Friday, November 29, 2013
1945, the last year of WWII, was not a particularly strong year for femmes formidables: the jnext significant "boom years" would commence in the next year with both comics-heroines and the femmes fatales of cinema's films noirs.
I confess that I've only read a handful of Firehair stories, but my overall impression is that she was nothing but a transparent attempt to create a western version of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. Just as Sheena is a white woman raised by Black African tribesmen, Firehair is raised by Native American tribesmen. The main difference is that while Sheena was raised from childhood, Firehair is a normal adult woman of the late 1800s when she undergoes her cultural transformation. Thanks to a wagon-train attack by a raiding-party made up of phony Indians, she loses her memory of her old identity as a civilized white woman. A tribe raises her as one of their own and gives her the name Firehair, but she doesn't act at all like the squaws of the tribe, displaying greater fighting-skills-- fighting, riding, weapons-play-- than any of her red brothers. Later in the series Firehair regains her memory but decides to stick with the tribe rather than return to the white man's world. And why not? She wasn't technically the ruler of her tribe, but she was implicitly the "big dog" in their ranks, whereas she'd only be another woman in white society.
Whereas Fiction House's Sheena stories are fairly witty for their genre, Firehair's tend to be rather routine, though as is usual for Fiction House, the art is at least lively.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
In the original Marston-Peter WONDER WOMAN series, Giganta was something of a penny-ante player. She begins life in WONDER WOMAN #9 as a female gorilla, whom wacky inventor Professor Zool transforms into a muscular red-headed human being, automatically gifted with human speech though tending to talk in a rough patois suggesting her animal nature. Zool accomplishes this miracle in a far more merciful manner than his symbolic ancestor Doctor Moreau: using an energy-radiating "evolution machine." However, the machine gets out of control and reverts the rest of the world to caveman days. Wonder Woman's endeavors to set things right are complicated by the "gorilla girl" and her attempt to create a new regime governed by pure force. Giganta's only other Golden Age appearance was her alliance with the criminal group "Villainy Inc," for which a separate essay is necessary.
Within the corpus of the Marston mythology, Giganta's main significance was as another example of Marston playing with expectations about body-form, since Giganta's drawn to be far taller and more muscular than the average woman. This was not one of Marston's more pronounced tropes, though he did also execute a couple of stories about super-tall Amazons.
Giganta might have been largely forgotten had she not been selected to be a charter member of the "Legion of Doom" in the 1970s SUPER FRIENDS cartoon. This brought about a change in her powers and status that DC Comics has continued to exploit in current comics, and will receive separate treatment later as well.