The Best and Worst of Wonder Woman


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Best Late Use of the Heart of WW:
RetroActive 1990s


comic cover(October 2011)

During the final month of the awful "Odyssey" storyline and right before DC would stage its "Nottaboot" (I guess they'll call it "post-Flashpoint," as if Flashpoint were a fabulous storyline worth taking note of), DC published RetroActive books for several titles. Wonder Woman got three: one set in the 70s, one in the 80s, and one in the 90s.

These books were supposed to have the look and feel of their eras, and DC tried to get the same staff that had been available to do these new issues. You'll see what I thought of the 70s issue on the next page.

But for the 90s era, they got William Messner-Loebs, whose exciting era on the book has always been overlooked by the majority of fans, probably because the art was so awful during most of it.

Here WML has Lee Moder (not high on my list of favorites, but doing a creditable job) and Dan Green on the art. Together they put together a story that recalled the very heart of Wonder Woman and her mythos: that of positivity. Joy. Empowerment.

The plot is that Etta(she has red hair again!)'s sister(sister?)'s daughters (daughters?) belong in an informal girls' club. The girls, who look to be in their early teens or pre-teens, like to sit around reading glamor magazines, having tea parties, and playing with Barbies.

Diana is left to care for the girls by herself. At first stymied by the job, she decides that what the girls are doing is boring, and for the next three weeks treats them a lot like she herself was treated as a child on Paradise Island. There are exhausting runs and hikes, diving and javelin-throwing.

At first unenthusiastic (an understatement!), the girls get into the swing of things. Then Etta confronts Diana:

Etta asks Diana if she's not bullying the girls a little. Diana is shocked; it is possibly true.

So Diana tries to ease off a bit. How hilarious is this?

I'm repeating this in the text.Can you read this? As Diana plays with the Ken & Barbie, she play acts Ken: "I, Ken, am home from the masculine world of work. Wife, feed me while I ogle your bulbous femininity. Display for me your subservience, for I am the man!"

Okay, I have a bit of a problem with this in that Diana's plan for the girls ONLY involves male-approved activities: physical training with a mention of scientific work. She turns up her nose at the girls' socialization efforts as if those were a bad thing when they display perfectly legitimate if female-oriented mindsets.

There's everything right about playing house, about visualizing a future in which one has a mature relationship that establishes a family. But we're shown that's wrong. Why? Women don't have to be men to be successful at life.

Okay, put that aside and look at the story. It's funny. Diana has a great sense of humor! She does funny things! She's put in her place and tries to correct herself. She's empowering these girls so they grow up to be more than they would have. And in the end she pulls off a fabulous rescue from the jaws of defeat.

If that ain't the very definition of Wondie, what is?



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