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.
Diana decides to enter the event in a mask to surprise everyone. She kicks butt — or is that ties butt? — even against her own people. Then in the finals, it’s down to her and her old foe Mala. Remember Mala? The one Wonder Woman shot in All-Star Comics #8? She beats Mala again. And notably, Mala’s the only Amazon not thrilled when Diana pulls back her mask to reveal that the Princess has returned.
Elsewhere, Hippolyta’s having Metala (yes, Marston can’t think of a better name for a metal worker) take apart her magical girdle to turn into into the infamous magical lasso. When Diana’s presented with the lasso, she’s told the lasso will “give thee powers to control others! Whomsoever thy magic lasso binds must obey thee!” She first tests it out on Mala, as Mala attempts to follow Diana back to the world of men on her own plane. Apparently, every Amazon has her own plane. Along with her own kangaroo.
Back in America, Diana discovers Steve’s old office has been bombed and Colonel Darnell’s missing aboard the Gigantic! She takes a conscious Steve aboard her plane, and they go off to fight Baroness Paula and her latest scheme.
That’s right, good ole slave-keeping, sadistic “Gestapo agent and murderess” Baroness Paula’s on the loose again. Seems with a little flirting, she gets her prison guard’s gun and goes back to her old tricks. Namely tying up slave girls to mattress. No, I’m not kidding. In the name of comic science, the Baroness sends weird energy over her slave girl — Peter’s drawing looks much like electrocution — which turns the mattress and the girl invisible. Seems the Baroness needs to know if this energy’s harmful so she can use it herself.
Now, if I had my own invisibility machine and were a spy, there are a lot of things I’d do. I rather feel Marston wastes the machine here, and the real reason for this scene is for Marston’s cabinet of curiosities.
Instead, the Baroness sneaks aboard the Gigantic, replacing another passenger. She turns the ship invisible and relays its coordinates to a Nazi submarine. The Nazis quickly capture the confused ship, and they take Darnell hostage, but leave the rest on board to die. Here, the Baroness expresses distaste at killing everyone else, which is interesting given she is a murderess. The Nazis fire a torpedo at the Gigantic from their submarine, and Wonder Woman hops on it with her lasso to disable it. “Just in time she climbs aboard the deadly missile and twists its steering mechanism.” Okay, I’m not an ordnance expert, but how would this disable the missile? Turn it in a different direction, yes, but stop it, no.
At then end of the day, everyone goes home happy, except Diana and her ever-growing split personality:
Oh, and on a completely weird note, Wonder Woman doesn’t turn over the Baroness to the military, saying that she has her own prison which to hold the worst offenders. And rehabilitate them now that Diana has the power of the lasso to make them obey.
So far, I’ve been pretty okay with Marston sneaking in his cabinet of curiosities, but here he seems to go overboard. Baroness Paula tales seem to bring it out in him. I can’t help but wonder whom he based her on.