When Paul Dini and Bruce Timm premiered their hip, stylish take on Gotham City's Dark Knight in "Batman: The Animated Series" in September of 1992, they redefined Batman for a new generation, revamped the look of animation for years to come and turned DC Comics into a cartoon powerhouse.
Superman soon joined the Dark Knight, poviding a bit of light to the otherwise dark world. Various DC characters made guest appearances on both shows, and eventually plans for a Justice League cartoon were announced. Bringing together Batman, Superman and their most powerful allies, the Justice League faced threats too great for any one hero to handle alone.
When Mattel got the licenese for mass-market DC Universe toys, their first effort was a Justice League line. Though fans had been customizing their own animated-style DC heroes for years, we would now be getting official offerings.
Princess of Themyscria. Daughter of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Ambassador to man's world. She is Wonder Woman! Gifted with speed, strength and an unbreakable golden lasso, Diana fights for integrity and understanding as one of the world's greatest superheroes.
Did you know that William Moulton Marston, the man who created Wonder Woman, is also the inventor the the polygraph lie detector? It's really not that much of a stretch: Diana has a lasso that forces people to tell the truth; a lie detector straps around the subject's chest and determines whether or not he is lying. A psychologist and early feminist, Marston believed that "a woman's rightful place was as a world leader, not servant or helpmate."
Of course, he also lived in a menage a trois with his wife and one of his ex-students, so what does he know?
Diana looks just like her animated counterpart - the giant hairdome of the "Superfriends" era has been redesigned into a more natural style, and her pose is confident. She's a little taller than most af the animated-style females (the toy is 4 1/2" tall, about half an inch taller than Catwoman) and her shoulders are a bit broader. She's wearing the boots, bustier and bondage bracelets she's known for, though she's not carrying any rope.
Younger on the cartoon than in the comics, Diana has just left her island home for the first time.
She's used to being treated as royalty, so her expectations of how people should treat her are different; she's aristocratic and aloof, but still innocent. She has a deep sense of honor and is easily offended when she is not accorded the respect that she feels she deserves - she does not suffer fools gladly. Yet beneath this imposing exterior, she has a sly sense of humor. She tends to view all men as inferior beings, with the notable exception of Batman.
All six Justice League figures in this first wave come with the same accessories: a blue interlocking base (hers has the letters "ST" and fits between Superman and Batman) and a lenticular motion card of the hero. Both the base and the card are fairly disposable, so why Mattel gave us these instead of any accessories remains a mystery. Diana's hand is molded to hold her rope, so the oversight is all the more glaring.
Diana is a fairly difficult figure to find right now; while the heavily-packed Batman and Superman are choking shelves everywhere, the other members of the League are in short supply. Even the black-costume variants of Batman and Superman are in more plentiful supply than the other characters. This is a real shame, and demonstrates how mismanaged Mattel is: Wonder Woman is a fine toy, but good luck finding her.
It's nice that we're getting animated style figures of some new DC characters, but the line just seems rushed. There have already been ridiculous variants of Batman and Superman, and those two are already clogging aisles. Mattel seems to be living in some perpetual time warp where bad marketing, piss-poor distribution and asinine business practices are still the way to get ahead.
Will Mattel ever wise up? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.