Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ching for a Day


As you may remember from Widowmaker Week, Mike Sekowsky wasn't merely a bad artist; he was a bad writer as well. Such a confluence of non-talent is rare, particularly among those who actually get to create comics for a living.

Now, thanks to
Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Volume 2, I can fail to appreciate even more of Sekowsky's work! Thanks, DC, for reprinting this stuff; I can think of nothing I'd rather not enjoy more! Besides, now everyone can own his own copy of the Widowmaker story. Every comic-book lover's home should have one, as Exhibit A for the inevitable party debate on "Why They Shouldn't Keep Allowing Artists to Write". Okay, Exhibit B, really; the Kirby Omnibus has to be Exhibit A.

In one Sekowsky story, we begin with a classic conflict between two of DC's bitterest nemeses, Diana Prince and the "I Ching", Master of Oriental Inscrutability (tm). As you'll remember (I hope) from the Widowmaker, these two make Batman and the Joker look like BFFs.

The story begins in medias res. Diana, furious that Ching used the last of her "Purple Healing" Hair Conditioner, thus leaving her with unmanageable split ends, has broken Ching's Braille-reading finger, forcing him to call his doctor, who recommends a visits to the emergency room:


After they return, Ching uses the incident to gain the upperhand in their little war, and, in exchange for not pressing charges, demands that Diana be his woman-servant/beyotch.


"Yes, an old and valued friend; unlike you, the new, worthless 'Wonder Woman' with no powers."

"Of course, Ching. Oh, by the way, do you like that huge bouquet of flowers I bought you? Aren't they incredibly beautiful? Oh, that's right; I'm sorry, Ching, I forgot... ."

"Why don't you go on-line, Ching, and use Travelocity? Oh, that's right; you're blind! Then, I guess you won't see me packing these hideous clothes I bought that will make you the laughing stock of the Hong Kong fashion scene. Ha! Ha ha! And I know hideous clothes; have you seen my dress shop? Oh, that's right, Ching; I'm sorry, I forgot... ."
Editor's Note: Special guest artist on this panel is Lynn Johnston!



"At first I thought we might take your invisible plane but, then I remembered... why, you lost that along with your powers, didn't you, Diana dear?"

Ching really just wanted a ride to the airport, but Diana, who has no intention of letting him get away that easy, announces that she's coming with.


"Oh, I'm still coming with you. I owe you a lot, Ching. Like maybe a fall from 30,000 feet into the Pacific Ocean when you're not looking. Oh, but I forgot... you're always 'not looking', aren't you?"

Clearly, Ching needs some help with Diana; besides...
a writer like Mike Sekowsky could
certainly use help from someone like Patrick McGuire.

29 comments:

K26dp said...

Sekowsky wasn't that bad.

And Kirby was a fine writer.

Anonymous said...

The worst part is, unpowered Wonder Woman could have worked, but DC simply didn't have the talent on hand to pull it off. A woman loses her powers but manages to compensate through sheer resolve and badassery ... Gail Simone could do it, Geoff Johns could do it, but by jigger there's no way the likes of Mike Sekowsky or Denny O'Neil could do it.

suedenim said...

Aw, I like Mike Sekowsky a lot (as an artist, anyway, especially when paired with a decent inker.)

His work on Jet Dream (which started as a backup feature in The Man From UNCLE and then got a one-shot of its own) is a lot of fun, and interestingly, looks like a "dry run" for Diana Prince, Wonder Woman.

(You can see a "somewhat altered" version by following my URL....)

Adama said...

I like Kirby as a plotter and an idea man. His dialog was passable to downright awful at times, but all in all, not a bad writer.

That being said, most of the time, letting the artist write is a recipe for disaster. Yes, I'm talking about you Rob Liefeld!

GREENPETS said...

"Sekowsky wasn't that bad.And Kirby was a fine writer."

Ah; but that's not very funny, is it?

Gustavo said...

Purple ray hair products? Sound genius to me. That's why amazons have such hair living in the wilderness ( except Artemis: we know her "kewl" 90s hair are actually extensions )

totaltoyz said...

Such a confluence of non-talent is rare, particularly among those who actually get to create comics for a living.

I know; usually they become management, like Dan Didio and Joe Quesada.

totaltoyz said...

Purple ray hair products? Sound genius to me.

"Unleash the Amazon in you!" Makes a better slogan than "Put some 'roo in your 'doo."

Sea_of_Green said...

Kirby WAS a fine writer. I will always be grateful to that man for bringing us Devil Dinosaur.

Hey! I'm not kidding! I ADORE Devil Dinosaur!

K26dp said...

Ah; but that's not very funny, is it?

Nope. I left my Snark Appreciation Device in my other pants this morning.

Hoosier X said...

Rob Liefield is an artist?

Hoosier X said...

P.S. I love Devil Dinosaur as well. Not because it's good. It wouldn't be enjoyable at all if it was good.

Diamondrock said...

Okay, have any of you guys actually *read* Kirby's stuff? Sure, some of it (OMAC, for instance) is mind-blowingly awesome. But the man just could not write...

At least that's *my* opinion...

K26dp said...

Yes, I have.

Would I want to read a Jack Kirby novel? Nope. Would I want him to write a screenplay? Double-nope. But he was fine for the funny books, and his ideas were great.

jettblackberryx said...

finally someone else who agress with me that Mike Sekowsky was a bad artist.
this is the reason I just won't buy those JLA showcases.

I never never liked his art.

Alan

Scipio said...

Mike Sekowsky was a bad artist.

That's why EVERY conversation / discussion of his work ALWAYS starts with, "Sekowsky wasn't a bad artist."

No one ever says, "You know, Neal Adams wasn't a bad artist." Why would they?

Besides, why do you all insist in taking what is supposed to be a fun post and turn it into a pointless debate? Sometimes I feel like I do when I'm trying to point to something to show it to my dog, and all he'll do is smell my finger. Stop smelling my finger!

Josh said...

Kirby wrote fine when at Marvel, but that Fourth World Kamandi Sandman Demon crap, oy.

And if Patrick McGuire's such hot poo, why isn't he on the tenure track, huh?

Derek said...

"Stop smelling my finger!"

Now that's funny.

K26dp said...

Besides, why do you all insist in taking what is supposed to be a fun post and turn it into a pointless debate?

Dude. It's the Internet. :p

Anonymous said...

Ah, Absorbascon, I love you so much I would marry you -- but I'm too lazy to stalk, so don't be alarmed. Yet, pine for you as I do, Absorbascon, I must disagree -- for some crazy reason I loved those Ching issues with Sekowsky's art. As a kid I thought that Diana Prince kung-fu'ing her way through each adventure was even cooler than WW with powers, and I already thought that super powered Amazon WW was the coolest thing ever. I understand the argument against, but I will always love the "Emma Peel" version of Diana Prince from those years.
-- JauntyJohn

Scipio said...

Oh, no argument there, John. The concept is a very interesting one... particularly when view in the larger context of DC's female characters.

What happened at about the same time as Wonder Woman lost her powers? Black Canary gained her superpower.

Black Canary and Wonder Woman switching roles was part of the beginning of the Bronze Age. But when WW regained her powers in 1973, the "unsuperpowered heroine" role was left unfilled.

The role is structurally important to DC and the JLA because it parallels Batman. It's a vacuum the DCU (or its creators) naturally try to fill, such as the period when Black Canary lost her power.

I think (hope, really) that these changes were in fact not so much attempts to depower female characters as individuals, but attempts to empower female characters as a whole ("See; a female character can be a hero without superpowers, just like Batman."). Unfortunately, instead of building up an unpowered character to star level -- very hard to do and much harder to do quickly -- it's easier and faster to take an already well known character and remove the powers (particularly if it's a character no one knows quite what to do with at the time).

What needs to happen is the hard choice: building up a female version of Batman. Writers often try to use Black Canary that way, because she usually fights first and then only canary-cries later, when the stakes go up. But the fact remains, she's got a superpower and so doesn't really count.

I think (hope, really) that the hard choice is being taken in the the Justice League book that has Batwoman in it. If you're going to build a female nonpowered hero to parallel Batman, well, Batwoman is a pretty logical starting point.

SallyP said...

My Goodness! Talk about passive/agressive behavior! Diana and I Ching are just like Lois and Lana, or maybe Betty and Veronica.

totaltoyz said...

Black Canary was given a super-power because she took Wonder Woman's place in the JLA, and the PTB felt she needed one to pull her weight with the big guys.

suedenim said...

It's also interesting (though probably coincidental) to note that for most of the "Perez and onward" period, when Wonder Woman was quite prominent, Black Canary lost her own powers....

Anonymous said...

"I think (hope, really) that these changes were in fact not so much attempts to depower female characters as individuals, but attempts to empower female characters as a whole ("See; a female character can be a hero without superpowers, just like Batman."). Unfortunately, instead of building up an unpowered character to star level -- very hard to do and much harder to do quickly -- it's easier and faster to take an already well known character and remove the powers (particularly if it's a character no one knows quite what to do with at the time)."

And yet, Wonder Woman was exactly the right character to do it to: she was the one hero(ine) who had absolutely everything given to her. Physical powers ... a gift from Hercules, I believe. Beauty ... a gift from Aphrodite. Wisdom ... a gift from Athena. Not only her physical abilities, but also her mental faculties and temperament were a matter of a divine recipe. Superman may have been blessed with strength, speed, and intelligence by birth, but he had to learn to be a mild-mannered human one day at a time. Captain Marvel may have also been given a grab bag of divine gifts (both mental and physical), but he also had to live as a young boy and deal with hardships and suffering. But Princess Diana ... ? At least in the Silver Age, she never had to work for any of it, and what a wonderful message that was: "If every possible advantage is handed to you, you just might do as well as that orphan who's always getting knifed by gangsters and insane clowns".

Scipio said...

"Not only her physical abilities, but also her mental faculties and temperament were a matter of a divine recipe."

No, that's a post-Crisis interpretation of Wonder Woman. Her pre-Crisis version, had to work and train for her abilities (a repeated them in her Golden Age).

I think you've probably read mostly Bronze and Iron Age Wonder Woman. You deserve to read some actual Gold and Silver Age Wonder Woman, and I think you'll get a different perspective.

totaltoyz said...

One perspective you'll definitely get from reading Golden-Age Wonder Woman is that W.M. Marston was a sick, sick man. Brilliant, but still sick.

Anonymous said...

I realized how weak Sekowsky's art was when iI purchased the Showcase presents the Justice League of America Vol. 1. Some artists shine without the colour. Mike is not one of those. Still I think Kirby as a writer was far ahead of everyone else for a long time.

Adolf said...

This will not have effect as a matter of fact, that's what I suppose.
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