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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 173: Wonder Woman #183

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks, with each week devoted to comics from one decade. This week’s decade: the 1960s! Today’s page is from Wonder Woman #183, which was published by DC (although the indicia reads “National Periodical Publications, Inc.”) and is cover dated July/August 1969. This scan is from Diana Prince: Wonder Woman volume 1, which was published in 2008. Enjoy!

Would you like some cheese with that whine?

In issue #178, Wonder Woman went shopping. This was apparently a huge deal. In issue #179 she renounced her “mystic skills,” and by this issue, she was caught up in all sorts of international intrigue with I Ching, her Chinese mentor, in what can justly be called The Most Awesome Wonder Woman Era Of All Time (Including The Current Whatever-The-Hell-Azzarello-Is-Doing Era). By this issue, Mike Sekowsky was writing and drawing the book, and Dick Giordano was inking it. I assume someone was coloring and lettering it, but DC doesn’t tell us who it was. So sad!

This era of Wonder Woman is surprisingly progressive, but you can’t really tell from this page. At the end of last issue, Diana learned that the man she thought she loved was actually lying to her, and Sekowsky recaps that in the first drawing at the top of the page. Sekowsky points out that Diana’s powers apparently “insulated” her from shock and emotion, which is kind of odd. She clocks Reggie (who was working for Dr. Cyber) in the face, and I’d be surprised if that shot didn’t kill him (we never see him again, so perhaps she did, although it’s not like Diana is some cold-blooded killer who would snap someone’s neck without even thinking about it, right, so surely she pulled her punch here?) It’s a dramatic drawing, but it doesn’t really do a good job of leading our eye, as the next “scene” is on the right of the focal point of Diana’s slap/punch … but this is a flashback, because Diana struck Reggie in the previous issue, so Sekowsky is recapping to a point. The scene really begins on the right, as I Ching calls to Diana as he bends over to help Reggie (why he does that when Reggie admitted he was a bad guy is unknown) and we see Diana in the foreground, running away and saying she never wants to see Reggie again. Sekowsky creates a nice line right here – it leads to the caption box in the center of the page, which leads to the wide shot of London and Diana running through the night. Sekowsky does a good job with the scene – it’s raining in London, so Big Ben is indistinct in the background, while Diana and the foreground are colored regretful blue. In the final “panel,” Diana leans on a stone wall (she’s on a bridge) and bemoans her fate. Sekowsky isn’t terribly subtle, but he does get across the major point – now that Diana has no more power, she’s “human,” and subject to all the swirling emotions that come with it. It’s certainly melodramatic, but in one page, Sekowsky does a fairly good job showing us the issues Diana is experiencing. Sekowsky doesn’t address this too much – on the next page, Diana is summoned to Paradise Island to fight for her mother’s life – but it’s a nice try!

So that’s the 1960s. Lots of interesting comics, a lot of progression in the medium, and still some stereotypical attitudes toward anyone who wasn’t a white male, which, to be fair, a lot of comics still have some issues with. But it was a pretty cool decade! Tomorrow we move onto the 1970s, which, as we all know from Greg Hatcher, is THE GREATEST ERA OF COMICS EVER!!!!!

You can already find some 1970s comics in the archives, if you need to prepare yourself!


Why would the shot have killed him if she didn’t have her powers anymore?

The two-part story in WW #183-184 is to my mind Sekowsky’s high point on the book, and it’s actually a better story than this opening might suggest, and much more of a traditional WW tale. (This is the one where she returns to Paradise Island post-depowering, as a matter of fact.) Looking back from the year 2012 with the benefit of hindsight, though, the Sekowsky era represents a longstanding trend where a new creator would take over Wonder Woman and almost invariably decide “Eh, I don’t feel like paying attention to anything that’s been done before, I’ll just throw everything out the window and start fresh.” Not a bad thing by any means, but it seems to afflict WW more than any other character…

Dave: She was studying martial arts, and she hits him right in the chin, so she could have killed him! But I was making the joke about Wonder Woman snapping Maxwell Lord’s neck more, so there’s that.

Richard (why the name change?): Yeah, it does seem to happen to Wonder Woman more, perhaps because she’s defined more by her mission than her personality? Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent are defined by their personal circumstances, but creators feel they can interpret Diana’s “mission” however they like. I don’t know, but she does get jerked around quite a bit.

This was the era where Wonder Woman became The Avengers (UK), with Diana as Emma Peel and I Ching (why that name in particular?) as John Steed, plus a bunch of “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar” Germain Greer/Helen Reddy pop-feminism.

It was actually fun. And you can’t go wrong with Steed and Mrs. Peel.

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