Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Just Imagine Stan Lee with Jim Lee creating Wonder Woman #1

TITLE: Just Imagine Stan Lee with Jim Lee creating Wonder Woman #1


COVER DATE: August 2001


40 pages


There's not a whole lot I remember about this issue. In fact, I don't even recall if this was good, bad, or just plain mediocre. I never finished collecting the whole series, so I'm guessing it left me a little cold.

It does have Jim Lee doing the artwork, so I'm going to guess that it at least looks good. It's a long issue, so let's just get right to it.

Just Imagine Stan Lee's Wonder Woman
  • Writer: Stan Lee
  • Pencil Art: Jim Lee
  • Ink Art: Scott Williams
  • Letterer: Bill Oakley
  • Colorist & Separator: Alex Sinclair
  • Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston
  • "Just Imagine..." initiated by Michael Uslan
Right off the bat, and Stan Lee is throwing us for a curve. The story starts where...
Ages ago, there was a time of wonder, a time of mystery and miracles. Come back with us to such a time.
Sounds about right for the origin of Wonder Woman, eh? But then before we even leave the same panel, we find out we're not going to Themyscira, but to Lake Titicaca!

It would appear we've traded the Greek canon for one half a world away, as the son of the great Incan Sun God rises from the lake. He leaves to found the legendary city of Cuzco to honor his father. To complete his task, he has been given an enchanted staff of gold with which he will plunge into the earth at the fateful location.

He soon founds the legendary city and ushers in a glorious age of peace and prosperity, but that was then. Today, Cuzco has been ravaged by time and the once fabled city has fallen into ruin. It is here that we are introduced to Maria Mendoza as she bemoans the current state of the ancient city, being plundered by an unscrupulous archaeologist named Armando Guitez.

It is also here that she also meets Steve Trevor, and idealistic archaeologist working for Guitez, who is trying his hardest to make sure that the plundered treasures are actually being bought by museums. There conversation is cut short however, as they are forced to leave in a hurry as a rather ominous noise scares them off the dig.

Steve gives Maria a lift back to her nearby village, where her father is the local judge. She catches him between cases and confronts him once again about being on Guitez's payroll. Maria is nothing, if not a little headstrong, and she finally gets her father to tell her the whole truth about her birth and what happened to her mother.

On the night she was born, her parents were returning to their home when they were stopped by bandits. Disappointed that the couple had no money, a scuffle ensued and a shot rang out. Maria's mother was unfortunately shot dead. Moments later, the local policia arrive, but they too are looking for money in the form of a bribe before they catch the bandits. Disappointed that the farmer has no money, they take his truck, leaving the heartbroken man to bury his wife. He swears then and there that he will protect his daughter, even if it means making a pact with the devil.

That devil, of course, is Guitez who shows up right on cue. He's here to oversee a case that a local farmer is bringing against the policia. The farmer accuses the policia of being in Guitez's back pocket and doing nothing to help them. The villagers believe that a demon of some sort is attacking their farms, but the policia refuse to help.

Guitez gives the word, and the policia beat him to set an example for the villagers that Guitez has their best interests at heart, and it is best not to question his methods. It would also appear that Guitez is unhappy with Judge Mendosa's behavior of late, as he feels he has been too sympathetic to the locals. The policia leave, taking Judge Mendosa back to Guitez's compound.

Desperate to help her father, Maria tracks down Steve Trevor and enlists his help in getting into Guitez's compound. Once inside, Maria watches from the shadows as her father confronts Guitez about his lawlessness. He has finally seen enough and threatens to go to the local governor with everything that he knows. Guitez, not surprisingly, has other ideas.

Maria rushes to her father's side as he breathes his last breath. Guitez does a little gloating and boasts that Maria, as his new bride-to-be, is never going to leave his compound.

Remember when I said that Maria was a bit headstrong? Well a quick elbow to the face, followed by a knee to the groin, and she's soon running through Guitez's compound after leaving him doubled over in pain. As she rounds a corner, she's reunited with Trevor who convinces her that they must go to the dig as there's something there she has to see.

Trevor tells her of the legends of the city, and the fact that this is the site where the sun god imprisoned the evil spirits that threatened mankind. Guitez plans to harness those spirits to attain ultimate power. Trevor has been working behind the scenes to send key artifacts back to Los Angeles before Guitez can figure out what is going on.

Unfortunately for Trevor, Guitez now knows the truth and guns him down. As Trevor falls to the ground, he drops an artifact covered in runes that cracks when it hits the floor. Purple smoke starts seeping from the cracks, which soon coalesces into a huge purple demon. The thing of evil quickly dispatches the policia and turns toward Guitez when the two have a bit of a showdown

As the demon tries to absorb Guitez's soul, it finds that he will not be easy prey. In fact, it is Guitez who emerges the victor, now merged with the demon and possessing all of his power. More artifacts are crushed in the melee, and another newly released demon soon meets the same fate as the first, as Guitez absorbs it and becomes even more powerful.

Leaving Maria to her fate in the crumbling temple, Guitez heads out and makes for Los Angeles to retrieve the two missing artifacts and all of the extra power that they contain. As the building falls apart around her, she is surprised to hear voices that surround her talking about the chosen one and prophecies and such. A golden staff appears before her, and as she reaches out to touch it...a Wonder Woman is born.

This is the first time that we get a look at Jim Lee's redesign, so let's take a moment to break it down.

The first thing you notice is the color scheme. Gone are the red, white and blue, making way for a two-toned costume of white and gold. Seeing as how this Wonder Woman gets her powers from an Incan sun god, it's only natural that she have a bright and shiny costume. The gold is also a nice nod to the Incan heritage and legacy.

This Wonder Woman is very much a warrior, similar to how our Wonder Woman has been played within DC's trinity in the last ten years. Gone is the lasso, replaced with a shield and the enchanted glowing staff that was used by the Incan sun god himself.

Finally, Jim Lee adds a Captain Marvel-esque style cape which adds a touch of regalia to top the whole thing off. I really like this design, and it's a shame that this was pretty much the only appearance of this Wonder Woman, and her costume, that we ever got.

Back to the story, we find that Wonder Woman has used her powers to lift Steve Trevor from he crumbling ruins to the safety of a nearby hillside. It's too late for him, however, as with his dying breath he tells her that she has completed the prophecy. She is the chosen of the sun god, and the protectress of the Earth.

The Wonder Woman visage fades, leaving an exhausted Maria to contemplate another death at her feet. The only rational explanation is that she is insane, and she breaks down crying.

The voices soon return, reassuring her that she is not insane. And really, who better to tell you you're not crazy than the voices in your head! The voice soon tells her how to control her new powers, as she sets out to catch Guitez and stop his reign of evil.

Arriving in Los Angeles, Guitez is now more monster than man, consumed by the lust for the power contained in the remaining artifacts. As his private plane crashes, he is photographed by one of the local paparazzi. Now rampaging through the city, Wonder Woman finally arrives to subdue him.

The two tussle for a bit, when Wonder Woman instinctively uses her shield to block some flying rubble that Guitez has thrown at her. Shards of energy burst forth from the shield and disintegrate the boulder. She then twists the shards of energy into an interwoven, glowing cable. Wonder Woman finally has her magic lariat.

Wrapping Guitez tight with her lasso, Wonder Woman takes to the skies where she has the advantage. Guitez still struggles, now climbing the rope as she flies ever higher. Just as Guitez is about to reach Wonder Woman, she lets go of the rope and Guitez falls to his death as he is impaled on the lightning rod of a nearby building.

Victorious, but exhausted, Wonder Woman collapses on the hillside underneath the Hollywood sign. She awakes the next morning and decides to make this town her new home, as there is nothing left for her back in Peru.

In a bit of inspiration, and a nod to the Clark/Lois/Superman triangle, Maria heads to the office of the National Exposure magazine. There she applies for the job of assistant for the reporter who had witnessed the battle the night before. Her day job will now be to help the man who is trying to uncover her secret identity.


When this book got picked, I was kinda disappointed as I didn't have too many fond memories of this series. In fact, I only ever picked up three of the dozen issues that they released. I realize that Stan Lee is one of the guiding figures and living legends of comic books, but he had pretty much finished writing for good when I started reading comics.

Thinking back, I probably morphed my memories of this series in with Ravage 2099, which was my first experience with reading a new Stan Lee series. Needless to say, Ravage 2099 didn't necessarily set the comic book world on fire, and my experience there probably negatively affected my enjoyment here.

Now, ten years later, I couldn't be happier that the Randomizer picked this issue to review as I had a heck of a lot of fun reading this. So much so, in fact, that I found myself googling the rest of the series to see what I had missed out on. Stan Lee, Dave Gibbons, and Green Lantern?! What the hell was I thinking not picking that up?

What we get in this issue, is 40 pages of pure fun. Stan Lee appears right at home working with a modern master like Jim Lee, and if anything, it seemed like he was almost restrained in his usual bombasticness (no Hyperbole Meter needed this time around, sorry). He takes the warrior aspect of Wonder Woman and supplants it in a completely different mythos, freeing her from the patriotic garb and theme that always seemed a little out of place once you take her out of the World War II era in which she was created.

It probably took a little too long to get Maria transformed into Wonder Woman, as it didn't leave too many pages left for the big fight scene at the end. But if you're going to have a bunch of new characters talking for twenty pages, you could do worse than have them illustrated by Jim Lee. This issue is classic Jim Lee, doing what he does best, putting an effort in that rivals his work on Batman: Hush. It was clean, smooth, and expertly paced. When the action did pick up, the visuals never let up for a second.

I realize that it may seem like I'm doing nothing but heaping platitudes on top of platitudes, but the only downside I see with this issue is that we never did get anymore of this version of Wonder Woman once this series wrapped up.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics

1 comment:

  1. me volvi fan de los comics apenas hace solo unos meses, en es tiempo me he "comido" muchas historias, sobretodo de Batman. He terminado de leer Wonder Woman v3 y buscando mas informacion sobre ese increible personaje me encontre con tu reseña. Como peruano que soy me siento ansioso por leer esta historia.

    Muchas gracias por darme los detalles de la historia, me hace desear leerlo aun mas