Adding Some Arch-Foes: More Golden Age Wonder Woman

I’m halfway through the second Golden Age Wonder Woman Omnibus and so, as I did with V1, I’d provide a recap of the series so far. Actually multiple series, as the Amazing Amazon was also appearing in Sensation Comics and Comics Cavalcade.

The stuff I’ve read so far all falls in 1944, so unsurprisingly nothing much changes over the course of a year. Steve’s still heroic but needing Wonder Woman to bail him out. Diana Prince chides Steve for being more interested in the Amazon than her. Etta Candy and the Holliday Girls somehow get in on every adventure and kick butt. The stories by William Marston and HG Peter are fun, if you like the Golden Age style (not everyone does). There’s a little less bondage than earlier in the war, maybe.

The Wonder Woman issues still follow the style of having one common story throughout, which isn’t something Superman or Batman did in their adventures in this period. And they all added to the Amazon’s mythos and rogue’s gallery. #8 takes Wonder Woman and Steve to Atlantis, currently under the rule of the evil Queen Clea. Our heroes eventually place Octavia, daughter of the rightful queen, on the throne, but in an unusual twist, it turns out in a later story that this didn’t work. The Atlanteans aren’t happy so Wonder Woman convinces them to make their leader an elected position: if they don’t like Octavia, vote her out! It’s more sophisticated than the usual assumption that if you just put a good monarch in the leadership, things’ll work out.

#9 introduced us to one of Wonder Woman’s most successful adversaries from this era, Giganta. A gorilla transformed into a human by Holliday College’s Professor Zool, she battles WW as evolution runs wild around them. With various reboots (the most recent version can become an actual giant) she’s one of the few Golden Age villains to have even a semi-regular presence in the decades since.

#10 pits Wonder Woman against spies from Saturn plotting to conquer Earth. The plot fails but Wonder Woman convinces Saturn a trade treaty would work out well for them. The Saturnians would crop up in multiple Marston-written issues. For instance #11, in which Wonder Woman battles Hypnota, a stage magician who accomplishes her impossible feats by mass hypnosis, a brain operation having tapped the power to dominate others. She’s also using the power for multiple criminal purposes, such as breaking the Earth/Saturn treaty so that her sideline of selling slaves to Saturnians will become more profitable (the Saturnians are doing their best to suppress the illegal slave dealing). She spends most of the issue disguised as a man, periodically trading places with her enslaved twin sister.

Surprisingly for such a cunning, formidable foe, she only made one more appearance in the Golden Age, in #28, which gathered multiple arch-foes together. Then poof, no more until Phil Jimenez brought her back (or so I’ve read — I don’t remember it for sure myself) as “the Hypnotic Woman” about 20 years ago.

There are also some interesting single stories. The Amazon Bride shows that even Marston’s WW was capable of thinking fantasy thoughts about letting Steve be the boss. The Invasion of Paradise Island has men tromping around on the island with no consequences and a vast flock of Amazon children. They’ve actually shown kids on the island all the way back to WW #4, but where do they come from? As Paula von Gunther’s daughter Gerta is among them, perhaps they’re all refugee girls of some sort, adopted by the other Amazons?

Regrettably Marston didn’t have much longer before ill health forced him to step down. I’ll be seeing the beginning of the changeover later in this volume.

#SFWApro. Covers by H.G. Peter, all rights remain with current holder.

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Filed under Reading, Wonder Woman

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