SlushPile Challenge

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Challenge: Wonder Woman

Challenge: Batman has Killing Joke, Dark Night Returns, and a score of other definitive stories. Superman has A Man For All Seasons, Whatever Happned to the Man of Tomorrow. To date nobody has created the great Wonder Woman story. The Challenge? Create the definitive Wonder Woman graphic novel.

Mike's Pitch: Wonder Woman: Deeds, and Words.

What’s the simplest explanation of the character? How do you describe her to someone who’s not familiar with the character?

Superman is the last son of Krypton. Faster than a speeding bullet, he leaps tall building in a single bound.

Batman, the dark knight detective. Young Bruce Wayne witnesses his parents murder and now uses his vast fortune and indomitable will to fight crime.

Wonder Woman shows us there’s strength in compassion. Princess Diana is a champion for those without might, an example that there’s a better way.

wonder, n. One that arouses awe, astonishment, surprise or admiration; a marvel.

My Wonder Woman doesn’t carry a sword or snap necks. Her weapons are defensive. Like Captain America with his shield, Princess Diana wields the Lasso of Truth and Gauntlets of Victory in battle. She’s super strong and incredibly fast. Why does she need a sword? You don’t have to put a sword in her hand to make her strong.

She’s beautiful because she’s confidant, strong, intelligent and compassionate. The art in this project should reflect this. Diana’s bearing and posture, her attitude on the page, should convey intelligence and a dry wit. These are the things that make her beautiful and sexy. No cheesecake. She’s above the cheesecake and sexier for it. I don't have a specific name in mind but I'd opt for a painted art style, instead of the normal inked lines. It'd have a more timeless feel, and if there was a woman willing to paint my Wonder Woman story, all the better.

The costume is iconic and should remain so. Play up the red and gold, regal aspect of the costume. The double W logo. The boots and the tiara. Give her a tunic that partially covers her. Visually the tunic will draw the reader’s attention away from the tits and panties and towards the things that matter; the bracelets, the lasso, and her face, framed by the hair and tiara.

Bondage and the Invisible Jet. Accept everything that’s come before and acknowledge it. But do it without snickering. Like Diana the jet can be a force of nature, represented by sound and wind and light. Diana uses her power, and the lasso, to get villains to submit because there’s a better way than Batman inflicting excess pain or Superman’s ridiculous strength that never hurts anyone. Cops use handcuffs. The lasso is faster and a better visual.

Paradise Island. Wonder Woman sacrifices a life in paradise because she sees tragedy in the real world and cannot abide it. She is a Champion and the price she pays is that she cannot go home until the job is done. Clear cut motivation. Done.

I'd also downplay the focus on the Greek Gods. They're there and we know they're there, but the story's not about them. I think she appeals to a wider audience if they don't have to spend too much time thinking about Greek mythology.

Wonder Woman faces a series of challenges (parallel Heracles 12 tests); ramping up the threat level each time. As the action unfolds she faces down Doctor Psycho, The Cheetah and Felix Faust, among others. It's not until after she bests the first couple of challenges that the reader, with Diana, finds out that they're interconnected.

Diana's Rogues Gallery has learned that another female champion is due to rise up to fight alongside Wonder Woman. Fed up with the years of losing to her already, they're working together to make sure this new champion doesn't survive long enough to take her place in the pantheon of heroes. Even if it means killing all the first born girls in Greece.

Hell yeah moments, and a couple sentimental moments. Iconic moments, Mother, Protector, Champion.

Sample:

PAGE 1, SPLASH. WE'RE IN A OFFICE BUILDING, A SKYSCRAPER AT NIGHT. THE LARGE OPEN ROOM IS OCCUPIED BY ROWS AND ROWS OF DESKS. FLOOR TO CEILING WINDOWS ARE COVERED WITH HORIZONTAL BLINDS. FAINT MOONLIGHT SEEPS BETWEEN THE BLINDS. A DOZEN GUNMEN, ARMED WITH AUTOMATIC WEAPON, ARE IN THE ROOM ALONG WITH A YOUNG GIRL, WHO'S TIED UP ON THE FLOOR.

CAPTION: BEAUTIFUL AS APHRODITE, WISE AS ATHENA, STRONG AS HERCULES AND SWIFTER THAT MERCURY. SHE IS WONDER WOMAN.

PAGE 2, PANEL 1. ANGLE ON GUNMAN #1, LOOKING AT HIS WATCH.

GUNMAN #1: DOC PSYCHO SAID HE'D BEEN HERE TO MEET US.

GUNMAN #2: IF WE GOTTA WAIT AROUND ANY LONGER I SAY WE JUST ICE THE KID AND COLLECT HALF THE FEE. THIS IS TOO HIGH PROFILE AS IT IS.

PANEL 2. THE OFFICE IS SHAKING. WINDOWS. DESKS. EVERYTHING IS SHAKING LIKE THE BUILDING IS BEING UPROOTED. THE GUNMEN REACT, GRABBING ON TO DESKS. ONE FALLS TO HIS KNEES.

SFX: ROAR.

PANEL 3. MATCHING. BLINDING WHITE LIGHT FLOODS THE ROOM, COMING THROUGH THE BLIND COVERED WINDOWS.

GUNMAN #1: WHAT THA--?

PANEL 4. ANGLE BEHIND THE GUNMEN, THEIR ATTENTION DRAWN TO THE WINDOW. STANDING THERE IS WONDER WOMAN IN HER CLASSIC COSTUME. SHE'S TALL, REGAL AND DETERMINED.

CAPTION: MEN, THEY'RE SO EASILY DISTRACTED. THAT'S ONE REASON I KEEP THE JET AROUND.

PAGE 3, PANEL 1. ONE OF THE GUNMEN HAS SPOTTED HER, IS POINTING.

GUNMAN #3: LOOK OUT!

PANEL 2. THE GUNMEN BRING THEIR WEAPONS TO BEAR, FIRING WILDLY.

PANEL 3. WONDER WOMAN CHARGING ACROSS THE FLOOR. NONE OF THE BULLETS COME NEAR HER.

PANEL 4. PRINCESS DIANA, LAYING THE SMACK DOWN. SHE'S A FORCE OF NATURE. WIDE ANGLE, SO THE READER CAN SEE SHE'S TAKING THEM DOWN TWO AND THREE AT A TIME.

PAGE 4, PANEL 1. ONLY TWO ARE LEFT STANDING, WONDER WOMAN AND GUNMAN #1. THEY'RE ABOUT FIFTEEN FEET APART. THE KIDNAPPED GIRL IS AT THE GUNMAN'S FEET. IT'S A STAND OFF.

PANEL 2. WONDER WOMAN RUNNING TOWARDS THE LAST GUNMAN, DEFLECTING HIS BULLETS WITH HER BRACELETS.


PANEL 3. SHE SLAPS THE WEAPON OUT OF HIS HANDS.

PANEL 4. DESPERATION TIME, HE PUNCHES HER. CONNECTING RIGHT ON THE CHIN.

PANEL 5. ANGLE ON WONDER WOMAN, GRINNING AS SHE RUBS HIS PUNCH OFF HER CHIN WITH THE BACK OF HER HAND.

WONDER WOMAN: DIDN'T ANYONE EVER TEACH YOU NOT TO HIT GIRLS?

PAGE 5, PANEL 1. SHE PUNCHES HIM OUT.

PANEL 2. THE LITTLE GIRL STARES UP AT PRINCESS DIANA, WONDER IN HER EYES.

PANEL 3. WONDER WOMAN, GIVING THE GIRL A WINK AND A SMILE.

And, because this is already crazy long and I just can't stop, a scene from the climactic battle...

NEXT PAGE, PANEL 1. DIANA STANDS ALONE ATOP THE WALL. SHELTERED IN THE CITY BEHIND HER ARE THE COLLECTIVE FIRST BORN DAUGHTERS OF GREECE. DRESSED IN THE CLASSIC COSTUME, COVERED IN HER TUNIC, SHE'S ARAGON AT THE BATTLE OF HELM'S DEEP. PULLED TAUGHT BETWEEN HER FISTS, SHE'S HOLDING A COILED END OF THE LASSO IN EACH HAND.

PANEL 2. THE CLASSIC GUNFIGHTER'S SHOT, FROM BEHIND WONDER WOMAN'S RIGHT HIP, WITH ENOUGH OF THE COILED LASSO VISIBLE IN PLACE OF THE GUN AND HOLSTER. IN THE BACKGROUND WE GET A FIRST GLIMPSE OF THE HORDES ASSEMBLED AGAINST HER.

PANEL 3. WIDESCREEN SHOT. IT'S FELIX FAUST'S ASSEMBLED ARMY OF MYSTICAL CHEETAH PEOPLE, CHARGING AS ONE TO STORM THE GATES.

WONDER WOMAN (SPEAKING GREEK): ΔΕΝ ΘΑ ΠΑΡΕΤΕ ΑΛΛΕΣ ΠΡΟΕΙΔΟΠΟΙΗΣΕΙΣ! ΠΛΑΤΗ ΣΤΡΟΦΗΣ, ΤΩΡΑ!

CAPTION: YOU'LL GET NO MORE WARNINGS! TURN BACK, NOW!

PANEL 4. CLOSE ON WONDER WOMAN. HER EYES SQUINT AGAINST THE WIND. PRINCESS DIANA, CHAMPION, STEPS OFF THE WALL TO MEET HER FOES HEAD ON.


Bob's Pitch: Who is Wonder Woman?

OPENING PANEL PANEL. WE SEE AN OFFICE IN MONTGOMERY BURNS STYLE WITH GIGANTIC WINDOWS AND A LARGE MAHOGANY DESK. THE POV IS FROM THE PERSON SITTING IN THE DESK. WE DON'T SEE THIS PERSON. THEY'RE HIDDEN IN SHADOW. A YOUNG WOMAN IN HER TWENTIES IS APPROACHING THE DESK. THE WOMAN'S NAME IS LINDSEY.

LINDSEY: YOU WANTED TO SEE ME BOSS?

STILL KEEPING THE POV OF LINDSEY'S BOSS, WE SEE WONDER WOMAN MERCHANDISE LAYING ON HER DESK. USE AS REFERENCE ANYTHING SOLD OVER THE PAST SIXTY YEARS, FROM CAKE TINS TO UNDEROOS.

BOSS: I THINK WE SHOULD DO A STORY ON WONDER WOMAN. WHO WAS SHE? WHERE DID SHE GO? DOES SHE STILL MEAN ANYTHING IN THIS WORLD?

Story is told like Citizen Kane. The story arc develops through different people and the interpretation of Wonder Woman. In this world WW is iconic in the same way that Betty Page is. She's everywhere, and yet nobody knows who she really is. Lindsey interviews the people who knew WW only to realize that nobody truly knew her.

Steve Trevor: WW2 action. He's an old man being interviewed at the blackjack table to a casino. He has smokers cough and is dying. He sees WW as a fighting force, kicking Nazi ass. His story is one of bright colors, Nazi robots and bizarre all out action. To him, she represents the Warrior Queen she's sometimes portrayed.

Etta Candy: Dying of diabetes and still fat, she sees WW as a teacher. This is WW as Teacher...even if some of the lessons are a bit odd to modern ears. I'll be using some of the more bizarre bondage lessons in this one.

Diggs McMarston: A magazine publisher and former owner of Global Publishing, who is basically a thinly veiled William Marston. Diggs published a series of pin up magazines with WW that became famous. When Diggs was caught in a scandal involving his two wives, the taint of scandal impacted WW as well. This is WW as sexual fantasy.

Dr. Midnight: WW as secretary. Story he tells has her take the place a bystander, ready to serve coffee.

Superman: WW as leader. In some ways a very modern take where, like cartoons you see today, the female character is always the strongest and bravest.

Cheetah: Released from prison decades ago, Cheetah still has hard feelings of course, but her take is WW as mother figure. She's from a time period that feels a great deal like the Superfriends, where WW is almost like a nagging mother figure to the boys.

Lisa Ford: Actress who played Wonder Woman on a television series based on her life in the 1970's. To Lisa, wonder woman is the embodiment of the seventies woman's liberation movement. This chapter is Wonder Woman as icon.

This brings us back around to Lindsey returning to her boss. Does she understand WW any better? She's a stand in for the reader. She gets the point.

LINDSEY: YOU WANT TO KNOW WHO WONDER WOMAN IS? SHE'S WHOEVER I WANT HER TO BE. SHE'S WHOEVER THE WOMAN ON THE STREET WANTS HER TO BE. HELL, BOSS, SHE'S WHOEVER *YOU* WANT HER TO BE.

PANEL NOW SWITCHES TO POV OF LINDSEY. WE SEE THE LARGE DESK AND THE NAME ON THE DESK. THE NAME SAYS DIANA PRINCE: PUBLISHER AND CEO OF GLOBAL PUBLICATIONS.

PANEL CLOSE UP OF DIANA. SHE'S REMOVING HER GLASSES AND SMILES.

DIANA: WHOEVER I WANT HER TO BE? THAT'S QUITE AN IDEA.

SPLASH PAGE OF DIANA FLYING AS WONDER WOMAN, SUN BEHIND HER.

THE END

The Winner: Bob by a technicality.

Bob's thoughts: I win by a technicality. The idea was a graphic novel. Mike's pitch is more like a great ongoing run of the series. Granted, it's one of the better runs ever with the character, but my pitch was a little more in the spirit of the challenge.

This was a tough one. In my mind, Wonder Woman is not a defined character but instead she represents the desires and wishes of those who adopt her as an icon.
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