Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Wonder Woman #175 (March-April 1968)
I've always liked Wondor Woman, but I wasn't a devoted fan until the 90's. I was a Post-Crisis dude, biased against any material no longer considered "cannon" at the time. Still, when the opportunity to try some Silver Age tales of the Amazing Amazon came up, I figured I ought to at least give them a chance. With the "Diana Prince" stories, I felt the bet paid off. With the earlier Robert Kanigher scripted issues, my blood just boiled.
Case in point, the New Wonder Woman, in a book-length startler, "Wonder Woman's Evil Twin!" The story began after the always redundant 60's splash page with three silent panels of Wonder Woman making out with Steve Trevor in the moonlight. Pretty awesome, right? Except the real Wonder Woman was looking on from the bushes, crying her eyes out. "Suffering Sappho! This is a terrible nightmare! Seeing my sweetheart Steve look as if he's on a runaway rollercoaster-- from just one kiss from my evil twin!"
My first problem with Kanigher Wonder Woman: Every other thought or dialogue balloon starts with a silly exclamation, like "Great Hera" on the splash and "Shades of Pluto" in the very next panel, brimming with exposition.
Flash back to Lt. Diana Prince in her office at military intelligence, when Steve came strolling in, announcing he wouldn't leave until his sweetheart appeared. "Shades of Pluto [again]! If I don't manage to change into Wonder Woman-- Steve might begin to suspect that Diana Prince and Wonder Woman are the same girl!" Or perhaps that she's fighting a super-villain? But wait, that's problems #2 & 3:
2: A "Wonder Woman" should not be overwhelmed by anxiety at every turn.
3: That anxiety shouldn't come from being a needy little bitch.
Lt. Prince looks out the window and claims Wonder Woman is waiting for Steve in his jeep. She then quickly changes into costume and guides her controlled landing through air currents (she couldn't actually fly back then.) "Great Hera! There's Steve-- already downstairs!" In a panic, Wonder Woman lands in her seat with a thud, arms flailing, soon to have a "black and blue" bottom.
4: Superman stories have revolved around the Man of Steel calmly, skillfully covering his secret identity against the cunning of intrepid reporter Lois Lane. The Wimp Wonder performs a pratfall and frets over a neanderthal like Steve Trevor stumbling onto her secret. Maybe she should ask her namesake, the goddess Diana, for a little goddamned dignity?
"Grrrr-- you look delicious enough to eat!"
"Uh-uh! No snacks between meals!"
Steve pecks Wondy's cheek.
"There goes my diet!"
"You just have no control-- that's all!"
I haven't had anything bad to say about artists Irv Novick and Mike Esposito so far, because let's face it, they were some of the best men DC had. These guys were great at drawing dynamic action with a romantic, feminine quality. However, on a panel where Steve and Diana are driving his jeep, they blew the perspective all to hell and made them look like toys before a big luxury car trailing them. Inside is Mr. Gargoyle, a disfigured freak in a Bat-Boy mask who utilizes his wealth and hired muscle in hopes of forcing Wonder Woman to love him.
5: Superman's foes want to conquer the Earth. Flash's foes want to rob banks. Wonder Woman foes want to feed her freckled pecker. There's a greater problem with scale in the script than that jeep slip-up.
Steve and Wonder Woman are gassed and run off the road. "Thunderbolts of Jove... masked men from the other car... evidently sent by the figure inside... this is a devilish scheme--! Hera help me to keep Steve from harm at the hands of these villains!"
6: Shouldn't Wonder Woman just plain be pissed at these guys? I'm not saying Steve the "innocent" bystander shouldn't be a concern, but sole motivation?
"As I struggle to my feet..."
7: Did I mention the story is being narrated by Wonder Woman through caption boxes? I mean besides all the expository thoughts and dialogue, Wonder Woman's already gotten through this adventure and is recounting it to me like I'm her fucking girlfriend.
"Furiously, the enraged gunmen sent a rain of bullets against me, but..."
8: So not only is there no suspense, this all having taken place in the past, but she's able to play "Bullets and Bracelets" while she can barely stand? I'm not saying Wonder Woman is a liar, but maybe some dramatic license is being taken?
9: Wonder Woman is content to deflect gunfire when directed at her, but once the thugs try to take a shot at Steve, that's when she finally decides to beat them up.
10: Wonder Woman has just spent several pages wrangling with three middle-aged dudes with pistols. Batman scoffs at you.
11: Mr. Gargoyle managed to knock Wonder Woman out with a blow from his cane. As far as I know, this guy has no super-powers or special weapons. He's just an ugly dude with a cane. Robin the Boy Decoy scoffs at you.
11.5: One of the best Superman ads ever is in this issue, followed by an ad featuring one of the best Supergirl covers ever. It's a mock game board covering the Maid of Might's career to date. Now there's a super-heroine. She doesn't scoff at Wonder Woman, but only because she's better than that.
Mr. Gargoyle wraps Wonder Woman's magic lasso around her waist, and compels her to kiss him. "I might as well have been kissed by an iceberg." Um-- dude, that mask isn't your actual face, so how could you tell?
12: Wonder Woman kissed Mr. Gargoyle badly, because "my heart fought the power of the lasso... it couldn't compel me to forget my feelings for Steve Trevor!" If Mr. Gargoyle had put that lasso on Hal Jordan, Green Lantern damned well wouldn't have allowed himself to be kissed at all. The entire Corps scoffs at you, except Guy Gardner, who figures he can get that lasso away from Mr. Gargoyle and really get some use out of it. Guy Gardner merely leers at you.
"Merciful Minerva! Steve on a rock in that pool-- with sharks circling him." Repeat problems with Kanigher #s 1 (Cheesy exclamations) & 5 (villains motivated by lust.) "Swear you'll give him up and love me-- and I'll save his life!" Steve exclaims "Don't listen to him, angel! I'd rather wind up shark bait-- than lose your love! I'll be thinking of you with my last breath!" See, Mr. Gargoyle couldn't make Steve Trevor kiss him either, and Steve's a bigger dillhole dumbass that Hal Jordan! Worse, Diana then kisses Mr. Gargoyle up right, prompting a typically dense Steve to proclaim, "So that's all you think of my love for you, Wonder Woman! You've destroyed it by kissing that gargoyle! I'll never forgive you! Never!" Even as a shark drags him under, he's still screaming, "Wonder Woman, hear me! I won't forgive you till my dying day! I--"
13: Steve Trevor has more conviction than Wonder Woman, even if he's too stupid to realize he's just sworn to forgive her in the next few minutes, God willing. Jimmy Olsen forgets Lois and thinks maybe he's got a shot with you. Jimmy Olsen once fucked a gorilla, but he's looking past Giganta at you, Wonder Woman. For reals.
Repeat problem with Kanigher #1, and continue tomorrow...
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