Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wonder Woman #175 (1968, Part 2)

Last time, we began counting the many ways in which writer/editor Robert Kanigher ruined Wonder Woman for a generation, using one of his last rancid scripts as an example. His most constant offences here were #1 (Constant cheesy exclamations like "Suffering Sappho") & 5 (villains motivated by lust for Wonder Woman, rather than world domination or some such.) We left the Amazing Amazon, tied by her own lasso and compelled to kiss Mr. Gargoyle. Steve Trevor was furious, as he was dragged underwater by a shark...

14: "Steve-- I don't want to go on without you!" Superman once turned back time itself to save Lois from certain death, crying and screaming the whole time, and he still thinks you're a simpering little titty-baby for that line.

15: Wonder Woman leapt into the water to save Steve, jerking the lasso out of Mr. Gargoyle's grip. That's all it took. Your arms and legs were free the whole time, and you're fast enough to deflect bullets, but you let Mr. Gargoyle own you. Gwen Stacy's corpse could have broken loose if left near enough to the edge of the pool.

Two more violations of Kanigher Defect #1. Steve's bitchass bonked his head, so it's all up to Wonder Woman, who must fight past sharks. "I'll either get through the ring of death together with Steve-- or I'll die down here with him! But-- I'll never leave him!" Nice speech you just spoke under water, you silly cunt.

Back up where there's air to breathe and for sound to travel properly through, Steve's still muttering his hatred for Wonder Woman while unconscious. Cue Kanigher Defect #1 again. Worse, he's taken to just using "Suffering Sappho," and it's no wonder she is, knowing a Princess of the Amazons could be back home right now, munching tangy, billowy carpet.

Mr. Gargoyle and his men again threaten Steve, and Wonder Woman again, finally, steps up to stomp their asses-- except inexplicably for Mr. Gargoyle's. He instead gets to shake his fist at the invisible robot plane as it takes off, declaring, "What the gargoyle wants-- the gargoyle gets! I'll never rest until you're in my arms again! Your love for pretty boy is hopeless! He hates you!"

So far, the whole damned story's been one long violation of rule #5, so I didn't mention each occurrence. Just let it be said Mr. Gargoyle apparently wasn't worth imprisoning, and was never heard from again. Oh, and there goes rule #1 again.

"Because by Aphrodite's Law, no man may set foot on Paradise Island-- I'll take Steve to my own private island-- and heal him with the Amazon Healing Ray! Pray Hera-- the Purple Healing Rays will cure Steve! Both of his injury-- and his hatred of me!"

16: "I can't help myself... for kissing the lips... which are uttering their hatred of me... " Way to encourage the future battered wives of America to suffer stoically.

17: "I'll die if Steve doesn't feel the same about me..." Where were the parents who would eventually sue Judas Priest when this shit was coming out?

Wonder Woman left Steve's side as the rays did their work, only to find him in a duplicate Wonder Woman's arms upon her return.

18: "Yes! I was watching your sorry affair with Steve from my parallel world and fell in love with him! That's why I travelled here! To claim him for my own!" Are you fucking kidding me? This is page 16! There are 6 1/2 pages left, and Kanigher's pulling this shit out of his ass?!?!

19: "You're the only Wonder Woman I want! I'm through with the other one!" This is why, twenty years after George Perez blackballed Steve Trevor in his reboot, no one has bothered to bring him back. Steve Trevor was pulling this kind of crap for a good quarter-century-plus!

20: "Like an unwanted kitten, I followed my parallel twin and Steve outside... past the identical robot plane which had carried her here..." Peter Parker, on his worst day, was never this pathetic. Emo Spider-Man scoffs at you.

21: "Finding the scene unbearable, I flipped my magic lasso at my evil twin..." Now, aside from claiming Steve friggin' Trevor for her own, what is the basis for this Wonder Woman being evil? That she stands up for herself, goes after what she wants, wraps Steve around her finger, and is generally not a wretched caricature of a woman? Or at least a less demeaning wretched caricature?

Our Wonder Woman tries to lasso the "evil" one and compel her to return to her home dimension, but it doesn't work. "I'll go when I'm good and ready! And I'll take Steve with me! You'll come with me, won't you handsome?" Oh yeah, clearly a "bad girl." This is why, in all my years selling comics, I sold Wonder Woman comics to (I'm guessing) less than five women total. Contrast that against Catwoman, plus the Chaos! and X-book heroines, where women made up as much as 25% of the readership at my shops.

"I was unaware that my mother, the queen, and her court of Amazons had come over to visit me..." So of course Hippolyte declares the only thing to do is, "Compete with your parallel twin for Steve! The loser-- to give him up! Forever!" For once, I'm with Hippolyte. I figure it's win-win for her, as a Diana loss gets Steve out of the way for good, and a win means she gets credit for supplying her daughter with some kind of spine. Even in accepting the proposition and a trip to the "evil" dimension, Diana's all, "I-I-I'm compelled to agree..." Woman up, for the love of Goddesses!

22: Just flying in her plane across the dimensional threshold, "How lonely it is-- without Steve! Hera help me win him back!"

23: The competition begins, but with both women identical, there's no initial advantage for either. The the effects of the alternate dimension get to Diana, who de-ages to a pre-pubescent. Because I assume that's the only way Kanigher could resolve the paradox with making our Wonder... Woman... look... bad? Like the whole rest of the story? Or maybe it's just cheap, bullshit plotting?

Three more examples of violation #1, on one page!

24: The other-dimension Amazons scoff at our Wonder Woman-- no really. The girl can't even keep her top on. Too stupid to quit, our Wonder Woman continues the contest "For Steve," and continues to be mercilessly powned by "evil" Wonder Woman.

"I fought to keep bitter tears from springing to my eyes, as..."
"Now I'm going to get Steve! Even if I hadn't won the contest-- he would choose me-- when he sees what a little square you've become!"

25: "Great Hera! This parallel world has had the same effect on Steve-- as it had on me! He's been changed to about my age!" So after one moronic plot complication after another-- after one assault on Wonder Woman's character after another-- her final "victory" comes by default?

26: Steve tells "evil" Wonder Woman, "I don't want you-- you're too old for me!" Ah, Steve, you are a prick of magnificent proportion.

As the pair fly back home in the invisible plane, Wonder Woman and Steve re-age and make-up. Diane tells Steve "You're exactly as you were!" And yet, Wonder Woman doesn't mash his testicles to paste.

27: The coup de grĂ¢ce, the final half-page is of an idealized Robert Kanigher, sitting at his typewriter with his pipe. Over three panels, he says, "What's that reader? You say Wonder Woman lost? That it's the first time she ever lost a contest? You're right! But-- did she lose? Wasn't the prize-- Steve? And who finally wound up with the prize? Well?" And yet, Wonder Woman readers didn't mash his testicles to paste.

Praise Hestia, ol' Bob Kanigher only wrote and edited one more issue of this dreck before being replaced. It just so happens the Statement of Ownership was in this issue, with the total paid circulation on average being 175,000 copies. Kanigher had recently lost acclaimed artist Ross Andru, and begun a series of "new" stories set during World War II. The circulation of the issue nearest to the filing date was 155,600 copies, a loss of nearly 20,000.

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