Final Thoughts

So what have we learned from all this? Besides the fact that Mike Sekowsky liked to take shortcuts and damn continuity if he thought the plot demanded it. Which brings us to another lesson: editor and writer should NEVER be the same on a book. How about: some movies work BETTER when you substitute Diana Prince in the lead? Or maybe: sometimes abrupt change is good if it's done with imagination, verve and respect for the character and her audience?

Denny O'Neil has been interviewed a couple times that I've seen where he says that feminist Gloria Steinem berated DC for depowering Wonder Woman. Denny says that in hindsight, he agrees that it was a mistake. Well you know, Denny, sometimes Steinem has been wrong. It was no mistake to take a blah (though physically powerful) female character and make her shine, a unique and exciting star of her own universe. The crime occurred when she was made Wonder Woman again, and immediately began to doubt her worth as a human being -- and then was delegated to a series of T&A stories.

Besides, the movie "Midnight Cowboy" shows the big changeover issue of Diana Prince (or so I'm told). Surely that must reinforce how important and groundbreaking this series was?

Sekowsky gave us a Diana Prince who didn't just make lemonade when life handed her lemons. She invented new taste combinations, she decorated a shop to sell her lemonade, made friends with her numerous customers and started franchise operations around the world.

Many fans have derided the fact that she owned a dress shop, as if being an honest businessperson were some kind of crime. I can just imagine the Amazon princess Wonder Woman passing by so many boutiques, so flashy and front-line Sixties in their attitude, and being fascinated with them, leaping at the small dream when the chance came to put one together herself. It gave her a chance to be her own boss, set her own goals and schedule; surely this was more logical than, say, taking a job as a reporter?

Look at her: she had just renounced her powers, her true love had been branded a traitor and had disappeared, she'd just given up her job and probably had given all her savings away to charity, not expecting ever to be in this situation, and what does she do? She calmly decides that she needs to open a retail shop with a residence above it. Quick, decisive and smart. She kept that small business open for over a year, comic time, and it wasn't until Denny O'Neil took over that there seemed to be any trouble with it.

Diana Prince stuck her head above the crowd and gave the world a good look around. She dove into this new world with gusto, embracing its fashions and its mysteries, delighting to become a part of the culture that until now she'd only read about or seen in the movies. She began her mortal life consumed with helping Steve in any way she could, and when dealt the crushing blow of his death, she rebounded with a quick romance, understandable in her confused state. But after that she found her emotional balance. From then on, she enjoyed the flirtations of the world, she enjoyed having so many men attracted to her. She played the field and never lost her heart quickly again... until Denny O'Neil took over. And she was truly a people person, as Wonder Woman should be.

She was absolutely unconventional, the embodiment of the empowered new woman of the late Twentieth Century. She didn't pose on some pedestal for people to worship her perfection. She ran with the humans. She WAS human. Whenever confronted with a problem, she gleefully stepped in, taking it by the horns and playing with it even as she conquered it.

The best part of the Golden Age Wonder Woman for me was her Attitude with a capital A. She enjoyed life and encouraged and taught others how to enjoy it with her. In the Silver Age Diana Prince was the Wonder Woman with Attitude (though the Pasko WW comes close). Although she was more serious than the GA WW, it was clear that she got a kick out of exploring the world. As for the modern Wonder Woman... well, she's too busy being a Lady and standing on that damned pedestal for her to develop an attitude, much less an Attitude.

Give me the adventures of a woman with Attitude any day.

Ching's Lovechild Revealed!

Ching and...Richard Petty

Dr. CyberWas the original villain Starfire Cyber's sister?

Cyber was first, of course, but Sekowsky also worked on Supergirl during the same general era. He was the one who gave Kara her "on-again, off-again" powers. And the villain who masterminded that plot?

Starfire. A virtual twin of Cyber, except for her eyepatch. She had designs on the world via money, too, but began by targeting Supergirl.

So... Were they sisters? Cousins? Surely they were related somehow... Probably they were estranged. We'd never know their full story.

How many times did Diana appear in bondage on her covers?

It only happened four times. Well, five times if you count that first Brave & Bold. You think that's a lot? Let's just compare that to, say, Superman and Batman's books, where THEY were in chains... uh... Well, maybe four times IS a lot. But there were even worse chained covers once she got her powers back! There's that one cover where she faces a firing squad in chains and, with her eyelids half-lowered and a tiny smile on her face, says, "I've made myself HELPLESS for you!" Sheesh. Nothing like being a respected character at DC.

the real Jonny Double

Showcase #78Just wanted to show you that when he first appeared in Showcase -- issue #78, November 1968 --Jonny Double had a quirky personality. He was a hard-nosed detective, but he also was a hopeless, down-on-his-luck freeloader with an inflated ego. Within the pages of Wonder Woman he could have been a really interesting, wacky addition to the crew. Instead Denny O'Neil gave us PC whitebread. Sigh.

Dick Giordano was editor, story by Marv Wolfman, dialogue by Joe Gill, art by Jack Sparling.

Diana P. redux

Over the years we've seen a couple of alternate-universe and dream stories in non-WW titles in which there was a glimpse or two of Diana in her DP "uniform" (which we all know was worn only once during the original run). These were merely tips of the hat towards her, and usually done in situations in which she was placed as a romantic interest for either Superman or Batman.

In 2003 noted artist and writer Walter Simonson came onboard with a six-issue story arc in the mother title. In this, Wonder Woman was mysteriously stripped of her powers and afflicted with amnesia. On the DC Boards Walt said he was quite fond of the Diana Prince era, which is why he had artist Jerry Ordway dress her all in white, with a hairstyle reminiscent of the late Sixties. ("Missed it by THAT much!")

faux-Ching in 2003Why, we even got a glimpse of Ching as one of Diana's demonic tormentors. The issue number was #189 of the modern era. How ironic, in that issue #189 of the first era was deep within the Di Prince era!

Soon after this was when DC began its monumental and astonishing decline into darkness and creative laziness. We went through ICk and 52, and TPTB declared that Everything That Had Ever Happened In Any Continuity Had Actually Happened. This was an obvious effort to please all remaining fans, and of course displeased EVERYONE. Someday (hopefully soon) they'll learn.

But at any rate, during Diana's unexplainable One Year Mope during the course of 52, in which she sat around and did NOTHING, she did show up (moping) in that title in the mysterious Himalayan sector called Nanda Parbat. Oblique references were made by others about a white, brunette woman who was palling around with an old Chinese guy, and the picture of such certainly looked like Di and Ching.

But Diana hadn't lost her powers during this time. Her mother was dead and the Amazons competely out of contact. When Jodi Picoult took over the WW title soon after 52, we learned that Diana had zero experience (!) (let me repeat: !!!) in the mortal world. Thus, the "mod Di" adventures COULDN'T have taken place, because that Diana was completely at ease in the mortal world, her mother was alive and able for contact... AND Diana had known her own self-worth, which this 21st Century DC would not allow her.

During/after 52 we got into the "One Year Later" stories which supposedly filled us in on what took place elsewhere during 52. Among these was the re-formation of the Justice League, in which we got a glimpse of Diana's historic exploits -- which included her in white civvies palling around with Ching.

I think that present-day DC writers (for the most part) are just clanking out pages to pull in a paycheck and that they have no respect for their readership. They would rather just go for the easiest and lowest common denominator, which involves sex, violence, and rewriting old stories because it's to much of a bother to think up new ones. Certainly no one does much research if any (again, there are a couple of lovely exceptions who keep my faith alive).

Ching in 2007, alive and wellThus when Batman #670 (Dec. 2007) came out, Batman could go to Hong Kong to secure information from an old, blind, tea-swilling Asian guy named Ching. Ching spouted knowlege from the actual I Ching (the book), which makes sense in a comic-book way that a person's specialty would be reflected in his codename. He does display a lot of panache, just drinking his tea and offering somewhat sarcastic advice to villains even as they attack each other and then are defeated by Bats.

But no one explains why the dead Ching is alive. Eh, whatever.

But wait! On the DC message boards, "dvdkim" reported: "[Ching] appeared in The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul a few years back, Detective #838 [2007], Nightwing #139 and Robin #169." To which "steveaux" responded: "Ugh. Now I remember. Diana's gentle and wonderful friend and mentor is now even more evil than Talia's dad..." Glad I missed those issues!

Thank you, DC!

After years of fans clamoring, in 2007 DC began releasing color reprints of the Diana Prince era. Now a new generation can enjoy these stories! Thanks for printing them the first time, and thanks for reprinting them now!

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