In this tale from Wonder Woman #1, Diana and Steve go to visit Baroness Paula Van Gunther in prison. Some Allied boats keep getting sunk, and no one knows how the Axis are coming across the information of where the boats are going to be. They figure Paula will know. Interestingly enough, this is the first Wonder Woman story which relays on a male character to help save Wonder Woman. Granted, the male character is Freddy, the prison warden’s young son who’s probably about 10-years-old. Which is why I’m okay with it, if we’re aiming this story at young girls and Freddy is otherwise portrayed as the annoying younger brother of Mabel.
No one can keep Paula down, and prison life suits her just fine. Fine in that her cell holds a secret trapdoor, which leads into a forgotten, underground chamber where she meets up with her fellow Nazi spies and her slaves. While this issue doesn’t dip too far into Marston’s cabniet of curiosities, there are a couple moments where Paula is bowed down to by her slaves. Paula also has Guard Swipe under her control. Hence, the whole being able to leave her cell without anyone noticing.
This issue also marks the first time where Wonder Woman’s lasso is used against her. First, young Freddy “borrows” her lasso; when obsessed with lassoing himself, he knocks over Diana’s bag and out pops her lasso. Wonder Woman heads back to the prison when she realizes it’s missing. She also gives Freddy a lesson in how to be better with the lasso. But not before Guard Swipe takes Wonder Woman’s lasso and gives it to Paula.
Meanwhile, Wonder Woman’s spotted illegally entering the prison and found with Swipe’s dead body. She’s then accused of murder. Of course, she didn’t do it, but Diana doesn’t have any way to prove her innocence. Instead, she kicks the guards and hurries off back to her day job. There Diana has the first true encounter with the problem of leading a double life. Steve doesn’t believe for a second that Wonder Woman killed Swipe, and he wants an official statement from Wonder Woman.
However, Steve also requires a secretary, namely Diana as all the other secretaries have gone home for the night, to take down Wonder Woman’s statement. And Steve won’t let Diana leave until Wonder Woman calls. Diana slips into her office to call Steve as Wonder Woman, which he then rushes into Diana’s office to have her take down Wonder Woman’s statement. When Steve notices she’s already on the phone, Diana brushes off her eavesdropping as being a prepared secretary. Satisfied, Steve leaves her alone to go back to hear Wonder Woman’s statement. Good thing these were the days before the speakerphone.
When Wonder Woman rushes back to the prison, Paula ambushes her and lassos Diana in her own rope. That’s right, Diana will now do whatever Paula tells her to do. She ends up in the secret underground lair, tied to a poll, next to a caged Freddy. Wonder Woman manages to knock her poll down and ram herself against Freddy’s metal cage to break him free. But just as Freddy unties Wonder Woman’s hands, Paula points a gun at her. However, quick thinking Freddy lassos Paula. Off-panel and unexplained Paula gets away from both Wonder Woman and Freddy and makes a break to the secret lake base of Nazi u-boats.
Diana then leads the U.S. Calgary, on horseback, to the lake. Then jumps a horse on top of a u-boat. Because horses love underwater journeys so much. Paula continues to flee, and the last we see of her, she falls off a u-boat into the water and toward a large rock. Somehow though, I think she’ll survive to annoy Wonder Woman another day.