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.)
Wonder Woman, especially as Diana Prince, is an obsessed stalker in this story. There’s no question about it; she stalks Steve because she’s jealous.
The story starts with Steve lamenting about how he wishes Wonder Woman would appear before him. Instead, he turns around to find Diana, and he promptly informs her that he doesn’t need her and is going on a mission. Diana — while spying on them out her office window — discovers Steve’s going on a date with Dolly Dancer. Diana follows Steve and Dolly on their date: dark glasses and hiding behind menus like some bad romantic comedy. The whole time Diana comments on how she knows Dolly is no good.
Then, Diana eavesdrops on Steve’s call with Darnell where Steve tells him he’s going on a mission to New York City for the weekend and will be taking the train. Diana breaks into the train’s drawing room, which Steve will be staying in with Dolly, and marks the side of the train so she can find it later. Then slipping out, Diana changes into her Wonder Woman costume as the train leaves the station.
As not to be accused of stalking, Wonder Woman runs behind the train for 60 miles before jumping into the window. She hopes to catch a surprised Steve and Dolly in a compromising position. But, it’s just Steve currently in the room. Wonder Woman makes an excuse about exercising by chasing after trains. Yeah…
Wonder Woman disappears just as Dolly comes back into the room. Meanwhile, we discover that Dolly is indeed working with the Japanese and German spies. They want Steve to give them the code translation so they can blow up the trains moving high-ranking military officers across America. But to Dolly’s credit, she’s under duress as Ishti threatens to kill her with his knife.
Dolly appears in her show that night. And stalker Wonder Woman decides that she too is going to be in the show. After Dolly’s dancing, Wonder Woman goes up on stage and makes husbands tell the truth — about how they’ve been cheating on their wives — with her lasso and the audience loves and laughs with it. I apparently didn’t find it as funny as the audience did.
Next Wonder Woman spies on Dolly and Steve as they drink and continue their date back at Dolly’s place. Steve gives Dolly the codes and leaves at Dolly’s instance. Wonder Woman then demands Dolly confess her sins and tell her where the spies have gone. Turns out there’s a whole system of train tunnels under Dolly’s apartment and good thing that Etta and Beeta Lambda Sorority have arrived to help Wonder Woman explore them.
Dolly gases Wonder Woman with her perfume, and Ishti and his men take Wonder Woman below. Ishti learned from Gunther that if chains are welded to Wonder Woman’s bracelets she looses all her powers. So he goes about doing this. Then Ishti hooks up Wonder Woman to the electric grid, and in a this is not scientifically correct moment, Wonder Woman changes the electric current to “direct current” to survive the voltage. Kids, don’t try this at home. You will die.
Escaping due to the welder being a woman, not a man, Wonder Woman saves the day. Or actually, she leaves the bad guys loose in order to stop the train from blowing up. Or more precisely to save Steve. (Screw the rest of them or the people the spies shot as they came for one last try at the army soldiers.) Also somehow Etta is able to offer a bon-bon to Steve from atop a moving train. Go figure.
Steve then tells Wonder Woman he would never betray her love, and he knew from the beginning that Dolly worked with the spies. Such comfort in the last panel (emphasis mine):
Steve: “My beautiful angel – Will you ever forgive me? I only made love to Dolly in the line of duty.”
Wonder Woman: “You always perform your duties so thoroughly, Steve! But I should have known your taste in women is better than that!”
This is the first time I’ve felt like Wonder Woman was a bad influence for young women. In the past, some of her pining for Steve has gotten a little close to out of control. Especially the ridiculous notion that Diana is less than Wonder Woman when she’s the same person. However, stalking Steve in this issue makes her a poor role model. Wonder Woman can and is supposed to be so much better than this.
And as for Steve, I’m pretty sure “made love” meant the same thing in 1942 as it does today. Sex is still sex. I mean, okay, Wonder Woman and Steve are only dating in the loosest 6th grader sense of dating (minus the sex), but if he feels the need to apologize, maybe Darnell should’ve been sexing it up with Dolly instead. Wow. Sensation Comics #10 brings Diana and Steve’s relationship up to a whole new level of messed up.
0 Replies to “Wonder Woman Wednesdays: Sensation Comics #10”
Even with all the other messed up stuff that was apparently in this issue, I’m still struck by the fact that it is impossible to say “Ishti” in Japanese. Really. The closest you can get is “Ishichi.”
…and that’s why I’m proposing that every character in this issue was replaced by a duplicate from an alternate universe where the Japanese language is completely different and stalking is socially acceptable. Except for Etta, who seems to have stayed in character.
@Ryorin — Wow. That’s really interesting to know. Thanks for your comment. Yes, everyone’s characterization is completely out-of-control here. Etta’s bon-bons must be keeping her sane.