Wednesday, July 02, 2008

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Wonder Woman #178

Wonder Woman #178 (On Sale: July 2, 1968) introduces a radical departure for DC's #1 super-heroine as The New Wonder Woman debuts in a hip sort of cover by Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano.

"Wonder Woman’s Rival" is by Denny O'Neil, Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano and it is a radical turning point for the character, one that within two years would be totally forgotten, as if it never happened. (as a kid watching the undoing of the next few year's worth of books really pissed me off). Steve Trevor is accused of murder after he is seen getting into a fight with Alex Block shortly before the man is killed. Steve claims that he was with a female hippie at the time, but the girl cannot be found since he never learned her name (the problem with using loose hippie girls as your alibi!). Steve is forced to stand trial where Wonder Woman gives damning testimony telling the court that Steve told her Block did not deserve to live. Steve is found guilty of murder and sent to prison.

Wonder Woman hopes to clear Steve, but she is unable to blend in with the hippie culture. In her Diana Prince identity, she gets a make-over, then enters the hippie club where Steve met the girl. She is tipped off by a hippie named Buck, but he is killed before he can tell her more about the girl. Diana is able to trace the girl's ring to a pawn shop and finally gets the girl's name and address.

Diana then meets up with Steve friend Roger Seely, who was Block's business partner. They contact the girl, who can now provide an alibi for Steve. Seely, the real killer, then reveals himself and tries to kill the girls. Wonder Woman save the hippie, then captures Seely and clears Steve. When Steve begins to express a new appreciation for Diana, Wonder Woman decides it is time for her to change too. Reprinted in Diana Prince:Wonder Woman Vol. 1 TPB.

This issue only covers the changes to the Diana Prince identity, and it is really next issue that the huge changes take place, but this was such a breath of fresh air in 1968. There was always this hypocrisy in Wonder Woman/Diana Prince that bothered me and it had to do with the way she presented herself as Diana Prince. Diana pined away over the hunky Steve Trevor, who was sometimes a real asshole and not a very nice guy, simply because of his looks; it was pretty much a physical attraction. At the same time Wonder Woman created this sexless Diana Prince identity and would get pissed that Steve wasn't attracted to her and instead had the hots for the sexy Wonder Woman. Even as a kid I saw the hypocrisy in this. At least in the books for the next few years, this was removed from the series and the series was better off because of it. More on this in later issues.

Edited by Jack Miller.

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