So having finished Showcase Presents Wonder Woman Vol. 3, I started volume 4, and the first story is so mind-blowing (not in the good way) that it deserves a blog post. Plus I just got back from Cheesecake Factory so deep analysis ain’t on the agenda.
The first part of a two-part story, “I—the Bomb,” is by Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito (cover—from Part Two — is by Andru and Esposito, all rights to current holder) introduces us to one of the most batshit concepts Kanigher ever came up with. Kanigher had some seriously weird monsters in WW before this, but nothing quite as insane as the diabolical Chi-Com (Chinese Communist for those to young to remember) genius, Egg Fu. Who, as you can see from the cover, is literally a giant egg. With moustaches that serve as tentacles. And a fiendishly cunning brain filled with fiendish Oriental cunning because of being so fiendish and Oriental.
Tech-wise, he’s created a super-missile with which China will wipe out the U.S. Pacific fleet, and an anti-aircraft gun that fires automatically if it detects the sound of a camera from a spy plane, which is why 11 military agents who attempted to scan Egg Fu’s lair have not returned. Steve’s quip, when called on to do his duty, is that if he’d been 13th, he’d be worried, but 12th? No problem!
Actually he’s worried enough that he desperately wants to see Wonder Woman for a farewell date. In a bizarre scene, he asks Lt. Diana Prince (yes, WW’s secret identity) to pretend to be Wonder Woman for an hour, so that he can sweet talk her and kiss her, reminisce about past dates … seriously, what makes Steve think any woman would put up with that?
And then we get to the weirdness of Egg Fu, the giant Chinese egg genius. So weird he makes this story weirder than it is racist, and it is plenty of that. There’s the typical for the time treatment of Asians as incapable of distinguishing R and L so we get heavy lisping as Egg Fu gloats “Steve Tlevor, I have turned you into deadry human bomb!” and the like (not a direct quote, but you get the gist). And constant, repeated emphasis that the Chinese as a whole are inhuman fiends who think nothing of sacrificing lives as if they were corn flakes. The idea that Chinese see life as cheap is another stereotype with a long history—Sax Rohmer made the same claim in the first Fu Manchu book.
To put this in perspective, the idea that China was a far more monstrous threat than the USSR was a common theme in pop culture and political commentary at the time. The Doomsday Machine, for example, sees China as the nation willing to press the red button and wipe out the planet. The movies Earth 2 and The Bamboo Saucer propose the US and the USSR can set aside their differences, but China will remain The Enemy. You Only Live Twice has China plotting to provoke the two other powers into a mutual exchange of nukes so that it can then rule the world, another popular idea back in the day (a Reader’s Digest article — I don’t know if it was reprinted or where from) presented Mao provoking both Russia and America to nuke each other as a serious geopolitical possibility.
But the fact Kanigher wasn’t out of the mainstream politically doesn’t make the story taste better, nor does it make Egg Fu any less loonie. Though Kanigher apparently thought him worthy enough that after the two-parter we got his successor, Egg Fu the Fifth appearing not only in Wonder Woman but The Metal Men. Go figure. [Correction: it was his lookalike Dr. Yes who turned up in Metal Men]