Saturday, April 23, 2005

Diana Prince - Forgotten Classic

My pal Tadhg was telling me that in the recent "Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Guide to the Amazon Princess" book by Scott Beatty, there is NO mention of the "Diana Prince" era of Wonder Woman!

That is a shame.

If you do not already know of this, in late 1968, Mike Sekowsky totally revamped the Wonder Woman comic (along with Denny O'Neill on scripts and Dick Giordano on inks).

Here is the cover of the first issue...

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The basic idea is that Wonder Woman gives up her powers when the Amazons leave this dimension, so she must become "Diana Prince."

In #180, we meet I-Ching, a blind former monk who trains Diana as a martial artist.

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In the same issue, Steve Trevor is killed off!! In fact, Sekowsky was quite upfront about his reasons for killing off Trevor, "Steve Trevor was dull and boring and I didn't like him much so I disposed of him."

Sekowksy contines his run on Wonder Woman for the next two plus years (the book was bi-monthly at the time), and had Diana open up a dress shop as her home base while going on many exciting missions with I-Ching.

Over the run, here outfits changed...

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Diana with a machine gun!!!

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Sadly, though, in the last issue of the run, I-Ching was murdered and Wonder Woman was given amnesia. When the Amazons returned her memories (and her powers), they left out her memories of her experiences as just plain "Diana Prince."

Still, the run exists as a daring example of forward thinking in comics!

As Sekowsky so bluntly put it,
The old Wonder Woman was dropped because the sales on the old WW were so bad that the book was going to be dropped. The new Wonder Woman was given a chance -- (a last chance for the book) and it worked!... Super characters... aren't doing too well with today's readers -- and it's to today's readers that we must cater to, not to a bunch of old fuddy duddys who only look back... As for my hollering about WW's sales, I can honestly say that I am quite pleased to have taken a sow's ear and turned it into a silk purse.... I personally feel that too many of DC's stories are still being written and plotted for the year 1940 instead of 1970....
Well put, eh?

I got the Sekowsky quotes from an amazing piece on the Diana Prince run by Carol Strickland that you can find here.


Blogger N said...

Great, great look back. I love this blog. Keep it up!

4/24/2005 12:58 AM  
Blogger nita said...

wow- you obviously love comics a LOT!! your blog is cool though.

4/24/2005 2:57 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

That's the great thing about taking over books with poor sales--you can ge away with a lot. Just ask Alan Moore (Swamp Thing), Peter David (Incredible Hulk), or Grant Morrison (Doom Patrol)!

4/24/2005 12:44 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Good point, Dave.

You can also add Frank Miller's Daredevil to that list (and probably Walt Simonson's Thor)!

4/24/2005 1:08 PM  
Blogger Johnny B said...

I have been fascinated for years now with this period of WW, which I didn't buy when I was a kid. Why, I don't know- I loved the Avengers, Emma Peel being the obvious model for Sekowsky's Diana Prince. In fact, I've only owned one issue of this period- towards the end, when Denny O'Neil decided to try a test run of Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser in (I think) issue 203.

I've been trying to find copies of this run, but they're very scarce and expensive when I manage to locate them, usually on eBay. I wish with all my heart that DC would collect these in an affordable edition...

4/24/2005 5:01 PM  
Blogger Lyle said...

It should be noted that this era was a controversial one for Wonder Woman. It came at the same time as the relevant remakes that came after Green Lantern/Green Arrow and seemed like the ideal place to deal with feminism. Unfortunately, Diana losing her powers was not a popular with feminists and, IIRC, was critisized by (IIRC) Gloria Steinem. I remember reading an article where Samuel Delaney (who, apparenly, wrote a couple of the last issues of the run) commented something like "They wanted to do a feminist take on Wonder Woman and yet they never thought to ask a feminist to write the title."

I've always been interested in this run, as well, but have only found one affordable issue. I've never finished it, for some reason that issue has had a hard time holding my attention. In all honesty, my interest is mostly a matter of academic curiosity, so it's not something I'd be willing to spend plenty of money on. Still, it is the most interesting of the relevant revamps.

4/25/2005 3:13 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Isn't it irritating, though, to see Steinem clearly making a sweeping statement just based on the one "famous" thing about the run, which was that Wonder Woman lost her powers.

Does a hero have to have powers to be a good feminist role model?

Diana had a job, she went on adventures, she was a warrior, she handled herself VERY well in battle, and she did not sit around swooning over guys...and yet Steinem did not like it because she lost her powers.

And of COURSE if her powers are gone, then it is all a sham.

I think that that is dirty pool by Steinem.

4/25/2005 3:50 AM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

This era was mentioned in Beatty's book, it just didn't get more than a thumbnail of a cover and a small entry. That's because they only covered the Post Crisis stories in any depth. And the synopsis of some of those still give me a splitting headache.

4/27/2005 10:33 PM  
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