Wonder Woman: The first year of William Messner-Loebs

Following the end of George Perez’ acclaimed run on Wonder Woman, William Messner-Loebs stepped in and wrote the book from #63 through 100. I remember this as a great stretch, and the first ten issues, through #72, live up to my memory. This run stays true to Perez version — ambassador of peace, warrior when necessary — but WML adds his own touches.

The run kicked off with a Special issue (cover by Jill Thompson), in which Diana learns the Cheetah has been taken prisoner by the sinister dictator of a small European nation. Never mind that Barbara Minerva’s a mortal enemy, when a woman’s in trouble, Wonder Woman’s going to act. She recruits Deathstroke and Indelicato (who grumbles throughout that he’s nothing but a fifth wheel next to them). It turns out the dictator is an occultist who likes sacrificing women to his dark lord, and Diana works just as well as Dr. Minerva.

While by-the-numbers at times (Wonder Woman locking horns with Deathstroke over his ends-justify-means approach), this was a fun kick off. Diana shows a greater sense of humor than during the Perez run and a love for excitement; she enjoys combat as part of that, but not as the enthusiastic killer she’s been written as more recently. For the first time since the reboot, she adopts Diana Prince as a secret identity, courtesy of Proteus: here he’s the spirit who provides the mortal avatars for the Olympians, who never really manifest here (“If they’d really stepped foot on Earth, it would be a cinder.”). Which is a good idea, but doesn’t at all fit the portrayal of the mythological gods in DC or Marvel.

Then comes a one-shot in which Diana goes looking for a little girl abducted by her father and taken into Boston’s most crime-ridden neighborhood. Indelicato thinks she’s just too naive to cope with the harshness of street-level violence, but he is, of course, wrong. Next WML launches the first big arc. Thomas Asquith, a Boston Brahmin once famous as the White Magician, offers to help Diana rescue Tasha, a Russian cosmonaut trapped in space. Asquith, however, has a hidden agenda and Diana winds up drifting in space with Tasha. She manages to jury-rig the engines of Tasha’s ship — she can’t get them home but she steers them to a distant planet, laughing in excitement as she holds the ship together (which makes her as much an adrenalin junkie as Doc Savage).

They end up shackled on a slave planet, as on Brian Bolland’s cover. Women of multiple different species and worlds are in chains with them; while Diana could break free and take Tasha with them, she’s not about to leave other women in that position. She carefully hides her power until she’s ready, then launches the resistance. Even that’s not enough — taking her fellow ex-slaves into space, she begins to wage war on the empire itself.

When everything is over, even if the peace is tenuous, Diana finds a way for herself and Tasha to make it home. Unfortunately after months away, everything’s changed. Julia’s rented out her room. Worse, the Amazons have once again vanished. This leads Diana to ponder the Amazons origin, with WML working a few changes on Perez’ reboot (cover again by Bolland). The Amazons are not the Amazons of myth — those are apparently just a myth — but took their name in kinship. Hercules captures the Amazons briefly and there’s no suggestion of rape as there was in Perez’ retelling. And rather than Hippolyta being pregnant when she died (he Amazons are the reincarnated spirits of women murdered by  men over the centuries), Diana’s spirit is that of Diana Trevor’s (Steve’s mother, who died fighting alongside the Amazons after crashing on Themyscira) unborn child — she and Steve are literally siblings.

With the Amazons gone, what happens next? Would you believe the world’s mightiest woman goes to work as a wage slave at Taco Bell? Details when I’ve read a few more.

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holder.

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