Return to the Golden Age

"Surprise! Yes, fans! Now you know why this issue of Wonder Woman will be a collector's item! The writers and artists have astoundingly imitated the exact kind of story, dialogue and art styles of the Golden Age of Comics! The quaint hairdos, clothes, poses have been recreated in the most daring experiment of all times! You have been taken back in time to place a prize edition in your hands!"

WW #158Alluding to fan pressures, editor Kanigher wrote a framing sequence in which WW went to a comics store to read an old issue about herself, then found herself taking part in the adventure. An end framing sequence brought her out of the story, but a few issues later Kanigher took her back to the Golden Age permanently. In a story in which he himself appears along with artists Andru and Esposito, Kanigher symbolically threw pictures of the Wonder Family and their friends into a drawer and called the whole thing quits.

(Worth noting, of course, is that five months before, Brave and Bold #60, introducing a new hero group called the Teen Titans -- including Wonder Girl -- had been released and heralded the premiere of Teen Titans #1, which appeared quite some time after Kanigher was shown tossing Wonder Girl's photo away.)

Now Hippolyta was once again a brunette, and stories centered around adventures in Man's World. Etta Candy returned along with the Holliday Girls in stories that had most of the hallmarks but none of the substance of the Golden Age WW. Effort was made to put the characters in strange, unnatural poses and try to ink hashmarks on their cheeks, and attempt to simulate Peter's art. But as Kanigher himself said in issue #166, "Trying to copy Mr. Peter's style was a wistful experiment. I pass," and added that issue #165 was the last issue to have pseudo-Golden Age artwork.

The series was a lame Golden Age rip-off, and went so far as to resurrect the villainous Paula von Gunter [sic] and to show people wearing '40s dress and driving '40s cars. The "men are evil; women are good" philosophy was mercifully missing, but so was World War II and the '40s' Wonder Woman's attitude of faith in oneself and the basic goodness of humanity.

There were numerous scenes of Wonder Woman and Steve professing their love for each other and kissing, but WW acted as if it were she who had to apologize for her powers and his lack of same.

Batman was on the TV by this time, and new comics readers wanted heroes in modern settings. After Kanigher admitted his mistake in revitalizing the Golden Age, the series melted almost imperceptably into another era in which the only differentiations from the previous one were that Hippolyta was blonde again, the little hashmarks on the cheeks were discarded, Wonder Woman was back in the modern era, and Kanigher himself said that the new era started with issue #165. An ordinary reader could not have noticed the difference.

These new stories implied that the other Amazons were as strong as Wonder Woman, but Diana invariably not only beat them in contests but outdistanced them by miles. Perhaps this era can best be characterized as schizoid. WW was shown as a courageous super-hero, but she also jumped up on a chair if there were a mouse in the room. She began to fall for any powerful man that passed her way and she continued to apologize to Steve for her powers. But she was becoming more a part of the DC universe, from which she'd been cut off in her own magazine. Now there were references to Flash, Superman, and Batgirl.

Wonder Woman's powers were shown to be not based in nature, for villains would invent scientific ways to take them away. There was a Weisingerish story in which WW revealed that, on June 18th of each year, she lost her powers for 24 hours. Readers got the impression that women didn't have the gumption to train for years and must instead have powers granted magically in order to become super-heroines.

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