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I Love Ya But You’re Strange #3

This is the third in a series (of indefinite length and regularity) of pieces looking at instances in comic book history where somewhat strange occurrences took place. The slightly odd stuff like, say, Luke Cage telling Doctor Doom “Where’s my money, honey” after Doctor Doom stiffs him on a gig. Stuff that is not BAD, per se, but it’s still odd, hence “I love ya, but you’re strange.” Check out past strange yet loved installments here.

Today, we look at the second-ever “Impossible Tale” in the pages of 1962’s Wonder Woman #129, where Wonder Woman teams up with her toddler self, her teenaged self and her mother, Hippolyta!

An issue that contains this exact scene that was shown on the cover of the issue…

The first “Impossible Team-Up” with Wonder Woman, Wonder Girl, Wonder Tot and Hippolyta occurred in Wonder Woman #124, through one of the most mind-blowingly insane ideas for a concept ever. You see, Wonder WOman and Hippolyta are fretting that such a thing can’t be done, until they come up with the idea of pulling a Forrest Gump decades before Forrest Gump came out. Hippolyta takes footage from the past and splices them together with current footage of Wonder Woman and then uses a special machine to merge the film into a real life story!!

That came out in the middle of 1961, and in early 1962, it was popular enough that writer/editor Robert Kanigher and art team Ross Andru and Mike Esposito decided to try it again…

Yep, they did it again!

You have to love Wonder Girl’s random fat joke.

Anyhow, Multiple Man is a guy who, every time he is seemingly destroyed, takes on a new form!

Sound familiar?

It should, because just two years earlier, Multi-Man debuted in the pages of the Challengers of the Unknown…

and that’s basically his deal, too (and obviously the names are similar, too). France Herron invented Multi-Man. I find it hard to believe that Kanigher would swipe the idea from Herron, but it’s weird either way.

In any event, Wonder Tot has an inspired idea on how to stop the Multiple Man…

Someone should use that idea in X-Factor!

Later, the Wonder team teams up with the Mer-people (recurring characters in the book at the time), who happen to have a Mer-guy to correspond to each of the Wonder ladies!

Later, Wonder Tot and Mer-Mite discover Multiple Man’s whereabouts…

Things look safe except that the Multiple Man has taken on the form of a volcano!!!

We finally get to the scene on the cover…

You have to love that ending.

The BEST part about it was that almost two years later, in the pages of Wonder Woman #144, Kanigher and Andru/Esposito gave us a story starring Wonder Girl which ends with, well, see for yourself…

Wonder Woman readers have a short memory, I guess!

24 Comments

How the heck is Mer-Boy going to “cut a rug” with a fish tail?

Can you say “Seashell Soda Shop” ten times really fast? C’mon, kids, try it!

Honestly, for me the weirdest thing in the entire story is how Wonder Woman and Hippolyta greet each other in Spanish. (Well, I guess “Spanglish” is a more accurate description.) Unless I’ve missed something big, I didn’t realize the Amazons spoke Spanish, Greek is pretty far removed from Spanish, and “Prince” doesn’t sound like an Hispanic name, either. If there were anything before or after it, it would make more sense, but it seems totally random the way it’s thrown in there for just one panel.

And, yeah, the fat joke is awesome in its badness. How could a girl raised among Amazons (whom I’d assume were all in great physical shape since they’re warriors and all) even know what a diet is?

I love Wonder Tot so much. I want her to have her own all-ages series.

And Mer-Mite? That’s just gold.

The Ross Andru and Mike Esposito art is pretty amazing, although the story-telling is a little dicey in parts. Am I correct in assuming that they were working from a full script by Robert Kanigher? If so, then the advantages of the Marvel method are a little clearer. Kirby, Ditko or any of the Marvel bullpen would have smoothed out the panel-to-panel transitions prior to Stan Lee scripting. That would have allowed things to move fast while telling a more coherent story.

Still, it is great fun. I love the Diana-Hippolyta relationship.

why do I love comics? two words: wonder tot

(actually, it should be “robert kanigher” – what that guy could think up… gi robot? rex the wonder dog?)

Doesn’t it seem kinda creepy that every stage of Wonder Woman’s life is catalogued on video? Also, what would compel someone to buy a magical video-splicing machine which makes everything on video to come to life? I mean, what situation other than this could you use it for?

Wonder Tot really is a great character- she talks just like my 2-year-old brother!

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 6, 2010 at 6:11 pm

If I had to guess, the Multi-Man plot was recycled on the suggestion of Jack Schiff, who edited Challengers of the Unknown when Herron wrote his story and wrote a number of PSA strips for the Wonder Woman title’s filler pages around the same time. Kanigher was the Wonder Woman writer and editor at the time, of course, but that wouldn’t preclude his taking a suggestion from Schiff if he so desired.

To answer Dean: As I understand it, DC editors of the time period in question would often suggest or outright commission a plot from a writer, who would then do it up in a full script. DC generally treated its artists as less important than its writers; and of course, bizarre credits clauses in various contracts meant that “Bob Kane” and “Charles Moulton” got credit on Batman and Wonder Woman long after they’d stopped writing and/or pencilling those books. Kirby had to write AND draw the Challengers strips to keep the sort of creative control he preferred.

This all started loosening up by the later 1960s, though, when guys like Bob Haney, Carmine Infantino, and Denny O’Neil started to get proper credits for their work. Julius Schwartz was always ahead of the curve at DC in terms of crediting artists and writers; and guess who was editing the “New Look” Batman and got the credits policies changed there? By the early 1970s, editorial at DC was no longer dictating stories.

And then the 1980s and 1990s came along, with various editorially-mandated crossovers….

I want to see Paradise Island’s Wonder Woman clubhouse and vast film library make an appearance in current WW continuity.

@Johnny Bacardi; It’s obviously an underwater rug, possibly woven from seaweed.

The meta-fictionality of it ruins it for me- OR it would if I treated them seriously, but these WW stories were obviously done for kids with little attention to realism, same as with most Silver Age Superman stories (and they were fun too!) Wonder Tot is cute, and I like the Pre-Crisis Hyppolita better than the current one (how many people remember she was supposed to be blond?) Of course, Marvel’s Hyppolita IS blond, and, err, evil. Makes you wonder what a crossover/amalgam of the two would be like…

I’m surprised no one has mentioned so far how it was this kind of story that led to the incidental creation of Donna Troy who IS canonical (apparently due to the creator of Teen Titans not realizing that she was not supposed to “really exist”!) Now THAT makes it more worthy of a “ILYBYS” column!

I just want to say, I love the Bob Dylan reference in the title. Great song!

I can’t believe they actually published this stuff! The weirdest of the post-Code/pre-“New Look” Batman stories are better then this.

Sijo (and everybody else),
More details about how Wonder Girl ended up with the Teen Titans can be found in this entry of “Comic Book Legends Revealed”:
http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2005/06/16/comic-book-urban-legends-revealed-3/
And this interesting follow-up:
http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2010/07/01/comic-book-legends-revealed-267/

Loving these crazy stories!!! The Silver-Age really couldnt care less about continuity if it got in the way of a good story and it shows. Read these issues in Showcase WW and they are so unintentionalyy funny Mer-boy or steve? Well would I prefer a gut with flippers or a guy whose behavior towards Di would these days constitute some form of sexual harrassment…choices, choices. Hippolyta should busy hergoodself with getting those ice-cream cones out of her hair rather that spend immortality splicing together film of Di at various chapters in her life. Rollicking good fun all the same!

Matter-Pooper Lad

July 10, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Silver Age DC — a place where even the worst garbage they published still somehow seems charming!

Sijo,
It’s hard to say that Hippolyta is “supposed’ to be blonde when the golden-age Earth-2 iteration of the character had black hair, a quality George Perez restored in the 1986 modern-age reboot.

As far as Wondy and Hippolyta speaking Spanish, yes, they do. Reading some of the Showcase collections from the time, it seems that on Paradise Island, the Amazons study and know all languages. Including “caveman”, which is not only an actual language, but is spoken by cavemen that Wonder Woman meets even on other planets.

Peter Chewningf

July 10, 2010 at 9:15 pm

And I thought Brannon Bragga wasa writer of Stupid as hell ideas.

@Quislet: I am aware of that. However -and I could be wrong about this- it seems to me that Hyppolita got MUCH more exposure in the Silver than in the Golden Age. Besides, giving her the same hair as Diana makes her look like a cheap copy of her own daughter. (The fact they *actually* turned her into the Golden Age Wonder Woman doesn’t help.) Plus Blond Polly was wiser (!)

I want some wonder-tot myself.
Stories, I meant, wonder-tot stories!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: What was so nice about DC’s Silver Age was that in order to write a book about teenagers or women, you had to demonstrate that you hated teenagers and women. Kanigher makes Mel Gibson and Dave Sim look like Gloria Steinem.
Trying to follow the twisted logic of this story would make any rational person’s head explode. First, who’s delivering mail to Paradise Island? Wasn’t it “hidden” even back then?
How did the members of the “fan club” know about the last “impossible story”? How would they know about this one? (Although WW is talking directly to the readers in the last panel so, take *that* She-Hulk-Come-Lately and John Byrne 25 years later…) Even if those letters got to the island and were sent by people who couldn’t possibly have known there was an “impossible story” to tell, why is WW obligated to follow up on it? (“And I guess we’ll have to do it again.” Really? Have to? Uh…. why?)
Then, as near as I can tell from these pages reprinted here, the Amazon’s use their version of Professor Farnsworth’s What If machine but somehow, the image they created… comes to life (I guess…) because next thing we know, it’s tackling some mission in the real world (I guess… again.)
Meanwhile, the story involves a Wonder Tot and a Wonder Girl. Call me a continuity geek but didn’t Princess Diana become Wonder Woman after winning a tournament, in disguise, yadda, yadda, yadda. How could there have been a Wonder Anything in her past? How could the stupid domino mask hidden her identity (In a closed society with limited numbers, but let’s stay on topic) if everyone on the island knew she was Wonder Tot and Wonder Girl growing up?
But of course the action makes sense. For instance, Multiple Man has “appeared again in hurricane form” so it only makes sense that as a hurricane, something the relative size of an ant could tickle him and make him release the plane…
(BTW, has anyone pointed out the modern version of the Bird Boy/Merboy story that ran, IIRC, in DC’s Silver Age fifth-week event. I seem to recall it was by Mark Waid and Ty Templeton.)

Pack, Kanigher did something similar in a Metal Men story where they respond to complaints from fans about fighting too many evil robots by trying to find a non-orbot enemy.
Diana’s origin was retconned by this point so that like Superman, she had her powers from birth, as a gift from the gods.
Reading this explains why some comics histories refer to the Impossible stories as just “made up” (within the WW continuity) by splicing film together. It’s a decidedly odd concept.

Fraser,
As rare as this is for a know-it-all old blowhard comic book fan like me to admit, I was probably a little too harsh in what I had written. I stand by Kanigher being a misogynist but as for the other stuff … Well, it was a different time.
Hey, I love classic Bugs Bunny cartoons and they deal in perfectly illogical logic and no continuity in every short. Yeah, this stuff was dumb and illogical but are today’s brutal, rigid, humorless comics any better? I don’t want to look back with rose-colored glasses but a few fun “decidedly odd concepts” would beat anything Marvel has done with Spider-Man, for instance, in the last 10 years.

Still, much of what I said *was* actually meant to be tongue-in-cheek. I like to hope I’m like an MST3K fan, able to rip on dumb movies while still having a soft spot for them. Plus, hey, you’re not going to win any points with me if you don’t recognize the great work that Ross Andru was doing in these books.

I honestly can’t tell if the bulk of the story is actually happening because the images have come to life somehow, or if it’s all spliced footage of three fights against the Multiple Man. Both interpretations make just as much sense (i.e. none.)

Are Mer-Man, Mer-Boy and Mer-Mite supposed to be the same guy at different ages, same as Diana? Or is Wonder Girl’s Mer-Boy grown up, but with two younger relatives or something? The DC Database Wiki doesn’t say anything about this, except that *a* Mer-Boy grew up to be Mer-Man (it doesn’t mention Mer-Mite at all).

Joke only UK residents will get: Mer-Mite: you either love him or hate him.

Yes, all the Mer’s are supposed to be the same one. But Mer-Mite was new to me before this.

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