Just when you thought Wonder Woman couldn’t be more wacky, Sensation Comics #14 is told from the point of view of Abies Balsamea, a fir tree. His pals call him Fir Balsam. And he wants you to know that he and Wonder Woman are friends and that he helped her out.
In spite of my criticisms of William Moulton Marston’s writing of Golden Age Wonder Woman — the racism, the sexism, and how he puts his fetishes on display in comic targeted toward children — I’ve always felt that he had a certain level of craft behind his stories. He cares a lot about developing Wonder Woman’s world. Crazy as they may be, his plots are packed carefully with action and twists. Essentially, early Wonder Woman is a collection of short stories.
That said Marston’s story in Sensation Comics #13 is greatly disappointing. There are two main plot threads cobbled together in a sloppy way. When looking into Marston’s intent here, it seems like he came up with an idea to have Wonder Woman and Etta Candy on a bowling team together and left it at that.
In this tale from Wonder Woman #2, Wonder Woman is defeated by Mars’ Earl of Conquest. Okay, she’s not really defeated, but almost. At least, she winds up back on Mars.
Conquest understands Wonder Woman’s Achilles’ heel, which is that she’s always up for a challenge. Thus, he devises a plan with the help of the Italians under Mussolini. (Which is the first time that Marston’s mentioned the Italians as an enemy.) Count Crafti is sent to seduce Wonder Woman, and his bodyguard Mammotha is sent to challenge Wonder Woman physically. In fact, Conquest’s astral body takes over Mammotha’s body for the story. Conquest makes Mammotha even stronger than the 8-foot giant normally is.
Wonder Woman being Wonder Woman and so in love with Steve Trevor, she does not fall for Count Crafti’s seduction. In fact, she just tries to sell him war bonds. (She’s always hawking war bonds these days. In fact, this issue ends with a short that I won’t cover where she tells the tale of a stranded soldier to get you to buy war bonds.) Continue reading “Wonder Woman Wednesdays: Wonder Woman #2, part 4 of 4”
Hitler makes his first appearance in Wonder Woman #2. We must be in the time where Hitler was making his rounds so every hero could punch him in the face. I’m greatly disappointed to report that Wonder Woman does not punch Hitler.
Instead, Hitler eats a rug. Yes, eats a rug. It seems that he’s under Mars’ control, and without Mars’ influence onto him, he flounders around in paranoia and second-guesses his generals. In a way, Marston writes a very mentally ill Hitler who’s a slave to Mars compared to a psychopath. I think we’re supposedly to find him comedic and pathetic, but this isn’t my type of humor.
Anyway, together Wonder Woman and Steve spy on a top-level Nazi meeting. Hitler and the other Nazis plot to steal the US Treasury’s gold, a plot suggested by Mars’ agent Greed. Mars has sent Greed to Earth in order to capture Wonder Woman to bring her back to Mars, the planet. Steve and Wonder Woman hide in the 13th half-floor, spying from above. I’m sure there’s a Being John Malkovich joke in there somewhere. Continue reading “Wonder Woman Wednesdays: Wonder Woman #2, part 2 of 4”
Wonder Woman #2 comes with an introduction about the creative team. Here William Moulton Marston takes off his mask and reveals the man behind the pen name. He’s also pictured with H.G. Peter and two editors. Unlike Wonder Woman #1, this shows an all-male team, instead of making motions of the women involved.
In the first story, Marston sets the stage with a conflict between Mars (Ares) and Wonder Woman. In the tradition of the lies adults tell children, Marston explains to his young readers that World War II rages on at the behest of Mars. Mars craves war and wants to keep it on the planet. Whereas Aphrodite, Wonder Woman’s goddess, only wants love, and unfortunately, Mars is currently winning this battle.
In Sensation Comics #12, we stay in the world of ridiculous. The ridiculous world of Hollywood. However, instead of being an off-world tale, we have the second resurrection of Baroness Paula Von Gunther. We all missed her and her wacky Nazi antics very much. This also is the last issue in Wonder Woman Archive Edition Volume 1.
Colonel Darnell receives a letter from Supreme Pictures saying they want to produce a film about Wonder Woman. The film’s for patriotism you see. However, Wonder Woman doesn’t exactly have a P.O. Box or phone number. So Diana calls Etta, who then uses the metal radio to signal Wonder Woman.
At first, Wonder Woman refuses to star in the picture. But then Darnell reminds her how the film will serve America (and Steve’s already in Hollywood on a case), and she agrees. On one condition, that Diana Prince, Etta, and Beeta Lambda Sorority accompany her to California. Continue reading “Wonder Woman Wednesdays: Sensation Comics #12”
In Sensation Comics #11, Marston has held in his cabinet of curiosities long enough. They’re back and with full-force. And I also say, with a breath of relief, that even though his fetishes are on display, this is the least offensive tale I’ve read in a while. Yes, cabniet of curiosities is open, but the young girls and boys reading this aren’t going to get it. It’ll go right over their heads.
Most all of Wonder Woman’s tales have taken place in America (with brief trips to Paradise Island, Europe, and Mexico) and very much centered on the fact that Wonder Woman’s here to protect American interests. However, Sensation Comics #11 marks a departure from this. Notably, this is the first tale which mentions Wonder Woman’s membership to the JLA. Her missions with them is where she met Queen Desira of Venus. And in this tale, Queen Desira calls on Wonder Woman to help her friends over on Planet Eros.
There’s a funny moment where Wonder Woman reminds Desira that she does not possess a space ship. (Logic in comics?) But Desira has that solved. You see when people sleep, their astral bodies can go on any adventure, including one to the light-years away Eros. Wonder Woman brings both Etta and Steve along for the trip because Etta insists she come, and for some reason, Wonder Woman thinks the people of Eros will respect Steve’s position in the U.S. Army. Okay, Wonder Woman, I guess that’s a fine excuse to bring your crush. (Steve’s also treated like the “girl” in this scene as he goes to Eros only half-dressed in his uniform because he was being too slow.) To protect her secret identity, Wonder Woman falls asleep in Etta’s dorm room. Continue reading “Wonder Woman Wednesdays: Sensation Comics #11”
In Sensation Comics #10, Wonder Woman helps Steve Trevor take down some Japanese and German spies who are attempting to blow up a train carrying soldiers. This is all fine and dandy and pretty much Marston’s standard Wonder Woman plot. But not so fast. There’s a twist.
(Sidenote: This tale features quite a bit of racist stereotyping as the main villain, who actually gets a lot of face time, is Ishti, a Japanese spymaster of some sort. He talks in broken English and stutters over his “s”es. There’s also a brief appearance of a train porter, who’s black and indistinguishable from the porter in the last issue.)
The last story in Wonder Woman #1 may be the most offensive story written yet. Okay, actually, I don’t think it’s any more offensive than the one about the circus’ elephants earlier this issue.
In this story, Mint Candy, brother of Etta and solider in the US Army, is targeted by Japanese spies in order to get information about his division’s orders. In a very convoluted plot, Mint hits his head after a fall from a sabotaged motorcycle and Etta and Diana head to the Candy family’s ranch in Texas to cheer him up. Etta wants to set Mint up with Diana, and Diana just wants information to save America from the Axis.
Mint’s portrayed as something of a Gomer Pyle-like character. He’s simple-minded, but is always trying to do his best to help out his country. While the text never says he’s not good enough for Wonder Woman, it’s implied. But that’s okay because he ends up finding true love away. He also serves as Steve’s damsel-in-distress proxy for this tale.