Monday, March 3, 2008

The More Things Change...

February 1982.

From the cover of Wonder Woman 288 (volume 1), a "sensational new" Wonder Woman busts loose. That's right kids, re-vamps of Wonder Woman are hardly a new thing...and changes were a-foot here. Really passive agressive changes.

This wasn't a full reboot of the character, but did welcome a dynamic new creative team, in the form of wordsmith Roy Thomas and artists Gene Colon and Romeo Tanghal. I think this might also have been the first issue of Wonder Woman I received via postal subscription.

I remember that Colon was coming from a great run on Batman, where I had loved his dark and shadowy style. But the 16 year old me railed that it was a style that would never work for Diana's bright and colorful world. I was, I'm glad to say, very wrong.

These guys had a great run on the series, that included a fun crossover story that had Wonder Woman gathering the superheroines of alternate earths to help battle the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse. If DC is looking for a classic run of late Silver Age Wonder Woman to put out in color trade they should give these guys a look.

Storywise, we had recently come from something like a reboot. With her Steve Trevor twice gunned down before her eyes, this Wonder Woman had abandoned Man's World to return to Paradise Island. Queen Hippolyte had worked some kind of Greek hokey-pokey and called out the mists of Nepenthe, or something equally ridiculous, to encircle the world and make everyone(including Diana, natch...)to forget that there had ever been a Trevor.

And so it was thus.

For a night, anyway, and then, in some unpredictably predictable cosmic twist of irony in that time of Infinite Earths, a rift between some un-named Earth and Earth-One opened, and an all-new Steve Trevor, Air Force Pilot crashed on the shores of Paradise Island. The Hippolyte of the time was always aghast about men, and never moreso when this latest Trevor returned to mock her tampering with the Fates. (I still can't help but laugh when I think about's just absurdity piled high with ridiculous-ness...and it's pure "comic book-y-ness" radically cliche that it almost, if I don't laugh, there's that chance I'll clutch my head and yell "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!", as I may have done at the time.)

BUT ANYWAY...All That happened shortly before this issue, which marks the first appearance in her own title of the now-standard double-W insignia.

DC had caught on to the fact that they could trademark Superman's S and Batman's bat-on-yellow-oval but they had no similar logo for their grand dame. The crass commercialism of being able to market her action figures and lunchboxes more easily was cleverly concealed in a story point in which the Wonder Woman Foundation asks Diana to wear it as part of her uniform to help call attention to their cause of bringing equal rights to women.

The foundation, though, was real, the brainchild of DC publisher Jenette Kahn, who celebrated the fortieth anniversary of Diana's arrival in Man's World by creating the WWF, as a means to make grants of money to women over forty, "which honored their inner growth and depth of character."

Yah, a little hesitant to support women's equality there, aren't you, Princess? Though, to be fair, she was distracted with worrying for Her Man.

So, to conclude digression, this issue flashes back to the presentation of the bodice, which had actually occurred in a special preview in DC Comics Presents #41, where the snooty and bleach blonde Queen Hippolyte of the time sniffily approved, too.

And then there's plenty else going on here.

Diana has brought Steve to the hospital, as he is unconcious after a headwound received in the previous issues battle with spies. Now he's in some kind of coma, that baffles the doctor, who tells Wonder Woman "it's almost as if he--I don't know how to put this is medical terminology--as if his body and his soul are struggling to get out of this world...into another one." (Hmmmmm...and ever the Multiverse tries to repair itself...)

Diana gets a little alone time with Steve and is all weepy for her man (who at this point, she's known for like three issues...thanks to her memory loss)and she nearly gets busted saying the L word when he suddenly stirs.

Later on, Diana encounters the Silver Swan for the first time, thinking she's some brash new super-heroine, while Etta Candy signs up an ugly girl to be roommates with she and Diana Prince.

After Etta welcomes her with cake, we learn in secret flashbacks that Helen, the new roommate, was granted great powers by Mars, the God of War so she could exact revenge on all those who ignored her talent because of her looks...and is, of course, the Silver Swan. As a villainous cherry on top, a trio is completed with a last panel reveal of dirty little Doctor Psycho.

Plus, there's some intrigue with a missing briefcase full of secrets, that suddenly returns. Our Diana plays a scene that takes her from mildly fuming that it took so long for a coma-recovering Steve to remember to ask Wonder Woman about Diana Prince's well-being, to having to fend off General Darnell's romantic advances on Diana Prince.

And Etta Candy eats some chocolate. Woo woo.

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