WW #204
Wonder Woman #204: Jan-Feb 1973. No credits given but writer had to be Robert Kanigher (who was definitely editor) and pencils were Don Heck. No idea who the inker was.

It was the end of an era.

"The Second Life of the Original Wonder Woman" begins with a sniper striking down womens magazine editor Dottie Cottonman (any relation to Dorothy Woolfolk?), delivery boy Jimmy Greene, newlyweds Mary and John Mason... and Ching.

the death of Ching

In the confusion, Diana leaps onto the ladder hanging from a police helicopter, but the sniper sends the helicopter to a fiery crash. Diana leaps from it to battle hand-to-hand but gets severely pistol-whipped. The sniper falls to his doom, but Diana is rescued, recognized (she's famous, remember?) and taken to hospital. When she awakens, she has complete amnesia.

Despite her mental state, she manages to shake off sedatives and escape in a haze to steal an Air Force jet. But she's shot out of the sky over the ocean -- and is rescued by Amazons patrolling Paradise Island. (Gee, what a coincidence!)

Amazons rescue Diana
Of course when she wakes, she doesn't even recognize her own mother but luckily the Amazons have a Memory Bank that they replay for Diana -- all except channels 3 and 5, which the queen specifically orders not to be downloaded. (The very first stop on the "Hippolyta is a manipulative, conniving bitch" trail that was to destroy both pre-Crisis and post-Crisis versions of the character.)

The readers get a retelling of the Amazons' origins. Aphrodite creates a race of super women she calls the Amazons and places Hippolyta in charge. Mars (not Ares) plots with Hercules just out of sheer cussedness and misogyny. Herc woos and is in the process of winning Hippolyta when he grabs her girdle (for without it the Amazons are powerless) and declares that one should never trust a woman. There's no mention or hint of rape; the imprisonment lasts for less than one day before Hippolyta gets Aphrodite to break her shackles. Hippy goes after Hercules and pretty much trounces him, retrieving her girdle. Then under Aphrodite's guidance the Amazons steal Herc's ships and travel to Paradise Island where no man may enter.

Athena teaches Hippy to sculpt -- we get to the skipped channels (which now include #4 as well) as a blank space in the flashback -- and then see either a miscolored Aphrodite or, more likely, a misnamed Athena endowing a statue of a little girl, about three years old (in a few issues we'd see the same scene but with Nubia and Diana together, and they'd been sculpted as infants), with life and the powers of Aphrodite, Hercules, Athena and Mercury. She names her Diana after the moon goddess. The child grows up to display remarkable powers and receives her bracelets of submission at the foot of Aphrodite's altar.

There is no contest for champion. Hippolyta gives her a costume and magic lasso and -- voila -- she's Wonder Woman.

(We find out in later issues that because the Amazons weren't on Earth during the Diana Prince era, they were unable to make memory tapes of that time, which is why Diana doesn't remember being powerless.)

Wonder Woman... after There's no explanation in the entire story for how she got her powers back, but with her memory returned, the Amazons all hail Wonder Woman, except for one armored intruder who challenges her and calls her a usurper. They engage in formal bull-leaping and sword fights until Hippolyta calls the contest a draw. The challenger unmasks and she is a black woman: "I am Nubia! Wonder Woman of the Floating Island!" Everything's hunky-dory between the two (except that Nubia says that she'll prove she's the only WW some day) but Hippy thinks that perhaps she knows who this Nubia is.

Diana... afterHippy shuttles Diana off to New York, saying that being Wonder Woman is Diana's destiny, and Diana -- who knows all languages -- gets a job at the UN as a translator in her civilian guise of Diana Prince. By the next issue she'd be sobbing over what a loser she was when it came to men and romance.

Such a disappointing way to begin a new era of Wonder Woman! Such an ignominious end to the old era!

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