Of DC's "Big Three" - Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman - it has always been the last who has struggled for attention. Created by William Moulton Marston, a pop psychologist with a gaggle of fetishistic interests, she has always had a weird resonance. I don't know if it's still the case, but DC had for a long time to keep her published regularly, despite a drop in popularity, or risk losing control of the character. So Wonder Woman struggled on through the 50's and into the 60's. Then a change came.
DC decided to make Diana Prince the star of the show and make "Wonder Woman" less of a thing. To that end they brought in artist Mike Sekowsky, writer Denny O'Neil and inker Dick Giordano (the latter two fresh from tenures at Charlton) and gave the Amazon a dramatic makeover, with Jack Miller operating for a time as editor. Gone was the star-spangled bathing suit and the lasso and the invisible jet and even Paradise Island. Diana Prince was changed into a mere mortal and found herself in the then modern world vivid 60's pop culture. She became very like Mrs. Peel from the British TV show The Avengers.
To assist with that change Steve Trevor was written out, and an Asian sensei named I-Ching was introduced to give Diana the skills to fight against the more realistic world she encountered. An arch enemy, the mysterious Dr.Cyber, who had killed I-Ching's people was introduced and Diana and her mentor battled against the high-tech forces across the globe. A hard-boiled detective named Tim Trench shows up to lend a hand for a few issues and the the whole brew was decidedly different.
|Mike Sekowsky at work.|
The first volume of Diana Prince - Wonder Woman gathers the first seven issues of the revival with the first five written by O'Neil. The stories are interesting but mannered a bit, the evidence of perhaps too many interesting but divergent sources blended into the brew. With the last two issues Sekowsky takes the reins as writer and returns Diana briefly to Paradise Island to battle among mythic figures (King Arthur, Seigried, and Roland among others) to save her mother and the Amazons themselves. These two issues are wonderfully imaginative and Sekowsky's artwork is exquisite.
Here are the covers for these issues.
More to come next week.