So following the end of Wonder Woman’s WW II phase (intended to synchronize with the Lynda Carter TV series) Wonder Woman resumed Diana’s present-day adventures at the point they’d broken off. Diana Prince is a UN diplomat. Steve Trevor has returned from the dead using the alias “Steve Howard” and gone to work for the counterspy agency SOS (Spy On Spy). Both of them are struggling to get back the closeness they used to have.
I assume Marty Parsko, who set up this situation when he was writing the book, would have continued exploring it. By the time the WW II stories ended, Jack C. Harris was the writer, and he wanted to go in a different direction. Which is presumably why this phase only lasted a half-dozen issues, plus a couple of stories in Adventure Comics (as a result of the TV show’s success, Wonder Woman had a second strip for the first time in years).
They were not memorable issues. Even by the standards of my late teens, when I had almost no standards, I knew Inversion was a god-awful villain (cover by Rich Buckler, all rights to current holder). An accident with his experimental teleporter has rearranged his body to make him the “inside out man!” Completely mad, his goal wasn’t to cure himself but to turn all the world into inside-out people.
I can’t help wondering if Inverson wasn’t just meant to fill space, while the Steve Howard subplot advanced. While Wonder Woman battles inversion, Steve Howard is kidnapped by military intelligence, which has grown suspicious about ties between Howard and that other Steve. In the following issue, the operation’s boss man gets conclusive evidence Steve Howard is indeed Steve Trevor — perfect for his plan! Which is to drain Steve’s magically restored life force to resurrect the Dark Commander, an ancient, quasi-demonic being who once awakened will summon his demon forces to attack humanity! Which will be awesome because it will give America’s fighting forces what they need—war, endless war. Yep, it’s another madman villain (I think Harris was riffing off our military having no wars to fight in the late 1970s, but if so, it didn’t work).
Wonder Woman takes down the Dark Commander (he ain’t all that) but Steve’s life force is already gone from his body. Diana goes to Hell to reclaim it, but it turns out Zeus has honored Steve by turning him into a constellation, like some figures from Greek myth. Presumably Harris wanted to establish that Steve’s resurrection was a one-shot deal, so now he was gone forever (spoiler: he wasn’t).
It turns out Diana’s UN superior, Morgan Tracy, knew about the military capturing Steve, but wasn’t about to challenge US military authority. Disgusted that Tracy was too cowardly to look out for his people (Steve wasn’t technically his people, Harris is fudging a lot here), Diana quits the UN. So I suppose fudging Tracy’s authority justifies the upcoming soft reboot.
Before the reboot, we get yet another loonie, the brother we never knew Steve Trevor had. Greg Trevor works for the sinister federal “organization,” but he’s consumed with resentment for metahumans like Diana and the JLA, and for his brother, who actually won the love of Earth’s most awesome woman. Greg launches a series of assassination attempts on Wonder Woman before she captures him and the Organization takes him into custody. He’s the third loonie villain in a row.
All of which took place from WW #244 to 249, plus a couple of Adventure issues, then it was reboot time. Again. I’ll post on that when I finish reading the next phase — Diana Prince, astronaut trainee!