Wonder Woman's Island

Wonder Woman

From the very beginning Wonder Woman was very different from the other heroines of the 1940s. For more on that and some pictures take a look at the Golden Age Wonder Woman Page. Like all long running comics Wonder Woman had its ups and down. By the early seventies it had become mired in mediocrity and readership was falling. An attempt was made turn things around by replicating the Golden Age style but that wasn't very successful. So writer Dennis O'Neil took over and got radical; he stripped her superpowers, sent the other amazons to another dimension, killed off Steve Trevor, gave her a mentor (I Ching) to teach her various martial arts and turned her into an Emma Peel-like character. After a few years of that she was back to her old self which not only revived the character but made the seventies one of the most interesting eras for Wonder Woman. Here's a few covers from back then, click on the thumbnail for a larger image.

So how does Wonder Woman wind up tied to a buoy at the bottom of the ocean? Well it's pretty lame actually. The whole issue revolves around this eccentric millionaire who's going to give a million to charity if Wonder Woman can make up stories about an adventure she had based on three pictures within this time limit. So the cover is just one of these pictures and WW comes up with this story about a missing diver, a giant clam a sea spider (?) and a hungry sea monster. Oh well, at least the kids listening liked it and the millionaire forked over the cash

In case the blurbs plastered all over the cover aren't a big hint DC tried tio revive the Golden Age Wonder Woman style. Which meant bringing back Etta Candy and the Halliday Girls and trying to replicate the H.G. Peters artstyle. The best I can say about is it's a nice try.

Another psuedo Golden Age story though I'm not clear if Minister Blizzard was a real Forties villain or just invented for the story. Yes, it's Minister not Mister, he holds a govenment position amongst the Ice People.

Here we're into Diana's Emma Peel Phase. She's abandoned the wimpy Diana Prince identity and while she officially just runs a "With It" Boutique like Mrs Peel she gets into all sorts of adventures. The cover's symbolic as Diana winds up working as a bodyguard for a diplomat under threat of assassination. So she's looking at maybe taking a bullet as she can't deflect them anymore.

A very pulpish cover, exaggerated rather than invented as she does get chained up by hooded types but she doesn't kneel and wears the white jumpsuit that was something of a trademark. Once again Diana's working as a bodyguard, this time to the publisher of a Playboy-like magazine targeted by a group of purity crusaders who dressed a lot like the Klan. Naturally Diana doesn't like the publisher but she believes even male chauvanist pigs are entitled to protection. This issue also introduced Johnny Double, a PI they seemed to be setting up as a new love interest. Anyway it ended on a cliffhanger with Double being wounded by the brainwashed publisher. The followup to the previous issue this cover is very loosely based on the story. The masked woman is Doctor Cyber, the woman responsible for Steve Trevor's death. While she appeared to perish when her undersea base exploded she survived but was severely scarred. Bitter (and not wound very tight in the first place) over losing her looks Cyber has started a campaign to punish everyone beautiful. She was behind the Purity Crusaders of the previous issue, one of several schemes to gain her vengence. The Publisher pushed feminine beauty shich made him a target, Cyber has also been kidnaping and brainwashing beautiful women to take them out of circulation. Initially intending to kill Diana, Cyber comes up with a better idea. A face graft! Though it's a lot more high tech than you'd guess from the cover. Anyway Diana's yoga trance keeps her from inhaling the anesthetic and she breaks loose. Cyber seems to die, impaled by one of her own scalpels. Unfortunately nobody bothers to check her pulse. This one's a bit of a cheat as that's Cathy, a friend of Diana's, in trouble rather her but it's historically interesting as this is the last Diana Prince, Wonder Woman issue. Next issue she regains her powers and Paradise Island reappears. The new kind of threat was a clothing store owner trying to co-opt the local Women's Lib movement so they'd stop going after him for exploiting women with sexist fashions. Things got a bit out of hand and Cathy got kidnapped leading a rescue attempt and Grande getting arrest and the store being closed down. Which threw a lot of low income, african-american employees out of work so they started picketing Women's Lib. I suppose guest writer Samuel Delany was trying to make a point but even for a socially conscious 70's comic it's a bit over the top.
In the previous issue Diana regained her superpowers and wastes no time getting back into action. She's got a new job as a guide at the U.N. and (for reasons I could never figure out) resumed her old wallflower Diana Prince identity. For some reason nobody notices her radical personality change or even seems to remember the once well known adventuress Diana Prince. On with the story. For accuracy I should note she's chained to a nuclear missile rather than tied to a bomb and dropped. All thanks to a villain named Dr. Domino, somebody should have told this guy a Domino mask doesn't mean wearing a hood shaped like a domino. Anyway WW defuses the nuke but it crashes onto Domino's ship which immediately explodes. As he's too ludicrous to bring back Domino really does die in the explosion. Which just goes to show that if you want to get ahead in the world a sensible name is a must.
For a couple of issues DC did Golden Age style stories without any fanfare and did a much better job than their previous effort. The art was somewhat minimalist but the stories with their emphasis on the amazon virtues were a lot closer to the original Wonder Woman stories than their previous attempt. In this one a group of prisoners escape Transformation Island before they can be reformed and take over Paradise Island with knockout gas. They put Wonder Woman and Queen Hippolyte on trial for crimes against evil. As you can see they don't have much chance of talking their way out of that. Inventia, the leader of the escapees, sentances Wonder Woman to the four dooms. Four tasks she considers impossible with the understanding that as soon as WW fails one the captive amazons will be executed. In the following issue WW completes all four but is doublecrossed by Inventia. But she manages to free herself and return Inventia and her gang to Transformation Island.
This one's set some years back when Wonder Woman was Wonder Tot. The men in question are masked aliens on (wait for it) Space Kangas (those Kangaroo like things the Amazons rid though Wonder Tot uses a large rabbit) which leap from World to World. Touching down on Paradise Island they easily take over from the amazons who figure with Aphrodite's law broken their powers are gone. The plucky Wonder Tot evades capture and unmasks an alien to show they're female so contrary to the cover men still haven't set foot on Paradise Island. Realizing they still have their powers the Amazons break free and the alien women are sent off to Transfomation Island for rehabilitation.
With the brief Golden Age phase over it was back to more action oriented fare. These next few have various members of the Justice League of America on the covers. Why? Well after she regained her powers the JLA offered to restore her membership but she refused. Diana was afraid that she was still too rusty after her time as a mortal and might foul up when things got intense. So a bargain was struck, each of the JLA members would individually monitor WW on a case and assess how she did. If they were all convinced she did well then she'd accept the renewed membership. So began the 12 tasks of Diana which are easy to pick out as the JLA monitor of that issue shows up on the cover. In this issue WW investigates the mysterious disappearance of a lot of famous feminists. Incidentally she's jumped from UN guide to a troubleshooter for the head of UN security which is how she hears about this. It turns out there's yet another parallel world where men are men and women are property. A few women from that world crossed over and (despite an emotional reversal effect) got hooked on Women's Lib. Returning to their own world they started a revolution which the men in charge are fighting by bringing in prominent Earth Women to denounce feminism. Which they are happy to do. Huh? Remember the emotional reversal effect? Soon as they cross worlds they suddenly decide men should be in charge. WW follows them over and manages to fight off the effect so she doesn't go quite as far as the cover shows. Naturally she brings the Earthwomen home and just as naturally the bad guys dimensional abduction lab explodes. Rather than controlling time Chronos has actually just planted clock traps around New York, While the Atom watches Wonder Woman foils his scheme and captures him.

The mystery woman is a maskless Doctor Cyber up to her old tricks again. In this issue she learns her old enemy Diana Prince is Wonder Woman and joins the Wonder Woman rogues gallery. As you might have guessed Cyber makes another attempt at gaining Diana's face. Of course trying the operation at the top of a ski slope while Wonder Woman is strapped to a sled (I'm serious) wasn't such a hot idea. Once again Cyber appears to die, plunging to her death from a ski lift and once again she returns later. She became a regular recurring villain until Wonder Woman wrapped up in issue 300
A few issues after Wonder Woman got back into the Justice League the comic switched to the adventures of the World War II (Earth 2) Wonder Woman. Probably because of the TV series was on the air and doing the same thing. In the previous issue a time (and dimension) travelling nazi showed up in the present and dragged Wonder Woman back to the past. Where she wound up in a catfight with the original Wonder Woman who figured she was a nazi imposter. After they straightened that out the two Wonder Women worked together to return the Earth I WW home. They managed that but the original Wonder woman was knocked out when the time machine automatically returned. Anyway in this issue WW wakes up before the cybernetic nazi can do her in but he gets away. Queen Hippolyte erases her daughter's memory of the other Wonder Woman and the eventual allied victory on the grounds she might not give it her all if she knows victory is inevitable. As for the cover WW does wind up chained and with missiles being thrown at her but she's inside a maze and free to move around rather than tethered and a sitting duck. About two years later the comic returned to the adventures of the contemporary Wonder Woman. In 1986 Crisis on Infinite Earths erased Wonder Woman from history. The original Wonder Woman and her Steve Trevor are apparently living happily ever after somewhere on Olympus but never existed in the new continuity. Their daughter Lyta aka Fury gained a new mother when reality changed. She's still around though she's abandoned her superheroine identity, most recently in Sandman. Matter of fact she was crucial to the plot of The Kindly Ones. But I digress, back to Wonder Woman. Surprisingly there was one last pre-Crisis Wonder Woman story after this but it was written as a Golden Age Wonder Woman story. The Legend of Wonder Woman by Trina Robbins and Kurt Busiek was their homage to the original H.G. Peters illustrated, Charles Moulton written version they had loved in their own childhoods. In this series Atomia, the Evil Queen of the Atom Galaxy from a seventies pseudo Golden Age Wonder Woman story in Wonder Woman 211 returned to menace Wonder Woman thinking her the main obstacle to Atomia's plans of global conquest. She was right! In her original appearance Atomia had attacked Paradise Island, gassing and minaturizing Wonder Woman and several other amazons. Her neutron robot slaves then bound and carried the captive Amazons into Atomia's subatomic world. There Atomia revealed her plan to enslave them and use them as her army to conquer Earth! Wonder Woman used her own telepathy to take control of the Neutrons and escape. Her plans foiled Atomia vowed to return. Which brings us back to the Legend of Wonder Woman miniseries. In this Atomia again captures Wonder Woman and convinces Etta Candy's niece (who has been tagging along with WW) that evil is fun and to switch sides. Suzie shows a definite flare for evil though Wonder Woman doesn't seem to take either Suzie or Atomia very seriously. However she is a bit worried that she hasn't done a very good job as Suzie's guardian. Anyway Wonder Woman escapes pretty easily as she wasn't shackled by a man so the chains are child's play to break. She just played along hoping Suzie would reject Atomia's influence. We could speculate that knowing she could break free at any time so she might as well enjoy it is why she doesn't actually break free until Steve Trevor arrives at her cell. But maybe we're reading too much into it. Then again ... Anyway this series was the last hurrah for the original Wonder Woman. It was time for DC to unveil the new and improved (though this is very debateable) Wonder Woman.
A year after "Crisis on Infinite Earths" Wonder Woman reappeared as a new heroine making her debut. Things had changed, the mythological aspects were emphasised, she saw no point in adopting a secret identity so there was no Diana Prince anymore (in the revised continuity there never had been) and she no longer lost her powers when her bracelets were chained together. So covers like this one are rare for the new Wonder Woman as villains lost their reasons to try and chain her. Circe is an exception as supposedly if Diana dies, she dies too unless she kills Wonder Woman by a very specific ritual. But for the most part these days Wonder Woman's enemies are more likely to just try to kill her which isn't really an advantage IMHO Thankfully there are occasions when capturing her is still in the villains best interests. As witness the recent Body Doubles series. Pity the interior didn't include anything like the cover scene though the series did deliver the best bound Black Canary scene in years

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