web stats

CSBG Archive

Scott’s Classic Comics Corner: Wonder Woman’s World War Two Adventures in the 70s

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).

For more comic book talk and assorted nonsense, stop by my blog: Seduction of the Indifferent

17 Comments

This was also around the time of the Superman vs. Wonder Woman Treasury Edition, right? That also took place on Earth-2 during WWII (although Supes had his present-day Earth-1 shield).

Incredible Garcia-Lopez art in that giant-sized beauty,

You’re absolutely right. I forgot about that one.

I’ve got quite a few Treasuries, but I have never read that particular issue so it didn’t spring to mind.

That one was on shelves in October of 1977 – so it is in this middle of this time period.

I’d love a TPB of Wonder Woman during this era – so really fun stories.

Yeah, a TPB of this stuff would be great (especially if it included the Superman/WW treasury edition, as I was never able to find a copy of it and I’ve always wanted to read it).

It’s no wonder the Nazis failed to invade Britain and lost the war if that was their standard of cartography.

I had no idea this ever happened. I’m a big Earth-2 fan, so I’d like to read this stuff. Thanks, Scott!

Scott:

I don’t think I’ve read any of these. Heading over the Seattle for the first Jet City Comic Show so I might just have to add these to the want list!

Cheers,
Andrew
ComicsBronzeAge.com

There’s the obvious connection to the TV show, but DC in general seemed to put a fair amount of focus on Earth-2 in the 1970s. That was, after all, the era that introduced us to the likes of Power Girl and Huntress, and I think that’s when the “Mr. and Mrs. Superman” stories started in Superman Family.
There was also the introduction of Steel (later Commander Steel), who eventually made his way into All-Star Squadron.
Hmm…between All-Star Squadron and Infinity Inc. (plus the Huntress back-up feature in WW), I guess the early 80s had a strong focus on Earth-2 as well, so maybe my point, if I had one, is invalid.
I remember sometime in the early 80s I picked up one of those 49-cent bags of “damaged” comics that had a WW issue from this period, and I was kind of baffled as to why the focus was on the Earth-2 WW. I’d immediately recognized it as such, since (a young) Jay Garrick guest-starred in it.

I had the Cheetah issue when I was young. I didn’t realise it was Earth-2, but then, I’d never heard of Earth-2 at that time.

Those James Sherman pages are great. His style reminds me of Barry Kitson.

Superman vs. Wonder Woman (DC All-New Collectors’ Edition C54 – 1977)

http://www.treasurycomics.com/gallery/galleryDClce7679.htm#C54

I’ve been thinking that this was Earth-1 WW and Earth-2 Superman because I recall a scene in which a man is confused because he hear Diana on the radio and she responded that it had been taped – then corrected herself to say that it had been transcribed. Was that in here or was it in the E1/E2 Wonder Woman exchange in the regular series? I seem to recall it being an oversize special…

That DC Special Series #9 is really an enjoyable comic Scott. The Ditko portion is completely inexplicable. I can see the choice of Heath, Ayers and even Delbo as they all have some war comics pedigree. But Ditko is such a left field choice for Wonder Woman. And it is some wonderfully eccentric stuff!

This was all new to me too and I enjoyed your spotlight on this phase of Wonder Woman’s career Scott. Jim Sherman truly is a very talented but criminally under-appreciated artist; his two pages in your piece are wonderful storytelling with excellently drawn characters and setting. Was the Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser era part of the Diana Prince era? I have one of those issues and remember thinking, “How the hell did these two sword and sorcery characters end up with Wonder Woman?”. Intriguing comment about Jack C. Harris and the movie “Salo”, not one of Italian cinema’s greatest moments regardless of what its intentions were. Keep up the great work Scott, your Classic Comics Corner is something I really look forward to.

It became apparent early on that Vince Colletta’s Wonder Woman was prettier than all the other versions of her.

Ever since I read about this period of Wonder Woman in Back Issue Magazine a while back, I’ve been hoping for a trade paperback. I’d really like to read these issues. It is also an interesting case of cross-marketing, attempting to make the comic book more similar to the television series. From a business standpoint, it makes a certain amount of sense. And, truthfully, I would rather read about Wonder Woman during World War II than a supposed “women’s lib” interpretation of the character that saw her losing her powers and running around with an ethnic stereotype for a mentor.

Hmm…between All-Star Squadron and Infinity Inc. (plus the Huntress back-up feature in WW), I guess the early 80s had a strong focus on Earth-2 as well, so maybe my point, if I had one, is invalid.

I believe that the early 1980s was the point in time when Roy Thomas came over to DC, so that undoubtedly played a significant role in DC continuing to publish series that were set on Earth II during World War II. Thomas is, after all, a self-proclaimed fan of penning WWII superhero tales. And he does do them well. Which, come to think of it, reminds me that I’ve been hoping for some collected editions of All-Star Squadron for a while now, as well.

Thanks for the kind words and additional info all!

What issue of Back Issue was that one? I seem to recall something on the Thomas/Colan era, as well as the 12 Trials, but I don’t remember seeing this stuff. I only pick it up sporadically, though.

I saw Salo, but I’m not sure of the connection. I sold my copy of that DC Special Series ages ago and don’t want to re read it.

BUT, the rest of the WF and WW run is amazing and deserves to be collected in trade. It’s far superior to the Trail story arc they put out last year.

I don’t even think they have to explain Earth 2, considering the new 52 version has already indoctrinated the new fans to parallel worlds.

I’m binding the issues myself at the Prof. Image Services but with newsprint, the pages will age. Their machines can take out the acid, but it’s an expensive process. So come on, DC, don’t keep this one in the vaults.

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives