Saturday, 6 August 2011

Wonder Woman Retroactive 80s: AVOID

Writer: Roy Thomas
Pencillers: Rich Buckler, Tim Smith 3, Carlos Rodriguez

This ‘Retroactive’ business with writers revisiting some of their better known comic runs from the past seemed like a good idea when it was announced. However, the reality has proved a massive disappointment.

Wonder Woman Retroactive 1980s has three pencillers and four inkers in its original 26 page story (the Retroactive comics stick a reprint in the back which is why they cost £3.60) – so presumably it was a massive rush job.

The colouring’s a bit of a disaster. I dislike heavy handed ‘contouring’ which can ruin a penciller’s art style (for example Alan Davis suffered from this during his last X-Men run). It’s so heavy handed here it looks like a bucket of emulsion’s been thrown over half these faces. Not only that but there wasn’t any ‘contouring’ in the 80s. The reprint in the back shows Gene Colan did his own shading where he wanted it – so why’s this been slapped all over something that’s supposed to look like an 80s comic?

There are also basic errors such as miscolouring Etta Candy, Helena Alexandros and Steve Trevor’s hair and colouring Captain Wonder’s mask blue instead of yellow.

The colour contouring isn’t the only anachronism as the logo’s from the Perez relaunch, not from the period this story is set in, and Wonder Woman’s depicted as she came to be drawn in the 90s i.e. all boobs and hair.

This is from the splash page. Spoiler: this is supposed to be an imposter but WW still looks rough. She’s supposed to have the “beauty of Aphrodite” not the “beauty of a bulldog.”

Meanwhile Tim Smith 3 is responsible for this panel (right) – one of the worst looking WW illustrations I’ve seen since the 90s. I don’t understand what this is supposed to be doing. It’s certainly not reminiscent of an 80s art style, which I thought was supposed to be the point, and the ‘contouring’ doesn’t help.

The art means it’s difficult to get much out of the story – which is a shame as it’s a sequel to my favourite Wonder Woman story of the early 80s. The Silver Swan is a great villainess and her origin story (reprinted in the back) still stands up well. Roy Thomas’s long overdue follow up is fun and it features the kind of super-machine (‘the ectoplasmotron’) beloved of baddies in the ‘olden days’ – it’s just a shame the art makes it difficult to concentrate on what’s going on.

Perhaps DC expect old fart fans to buy the Retroactive books no matter what they look like out of misplaced nostalgia. On this evidence I’ll avoid buying any more - the scripts may be OK but the presentation makes for a frustrating reading experience.


  1. You're bang on about the colouring being less than authentic, and the art, blimey. I hope you did read the Nineties WW book, surely you'd enjoy that!

  2. Oh yeah, the 90s book was FABULOUS!!! One of the most fun WWs ever!