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.
The story opens with Steve Trevor crying over a newspaper headline that Wonder Woman’s dead. We readers already know that Wonder Woman’s still alive; especially when this is quickly confirmed by the appearance of Diana Prince. Because she loves Steve so much, Diana is distraught that Steve grieves so much over Wonder Woman. Diana makes a joke that anyone could be Wonder Woman, including herself. Steve tells Diana to knock it off as she’s ruining his emo and how could she ever be Wonder Woman.
Steve finds out that there’s a Nazi infiltrator in their offices to get a secret code. He puts Diana in charge of watching a fake code, which they’ve created to catch the double agent. A woman named Olga grabs the fake code and presses it against her leg. Diana has her strip searched in order to prove she’s the spy. There is not evidence found.
Because Olga still wants to be Diana’s friend, she invites Diana to join her bowling team. Much to-do is made about Diana never having bowled before in her life. And come to find out, Wonder Woman is a champion bowler and on the Holliday College team. Which is who Olga’s team faces that very night.
When Diana goes back to Steve with news that they didn’t truly capture Olga red-handed, Steve cries some more about Wonder Woman. Diana hurts so much that she promises to show Steve she is actually Wonder Woman. Steve still thinks she’s kidding around, but agrees to come back to her place to see her transform into Wonder Woman. However, when she gets back to her apartment, Diana finds her costume missing from its drawer.
The “police” claim to have the costume and her magic lasso since they also claim to have Wonder Woman’s body. So Diana breaks into their office wearing another costume (seam-stressing is her side hobby) and takes it back. She narrowly escapes being captured with her own lasso.
But Wonder Woman tosses the mystery aside to fulfill her obligation to be part of Olga’s bowling team. Etta and the Holliday College girls refuse to believe that Wonder Woman is dead. Instead, they keep insisting that Wonder Woman will show up to bowl. Which Wonder Woman does (Diana changing in a telephone booths again) and she bowls the perfect game. The perfect game rigged with explosive pins. (Steve’s there, and he gets knocked out or something damsel-in-distress-like. Or maybe he fainted from being so excited to see Wonder Woman alive.)
As Wonder Woman tries to foil the Nazis, Olga captures her with the lasso of truth and takes her, Etta, and the Holliday College girls back to the secret Nazi layer. It seems that Olga’s taken a page from Baroness Paula’s book and become a mistress with her own trope of slaves. She rigs Wonder Woman up to stand on one leg on an inverted milk bottle over an electrical field.
While Wonder Woman distracts Olga with witty banter, Etta (wearing sneakers) undoes Wonder Woman’s bonds with her teeth. (Wonder Woman being, of course, bound in her own lasso.) Once free, they take down the Nazis, make Olga confess she had invisible ink on her leg which is how she got the code, and Wonder Woman knocks Steve down, accidentally.
I was disappointed in this story as I didn’t feel Marston took the time craft it. It’s sloppy and doesn’t tie together Marston’s wacky plots like it should.
Like what you’re reading? Support this blog by contributing my Patreon. You’re the best!