web stats

CSBG Archive

Abandoned Love: How Do We Get Wonder Woman Back From Being a Mod?

Every week, we will be examining comic book stories, plots and ideas that were abandoned by a later writer while still acknowledging that the abandoned story DID still happen. Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of Abandoned Love. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

This week, we take a look at how Robert Kanigher brought the era of Mod Wonder Woman to an end! It is one of the rougher ends to an era that you’ll see.

After a bit of a preview in Wonder Woman #178 of the new era of Wonder Woman, Mike Sekowsky and Denny O’Neil fully committed to the idea in #179.

The issue had three major parts to it…

1. The Amazons, Wonder Woman’s mother, all of her fancy weapons and finally, perhaps most importantly, her powers are all taken away from Wonder Woman…

2. Wonder Woman meets I Ching, who will be her traveling companion, father figure and, perhaps most importantly, her teacher in the ways of karate…

3. Steve Trevor is taken out of the picture via a bullet…

Steve recovers the following issue enough to be just totally killed off by the main bad guy, Doctor Cyber…

So that became the set-up. Wonder Woman (now with no boyfriend or any other parts of her past intact) and I Ching traveling the globe and going on cool adventures and missions, with Diana using her training from I Ching to make up for her lost powers and weapons…

Diana would wear different outfits on each mission, just like a normal woman (although she seemed partial to a white jumpsuit).

Well, this approach proved to not be the way DC chose to go, so eventually DC brought the guy that Sekowsky and O’Neil had replaced, Robert Kanigher, to come back and restore order to the title. He did so with all of the finesse of a bull in a china shop.

First off, he introduces an unknown sniper who first kills a stand-in for a previous editor on Wonder Woman, Dorothy Woolfolk, who only edited two issues and not even the ones right before Kanigher returned, making Kanigher’s decision to have her killed by proxy to appear REALLY messed up…

Next, after the sniper shoots a few other innocent people, the sniper takes out I Ching…

Wonder Woman goes for revenge and after a short battle…

She loses her memory (I love how the sniper dies once his part in the plot is finished with. No motive or anything, just a tool in Kanigher’s reboot). She finds herself drawn to Paradise Island and makes her way there in a stolen jet. She crashes in the waters outside the island. Luckily, the Amazons have returned…

Wonder Woman’s mother finds her and restores her memory, omitting the whole mod affair (along with I Ching) from her mind, though, so Wonder Woman is now officially rebooted to her “classic” self.

That’s certainly ONE way of returning things to the status quo!

Thanks to Graeme Burk for suggesting this one (it was always going to be one I was going to address, but I can still give a guy some credit!). If YOU have a suggestion for an instance where a comic book writer dropped the plotline of the previous writer, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com

59 Comments

Wonder Woman is certainly an unique character.

Brian, was the editor’s name Dorothy Woolfolk ?
Hopefully that code I added work & I’ve ‘bolded’ a CSBG comment for the first time!

If only all events and reboots these days featured senseless death and violence. Oh wait…

Works (badly) as far as it goes, but what about Steve Trevor?

IIRC, they brought back Steve Trevor when ANOTHER Steve from a parallel dimension flew off in a jet and somehow passed through dimensions to our world. So the same Steve only different.

A little more complicated than that, Clayton; first, until Kanigher got booted again, which wasn’t long, Hippolyta had a duplicate of Steve created, to preserve Diana’s “mental stability”. Until the 12 Labors arc began, Diana had stories completely separate from the rest of the DCU, oblivious to everything else — a fact that was mocked when she went to meet the Justice League, and showed up at the old demolished mountain base.

Yep, to keep her daughter “sane”, Hippolyta had her talking to someone who wasn’t there. The one good thing about her being a pile of rock these days is at least they can’t use “Hippydickery” as a plotline anymore.

Um, wow… that was something else. I thought that wrecking ball-type retcons and reboots were a rather recent development in comic books (i.e. the last couple of decades) but I see Robert Kanigher was well ahead of the curve. He makes Brian Bendis look subtle by comparison!

Man, how awesome is that Sekowsky art though? He went from doing the first few years of JLA to this controversial classic – guy really deserves more recognition.

remember that period of wonder woman. for it did prove she can still be tough even without powers. though thought it was a little creepy when kanzinger had a sniper kill an editor who had nothing to do with the book when he was on it the first time plus having iching totaly erased from wonder womans mind as he did not exist at all. other wise dc learned from this period be careful trying to mess and change wonder woman too much

Graeme chose a nice one. Kanigher should have stuck with the war books instead of this halfhearted return to W.W.

Steve and I Ching of course, eventually got better. Tim Trench didn’t fare as well in recent years.

I can understand clearly why people were mad about Diana losing her powers and being made “normal”.

But I wonder, what if they did two Wonder Woman books, one with Diana using her powers, and the other about “normal” mod Diana Prince, both fighting crime and kicking ass in their respective ways.

Love that Don Heck art.

I have always enjoyed the “mod” Wonder Woman, even though it is not quite Wonder Woman, that the old character needed to be in a comic of some kind, and I wonder how long the “mod” Wonder Woman could last.

“Am I to ‘loose’ everyone”? Even back then!

The interesting thing is, her Amazon training should’ve still been there. She might not have had super strength/flight/etc, but she still should’ve had the skills.

I just love the fact that the city where the anonymous sniper claims his first victim is named Fun City. Seriously. I mean, isn’t that just hilarious for no apparent reason (well, I suppose the fact that Karniher chose to name it Fun City for no reason is ENOUGH reason)? I mean, that name just make you wanna scream: Fun Citaaaaaaaay!!!!

Hit her over the head! Of course. That always works in TV sit coms, like the time Larry hypnotized Mr. Furley on that episode of Three’s Company! After Furley insists that he’s too strong willed to be hypnotized Larry puts him under, then convinces him that he will believes he’s the world’s greatest lover every time he hears the sound of a bell. Naturally telephones and door bells play havoc with Furley, and create many comic consequences, until a bop on the head from a jealous boyfriend puts him right – “Janet, Chrissy, Twinkle-toes, where am I?”

Now Diana was hit over the head many times as Mod Diana Prince, without reverting to Wonder Woman, but fortunately she kept getting knocked in the noggin until it got through. Fortunately for Lynda Carter producers ofr TV Wonder Woman felt that a spin would be more convenient, & eye catching. Had the stayed with the hit in the head mode of transformation poor Lynda might today be in even worse shape than James Garner or Mike Connors. Poor Mike is a tragedy, and has been diagnosed as Mannix-deppressive.

@FS7: I don’t think it was meant literally. “Fun City” was a sarcastic nickname for New York City around that time, and as I recall, Diana got a job at the United Nations soon after she got her powers back, which puts her in NYC.

I checked Wikipedia, and found that the nickname started in the NY Herald Tribune after Mayor John Lindsay, during a 1966 transit strike, was quoted as saying, “I still think it’s a fun city.”

Man, the 70s were weird.

Brian, you could do a whole series on these: periods where a character was transformed into something *completely* different from the core concept, yet still that character. I’m not sure how many of these there are–maybe Electric Superman? The Hulk as a bouncer in Vegas? Steve Rogers as Nomad?

I don’t know, @Bob… the way Fun City is in bold, like they’re trying to make sure you know it’s the city’s actual name…

does anyone know if these were reprinted anywhere? I’m kind of interested in seeing runs like this, as it is refreshing to see creators take established heroes and move them way off base…

Having lived through the ‘New 52′ I have to commend them on at least having the courage each time to sweep away the ‘old stuff’ and try to offer an explanation, rather than setting up a ‘new’ universe that still wants to incorporate events that the company decided were too financially lucrative to eschew.
They COULD have maintained a powered/costumed WW (as they sometimes did by focusing on Earth 2 Diana) while maybe setting up another Amazon (one with the training, but without Diana’s gifts from the gods and weapons) in a companion Sensation Comics traveling with I Ching, as ‘New’ Diana wasn’t that reliant upon being original Diana.
Probably the best thing that came out of the era, though, was the Origin of Donna Troy, as Teen Titan Wonder Girl had to be explained once Diana lost her powers. Unfortunately, Donna would forever be at the mercy of Wonder Woman reboots, and, as a result, no longer exists.

Was his name really originally “I Ching”, or was it “Ching” delivered in broken English? I’m guessing the latter, considering his broken English and that only “Ching” is bold, not “I”.

That would raise the question of when did DC change his name from “Ching” to “I Ching”. And why the name was changed (assuming it wasn’t always supposed to be “I Ching” and the letterer had messed up by not bolding the “I”). Was it an accident, someone reading “I Ching” and deciding the “I” was part of his name? Was it intentional, perhaps to tone down racism issues that might be raised about his broken English and inhuman yellow skin tone (that also vanished in his next to the last page above, only to return for his death.)

A small bucked tooth Asian man who is a master of martial arts and named after a Chinese classic text. Refreshing that they avoided all the stereotypes back then ;)

_Tim_: DC printed trades of the entire run a few years ago. Five (?) of them, I think (maybe 4). They’re pretty awesome, actually. Ridiculous, but awesome.

I loved the coloring of I Ching
i mean if you didn’t get he was yellow…

I always thought that “Dottie Cottonman” was a jab at Gloria Steinem, who was editor of Ms. Magazine at the time. She was not happy with the “mod” Wonder Woman and lobbied DC Comics to bring back the original Wonder Woman.

Great art overall, but what’s with mom in that lower left panel of the last page? That’s one heck of a Joker smile she has going there. “Why so serious, Diana?”

Schnitzey Pretzelpants

February 7, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Think you may be right.

Regardless, it is tasteless enough to kill off a character based on an editor, but even more distasteful – regardless of who it is supposed to be based on – to basically defining the character as a feminist.

The funny thing is the Mod WW could have worked and been more in line with a feminist perspective if they had her (A) Decide to stay in Man’s World for different reasons (i.e. not a simply for a man) and – as another poster in the thread has noted – (B) Kept all her fighting prowess.

Sure, she could lose – sorry ‘loose’ – her invulnerability and immortality, and what have you, but why would that mean she would also lose her knowledge and experiences?

And the amazing thing is, DC still feels the need to “fix” Wonder Woman, reinventing her from scratch every few years. She was given a pretty extensive reboot in Infinite Crisis (secret identity for the first time in post-Crisis continuity, no powers when out of costume, etc.) only to be completely reborn a few years later by JMS as that amnesiac street-level vigilante, and no sooner had she recovered from that than boom, she’s Flashpoint Wonder Woman, then boom, she’s the New 52 Wonder Woman.

And even before this Didio/Johns-era clusterfudge, the post-Crisis Diana would get a pretty much all-new supporting cast and status quo with each new writer. And don’t even get me started on Byrne’s many retcons.

I always thought that “Dottie Cottonman” was a jab at Gloria Steinem, who was editor of Ms. Magazine at the time. She was not happy with the “mod” Wonder Woman and lobbied DC Comics to bring back the original Wonder Woman.

Dottie Cotton man
Dorothy Wool folk

In addition, since Kanigher was forced off of the title to do the mod Wonder Woman in the first place, I don’t think he was mad at anyone for complaining about the mod Wonder Woman. More likely he was complaining about someone who was the editor OF the mod Wonder Woman before his return, which would be Woolfolk.

Was his name really originally “I Ching”, or was it “Ching” delivered in broken English? I’m guessing the latter, considering his broken English and that only “Ching” is bold, not “I”.

Every Wonder Woman cover during this period had “The Incredible I-Ching! and…” written over the title, with his name in unfortunate “Oriental” lettering.

I’m amazed DC would allow the depiction of a murder of an employee. Has anyone ever been asked about this? I mean, did the allusion slip past everyone, or did they notice and not care? And how did “Dottie Cottonman” react to seeing herself getting shot in the back of the head?

‘Mod’ was a good idea in some ways. A non-powered female comic star is easier to push if she also happens to be the most popular heroine.

but I can see why it didn’t last, it was so forced. And I’m pretty horrified by the editor assassination (is that really Woolfolk?) and I Ching. Wow, he really… I mean, it looks like he’s had paint poured on him.

Not sure she would be able to have the same fighting abilities without her powers, but I agree with everything else, Schnitzey.

I see my question was answered. Still, fascinatingly bizarre stuff.

At the time, Sekowsky appeared to have this need to change any characters he was given into normal human beings. He also did it with the Metal Men and Supergirl.
He couldn’t exactly de-power the Metal Men, so he had them adopt human disguises and NOT use their abilities as much as possible. With Supergirl, he had her lose her powers from kissing a guy. She ended up wearing a power suit made by Kandorian scientists until her powers were finally allowed to fully come back.
There’s more to those stories, I’m just pointing out that Sekowsky really didn’t seem to like having to deal with super heroes and their fantastic abilites.

It’s easy to laugh at Kanigher’s drastic housecleaning ways but hey, has anybody read a certain comic by Jeff Lemire this week?

Is there any evidence to support the assertion that the Dorothy Woolfolk scene was done with cruel intent? Is it possible she was in on the joke and thought it would be funny? Personally, I would be happy to be killed off in a comic book. I think it is dangerous to assume you know what the writer’s intent was.

Who’s coloring is worse: I Ching or Sin Tzu?
http://batman.wikia.com/wiki/Sin_Tzu

I doubt it was meant to be cruel. Kanigher tended not to be cruel. It was surely a joke. But just a really messed up one.

Sin Tzu appears to be metallic gold and red, a color scheme traditionally associated with Chinese imperial rulership and wealth. But then there’s ol’ yellow Egg-Fu, and Yellow Claw, and Shiwan Khan, so what can ya do? Why was there never a villain called Black Negro? That would rock.

Having just read the entry for Sin Tzu (thanks for the link) I see he was created for a video game, so he might have even been designed to pander to video game buyers in the big new Chinese market!

Those “mod” comics actually look really interesting. Then again, I’m also the only guy who liked Electro-Supes, so what do I know? Comics are supposed to be static and boring, right? RIGHT?!?!

Oh, and Jeff: I’m gonna say I Ching, but just barely. Jim Lee being Asian himself kind of takes the sting of Sin Tzu.

The mod Wonder Woman was good. I certainly don’t mean to suggest otherwise.

Sin Tzu looks so much inspired in Dr. Tzin-Tzin, a much more ancient character, that I failed to notice that they are different characters at first.

Not that I agree that autorship ethny is any warranty of lack of racism, though.

I have to admit that I enjoyed that era (which also broke out into several Brave and the Bold appearances with Batman) a lot more than this horse eating, giant Amazon malarky that’s going on now.

Or am I just a snarky old man?

Complaints about the “racist” colour used for I-Ching’s skin may be ignoring the limitations of the technology available at the time. This was not a Photoshop printing world, with millions of colours to choose from, nor even a VGA with 256 choices. The maximum number of colours available in a 4-step 4-colour scheme is 64, and in practice only a subset was available for use, as many of the darker colours were practically indistinguishable when printed on cheap comic-book paper.

Which of the tones here, for example, would have been better? http://facweb.cs.depaul.edu/sgrais/images/Color%20Comics/63num.jpg
(Not that all of these were necessarily available at DC at the time; I read an interview with Neal Adams where he claims he convinced DC to double the size of their palette)

‘Mod’ Wonder Woman was certainly inspired by Emma Peel from the UK TV show The Avengers. I Ching is very much an Asianised Steed, down to the bowler hat.

I seem to remember that even during the mod era Diana still revisited the Amazons from time to time. One phrase “bring me more MEAD!” sticks in my memory… ???

The Mod era had one of my favorite stories where Diana returns to Paradise Island and fights with the Amazons against Ares. EVEN THOUGH SHE HAS NO POWERS! So, she did have her I Ching and Amazon training and is returned on her shield as befitting a warrior. Of course I haven’t read it in years, so my memory may be faulty. But it’s not like Wonder Woman didn’t have the silliest “enemies” including the “Angle man” and Egg Fu.
Wasn’t this the same time as when the Teen Titans forsook their powers as well?

http://www.dialbforblog.com/archives/428/sekowsky_jla2.html

In JLA#2 and #65, Diana lost her powers in situations where she should not it seems should have, so perhaps her loss of her Amazon combat skills come under the same situation.

I find it intriguing that they should try to present Wonder Woman as less obviously stylized espionage heroine. It reminds me of the Black Widow’s overhaul as more or less a swipe of Emma Peel. (Sad to say, 1998’s The Avengers underperformed compared to the Black Widow’s live action appearances.) Perhaps Modesty Blaise might have served as an influence? Perhaps the Baroness?

Of course, the odd thing, espionage tales have grown rather absurd and farfetched so that some of them recall some of Wonder Woman’s pre 1960’s adventures.

The Mod era is a mixed bag for me.

Sekowsky’s character design for Diana Prince was terrific. She is beautiful and innocent, but with ferocious subtext. They are attributes that both suit the character and the story Sekowsky wanted to tell. I Ching, despite some unfortunate racial cliches, was a nifty addition to the Wonder Woman supporting cast. O’Neil and Sekowsky told some decent one-off stories.

Unfortunately, Sekowsky was not the strongest story-teller. The death of Steve Trevor lacks any dramatic punch. The “montages” are brutal.

[…] to it in retrospect have been mixed, making me hesitant to read the issues. But recently I read this column on Comic Book Resources which examined the beginning and end of the era, and the excerpts made me curious enough to want to […]

The mod Wonder Woman stories were great in their day. I think Modesty Blaise was the key influence just as she was on the Black Widow and Ivan, Chaistity McBride and Garrett, Cinder and Ash and some other strip that’s name escapes me. I never forgave Kanigher for his reboot, especially as it took place half way through a storyline.

I’d kill my own young to get a Mod Wonder Woman/Original Heroes For Hire cross-over.

After many years of on and off service with National/DC, Dorothy Woolfolk seems to have been unceremoniously dumped as an editor by the company in one fell swoop; they either axed the books she helmed (such as LOIS LANE, SUPERGIRL and a couple of the romance comics) or turned them over to other editors. So perhaps Kanigher’s little death scene was meant to represent how he felt DC rather cruelly ‘killed’ an unsuspecting Woolfolk with a shot to the back?

On his website, Alan Kupperberg reminisced about Woolfolk, and alluded to her not being very popular with publisher Carmine Infantino and others in the editorial hierarchy: “The ‘boys club’ always snickered behind her back. ‘Ding-a-ling,’ ‘Wolfgang,’ ‘Dotty Dorothy,’ and worse. Outside of the obvious basic sexism at play at ‘all-male’ DC, I think another reason Dorothy was not very respected comes back to the ‘no running in the halls at DC’ mentality.”

Robert Kanigher was an opinionated soul, and he wasn’t hesitant to voice his disapproval of certain co-workers in interviews, but I haven’t ever seen any disparaging remarks from him about Woolfolk (Kanigher did work for her at times, as a freelance writer for books she edited). I’m not aware if any interviewer has ever asked him about the Dottie Cottonman incident, however.

I’m not aware if any interviewer has ever asked him about the Dottie Cottonman incident, however.

They have, but it was years later (soon before he passed away) and he didn’t remember anything about it. I read that Kupperberg piece back in the day and recalling it now I think that that makes me think that the “murder” was an example of teasing. Not malicious teasing, but teasing nonetheless.

In the second to last frame shown, Hippolyta looks like Jennifer Coolidge from American Pie and Two Broke Girls. I’m going to hear that actress’s voice for Hippolyta for a while…

Sekowsky’s stuff has all been collected, in color.
A lot of fans saw it as a Diana Rigg knockoff. It was, unfortunately, very mundane a lot of the time. The final story (not done by Sekowsky) has her battling an evil villain whose crime is stocking his department store with cheap clothes made with sweat-shop labor in-state, so he can avoid federal supervision. It also has Diana asserting that she doesn’t particularly like women, so why should she look out for womens’ interests?
I think the depowering may have been part of the general push for “relevance” after super-hero comic sales dropped in the late sixties. We had the JLA tackling pollution in one issue around this period, and the FF liberating T’Challa from prison in a thinly disguised apartheid state (Rudyardia)
Brian, I don’t think the omission of I Ching and Steve’s death was established until a few issues later, when she learns how many gaps she has in her memory. Hippolyta’s reference to “my secret” makes me think she’s referring instead to something of her own that Kanigher never got to bring out.
It is curious how “Remove the Amazons” has been a recurring feature whenever they want to make Big Sweeping Changes. As someone mentioned above, Diana keeps losing entire supporting casts, changing careers–but Supergirl’s gone through almost as many changes (college student, TV producer, college student again, guidance counsellor … and that’s all pre-Crisis).

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