Showcase Presents: Wonder Woman VOL 01 Paperback – Aug 22 2007
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About the Author
Robert Kanigher worked on The Justice Society of America, Hawkman, Green Lantern and created Black Canary, Rose and Thorn and The Harlequin. He also worked extensively on DC's war comics, including G.I. Combat and Our Army at War. He co-created Sgt. Rock and Enemy Ace, The Unknown Soldier, The Haunted Tank and Sea Devils, Viking Prince, Balloon Buster, the Metal Men and Poison Ivy. He also wrote the first appearance of the new Flash in Showcase No. 4, launching the Silver Age of Comics. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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The parent company DC Comics at this point then decided to merge the subsidiary company (All American Comics) with the parent company (DC Comics) to form one entity.
Now without M.C. Gaines, Canniger was left alone in charge of "Wonder Woman" and totally had no idea as to what to do with the character and the series. One thing he decided to do was to try and appeal to young female comic book readers by introducing more romance interests and themes between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor. Plain Diana Prince would even find herself looking at her alter ego, Wonder Woman, as competition for Steve Trevor wondering if Steve Trevor would and could love Diana Prince if she wasn't Wonder Woman. Canniger basically tried to incorporate aspects of romance/love comics into "Wonder Woman."
Also it was the 1950's and monsters and science fiction was at the height of their popularity in movies and comic books, so ask Canniger did with the "Batman" comics he was also in charge of at the time, he had Wonder Woman in science fiction type stories and fighting monsters, dinosaurs, and aliens from outer space.
Another thing that Canniger did was to borrow the concept from the "Superman" comics in doing stories of the character when they were younger as the "Superboy" and "Superbaby" stories. This also appeared "Wonder Woman" stories when Wonder Woman was "Wonder Girl" and when she was "Wonder Tot" at times meeting up with a young Steve Trevor. There went the continuity of the series.
That's right, the character "Wonder Girl" originally was supposed to be 'The Adventures of Wonder Woman When She was a Girl." Later on "Wonder Girl" and "Wonder Tot" became their own separate entities or beings. They became Wonder Woman's younger sisters. "Wonder Girl" is still around, older and using another name, with a new girl as the new "Wonder Girl." The character of "Wonder Tot" had disappeared some time in the late 1960's when DC Comics had to revamp their comics due to loss of sales. When the 1966 camp "Batman" TV series hit big, DC Comics decided to go all camp with their comic book titles. When the "Batman" TV series popularity dropped and the show was cancelled on ABC, so the sales of DC Comics also dropped and many a title, even some of the standard ones, were cancelled.
Writer Denny O'Neil was brought in to revamp "Wonder Woman" in which "Wonder Woman" gave up her Amazon powers along with her costume, magic lasso and bracelets, and invisible plane to remain in "Man's World" to help Steve Trevor out of trouble again while the other Amazons and Paradise Island went into another dimension to rest and recuperate their tired Amazon powers. In response to this, feminist activist Gloria Stynum wrote a letter to DC Comics letting them know of her disapproval of this Diana Prince: Wonder Woman - Volume 1 (Wonder Woman (Graphic Novels)) and Diana Prince: Wonder Woman VOL 2 (Wonder Woman (Graphic Novels)) and Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Vol. 3 (Wonder Woman (Graphic Novels)) and Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Vol. 4 (Wonder Woman (Graphic Novels)).
In closing, the volumes of "Showcase Presents Wonder Woman" is a compilation of stories from the "Wonder Woman" comics published in the late 1950's and so far, the early 1960's under editor Robert Canniger. Despite the fact that these are not looked upon as well as the original stories written by the creator Dr. William Moulton Marsdon, these "Showcase" volumes are worth looking into especially for the price of these volumes.
These volumes do not cover the mid-1960's when the 'Wonder Woman" stories went camp. In which in one issue, we find Wonder Woman and Colonel Steve Trevor in the clutches of the evil Red Chinese villain Egg Fu's large mustache that he has coiled around Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor holding them captive. Egg Fu is a large, super intelligent egg. Wonder Woman manages to loosen her arms and grab her magic lasso and ensnares the large egg and then uses her Amazon strength to tighten the indestructible magic lasso until you see cracks appearing in Egg Fu's shell and then the shell breaks to reveal a large egg yoke inside.
The compilation of the Wonder Woman stories appearing in these volumes of "Showcase Presents Wonder Woman" present another part of the history of Wonder Woman. For those interested in comic book history of Wonder Woman, these are great books to get.
It's bad. Not 'bad but with a certain charm' nor even 'so bad it's good' no, just good old fashioned bad with a heaping of boring thrown in.
In one story a mad scientist wants to prove his Wonder Woman robot is better than the real Wonder Woman. So he challenges her to a contest. Fair enough right? Lots of potential there. What's the contest? To see who falls asleep first the robot or Wonder Woman. The story is not just illogical, not just dumb, but it has no drama at all.
And the book is filled with stories like these, over 500 pages worth. Wonder Woman encounters some bizarre alien or magical threat then defeats it by luck or embarrassingly bad dues-ex-machinas. There are stories that, in the right hands, could have been mad and surreal but instead come off as poorly plotted and foolish.
I really can't see any entertainment value in this book. It's not over-the-top enough for camp, not good enough to stand on its own merits, not original enough to be interesting. It's just sort of there. 500 pages of mediocre, incoherent, uninteresting stories.
The art remains classy and fun throughout. I much prefer the style to the much more crude Wonder Woman of the golden age. One of my favorite features of Andru's art is his portrayal of Wonder Woman changing into costume, the sequence drawing is just a great touch.
I have much more mixed feelings on the stories. With Issue 98, Kanigher begins again with a new origin story for Wonder Woman is not tied to the golden age version. Rather than Steve Trevor crashing on Paradise Island, the Amazons themselves decide to send someone out. And Wonder Woman isn't given her costume for this purpose. She already had the costume, but they did have a contest which she won and she's immediately tasked with turning a penny into a million dollars to give charity.
She takes the identity of Diana Prince in order to avoid Steve's creepy attempt trick her into marriage and our story is set. The stories in the first half of the book tend to have a light touch with some decent humor and fun. Issue #100 actually had a very meta story in which Paradise Island insist she do something grand for her 100th issue. Plus there was an issue where Wonder Woman took a young fan to visit Paradise Island.
The second half of the book was more problematic. In many ways, the book really copied from other comics. While I'm certain that there was a certain amount of this at every DC comic in the Silver Age, it was pretty noticeable here. For example, in one issue, Wonder Woman loses her powers for a day, an idea lifted from Martian Manhunter's stories. It made sense for the Martian Manhunter with his science based wonders. Given that Wonder Woman's are more magical, this was just kind of stupid.
The biggest ripoff of other books was the story of Wonder Girl, Wonder Woman as a girl, a blatant attempt to play to the strength of characters like Superboy and sidekicks like Robin and Kid Flash. The big problem with this was that Wonder Woman grew up in an all-female Utopia with few real opportunities for actual adventures, leading to story lines that were more than a little bit contrived such a robot girl built to be Wonder Girl's only playmate.
In addition, Wonder Girl knew that she would grow up to be Wonder Woman, which given that her origin involved a contest was kind of stupid and makes the whole origin of Wonder Woman dumb. She even sets out to try and meet her older self, something which some theorist could say would end the space-time continuum. But given that she lived on Paradise Island, I get the desperation to lift the boredom.
More than Wonder Girl treating the space-time continuum like its a toy is that these stories led to the introdtion of Merboy, an insufferable lovesick undersea teenager who makes Steve Trevor look like the biggest alpha male in the world. His attempts to woo Wonder Girl are annoying and just take up way too many pages. But this is what Kanigher was reduced to when trying to write a story about a teenage girl living on a perfect island with no men and free from competition as the only teenager.
Plus, while I'm glad they didn't go into all the complexity f Wonder Woman Creator Charles Moulston's ideology, there doesn't seem to be much of a reason for Paradise Island being all female other than that it's all female.
However, that's not to say the stories are all bad. They're some fun one and the early part of the book is a nice opportunity for parents who want to introduce their children to early Wonder Woman without any real questionable content, and of course the art is great throughout. However, the book's weaknesses stop this book from being anything other than average.