Current Reviews


Back Issue #17

Posted: Monday, September 4, 2006
By: Shawn Hill

“Super Girls Issue!”

Editor: Michael Eury

Publisher: TwoMorrows Publishing

This black and white magazine has a glossy cover and a glossy color pull-out gallery, but whether colored or not, the art on display is stellar. Most of it is used with permission of the artists involved, because Back Issue’s project is to celebrate the work of current stars alongside that of the elder statesmen of the comics industry.

This issue celebrates super-heroines and brings to bear the usual high standard of TwoMorrows research on digging into the behind-the-scenes stories of still popular characters such as Supergirl, Spider-Woman, the Scarlet Witch, and Wonder Woman. The cover (and the interior color gallery) by Bruce Timm feature the innovative animator's simplified but sexy takes on Tigra (on the cover), and Dark Phoenix, Sue Storm (in a John Romita Sr. mode), Tigra again (in a montage that references her past as the Cat), Scarlet Witch (not evil at all, just sexy and active), the Black Widow (another nod to a definitive John Romita version), and (why not?) Princess Leia.

But it’s not all pretty pictures here, because TwoMorrows follows the same practice in their magazines as they do in their fact-filled Companion books: they go talk to the original creators about their recollections, and print nearly everything they say verbatim. This sometimes makes for dense and detail-filled articles, but it’s really the best way to go for a fanboy who already hangs on every word of his favorite artist or writer. This book is a riveting read from start to finish.

Did you know that The Cat was conceived as a response to the women’s movement, and that women were actively involved in her creation by design from the start? You wouldn’t from the new Women of Marvel Comics trade, which deletes her story (which did appear in the original edition on the theme, one of Marvel’s earliest trade paperbacks); but here you find out that Hulk artist Marie Severin designed her costume, and that Ramona Fradon penciled a never published final issue. You also find out how Severin viewed Wally Wood’s inks. “I drew this woman, and Wally inked her like she’s wrapped in Saran Wrap. The boys loved his work … She was hot stuff.”

The Cat may not have been an immediate hit (though her transformation to Tigra led to the creation of Hellcat, and both characters live on today), but there are also rich articles on better known heroines like Wonder Woman (focusing on her innovative late 1960s non-costumed period), Spider-Woman (creators admit her practical creation to preserve copyright, but also acknowledge finding in her a bizarre and enduring character, one with little relation to Spider-Man) and Supergirl (where a puffy concept of looking at her changing attire gets more serious with discussion of her fate in Crisis).

And that’s not even the end of the bounty. There’s an appropriate article where several female comic creators and editors comment on their own super-heroines (Wonder Woman is the most frequently cited, though interestingly the women of Love & Rockets are mentioned almost as much). Unpublished pencil art on stories that might have been from the likes of Romano Fradon, Rick Leonardi, Jon Bogdanove and Keith Pollard enrich every page.

Also not to be missed is a timely profile on the original (and ill-fated) Batwoman, Kathy Kane (she ultimately dissolved into a puddle during the DC Implosion), and an interview with artist/writer Phil Jiminez where he expounds on one of his favorite subjects, Donna Troy.

This one is all about the ladies, and it’s all for their fans.

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