Wonder Woman #156 was, of course, the first of the disastrous "Return to the Golden Age" issues. I don't know about others, but these stopped me from reading WW for quite some time. Even a third-grader knows when they're being talked down to.

WW #158Wonder Woman #158: Nov., 1965. 8 pp. In this same issue that brought the second appearance of Egg-Fu, the worst villain in the history of WW, and that printed an ad for Showcase, DC's official tryout magazine, featuring the Teen Titans by (sigh!) Nick Cardy, we got "The End -- or the Beginning!" as a final story in the issue.

Fans picket the DC offices demanding the return of Wonder Woman's Golden Age and claiming that any other depiction of WW is the equivalent of murdering her. The fans talk about the editor of the magazine: "I read that he spends NOT less than TWENTY minutes bawling out EVERY fan coming to his office!" "If he really did that -- how can he have the time to edit eight magazines! Annuals! And specials?" Meanwhile, the unnamed Kanigher, who always has his back to the "camera," has called the Wonder Family and friends, including the Glop, into his office.

But WW is on her way to the meeting, too. She encounters an Amazon fleet of swan ships who open fire on her. She fends them off with bullets and bracelets and the rebounds uncover the Duke of Deception's fleet disguised as the Amazons. He'd heard that Kanigher was making changes and might do away with him, so he wanted his last act to be the destruction of Paradise Island. Diana instructs him to go back to Mars and reform.

Back on Paradise, the Amazons wonder at what Kanigher will do to them. Diana leaves them and heads for New York, where she saves a flaming plane only to be hit by gunfire. It's Angle Man, who had arranged the fake crash so he could capture WW and use her to bargain with Kanigher. "What's his angle?" Angle Man demands to know. "What's his angle?"

the end of the Wonder Family?Finally back at Kanigher's office, as Ross Andru and Mike Esposito bow to Kanigher and call him "Master," Kanigher boasts of his many accomplishments and then takes photographs of the various Wonder Family members and friends -- Wonder Girl's is on top -- and tosses them into a desk drawer, announcing that he's retiring them as of right now. Only Hippolyta and Steve are left as Diana enters.

Now, claiming that he's giving in to fans' demands, Kanigher brings the three out onto a balcony to show them off. Hippolyta is now a brunette and wears a tiara and not the "ice cream cone" [nomenclature per Mart of the DC WW boards] statue-of-liberty crown that she had before. Diana now wears boots instead of her sandals (actually, she'd switched over the previous issue), and Kanigher announces that this is the start of the return to the Golden Age.

Pfeh.

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beginning issues of Teen Titans

Wonder Girl stayed alive and well -- though her origin became more and more convoluted through the years -- in Teen Titans. The Brave & the Bold was a comic in which various heroes who would not otherwise team up were granted teamup stories. One issue, #54 (June-July '64) gathered three sidekicks: Robin, Aqualad and Kid Flash, and is often incorrectly cited as the first appearance of the Teen Titans although at no place in the book do the boys consider themselves an organized group nor are the words "Teen Titans" spoken or used.

In B&B #60 (June-July 1965), Robin tells Batman, "TEEN TITANS is a group of junior crime-fighters I set up, after KID FLASH, AQUALAD and I helped the teenagers of HATTON CORNERS!" (which had been the setting for B&B 54) So Robin sends out a call to his brand new team (making this the official first appearance of the TT): Kid Flash, Aqualad... and Wonder Girl!

In case you can't read the dialogue on the illo above, Hippolyta calls to her departing middle daughter: "Be careful, WONDER GIRL -- despite your Amazon powers -- you're just a girl amongst male super-heroes!" And WG replies, "Oh, Mother, stop babying me! I can do anything any boy can do -- and better! Goodbye, WONDER WOMAN!"

Since then, some form of the Titans has been pretty much continuously published, and for most issues WG has been a member of the team, though her powers, costume, intelligence and skill level have oscillated greatly from era to era. Currently she'd probably be picked as the Nicest Person in the DC Universe. She's the one people come to in order to talk out their problems. Wonder Girl -- I mean, Donna Troy, since there's another Wonder Girl now -- is a great fan favorite, but DC rarely uses her, much less uses her to her potential.

Please note (I just did!) that in B&B #60, WG's first outside-of-Wonder Woman appearance, artist Bruno Premiani (who also did the art on the incomparable Doom Patrol!) pictured WG in SHORTS for two panels before letting her revert to briefs. Also note: the Puberty Fairy has met WG at last. For the first time she exhibits noticeable breasts. By the time Showcase #59 (Nov.-Dec. 1965), a title that (duh) showcased new concepts for possible new series, rolled around, Nick Cardy began a long art run on the Titans. Cardy is famed for his voluptuous depictions of females, and WG blossomed under his care.

Wonder Tot was forgotten except for one final panel in a Keith Giffen Ambush Bug comic decades later which quite cynically belittled her. Hippolyta became a blonde again once the unhappy "neo-Golden Age" was done away with, and eventually Diana and Wonder Girl acknowledged each other in person as sisters. But then came Crisis and then they weren't sisters any more, and then came He Whose Name Must Not Be Invoked who made Wonder Girl a mirror replicant of Diana who was then sucked through a thousand miserable lifetimes in order to make her a truly separate entity, and then Hippolyta adopted her but she didn't really, just enough to satisfy some fans, and...

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Poor Wonder Girl. Poor Wonder Tot. Kanigher's tossing their pictures into that drawer was such a horrid way to end a series that, for the most part, was good-natured fluff. Contrast the atmosphere of these stories to that of contemporary Superman stories. In WW we were concerned with healthy, loving family ties and kind of skewy but trusting romantic relationships. In Superman there were no family ties. He even turned his own cousin away when she arrived on Earth, a child stranger in a strange land. He constantly tricked his lovers and they tricked him back. I'd much rather read about Mer-whoever and Bird-whichever arguing between them about who got to take Wonder Whoever out than see Superman give Lois Lane another lesson "for her own good" and watch Lois sink to the occasion.

The Wonder Family were indeed quite the ladies though with a tomboyish side. They NEVER threw punches, they NEVER went up directly against a villain. (Strangely enough, though, there were many times when they'd leave a villain to drown or fall to their deaths unremembered behind them as they rescued one boyfriend or another.) The Wonders faced down society to the point that society was willing to be faced down. They were never, ever butch and thus fulfilled what DC needed of a female hero.

Though Kanigher's stories often seemed as if he used a dartboard to plot ("First she faces... a giant swordfish! Then... a giant brontosaurus! Then..." Over and over, the same kinds of menaces.) and he utilized strict Writing Formulas, usually consisting of three parallel plots within the larger plot, these stories fell within Acceptable Comic Book Limits. Plus they gave us those fascinating triptych panels which Kanigher used in all his books. And Kanigher's dialogue! They taught this budding writer the importance of naturalism!

Of course the visuals were also a big draw. Not only were Andru and Esposito a fine choice for artists -- they portrayed a graceful female figure that didn't stretch the bounds of sexism, unlike most other comics -- but the comic stories themselves depicted a wide variety of shirtless men for young girls to consider. Even humanoid monsters had human-male chests. Of ALL the male characters populating the various dimensional biospheres around Paradise Island, only mainland villains, Steve Trevor, and Prince Theo wore shirts (or armor). And look -- Mer-boy and Bird-Boy didn't even wear pants!

Yep, it was a fine and wholesome time for the Wonders. But just remember: they weren't Impossible Tales (except for a few of the really rotten stories)! So we can take with us a longer history for the Silver Age or pre-Crisis Wonder Girl -- whatever you want to call her -- Donna Troy, and give her years more adventures than TPTB at DC would like us to remember.


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