ww #178
But we have to start with the issue preceeding the Diana Prince era:
#178, Sept-Oct. 1968. "Wonder Woman's Rival." Only the issue before, Wonder Woman had seemingly just gotten in synch with modern superherodom. The story had even guest-starred Supergirl. (This was one of the many times the two got together during the Silver/Bronze Age. If someone tells you that Batgirl and Supergirl were such great pals pre-Crisis, don't believe them. They only had, what, three adventures together? Less? Their so-called adventures usually concerned people in disguise as them. Supergirl and WW were the ones who really palled around more than a few times and stood together at social events, chatting.)

Diana beforeEditor Jack Miller brought in Mike Sekowsky on pencils and Dick Giordano for inks, while Denny O'Neil (at least, it sounds like his work, although there's a good chance that Sekowsky had a hand in it as well; the issue is uncredited) told the story of how Col. Steve Trevor gets put on trial for murder of one Alex Block. We see flashbacks to a party with modly-dressed attendees and one drunken Block, who puts the moves on Wonder Woman. Steve has to punch the guy to get him to keep his paws off Diana (!!!), and later we get to see Steve and Diana necking in Steve's car.

funky duds!To while the time while Diana leaves for a mission, Steve goes to a "hippie club" and meets Tina Carvan. Their conversation sounds like this:

Steve: "Mind if I--? Hey -- you look all zonked out!"

Tina: "Shot down and flamed out, dad..."

Steve: "I'm feeling kinda up-tight myself -- how about a drink and we'll loosen up together?"

Yeek! This was not the kind of dialogue we'd been used to getting! And to combine this with Steve's comments at the end of the story, we have to ask ourselves if Stevie was really the monogamous kind of guy that a Wonder Woman would want.

Anyway, the chick splits and hasn't come in to testify that she was with Steve at the time he was supposedly murdering Alex Block. When Wonder Woman is brought to the stand, her weak testimony incriminates Steve. Her portrayal here is that of a pathetic wimp.

Thus she decides that "it's as Diana Prince that I must try and save [Steve]!... I will make any sacrifice to save my love!"

When Lt. Diana Prince visits Steve, he claims that it's WW's testimony that has put him away. Steve's "best friend" Roger Seely, who could help, is in Europe, so the impetus for his vindication lies on Diana Prince's shoulders, not Wonder Woman's.

the makeoverSince she'll have to go to hippy joints, Diana gets a complete makeover, down to a new convertible. "Wow!" she says, "I-- I'm gorgeous! I should have done this ages ago!" And soon she finds herself in a different part of town for her as older hippies hit on her. "Ha!" she thinks, "The new me sure turns 'em on!" Guess she's into older guys?

As a bunch of freaky bikers bust up a peaceful party within a cemetery (?), Diana changes to Wonder Woman to drive them off -- but how awfully old-fashioned she looks! There in her boots, star-spangled girdle and long-line strapless bra, she seems more an ad for Sears underwear than a modern heroine.

Diana makes a tour of pawn shops, trying to track down the elusive witness and just when she gets a name and address, "best friend" Roger Seely comes back to town, volunteering to help. Uh oh — he's up to no good, and when Diana collects Tina, Roger pulls a gun on the two of them. "Mad, am I? Ha, ha!" he cries. Apparently he'd been embezzling from his company, Alex had found out, and he'd killed Alex and framed Steve by furnishing the innocent Tina with enough money that she could lock herself away and concentrate on painting for a few months, not knowing that that she was needed as an alibi witness.

WW beforeWonder Woman saves the day, blah blah blah, and the last three panels show WW and Stevie snuggling up on his couch.

WW: "Then you DO forgive me, Steve?"

Steve: "Of course, darling! But I can never forget what Diana Prince did for me! And she's so much more than what I thought she was -- In fact, I think I'll ask her out one of these days [OUCH!] and really get to know her." (He's got a snarky glint in his eye as he says this in front of his girlfriend, the louse.)

WW (thinks): "Why this is silly... I can't be jealous of myself -- CAN I? If he can fall for Diana like this he can fall for any woman! And I'll lose him forever if I don't do SOMETHING to keep him interested in ME! Wonder Woman must change..."

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WW #179
Okay, this is it. Issue #179: Nov-Dec. 1968. "Wonder Woman's Last Battle!" Yes! We have credits: Writer is Dennis O'Neil, "continuity" and pencils are Mike Sekowsky and inks are Dick Giordano. What the heck is continuity? Sekowsky would take full credit for offing Stevie boy in the next issue -- does this mean he came up with the basic plot? At any rate, editor Jack Miller makes an announcement in the lettercol:

In one sense, Wonder Woman will never change. The basic qualities that have endeared her, over the years, to millions of loyal readers -- her never-ending quest for justice, her fierce loyalties to her ideals and to those she loves -- these cannot change. But the world we live in HAS changed, and after much soul-searching, the Amazing Amazon has resolved to become a closer part of it. A large percentage of the letters that have come reflects a desire on the part of her many fans for a NEW Wonder Woman, a sampling of which appears below. We feel strongly that any change will not lessen the loyalty of old fans; just as strongly do we feel that the new Wonder Woman will attract many new friends.

The story begins with a general telling Steve that in order for him to undertake his next mission and contact a certain criminal organization, he must establish himself as a traitor. Steve dramatically does so, fighting his way out of the building, MP's firing at his exit.

As Diana strolls through lower Manhattan she hears the news reports of Steve's disappearance. The papers are calling him a spy. Just when she starts to change to Wonder Woman, she receives a telepathic summons from her mother to report to Paradise Island.

This is where you've got to look ahead to figure out what's really going on. In a few months, the Amazons will be involved in a full-fledged war against Ares as he invades another dimension. Now they come up with the lame excuse that, as Hippy says, "Our time on Earth grows short! For ten thousand years, we have lived here, performing the mission assigned to us... helping mankind find maturity! But now, our magic is exhausted! We must journey to another dimension, to rest and renew our powers! We are tired, Diana... The ages weigh heavily upon us! Will you come—?"

Surely Diana should have caught all the hints in her mother's speech that something wasn't quite right here. Tired? Renew their magical powers? With all the previous references to Amazon Training being the primary source of the Amazons' prowess and vigor? You wanna run that by me again?

Obviously Hippolyta thought she was being watched by Ares and couldn't give the full story to Diana that the Amazons needed to move to this other dimension so they could stop Ares. Possibly she told Donna the truth when she stranded her on Earth -- with her powers (granted, they came from the Purple Ray) intact. But Diana claims that Steve needs her so she must stay.

giving up her powers "Gaze now upon a ceremony never before seen on this planet.. the awesome Amazon rite of renunciation!" the narration tells us, while Diana declares, "I hereby relinquish all mystic skills! I lay upon the sacred altar the glories of the Amazons and willingly condemn myself to the travails of mortals! May the gods be merciful to me!"

From the Invisible Plane, Diana watches Paradise disappear to another dimension. The plane follows as soon as she's back in New York.

And so the fun begins.

"Stalking the pavements of New York's teeming lower East Side," Diana muses to herself: "For the first time in my life I'm faced with PRACTICAL problems— like finding a place to live, and earning money for food." She decides to rent a place that has retail space below it and open a shop. But from its back window, she sees a small, blind Asian man being attacked by three hoodlums. He dispatches them and introduces himself. He knows who she is and who she was.

"The lines of our fates converge! For the enemies of Steven Trevor are also MY enemies — and the enemies of mankind!... Hear the evil of him who is called Doctor Cyber! Then you will comprehend why he must be destroyed!"

Ching gives his origin: that he is a monk, the last surviving member of an ancient sect that kept ancient knowledge of magic and science alive. Doctor Cyber wanted the monks' hidden wealth and sent agents (all men -- how odd for Cyber!) to massacre the monks. "If Doctor Cyber's plans of conquest are realized... men and women will be reduced to living automatons — slaves to do his bidding!" Ching declares. How interesting that he describes Cyber at this point in her life as "A monstrosity! A creature — half man, half machine..." We're getting a little ahead of ourselves, aren't we, Ching? Perhaps he saw into the future. If so, he certainly got the sex wrong.

Ah, but he proceeds to teach Diana martial arts, "Abilities to replace your lost Amazon traits! Your Amazon Training makes you uniquely suited to my teaching!"

And weeks pass. Diana becomes a martial arts expert even as she carries on an underworld search for Steve. But it's Steve who finds her, stumbling into her home gym, shot. He gives her information that Cyber's putting bombs in toys to send them to Congressmen's kids. Thus, after an ambulance takes Steve away, Diana and Ching have to battle their way through murderous toys and Cyberthugs, but Cyber herself -- I mean, himself -- whatever -- gets away.

kung-fu costumeAt the end of the story, Steve's in the hospital in a coma with the threat of brain damage hanging over him. A shadowy figure lurks outside to tail Diana and Ching home.

Exciting, action-packed, a couple of good jokes here and there (visually and verbally), and a complete turnabout for Wonder Woman — what more could you ask for?

You know me — I hated Steve Trevor. Oh boy oh boy, next issue was coming up...

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WW #180180: Jan-Feb 1969. "A Death for Diana!"

As Diana pauses outside her new shop, "Di Prince's Boutique," their mysterious stalker shoots, and Diana disarms him. "Ya dumb chick— I wasn't gunnin' for you! I was tryin' to SAVE you -- from Cyber's sweeties!" he says, and a weird 3-woman vehicle crashes out of Diana's shop (hope you got your insurance by now), guns blazing. The fast-talking stalker, Tim Trench (a private eye out of St. Louis— do people talk like that there?), and his gun, Lulu, drive the attackers off, but Ching is winged. As they see to Ching's wounds, Tim explains that Cyber's goons offed his partner, so now he's after revenge.

great costume!Ah, but we see a shadow that is Cyber now, as from an extensive undersea fortress where she/he monitors the actions within Diana's apartments, she/he orders Diana's death to discourage the others.

Over the course of who-knows-how-long, Ching continues Diana's training, instructing her in mental conditioning as well as physical. But upon receiving a phony call from the hospital claiming that Steve's awakened and has been asking for her, Diana grabs a cab— only to find out it's a setup and that Cyber's man— or rather, woman (from now on, 99% of Cyber's henchpeople are female)— is the taxi driver. The locked taxi plunges into the river with Diana inside.

Tim and Ching have to fight their way through more Cyberthugs, while Diana barely escapes a watery grave.

Diana answers another false telephone call, but this time they're pretty sure it's a trap. The three pile into Diana's car and travel to a remote mansion, where they find...

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