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I Love Ya But You’re Strange – When Robert Kanigher Personally Fired the Supporting Cast of Wonder Woman

Every day this August I’ll be spotlighting strange but ultimately endearing comic stories, one a day (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of past installments of this feature.

Today we look at a unique farewell to a Wonder Woman era by Robert Kanigher…

In Wonder Woman #156, in response to the “Golden Age nostalgia” of the mid-60s, Kanigher had Wonder Woman re-visit the Golden Age by having a new Golden Age style adventure. The issue must have done well, so in #158 (with art by the longtime Wonder Woman art team of Ross Andru and Mike Esposito), Kanigher says goodbye to the current Wonder Woman cast, including the awful Bird-Man and Merman as well as the cute (but absurd) Wonder Girl and Wonder Tot.

There were two stories in Wonder Woman #158. Here is how weird the second story is. Check out the ending of the first story…

And this story pales in comparison to the second story!!!!

With all the talk about the internet and reactions to DC’s relaunch news, check out how Kanigher mocks fan reaction and the fan press back in 1965…

Wonder Woman comes across a villain acting oddly. As it turned out, he wanted one last chance at victory before he might be “erased”….

Even Wonder Woman’s fellow Amazons are worried (they also apparently get comic book fanzines on Paradise Island)….

This leads us to the bizarre scene of Robert Kanigher firing his current supporting cast…

That’s certainly one way to do it!

How come none of DC’s books did something like this? Who wouldn’t want to see a writer explain to the Teen Titans what is going to happen to them?

33 Comments

The really amazing thing is the way this anticipates both the Stan Lee meta-humor of the 1960s — like Stan and Jack in those old FF cameos, we never see Kanigher’s face — and, to a lesser extent, Grant Morrison’s late 19870s DC work. The Angle Man’s panic reminded me quite a bit of the Psycho-Pirate’s paranoia about going to sleep for fear that “they” would “remove [him] from the continuity.”

I never knew yellow bow ties were considered evil. Tacky, sure, but not evil.

Change some of the names around, and that stuff is almost verbatim what I’ve heard from Wonder Woman fans on the Internet pretty much anytime there’s any sort of change on the book.

randypan the goatboy

August 28, 2011 at 8:17 am

That was a great way for the editor to tell fans of the book that it isnt about you..its all about me and what i want. There will always be new readers…maybe. This must have been how coke fans felt in 1985 when they released new coke on the world…

This is awesome.

Yeah, this very much pre-Morrisons Morrison.

I’ve never heard of the “Golden Age Nostalgia” of the mid-’60s, but it makes sense. One thing I would to read more about is when the terms “Golden Age”, “Silver Age”, and “Bronze Age” first started to appear, and when they finally became fixed in meaning. I certainly don’t remember anyone using the term “bronze age” to describe the ’70s in ’80s fanzines like Amazing Heroes.

That’s all just so… so…

Some questions:
1) I know Mars/Ares was WW’s enemy but didn’t know she had a green Martian enemy. Ever connected to J’onn’s race? (Might well not have been, given how little cross-title continuity there was back then.)

2) What the heck was The Glop?

3) Was “zine” really in common usage that early?

4) Did Kanigher himself actually write a panel in which Andru or Esposito said “yes master” to him?

5) If WW thought she couldn’t touch Steve without creating a matter/ antimatter explosion, what possessed her to test it out by touching him?

6) Why oh why has Wonder Woman had so few good eras of comics?

>4) Did Kanigher himself actually write a panel in which Andru or Esposito said “yes master” to him?

Hah! That’s the best part…I love the salute and the bow!

omg knew some of wonder womans early issues were nuts but seeing Kainser break show up and start cleaning house himself in an issue of wonder woman. talk about crazy . not to mention the magic lasso breaking egg fu . proving that wonder woman still has a lame rogue gallery egg fu and angle man.

Why are there two Wonder Women on the terrace?

By the way, do you retroactively insert posts in between existing posts? Or did I just miss posts the first time around?

@Jacob-
1)The Duke of Deception was a servant of Mars/Aries. Like his master, he was headquartered on The Red Planet, but he was a supernatural being, not a Martian.

3)The term ” ‘zine ” dates back at least to the mid-40s. Contrary to popular opinion, organized comic fandom did exist in the 1960, and the numerous fanzines of the day actually had an impact on writers and editors, as this story illustrates.

6)Because Marston died, and, since then, no one has had the guts to use the Wonder Woman he created.

@Randypan-
That seems to be the very opposite of what’s happening in this story. Kanigher is giving in to fan pressure and giving them what they want, rather than continuing to publish the sort of stories he wanted to.

@Jacob-
2) Who knows, but Giffen liked to use him (her? it?) in several Ambush Bug stories.

“I never knew yellow bow ties were considered evil. Tacky, sure, but not evil.”

The way I took that was that one of the ‘zines had referenced him as wearing a sports jacket and a yellow bow-tie, and he was mocking them because he never actually wore a yellow bow tie. It’s funny because you see a lot of people get hung up the same way on Internet critics — focus on somebody who gets some small detail wrong and use that to “prove” that they’re all ignorant cranks.

T.: Brian has been doing this for a while, inserting posts retroactively. This was a big batch, to be sure, but he does it all the time.

@T – I think the “other” Wonder Woman is Hippolyta, who was dark-haired in the Golden Age/Earth-2… and, of course, post-Crisis… I wonder if she’ll go back to being a blonde in this next version of the DCU?

It’s pretty fitting that a superhero with mythical ties has such a meta-experience. Myth’s all about storytelling and this sort of feels like a goofier version of what Alan Moore was doing with Promethea/Glory and the recently completed “Odyssey” arc in Wonder Woman.

Poor Wonder Woman… moreso than her other JLA counterparts, she never seemed to get the chance to develop a solid personality/perspective as she’s pulled between the whims of the editors, writers and audience.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

August 28, 2011 at 4:13 pm

How come none of DC’s books did something like this? Who wouldn’t want to see a writer explain to the Teen Titans what is going to happen to them?

Well, it wasn’t in the pages of the comic, but when JT Krul took over Teen Titans, there was a DC Nation faux-interview, where he explained to the team that he was taking over, and they gave their reactions, which were mostly negative.

@JamesBaker, why would you assume there actually was fan demand for a “Golden Age Revival” just because the editor of the book writes himself into the story to tell you so? Wonder Woman’s sales were down, and this retread didn’t help.

@T, the “second Wonder Woman” on the terrace was actually Diana’s mom. She’d been made a blonde some time back to differentiate her from Diana: This “soft reboot” returned her to brunette.

@Jacob T Levy, no, there was never any connection implied between the Duke of Deception’s Mars and J’onn J’onnz’ Mars. Just as Lori Lemaris’ Atlantis had no connection to Aquaman’s Atlantis. Characters didn’t cross over much in those days. One could argue that DC’s real trouble started when they began crossing over.

And yeah, I’d agree that nobody really had a handle on who Wonder Woman was since Marston. Which is to say, not even Kanigher (an editorial assistant during the Marston era and WW’s longtime editor). Kanigher, it always seemed to me, would much rather be working on the war comics he also edited.

Jeez, that new/”classic” brunette Hippolyta must not have lasted long. Her next cover appearance wouldn’t be until WW#179, but there she looked exactly the same (blonde) as she did on the cover of WW#155, a few issues before this. But of course by then Diana herself seems to have been already revamped a couple more times, most notably as the superpowerless, Emma Peel style “new Wonder Woman.”

Why the retroactive posts? Something to do with time zones?

This was a great article, strange indeed. It feels a bit like Flex Mentallo, especially the Duke Of Deception scene.

Yeah, the retroactive posts especially give a new meaning to “Almost Hidden.”

Rob III: I assume that Brian wants to make sure these show up each day, so if he misses a day, he goes back, mucks with the time stamp, and posts it for the day he missed. He’s a busy dude, man – you try ruling the world AND posting every day!!!!!

It is easier for archiving purposes. It allows me to keep track of what entries still need to be written. That said, as Greg noted, it is usually not this long of a delay and I certainly apologize for that. This month has been especially busy, what with me, you know, writing a book at the same time I’m doing all of this. ;)

Tell us more! (If I missed it, it must be those goddamn retroactive posts!)

I can’t speak for anyone else, but at least as far as I was concerned I wasn’t giving Brian a hard time. I was sincerely wondering if I had missed some posts the first time around

Oh yeah, I get behind in my own blog all the time, and I certainly understand that. It’s just that I often do miss the retroactive posts entirely, because I’m always looking at the top of the blog for new posts.

I completely misunderstood T’s question. I thought he meant that reader’s comment posts were added in retroactively.

I read this because I am a DC WAR collector and huge fan of Kanigher, and the insight I can give to this, is that not only to Robert Kanigher take on criticism he RELISHED in it. Because he had 100% non accountability with his books, esp Our ARmy at War, he would let people have it, or allow former Nazi’s to write in, and then rip them only in a way our grandfathers could. OAAW letter columns are as entertaining as the stories. I’d hate to see it depicted on the pages of an Easy Company story though. Easy company wasn’t carrying signs.

Reminds me of the finale of a late 80s FF/Avengers crossover, in which the FF were replaced by evil replicas. At the end of the issue, the book’s writer just randomly shows up on the Tarmac outside the Quinjet, and Franklin Richards asks him if he’ll be able to explain their bizarre behaviour in his comic.

The fan comments outside the editor’s office sound like internet message board chatter! How prescient that guy was! The Wonder Family/Impossible Stories era was amazing–I wish DC would collect it all into one oversized hardcover someday. Retiring the cast and going back to the Golden Age/Earth-2 was a bad idea– the experiment failed, and the book returned to Eath-1 stories soon after. Sadly, none of the Wonder Family/Impossible Stories returned.

I wish Kanigher were around today to retire the CURRENT cast of Wonder Woman–the man hating Amazons, the ever present Olympic Gods, the daughter of Zeus Wonder Woman (or “not Wonder Woman,” as Carol Strick calls her), et al.

I never much cared for Kanigher’s work, but I must admit this issue is a hoot.
The Duke of Deception being green was a retcon–he’s a shrivelled old white guy in the Golden Age.
Egg Fu deserves a post of his own: Seriously, a gigantic, Chi-com talking super-genius egg?
Angle Man, on the other hand, I quite enjoyed. A guy who copes with Wonder Woman with no abilities but being sneaky is kind of fun.

I remember the next time Kanigher rebooted Wonder Woman in 1973. He literally killed off the white jumpsuit Diana Prince era by having a sniper kill off her supporting cast and previous editor in the first couple of pages.
Classy!

Mike McAllister

March 18, 2013 at 2:46 pm

“What the heck was the Glop ?”

The answer to this question requires a long, strange trip . You’ve probably read Brian’s other posts explaining how Wonder Girl evolved from being the teenage Wonder Woman into Wonder Woman’s little sister . In Wonder Woman # 151 ( January 1965 ), Wonder Girl fell asleep and dreamed that she was living Wonder Woman’s life .

In Wonder Girl’s dream, Steve Trevor was also a teenager, as well as a Army pilot . One day, Steve Trevor gave Wonder Girl a ride in his airplane, when they were attacked by twin comets . Wonder Girl managed to prevent Steve’s plane from colliding with these comets . One of the comets was an alien spaceship, which dispatched a large gooey alien . Steve and Wonder Girl called it “the Glop” .

The Glop had the ability to absorb whatever was thrown at it and take on its abilities . When Steve fired a pair of rockets at the Glop, it absorbed the rockets and fired their energy at Steve’s plane, destroying it . When Steve’s plane landed on the Glop, The Glop absorbed the plane, and became a gooey airplane capable of firing its own rockets .

The Glop attacked a teenage party in a city park . One teenager threw a record player at the Glop . The Glop absorbed the record player and the records it was playing . This record player was playing a love song about a “wonder girl”, so he fell in love with Wonder Girl .

Word about the Glop got around . The Army attacked him with their tanks and atomic missiles . The more the human race tried to throw against the Glop, the more powerful he became . Thanks to Amazon science, Wonder Girl was able to take the Glop back in time almost to the beginning of the world, and she returned to the modern world , At that point, Wonder Girl woke up . The text implied that the Glop might somehow return if the readers demanded it .

The Glop DID return in Wonder Woman # 158 ( November 1965 ) in the story Brian covered . He also made a brief appearance in Ambush Bug # 3 ( August 1985 ) . The Glop was actually a fun character . You might want to round up your own copy of Wonder Woman # 151 and read it for yourself .

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