Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Wonder Woman In-Joke


When Carmine Infantino took over at DC in the late sixties, he made longtime JLA artist Mike Sekowsky an editor. Sekowsky proceeded to radically change all of the characters with which he was entrusted. Most extreme of these changes was the fact that Wonder Woman, AKA Diana Prince, was remade into a karate-chopping, mod Diana RIGG type with a male Chinese mentor named I Ching. 25 years of continuity were scrapped as Diana lost her powers and, after decades of near male-bashing, bowed and deferred to this guy she had just met! All things change, however, and 1940's WONDER WOMAN writer/editor Dorothy Woolfolk, one of the first ladies of comics, was brought in. She lasted only one issue before hot editor Denny O'Neil took over with some unusual covers by Jeff Jones and rare comic book writing from Samuel R. Delany! I Ching was moved to the background and the writing and art both improved during this sadly brief period. Yep, it only lasted a few issues before someone at DC suddenly decided to once again very suddenly scrap several years of continuity and go back to the original Wonder Woman concepts. Perhaps this was because of selling the TV movie rights as the Cathy Lee Crosby movie we mentioned earlier was just a year or so away. On the other hand, it may well have been simply declining sales. Either way, longtime WW writer/editor Robert Kanigher was reinstated on the book and in the span of just a few pages murdered Ching, had Diana forget him, had her recover her powers (with no real explanation) and return to the Amazons. Just like that. One has to wonder, however, exactly what Kanigher had against DorothyWoolfolk as right there on page one, the very first victim of the random sniper is described as woman's magazine editor, Dottie Cottonman. Cotton Man=Wool Folk. It's an in-joke reference but a rather cruel one. Anyone know any more details on this one? Were the other named victims-Jimmy Greene and Mary and John Mason--real-life references also? The art here is by Don Heck.

2 comments:

Sleestak said...

Nice find!

I expect I Ching to return any issue now.

sam kujava said...

A troubling period for Wonder Woman...no direction, weak execution, a feeling by all involved that pages have to be filled, deadlines met...
I'm not simply alluding to the crazy screeching tires changes in
character and style, in the issues
you mention. Wonder Woman has been
a non-starter for decades! It doesn't matter who writes it, who
draws it, or what costume Diana is
in, or out of...NOTHING works.
Sales have always been poor, and many better comic books with similar low sales have been cancelled with enthusiasm.
But Wonder Woman the merchandising
queen and one-time tv star and
symbol of modern feminism is BIGGER
and stronger and more indestructible than the unimportant sales figures of a comic book that only a few
diehards read.
As long as DC exists, The Amazon
princess will be with us. For better...but mostly worse.
Too bad nobody seems able to do
this iconic hero justice.