an apt terminology for William Moulton Marston’s legendary creation – Wonder Woman. Icon comes to us from the original ancient Hellenic word – Eika, and with Diana’s entire narrative background tied up (sometimes literally – the Amazons were famous for bondage games!) in Greek mythology, I could not think of a phrase that encapsulates the Amazon Princess any more effectively.

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Diana first leapt onto the pages of comic-books in the 1941 issue of All Star Comics #8, and from that point began her legendary odyssey through the annals of comic history with close to eight decades of epic storylines of emancipation, liberation and love.  Diana’s rich heritage is tied to her ability to empathise and forgive, traits not necessarily intrinsic to the majority of Superheroes, who tend to rely on fists, brute force and their overtly herculean super-powers to right any wrongs that present themselves.

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Wonder Woman was always cut from a different cloth, preferring to extend a hand in friendship rather than raise a fist in anger. Diana’s real life creation from her genius architect, the aforementioned William Marston is key to the character’s enduring legacy of liberation and amnesty. Marston’s ideal for the character came from his groundbreaking (especially for the era) work in the feminist and suffragette movements of the 1930’s and 40’s, with birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger, in particular her work – Woman and the New Race becoming a catalyst for Diana’s eventual fictional birth in 1941.

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An astonishing seventy nine years later, Wonder Woman is actually more popular now than she has probably ever been, with a whole new audience outside of her fervent comic-book fandom brought into her Amazonian ranks thanks to her recent and magnificent celluloid outing in Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins’ 2017 movie. She has been in continuous print since her iconic inception, is the original blueprint for virtually every female Superhero that has been created since her dazzling debut and is still THE fictional front woman for feminism and emancipation in the world today. I am sure Dr William Marston is looking down from his well deserved place on Mount Olympus and smiling, watching as his monumental creation continues to spread her message of hope and love to all the masses both fictional, and real.

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To celebrate Wondy’s 750th issue DC Comics have brought together some of the Themysciran Titans’ most revered story tellers and artists – George Perez, Gail Simone, Nicola Scott, Greg Rucka, Jenny Frison and Brian Bolland to name just a few are onboard for this 96 page prestige format tome. 

Nine exhilarating tales of the astonishing Amazon regale the reader with fabulous fables that represent her past, present and future, each allegorical piece fits, jigsaw like, into a whole that fundamentally represents everything we love about Wonder Woman, with our personal favourite from the selection being Gail Simone’s fabulous – ‘From Small Things, Mama’  though we are happy to report that not one of the other eight exceptional epics on offer are anything less than deserving of Diana’s halcyon heritage.

 

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Wonder Woman #750 is available from your local comic-book emporium right now! Make sure to show your love for the most important fictional female in history by buying this landmark issue, my astonishingly adroit amazonian associates.

 

Our dynamic duo of WW #750 variant covers were purchased from our absolute favourite comic-book emporium: Final Frontier.