Following up on the first volume of Diana Prince’s post-Wonder Woman adventures, I naturally picked up Volumes Two and Three (I’ve read them before, but I wanted to do it in sequence this time). With Mike Sekowsky handling both art and writing (cover by Sekowsky all rights to current holder), the reboot ran out of steam over the next three years (Sekowsky was editing himself too, which may have been part of the problem). Although I will give Sekowsky credit for having I Ching start speaking English normally (this is also the period when Diana starts wearing the all-white pantsuit that’s most identified with the era).
In Diana Prince—Wonder Woman Vol. 2, the series goes in two directions. In the first couple of stories, Diana is a local hero, dealing with threats in the East Side neighborhood where she has her apartment and boutique. First there’s a vaguely lesbian/BDSM trio of villains (this story also introduces Kathy, a runaway who becomes Diana’s sidekick), then a sorceress terrorizing the neighborhood. These weren’t great but the concept of a local hero, dealing with stuff too small for the regular super-heroes to notice, isn’t bad (it’s been done successfully before).
Then after a couple of crossovers (a Lois Lane issue and a Brave and the Bold team-up with Batman) we have a multi-part story in which Diana and I Ching go up against Dr. Cyber again, scheming to test out an earthquake-maker on Hong Kong. This story introduced I Ching’s angry, vengeful daughter Lu Shan, and unfortunately ended up ruining Cyber. She gets horribly scarred during the story, and for her remaining appearances she was less a crime-lord than that disability stereotype, the scarface who wants revenge for her ruined face (even though Diana wasn’t the one responsible). We finish up with a story of Diana and a handsome quasi-boyfriend getting in yellowface makeup for a mission into Communist China.
Vol. 3 (which I originally liked better when I read it by itself) doesn’t follow up on either angle, though it does have one “local hero” story. Instead Sekowsky seems to be seizing on any idea that comes to mind: I Ching and Diana show up at a haunted house; while traveling in Europe, Diana has to impersonate her lookalike, a kidnapped princess; Diana goes to visit her mother but gets caught in a medieval fantasy world instead (as in Vol. 1, the visit undercuts the idea of the reboot turning Wonder Woman into a mortal); military intelligence calls Diana back into service to stop an assassin. Of course, comic-book characters stumbling into random adventures is hardly unusual, and the stories are mostly readable (the haunted house tale suffers from Diana and I Ching being held helpless by toughs they should have taken down easily) — but they’re also so generic you could have plugged Lois Lane in and not changed anything.
Another sign of problems may be the repeated use of reprints in the book, three issues between 191 and 199 (relatively recent ones rather than old pre-reboot stories). That’s not a good sign of a healthy book.
Regrettably Durham Library doesn’t have Vol. 4. I do have the last two stories in that one, so I’ll be writing on them, and the shift back to super-hero, fairly soon.