WW #194Issue #194, May-June 1971. Credits given: Written and pencilled by Mike Sekowsky, inks by Dick Giordano. "The Prisoner" should have been called "The Prisoner of Zenda" because that's what this story was "adapted from." Points given for Sekowsky crediting Anthony Hope Hawkins. Read the book or see the 1952 movie with Stewart Granger or the 1937 version with Ronald Colman and compare.

Touring the European country of Daldonia, Diana begins to notice that people keep staring at her. She quashes a sudden kidnap attempt and the police rush her off to the palace while calling her "your highness." Even the uncle of the country's princess thinks that Diana is Princess Fabiola -- until the princess confronts Diana eye-to-eye.
Fabiola and Diana, or the other way around

We are introduced to the royal family: Fabiola's uncle Rudolph hurries Diana into the next room as next-in-line-to-the-throne cousins Helmut and Frieda rush to see to Fabiola's safety -- right after a shadowy person in some unknown location has made plans to kidnap Fabiola before tomorrow's royal wedding.
General RudolphGeneral Rudolph (do generals go by their first names?) gives in to a premonition and requests that Diana stay at the castle that night. Sure enough (and according to sinister plan) someone spikes Fabiola's food and as she sleeps it off, kidnappers take her away.

The general has Diana pretend to be Fabiola while his men search for the real princess. Our story now tells us that the wedding is TOMORROW, not today as was previously stated, and Diana gets to meet Prince Rupert, Fabiola's fiance, who with one kiss on the cheek knows that this is not Fabiola.

The prince and general discuss the possibility that Diana may have to go through with the wedding the next day, and Diana says, "But I can't -- I'm a COMMONER --" Apparently she's forgotten that she's been a princess royal for a helluva lot longer than Rupert's been around. And in the meantime the kidnapper tries to determine if they have the real Fabiola or the fake one, and then decides to kill them both (but they'll keep the one they have alive until after the wedding).

The next day dawns -- Fabiola's wedding day. As she walks up to the church altar in her bridal gown, thugs attack Diana and she disarms them, then rushes off after a masked guard. We see a swordfight in the dungeon in front of Fabiola, and then Diana corners and unmasks the traitorious guard. It is Frieda. Though her Helmut would have been crowned king, she declares that she rules Helmut and thus would have been the true ruler of the country.

Di quickly trusses up the traitor and exchanges clothing with Fabiola, who proceeds with the wedding.

In the lettercol, Sekowsky announces that a reprint giant is in the works, so apparently those things weren't just throw-togethers.

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WW #195Issue #195, July-Aug 1971. There are no credits this issue, but I'll tell you one thing: Dick Giordano did NOT do the inking. It's blobby, no machine-like precision here. Sometimes Diana looks like she's been drawn by Wally Wood, and I've wondered if he might have done at least some of the inking on this ish. If so, someone needed to buy him a finer brush.

"The HOUSE that WASN'T." Driving through wooded countryside in a blinding snowstorm, Diana and Ching take on two stranded travelers, just to find that they're escaped convicts who hold them at gunpoint. But it is their car that dies, and the four trek towards a light that appears suddenly through the trees, coming from an old house called the Inn of the White Horse (its sign shows Death on a white horse).

Looks like Wally Wood's inks to meIt "is like stepping back a hundred years in the past" inside (seems more like two hundred to me) with the innkeeper and her son, Lemuel, plus another stranded traveler and writer, Mr. James Arnett. Diana feels that the name of the inn is familiar and Ching senses "terrible evil" that does not come from the convicts. Another traveller stumbles into the inn just as Arnett's radio issues news of a bank embezzler who took a half-million in cash from a local bank. As the radio goes dead, everyone looks at the newcomer, who matches the description and clutches a satchel.

The "embezzler" goes upstairs to his room, followed by one of the convicts, who stabs him. Suddenly the lights go out and a voice says, "Nobody does any killin' here 'ceptin' US!" and everyone downstairs hears a scream. As the remaining convict pulls his gun on everyone, the first convict stumbles down the stairs, acting as if someone is strangling him. He dies at the foot of the stairs.

Diana and Arnett investigate upstairs, quick enough to hear the dying "embezzler" say that he's happy to die and not have to hear his wife nagging him like she has for thirty years. His satchel reveals Tahiti travel brochures, books about Gauguin, and paints.

The second convict goes upstairs to grab the loot he thinks is there, only to meet with pretty much the same fate as his friend. When the innkeeper brings tankards of hot drinks to the remaining guests, Diana notices that she doesn't have a reflection in the wall mirror and knocks the drinks out of everyone's hands. By this time convict #2 meets his fate on the stairs, and Lemuel reveals that there'd been a sleeping potion in the drinks.

The residents explain that they and the house appear during storms and kill. The more lives they take, the easier it is to appear, and soon they'll be able to do it at will. Diana grabs the innkeeper, but the innkeeper disappears. Lemuel then tries to strangle her, but Ching bops him on the head with his silver-headed cane and casts a spell of solidity.

The two ghouls try to stop everyone from leaving, but Diana gives them a dose of hard kicks and Ching sets fire to the place behind them (while chanting another magic spell) so it can never be used for evil purposes again. The house and bodies disappear with nary a trace, and Di and Ching continue on their way.

Lettercol: Sekowsky claims that Queen Hippolyta is still alive because she hasn't gotten around to meeting Hercules (though she did meet him as an ordinary Amazon soldier). Uh... I don't think so, Mike. But he adds in another explanatory comment, "Steve Trevor was dull and boring and I didn't like him much so I disposed of him." Okay, okay -- you da man, Mikey!

Note: This issue holds an ad for Teen Titans #34 with its spectacular cover by Cardy and horrendous interior story (this was the one where Donna Troy thought she was a witch). Sometimes I wonder if the TT would have stayed in their "powerless" phase longer if they'd been able to continue with Cardy as artist and if they had had a decent writer. Ah well. As it was, they were coming out of their non-powered era, slipping back to being regular capes. Most of the Big Changes across the DCU were shuffling off their uniqueness to return to plain super-herodom (although a few pockets of originality still remained). Wonder Woman's days as Diana Prince were numbered...

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WW #196Issue #196: Sept-Oct, 1971, twenty-five cents for 52 pages! This new size and price would last until issue #201. What a bargain. Whoever came up with the idea of combining new stories with reprints from the Golden Age sure deserved a raise! But this was also Mike Sekowsky's final issue as writer, penciller and editor. Let's give him a hearty salute for sharing all his creativity and new ideas about Wonder Woman with us during this most interesting of eras, shall we, and then we'll hit the stories as they come.

"Target for Today?" brought Dick Giordano back to the inks, hooray! And get this -- DIANA PRINCE MEETS RICHARD NIXON!

A dying man stumbles into Diana's boutique, and when he finds out that Ching has worked with his boss, General Stuart, he manages to say something about the Ambassador to Koronia and a planned assassination before he dies. Sure enough, when Diana checks the papers she finds that the ambassador, one Baron Anton Karoli, is due the next day at JFK and from there will go to Washington to talk with President Nixon.

Diana fights off some thugs who come looking for the dead guy. Ching relays the information to General Stuart but Diana decides to carry on her own watchdog mission to protect the ambassador. Sure enough, she foils an assassination attempt at JFK ("It's that old phony DOG AS A DIVERSION TRICK!" she thinks in imitation of Maxwell Smart) and the handsome ambassador thanks her with a ride in his limo and an invitation to dinner. She accepts, thinking, "I am doing all this for my country -- besides, he's awfully GOOD-LOOKING!" Ah, Diana, Diana, Diana -- remember you're an Amazon, not an American!

(Note: Diana gives as her address "19 South Bunker, downtown." This isn't the address of her shop and apartment. Was her apartment being redecorated or something that she was living somewhere else temporarily? That might explain why she takes a hotel room in the next scene.)

At dinner over champagne Diana foils another attempt, this time one to poison the ambassador. Diana receives a message to go to room 1114 to see a Mr. I Ching and finds not only Ching but General Stuart, who remembers Di from her days in Army Intelligence. Diana says, "But I resigned my commission in the Army," and the general tells her that she didn't read her resignation papers carefully enough and she's still in the Army Reserve. He places her back at her old rank of Lieutenant and instructs her to stick like glue to the ambassador, who has a reputation for being a ladies' man.

Anton's name changes to Anatole (a writer should never be editor, too) as Diana accompanies him to Washington. Suddenly the plane is attacked off-panel, both pilot and co-pilot badly wounded or dead and one engine left. Diana brings the plane down at Dulles International, then with Anatole steering the plane on a zig-zag course, Diana finds a device guiding three suicide cars towards them and throws it out of the plane. They leave a ball of flame and fire in their wake, and when the plane finally taxis in to stop, Anatole tells Diana that without her, he is a doomed man. She must not leave his side.

Diana Meets President NixonSo it's by his side that Diana watches Anatole meet Richard Nixon. As Anatole introduces Diana to the president, she reaches over and karate chops the ambassador. He'd been reaching for a pistol. Diana peels a rubber mask off the ambassador and says that when he bent over, the bottom of the mask had popped out. She never mentions the times he's kissed her. Surely that felt rubbery, or did she just think he was a bad kisser? Anyway, the previous assassination attempts were staged and meant to be foiled -- you could have fooled me. Injuring two pilots and damaging a plane? Come oooon. President Nixon later explains that the attempt was made in order to discredit the party in power in Koronia so that the opposition could take control of the country. Then he tells Diana all about his dirty campaign tricks and... well, maybe not.

Oh! Oh! The rest of the issue is Golden Age material. We get "Introducing... Wonder Woman" from All-Star #8 but even better is "Found -- a treasure! Searching through H.G. Peter's collection of WONDER WOMAN art we came across this original story -- NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED ANYWHERE -- written and drawn by the great man himself more than twenty years ago! Here it is, among comic-book experts, a rare collector's item..." "The Stormy Menace of Goblin Head Rock!" I doubt that H.G. Peter wrote this and assume that Marston did the honors instead. It's not a Di Prince adventure and so does't really belong in this index, but it is a Cheetah adventure and has not only Etta, the Holliday Girls and Steve, but also Mala and Queen Hippolyte and more than a little bondage atop a lighthouse.

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