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This week’s column will be brief, but hopefully of interest to fans of Wonder Woman, Earth-2 and those small quirks in DC publishing, as I take a look at Wonder Woman’s Bronze Age adventures in World War Two:
It goes without saying that Wonder Woman has a rather unique history. When most people talk about Wonder Woman lunacy in the 60s and 70s, they usually bring up the Wonder Tot Era, the Diana Prince Era or even the 12 Trials of Wonder Woman Era. Those have been written about in depth, so I won’t try to cover that ground. What some of you may not realize is that there is another short-lived ‘era’ of sorts.
In November of 1975, ABC debuted the New Original Wonder Woman television series. For one reason or another, the series initially took place during the World War Two era. At the end of 1976, in what was perhaps in a an attempt to mimic the success of the television program, an editorial decision was made at DC to focus on the Earth-Two Wonder Woman during the World War Two era. This stretch of issues started with Wonder Woman #228 (February, 1977) and ended with Wonder Woman #243 (May, 1978). This is a rather fun year and a half in the Amazon’s life as she encounters the likes of the Red Panzer, the Angle Man, Captain Strang and the Cheetah. She even meets her Earth-One counterpart in a nutty crossover that signals the return to the present day. This 180 degree shift was likely due to the fact that the TV series shifted to the present day when CBS took it over from ABC for the 2nd season.
What some of you may not know is that Wonder Woman was riding a wave of popularity, and was also featured in the pages of the Dollar Comics version of World’s Finest, beginning with World’s Finest #244 (April-May, 1977). The 15 page stories were also set in World War Two and were mostly written by Gerry Conway and were penciled by the likes of Jose Delbo, Don Heck and Mike Vosburg. My favourite of these stories was drawn by the underappreciated James Sherman. It features a sequence in which Wonder Woman plays possum in order to enter a Nazi fortress. It is a fine piece of storytelling. There are more great stories in here with appearances by Mlle. Marie as well as Easy Company. The WW2 setting lasted until World’s Finest #250 (April-May 1978), with a couple of more contemporary stories to follow before Wonder Woman was replaced by Shazam! and the whole Marvel Family. Wonder Woman would move over to Adventure Comics for a short stint, but all of those were set in the present day.
That is not all, folks, as those of you planning on putting together a complete run of Wonder Woman’s WW2 adventures in the 70s need to track down a copy of DC Special Series #9 – Wonder Woman Spectacular. Mike’s Amazing World of DC Comics tells me that this one hit newsstands in December or 1977. This book needs to be a giant just to fit in all of the credits as Jack C. Harris’ script was penciled by no fewer than four artists: Russ Heath, Steve Ditko, Jose Delbo and Dick Ayers. Some consistency, for better or for worse, was achieved by having Vinnie Colletta inked the whole thing. This is a crazy, yet enjoyable, story with Ditko drawing a ‘War of the Gods’ sequence and a couple of pages that make me think that Harris had somehow managed to see the movie Salo. Everyone needs this issue, if only for the panel in which Ditko draws Wonder Woman and Hitler chess pieces.
I can’t say for sure that these were all of the World War Two based appearances of Wonder Woman during 1977 and 1978, as Earth-Two Wonder Woman showed up in JLA/JSA crossovers as well as in All-Star Comics and the JSA strip in Adventure Comics.
Where was Earth-One Wonder Woman during this period? Well, as far as DC continuity goes, she continued her Justice League of America appearances and even showed up in Brave and the Bold #140 (March-April, 1978).
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