Okay, normally, I make it a policy not to review comics like Sensation Comics #8; comics which are blatantly racist, sexist, homophobic, or ablist, except to point out how very peeved I am. I’m not letting Sensation Comics #8 off the hook, despite continuing my review below. That said, Sensation Comics #8 depicts the first black people in Wonder Woman’s otherwise white world. These black people are workers in a hotel, and because it’s 1942, you guessed it, Peter drew them in black-face and Marston gave them “uneducated” dialog. And throws in some classism or just segregation over how black people are the only ones who take the stairs. FAIL.
Sensation Comics #7 was one long milk ad. I was pretty sure I’d see a milk-mustached Wonder Woman at the end of this.
Interestingly enough, expect for stopping some robbers in the first issue, this is the first time Diana’s gone on a mission for civilians.
On her way to meet stay with a friend in Baltimore, Diana goes missing. What actually happens is she stops to buy milk for a poor woman and her little girl. The woman tells Diana that her son died of malnourishment, and soon her daughter will join him because she hasn’t had milk in weeks. The price of milk has skyrocketed for no reason and they can’t afford it anymore.
The culprit is the International Milk Company. Which is run by a dead woman. Continue reading “Wonder Woman Wednesdays: Sensation Comics #7”
Here in Sensation Comics #6, Marston’s cabinet of curiosities seems to get the better of his storytelling. We see the first appearance of Wonder Woman’s famous lasso; the first time she’s allowed to return to Paradise Island; and the first time she rides a torpedo. I read this issue aloud to Jason, and he made the comment that Marston seemed to be inserting his fantasies every couple scenes.
The cover for issue #6 says it all really with Wonder Woman riding on a giant kangaroo and having lassoed a bad guy. Yes, this issue will be just as ridiculous.
At the beginning, Diana gets two weeks vacation as Darnell’s off to England, a newly promoted Major Steve Trevor’s in charge, and Diana and Lila get in yet another fight for Steve’s affections around the office. Hippolyta, like any empty-nester, demands her daughter return home. Diana’s thrilled given she was told she could never return. However, Athena and Aphrodite have decided she’s done such a wonderful job in the world of men that Diana deserves a reward for her efforts.
Wonder Woman comes home just in time for the athletic trials. Trials which involve the Amazons riding giant kangaroos, lassoing one another off them, and carrying their tied-up opponents off the field. Yeah, whatever Marston was smoking, where can I get some? Superhero comics are by nature on the ridiculous side, of course; but Marston pulls out all stops here. Continue reading “Wonder Woman Wednesdays: Sensation Comics #6”
Sensation Comics #5 takes Wonder Woman on adventures in the Navy. That’s right, her position as the military’s savior is not just limited to the Army. Diana doesn’t discriminate.
Here we see Diana filling in as Colonel Darnell’s date — this would be the second time she’s gone to parties accompanying him — since his wife couldn’t make it. Being the Colonel’s date gives her the honor of breaking a champagne bottle against the Navy’s newly commissioned submarine, the Octopus. However, Diana notices it’s too heavy to be champagne. It must be a bomb! So she throws the bottle into the ocean — pretending that her extra strong throw worthy of a World Series’ winning baseball team was just a silly accident. Oops. And good thing she did, as the bottle explodes on impact into the ocean.
Then Diana faints. Because that’s what a human woman would do! (I bet Etta wouldn’t have.) Continue reading “Wonder Woman Wednesdays: Sensation Comics #5”
This week on Wonder Woman Wednesdays, Sensation Comics #4 warns all us girls about sexual exploitation/assault, the consequences, and how we can overpower what’s been done to us physically and mentally. Or as Wonder Woman warns us at the end, “It just makes a girl realize how she has to watch herself in this man’s world!”
Would a young girl reading Sensation Comics #4 recognize this in the tale? No. No more than a child reading Little Red Riding Hood would interpret it as a tale of stranger danger and sexual awakening. To me, however, it’s pretty clear.
In this plot, several women tied to government work go missing; Wonder Woman and Colonel Darnell investigate; and separately Steve decides Eve should go undercover. Turns out Baroness Paula Von Gunther runs a Nazi spy school for girls and brainwashes government typists into being her slaves/spies. Continue reading “Wonder Woman Wednesdays: Sensation Comics #4”
This weekend, I attended the Seattle Erotic Arts Festival. It was a wonderful and delightful experience. A gorgeous painting of Wonder Woman tied up in her rope — strong and proud — was part of the collection. Always exciting for the fan geek within. The main stage performance that night was called Cabinet of Curiosities and featured a mixture of theater, burlesque, cabaret, and puppetry. It was beautiful, self-affirming, and grotesque.
I realized as I read Sensation Comics #3 that Wonder Woman’s story is both an affirming tale for young girls to read about a female superhero and a Cabinet of Curiosities. As a modern reader and an adult, I find a lot of the Cabinet of Curiosities-angle ridiculous. And I think I’m still rather on the fence about young girls venturing into Marston’s Cabinet of Curiosities. I understand the feeling that Wonder Woman’s adventures there are not so innocent, but at the same time, I was also a young girl reading Anne Rice’s Cabinet of Curiosities, which are far more explicit. Diana being tied up as a hostage is innocent compared to Rice’s Belinda and her lover, the pedophile children’s book author/illustrator she runs off to live with. I have a hard time pointing my finger at Marston for being inappropriate or thinking that children need to be protected because I remember myself at that age. But enough about my tween years.
Sensation Comics #3 feels like the first real Diana story. Yes, once again, Steve’s job and foiling Nazi’s plots fits into the narrative, but this adventure was about Diana, her fellow secretaries, Etta, and Etta’s schoolmates. Oh, I should note that Diana changes jobs as soon as Steve’s discharged from the hospital. She becomes the secretary for Steve’s boss, Colonel Darnell. Yes, the Amazons have their own form of shorthand. Continue reading “Wonder Woman Wednesdays: Sensation Comics #3”
Wow, just when I thought things couldn’t become stranger in the world of Wonder Woman. I suppose at least she’s wearing practical coolots This is the first issue where Wonder Woman gets tied up (twice) and the first appearance of Etta Candy, Diana’s human best friend and future wife of Steve Trevor.
In this issue, Steve and Diana are kidnapped from the hospital by Nazi agents, attempting counterintelligence gathering. They want to know what Steve knows about Nazi plots. Continue reading “Wonder Woman Wednesdays: Sensation Comics #2”
Sensation Comics #1’s the first Wonder Woman comic to make me scratch my head. I keep wondering what Marston’s doing here.
Okay, Diana takes Steve back to America in her invisible jet. Diana gets a lot of crap about the invisible jet, so much so that later writers just gave her the ability to fly. Far more practical. Except when having to haul around wounded soldiers (or your friends). Here her jet makes complete sense, especially since we already know the Amazons have a magic sphere which gives them access to building invisible jets. (Wow, invisible jet engineer would be incredibly frustrating. I just set the bulkhead there? Where’d it go? Or worse, on the assembly line, when you trip over the invisible screw you dropped weeks ago and didn’t notice.)
As I talked about last week, it’s a pretty good move to have Diana become an army nurse. Her job puts her on the front lines. Or as close as a woman could be in those days. This also makes sense.
On the other hand, my head scratcher was Wonder Woman’s first job — theater/circus performer –, random people’s reactions to her, and how she became a nurse if looked at through the lens of Diana being a new immigrant to America. Continue reading “Wonder Woman Wednesdays: Sensation Comics #1”
Now isn’t this a comic we all wished we owned? Or could go back to tell our grandparents to spend their ice cream money on.
The first thing that jumped out at me was Wonder Woman being presented as a hero we already know and love. Yes, William Moulton Marston’s going to give us Wonder Woman’s background. But at the same time, there’s a strong notion that Wonder Woman just saved our cat from a tree and gave us a hug. (This is what all Golden Age superheros do after they punch Hitler.) In a way, Wonder Woman’s set-up reminds me a lot of how Brian Michael Bendis wrote in Jessica Jones to the Marvel universe as an already existing hero who’s background was still a mystery. Of course, back when Marston wrote, I assume that’s what everyone else did too.
I think the opening paragraph’s very pivotal in setting up who Wonder Woman is. It’s as if I’m seeing Marston’s editorial pitch:
At last, in a world torn by the hatreds and wars of men, appears a woman to whom the problems and feats of men are mere child’s play — a woman whose identity is known to none, but whose sensational feats are outstanding in a fast-moving world! With a hundred time the agility and strength of our best male athletes and strongest wrestlers, she appears as though from nowhere to avenge an injustice or right a wrong! As lovely as Aphrodite — as wise as Athena — with the speed of Mercury and the strength of Hercules — she is known only as Wonder Woman, but who she is, or whence she came, nobody knows!
First, Wonder Woman’s set up as superior to men. And here I don’t think Marston meant “men” as “humans,” but really “men” as “male humans” given women’s limited roles — especially when it came to power in politics and business — in 1942. Humanity’s problems are nothing to Wonder Woman. Not only can she beat them physically, but she also pounces them with her superior mind. Clearly, Wonder Woman could easily solve World War II.
Second, I think her coming out of nowhere is particularly interesting. Did Americans (and other Western cultures) of the 1940s long to be saved from their problems by others? (This is a particular contrast to the somewhat Americans-do-for-America or World-working-together sentiments of today.) Granted, you know Wonder Woman supports America’s side because she dons red, white, and blue, plus the stars and the eagle. Not to mention, Wonder Woman worshiped and was given gifts by the Greeks gods, who at the time, most schoolchildren were familiar with. And she’s beautiful and wise.
Third, Marston promises us he’ll give us all her secrets so she’ll be familiar. I like that Marston knows his audience. Clearly, he wants girls to read this. He wants them to love Wonder Woman the same way he does. These are American girls in an uncertain time, and Wonder Woman is the hero they can imagine helping their fathers, uncles, and brothers fighting in World War II. And keeping them safe… Continue reading “Wonder Woman Wednesdays: All-Star Comics #8”
Back some time ago, I started collecting the hardbound archives which reprint Wonder Woman’s original adventures, starting at All Star Comics #8. Unfortunately, older comics tend to get pushed further down my ‘to-read’ pile for this week’s pull list or something modern I’ve been meaning to read. I also sometimes find myself ill-at-ease with Golden and Silver Age writing styles. So I’ve decide to push myself with Wonder Woman and her tales. Each Wednesday, I will make a post about Wonder Woman and her comics all the way from the beginning.
Wonder Woman fascinates me on many levels, including:
1. Wonder Woman is the first woman of superheroes and marketed toward young girls. She was very popular.
2. There’s a lot of muddled gray areas around the authorial intent of Dr. William Marston and his beliefs about women’s superiority and submission and his own personal interests in bondage and polyamory.
3. A lot of people bitch about Wonder Woman not being as great of a hero or as iconic as Batman and Superman when they’re supposed to be part of the DC Trinity.
4. Wonder Woman’s been relaunched, rewritten in a lot of different directions, and sometimes seemingly throw up to the editorial with a “I give up” sigh. Her movie’s been canceled again and again.
5. Wonder Woman’s become an icon for LGBT people, especially gay men. This largely has to do with the Lynda Carter TV show.
6. Wonder Woman theoretically could again be a big seller with women and gay men, who are not considered the primary audience of modern comic books.
7. Why does my friend Steve always skip the Wonder Woman-focused episodes of the Justice League cartoon?
In my posts, I may talk about the issue at length or I might focus on a certain theme in the issue or in Wonder Woman’s comics in general. Normally, I rate each issue I read; however, given the way Golden Age comics are, I may forgo a rating as I’m a modern consumer. I am committed to learning more about Wonder Woman through her stories.