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  1. #1

    Default The Great Wonder Woman Readathon

    I've been kind of laid up sick for the last few weeks, which is one reason I've been reading all these old comics I've been posting about over in the What Have You Read thread. But I figured, well, if I'm going to read so many old comics, I might as well add a little focus to my reading and work my way through one of the longer runs I have amassed in recent months.

    The title I've chosen to finally read is Wonder Woman. I'm still missing a couple I-Ching issues and some of the ones right after that, but my unbroken run of pre-Crisis Wonder Woman begins with the start of the 12 Labors, which seems like a perfectly fine place to begin. So that's my plan: I am going to read Wonder Woman #212-329 and post (very) short thoughts on each issue as I do so.

    EDIT FROM THE FUTURE: After completing my I-Ching collection, I went back and reviewed #177-211. So if you want to read these reviews in the correct order, you should begin here.

    And we'll begin at the beginning:

    Wonder Woman #212
    Len Wein, Curt Swan and Tex Blaisdell



    Synopsis: This is the start of the 12 Labors of Wonder Woman. For those who don't know, the premise is simple and explained in this story. Basically, for the few years preceding this story, Wonder Woman had been striped of her powers and was running around using Kung-Fu instead (#178-203). Following this, she got her powers and costume back, but developed amnesia, forgetting the whole I-Ching thing, which I guess the editors at DC wanted to do as well. It was a stopgap measure at best.

    In this story, though, Diana gets a new status quo. Superman shows up and realizes that Diana has forgotten everything that has happened for the past several months or years. She is upset to learn this, so she goes to Paradise Island and discovers they used a memory machine on her to try and restore her memories, except they left all the I-Ching stuff blank because they didn't know all the details for that era. I guess their subscription had run out. The big thin here, though, is that Diana learns that Steve Treavor is dead, which she had forgotten as well.

    Looking for a new lease on life, Diana quits her job as a UN guide and accepts a job as a liaison to a UN bigwig named Morgan Tracy. However, she turns down Superman's offer to rejoin the JLA. She had originally quit when she lost her powers, but even though she has her powers back, she's worried that her memory lapses will compromise her fighting ability. So she comes up with a new idea: She'll rejoin but only if she successfully completes her next 12 missions, Hercules style, with the members of the JLA watching and judging her performance.

    To his credit, Superman thinks this is a really stupid idea, but he can't talk anoyone out of it, so he reluctantly begins watching her first mission. This involves a guy named the Cavalier, who uses a special dust to control the minds of women. However, Wonder Woman's willpower is too much and she overcomes his love powder, kicking his ass in the process and saving hew new boss. Superman files his report and the trials are on.

    Comments: Many people have, like Superman, pointed out how dumb this plan is. It's Wonder Woman, for god's sake, she doesn't have to prove anything. A lot of female fans in particular thought this was bogus and I don't blame them. The plus side is that it gives the book structure and also an excuse to have different JLA members guest star in every issue. The down side is that the comic is bi-monthly at this point, meaning the 12 labors -- which ran over the course of 11 issues -- ended up taking nearly two full years to get through. And that in turn means that JLA fans who wanted to see Wonder Woman back on the team had to wait for two damn years for this story to end.

    So was it worth it? Well, we'll find out shortly as we go through the labors together, but let's just say probably not.

    My Grade: B. It's nice to finally get Diana back in action and moving forward with a new status quo, and Superman's attitude was refreshing. But the actual story about the Cavalier was just whatever.
    Last edited by Scott Harris; 02-09-2014 at 06:07 PM.
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  2. #2

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    Wonder Woman #213
    Cary Bates, Irv Novick and Tex Blaisdell



    Synopsis: I've written about this story before, but in a nutshell: An alien robot lands on Earth and broadcasts a psychic message that turns everyone into super-pacifists. Only three people are immune: Wonder Woman, a random thug and a peace protester. They all happened to basically stub their toes when the message came in, the pain blocking the signal. The other two don't want to bother saving humanity from it's pacifict-induced lethargy, so Wonder Woman uses her lasso to force them to help her and she smashes the robot, restoring free will to humanity.

    Comments: It's funny that Wonder Woman is trying to restore free will and the first thing she does is basically enslave the other two and force them to help her against their will. I also find it unlikely that only three people in the entire world would happen to have pain at the moment of the psychic signal; I'm betting the number would be much higher. Moreover, the basic, ironic message about peace being as bad as war is just the kind of ham-handed 70's commentary I don't like.

    My Grade: C+. Nothing particular to recommend this one unless you are a Flash completest.
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  3. #3

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    Wonder Woman #214
    Elliott S! Maggin, Curt Swan, Frank Giacoia



    Synopsis: This one is maybe even goofier than the last one. Diana, in her role as a UN liaison, heads to a medieval British theme restaurant along with a British diplomat. It turns out that the guy who runs the restaurant owns a magic pendant that works only when it is near Diana's tiara; when they are close together, anything either of them wishes for comes true. So he decides to wish to become king of Earth. Unfortunately, like all wishes, this one goes horribly awry, as the medallion triggers a nuclear holocaust, with the restaurant owner safely in a bunker where only he can survive -- and thus become king of a bombed out ruin. Luckily, Wonder Woman figures out what's going on (well, mostly), intercepts the American bomber about to drop nukes over Moscow and stops it.

    And boy, does she stop it: She weaves a protective blanket that covers both nukes and when they blow up, her lasso-blanket contains the two blasts entirely! WOW! Just how powerful is her lasso, anyway?! Is it made of Wolverine or something?

    Notes: One funny part in this issue is Green Lantern desperately trying to get another Justice Leaguer on the phone to help Diana prevent World War III. But when he can't get Batman or Elongated Man or Hawkman on the phone, he just gives up, wishing there was some way he could find someone to help. Um, dude, you're GREEN LANTERN. If anybody in the JLA is qualified to fly to Moscow and stop a plane from dropping nukes, it's Green Lantern. What exactly was he expecting Green Arrow to do better?

    Also, Diana never uses her magic wish. Does that mean she still has it stored up? If she had just wished for the bombs not to go off, the whole issue could have been avoided entirely.

    My Grade: B-. Bonus points for being both random (Diana's tiara grants magic wishes!) and ridiculous (her lasso can contain an H-bomb explosion!)
    Last edited by Scott Harris; 10-28-2012 at 09:18 PM.
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  4. #4

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    Wonder Woman #215
    Cary Bates, John Rosenberger, Vince Coletta



    Synopsis: This is another issue I've written about before, bu in brief, this time around it's Aquaman charged with following the adventures of Wonder Woman. Which turns out to be serendipitous, as the story directly involved Atlantis. Basically, the Amazons are brainwashed into invading Atlantis. It turns out that Mars, the god of war, is behind this; he's grown tired of normal warfare and wants something really juicy to get his blood pumping. Diana figures this must mean regular war isn't giving him the power it used to, so she goads him into fighting her until his power drains itself. Meanwhile, Aquaman holds off the invasion with a wall of whales. Good job, Arthur.

    Notes: Diana does some funky stuff in this issue, like climbing the lasso even though it's not tied to anything. Weirder than her seemingly random powers, though, is the Justice League holding court at the end of the issue to decide on Mars' guilt in the Atlantean invasion. They decide he is guilty, so they have him hauled to to an intergalactic prison. I'm wondering where the JLA gets the authority to imprison a Roman diety in an intergalactic prison. That just seems a bit outside the norm there.

    Also, Aquaman becomes the first leaguer to actually do something in one of these stories besides watch. However, he still comes off like a complete chump thanks to the goofy restriction that he can only stay out of water for an hour without dying. He's so distracted by Diana's fight against Mars that he forgets the water thing -- despite explicitly making a mental note to himself not to get distracted and forget, meaning this apparently happens to him a lot -- and he collapses. A bunch of gawkers come over to see what's wrong with the guy dying on the sidewalk and he's only saved when he managed to kick a soda out of a kid's hand and dump it all over himself. This revives him enough to find water, which he presumably used to wash sticky old soda off of himself. What a complete dork.

    My Grade: B for Aquaman being an entertaining simp and for the Justice League appointing themselves jury over the Roman pantheon.
    Last edited by Scott Harris; 10-28-2012 at 09:17 PM.
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  5. #5

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    Wonder Woman #216
    Elliott S! Maggin, John Rosenberger, Vince Colletta



    Synopsis: This is actually an interesting one. Hard to believe, but as of 1975, 33 years into Wonder Woman's publishing history, nobody had apparently ever explained just what would happen if a man did in fact set foot on Paradise Island. And that is a fact that gets the curiosity of billionaire playboy Diogenes Diamandopoulos, who makes it his life mission to set foot on Paradise island and find out what happens. He ends up sending an army to invade Paradise Island, mainly as a diversion so he himself can step on the island, but Diana tricks him with a brilliant plan: She creates a fake island and they all land on that one instead. Suckers!! Defeated, Diamandopoulos claims he did it all because of his love for Wonder Woman, which she finds really ridiculous given he was basically willing to destroy Paradise Island. Hence, she kicks his ass.

    Notes: So what does happen if a man sets foot on Paradise Island? A bunch of theories are put forth, including disasters destroying the island and whatnot, but it turns out to be a bit trickier: If a man sets foot on the island, all the Amazons are magically forced to fall in love with him and battle each other for his hand in the ultimate perversion of everything they stand for.

    Honestly, it's a much more interesting and appropriate result than I expected from Elliott S! Maggin. I think it does fit quite well with Amazonian mythology at this point in time. I like it.

    My Grade: B+ for featuring Black Canary and for actually adding something interesting to the Wonder Woman mythos.
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  6. #6

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    Wonder Woman #217
    Elliott S! Maggin, Dick Dillin and Vince Colletta



    Synopsis: Elliott S! Maggin continues to delve into Wonder Woman's somewhat limited rogue gallery, this time bringing back the Duke of Deception (following the return of classic WW bad guy Mars in #215). The Duke even gets a two-page spread explaining who he is and what his historical significance is in the series. That's nice.

    The story, as it goes, isn't terrible. Everybody at the U.N., including green Arrow (who is there keeping tabs on Diana for the JLA) starts having mass hallucinations and begin fighting each other. Funnily, Oliver accidentally jumps out a window trying to avoid one of these illusions and almost falls to his death, which would have been the most embarrassing superhero death ever. The Duke uses his illusions to capture Diana and begins performing illusionary surgery on her, but she turns the tables by using psychology to undermine his confidence. He loses control over his illusions and she breaks free, clobbering him. Green Arrow ends up getting so confused over who he is that he has Batman administer a series of tests to prove he's actually Oliver Queen. Poor Ollie!

    Notes: This story continues an emerging trend in these tales where Diana is defeated but ends up winning basically because she's Wonder Woman. Several times during the 12 Trails she gets taken out by someone whose power should have her defeated -- here's it's the Duke, in #212 it was the Cavalier -- only to have her break free because of her superior willpower overcoming them. it's a nice testament to Diana I guess, but it also seems kind of like a cop out.

    On the other hand, I do like the Diana uses psychology and her brains to win this fight. One interesting thing: Earlier in the issue, she broadcast her voice to the panicked crowd and the sound of her voice soothed them, while the Duke was partially undone because the power of her voice made her arguments seem more believable. This cropped up in one of the earlier trials as well, where she was able to command or influence people with her voice. Is this a power that Wonder Woman usually has? I've never seen her exhibit this power before, but it shows up more than once during the trials, even though it's portrayed as kind of a minor power rather than a big deal. Very odd.

    Oh, and this comic boasts a Mike Grell cover, apparently because he was Mr. Green Arrow at the time. I approve.

    My Grade: B. I like the Duke, I like Ollie and I like the psychological victory. I just don't get the whole magic voice thing.
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  7. #7

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    Wonder Woman #218
    Marty Pasko and Kurt Schaffenberger



    Synopsis: This issue is broken down into two stories. In story one, Red Tornado narrates as Wonder Woman faces a crisis of confidence. Basically, there's a charlatan of a astrologer who actually has a secret power: He's built a special machine that drains the power of positive thinking from a random person and injects it into his target, giving them a giant boost of confidence and ability. One problem: His machine keeps blowing up every time Wonder Woman performs an amazing feat. So he comes up with a brilliant plan, namely he will reverse the machine's polarity and give Wonder Woman the power of negative thinking so she can't do anything. However, once again, he fails to realize that since this is Wonder Woman, her amazing willpower always overcomes, so she defeats him. The kicker, which was fairly obvious to everyone except the bad guy, is that the machine was blowing up because Wonder Woman was the source of the power to begin with. So if his plan had worked, his machine would have been useless anyway. Fail.

    The second story features the Phantom Stranger narrating a story where Wonder Woman faces off against Felix Faust. That's no mean trick, since he has frequently taken on the whole Justice League. This time, he consults some demons who tell him that he has to shrink the Statue of Liberty down to tiny size in order to enslave America because it's the literal embodiment of freedom on Earth. Oooookaaaaay. Sure. He does this, which somehow involves the Statue coming to life and battling Diana. She follows the shirking statue back to Faust's lair, where she delivers a major surprise: She decoded his spell -- which in this case is just a high-pitched shriek -- and using her amazing Amazonian powers, she has replicated it. So the two engage in the dumbest magic duel of all time, as it consists entirely of the two of them shrieking at each other. However, Wonder Woman deflects his shriek with her bracelets and it rebounds and blasts him. Another win for Wonder Woman!

    Notes: Is there anything Wonder Woman's gear can't do? First she contains a nuclear holocaust inside her lasso and now she can deflect magic spells with her bracelets? And in the first story, we also saw a return of the "Wonder Woman is just so special she can overcome people's powers just by being herself" deus ex machina that has cropped up several times during the 12 labors. Again, it's great to show Diana's immense willpower and stuff, but it gets a little tired to bail her out this way every time.

    My Grade: C+. i did like seeing Faust and the Phantom Stranger, plus it's always nice when the Statue of Liberty attacks. But mainly this was just another 70's superhero comic from DC.
    Last edited by Scott Harris; 11-22-2012 at 11:21 AM.
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  8. #8

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    Wonder Woman #219
    Marty Pasko, Curt Swan and Vince Coletta



    Synopsis: This one is a doozy. Wonder Woman is wandering around when she saves a woman from being hit by a car. Rather than being happy about this, the woman tries to kill Diana because she's so angry at being saved. But Diana doesn't have too much time to think about it because she's tasked in her U.N. job with solving a mystery: Prominent women's lib leaders are literally vanishing into thin air. She investigates and discovers a common link: They had visited the same beauty parlor. She goes there and is doused with a special shampoo that transports her to another dimension where women are physically stronger than men but have been mentally enslaved. It turns out the girl she saved earlier is from this dimension. The big problem: When women travel between these dimensions, it reverses their emotions. So the male leaders in this other dimension have been kidnapping women's lib leaders so they will give speechs to the enslaved women to convince them to remain enslaved, because the leaders have been emotionally reversed into believing the opposite of women's lib.

    Got that? Anyway, Wonder Woman sort of outsmarts the menfolk. They tie her up with her lasso and command her to be subservient. But since her emotions have been reversed, the command actually forces her to rebel against them. So she kicks some male butt, then grabs all of her Earth women and rushes back to Earth just before the dimensional portal collapses forever.

    Notes: Okay, I have some major problems with this story. In general, I find most comic book attempts to deal with the women's lib movement of the 70's to be ham handed at best. I guess that's par for the course considering how race relations are also dealt with in comics from the time, but for some reason those efforts don't grate on me nearly as much as these attempts to deal with gender issues. Having not lived through this time period I guess it's just hard to wrap my head around how much gender relations have, in fact, changed since the early-mid 70's, but based on comic books anyway, they certainly have.

    Despite how clumsy the story comes off, I don't mind the effort, mainly because it takes place in the pages of Wonder Woman. Questions about gender relations are built into the fabric of the character; dealing with these questions was one of the main reasons William Marston created Wonder Woman in the first place, so she should be dealing with this sort of thing, especially in the 70's.

    But man, this comic, i don't even know you guys. The way women's lib is portrayed is just so out there to me. IN particular, there is one sequence where they head to the beauty salon and Wonder Woman thinks "What would a liberated woman like Betty Jo want with a sexist establishment like a beauty parlor?" As though wanting to look good goes against the ideals of equality.

    Then, Elongated Man and Sue Dibny have a conversation about this where Ralph says "But I thought duding yourself up for a man was supposed to be sexist -- so there's no such thing as a beauty parlor for liberated women!"

    Sue smartly answers that "this place doesn't give a hang about what men think is beautiful dear, it teaches women to... please themselves." Ralph's enlightened response? "Sounds like a crock."

    Of course, I realize I've got 37 years perspective on Ralph here, but the comic basically portrays women's equality as being nearly tantamount to militant man hating. And it's true that the early women's lib movement was more strident, by necessity, to get their message across. But honestly, this whole issue just reads like a hamfisted and confused metaphor that falls somewhere near early Luke Cage on the comic book scale of cultural sensitivity.

    My Grade: D. I appreciate the effort of dealing with gender issues at all in the pages of Wonder Woman, but this is just back-asswards.
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  9. #9

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    Wonder Woman #220
    Marty Pasko and Dick Giordano



    Synopsis:
    This story is extremely simple in terms of the plot. The Atom's arch-enemy Chronos the Time-Thief shows up and somehow causes every clock and watch in New York to vanish. Frankly, if this were to happen in real life, it would be annoying but otherwise have no effect on anybody. However, in the DCU, what happens is that everybody goes into a major panic, as suddenly nobody cal tell time at all. Apparently they don't have sundials. Or a sun. Anyway, the only way to tell time is through your individual body clock, which varies from person to person, so it's CHAOS! Chaos, I tell you! Except, of course, Wonder Woman's heartrate is exactly 70 no matter what the circumstances, s she's just that even keeled. So she alone can keep time, which allows her to track down Chronos and eventually find where his clock-away machine is; it's hidden inside a street sign for Times Square. Get it? She busts it, everyone can see clocks again, and New York is saved from... being a couple minutes late.

    Notes: Despite how downright dumb this story was, I still kind of enjoyed it, mainly because I have a soft spot for Chronos and clock related characters. He really should have teamed up with Clock King for this one. The main note of interest for this issue, though, doesn't take place in this story. but just two issues later, this whole tale will receive a major retcon (one that was planned from the beginning, so only kind of a retcon). We'll see what that retcon is when we get to #222.

    Also, the GCD thinks that Neal Adams and Terry Austin may have pitched in uncredited on the art and I think that's right. Some panels definitely have an Adams look.

    My Grade: B-, but only because I am a sucker for Chronos. Hey, the guy flies around on a giant floating sundial. That's win.
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  10. #10

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    Wonder Woman #221
    Marty Pasko, Curt Swan and Vince Coletta



    Synopsis: Hawkman reports on this tale, which finds Diana sent to the Catskills on a U.N. mission to determine what is going on with a foreign dignitary visiting there. What is going on, it turns out, is nothing but trouble. The dignitary is one of a number of middle-aged women attending a conference on aging. There's a renowned doctor there trying to prove his new methods for making older women look young again. Diana gets a little suspicious and for good reason, because it turns out the operation is a front being run by none other than her arch-enemy, Dr. Cyber!

    Dr. Cyber, you see, was horribly disfigured during her previous fights with Wonder Woman, so now she is trying to get the doctor's special face-lift formula to restore her beauty. However, during a fight with some of Dr. Cyber's robots, Wonder Woman accidentally smashes the machine housing the secret formula. So Dr. Cyber goes to plan B: She captures Diana and has her surgeons set up a face transplant! Yes, she's going to hack off Wonder Woman's face and affix it to her own, which is currenly a scarred ruin hidden behind a glass mask.

    Unfortunately for Dr. Cyber, the dose of Psycho-Chemical (whatever that is) she gave Wonder Woman to subdue her ends up being an overdose and Wonder Woman instead breaks free of her bonds, consumed with a mindless bloodlust to kill Dr. Cyber. The two of them fight atop a moving ski-lift and during the fight. one of Dr. Cyber's ski poles springs loose and smashes Dr. Cyber's glass mask, again completely ravaging her already-ruined face. Dr. Cyber then plummets off the ski-lift to her apparent death. The end!

    Notes: Dr. Cyber! For those who don't know, Dr. Cyber was Wonder Woman's main enemy during the I-Ching era. So it's really good to see her back, especially since they otherwise seemed to be ignoring everything from the I-Ching stories entirely. This story is wonderfully twisted, with Dr. Cyber's glass mask and double-disfigurement, as well as her face transplant plot, which harkens back to the classic Wonder Woman #200.

    The big mystery for readers is that this story supposedly takes place at the same time as the previous issue. At the end, Batman bursts in and says that, in fact, both stories did happen at the same time -- and one of the Dianas was a fake. But which one? We'll find out in #222, which finally ends the 12 labors nearly two years after they began.

    My Grade: A-. Dr. Cyber is just great and injected a much-needed dose of darkness and seriousness into this random procession of interchangeable villains and stories.
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  11. #11

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    Wonder Woman #222
    Marty Pasko, Jose Delbo and Tex Blaisdell




    Synopsis: Batman is talking to the JLA trying to sort out just how two different Wonder Women could have been running around at the same time (in #220 and #221). Of course, he already knows the answer, so he explains it forthwith. And the answer is truly bizarre.

    Here's the deal: Returning from her missionin the Ctaskills where she fought Dr. Cyber, Diana is shocked to see herself at the U.N. offices. Just then a plane appears overhead, about to crash into the Empire State Building. Both Wonder Women leap into action to save the plane, but then they start fighting each other. Wonder Woman can't figure it out, because not only is her duplicate an exact copy, but her duplicate also can mentally control the invisible plane! And she has exact copies of the lasso and bracelets. How?

    Deciding the plane had been a ruse, Wonder Woman jumps inside the plane and allows herself to be kidnapped. To her surprise, the plane returns to an amusement park called Dazzleland, the dream creation of famed animator Wade Dazzle. Obviously, this is a barely disguised version of Disneyland and Walt Disney, with "Uncle Wade" appearing alongside his theme park mascot, a talking gerbil.

    "Uncle Wade," it turns out, is an organic duplicate of the real Wade Dazzle, who died and was put into a cryogenic freeze. However, the process requires immense amounts of life energy to sustain, so this fake Wade is secretly disintegrating park visitors and replacing them with animatronic fakes. He then uses their life energy to feed Uncle Wade's cryogenic sleep. They created a fake Wonder Woman to lure Diana there, figuring her Amazonian energy could feed the process indefinitely.

    Naturally, Wonder Woman defeats them and shuts everything down, which turns out to not be a big deal because the real Wade is stone dead; the cryogenic freeze had never worked in the first place. The fake Wonder Woman is destroyed as well, but it turns out she had been made so well she thought she was Wonder Woman, which is why she defeated Chronos in #220 (instant retcon!). Batman finishes his tale and the JLA finally agrees to vote Wonder Woman back onto the roster. The end.

    Notes: Well, this was an interesting one. These stories about a fake Walt Disney and a malevolent Disneyland seemed to be a thing in the 70's, between this and Sabre and Westworld (and Arcade, for that matter). I'm sure I've read other variations as well. As a big fan of Disney World, I find these stories to be interesting, though having read one of them you've kind of read them all, as they more or less all have the same viewpoint on Disney and Disneyland. Because of this, the story just doesn't seem as cutting or innovative as it might otherwise.

    It's definitely an unexpected way to end the 12 Labors and I give Pasko credit for, you know, actually trying to write something with some kind of greater meaning. Most of these stories, like so much of 70's DC superhero work, is just interchangeable, episodic Superfriends pablum. I enjoy it on one level, but when you think about comparing these stories to some of the ambitious epics at Marvel at the same time, they seem really flat. So the fact that pasko was trying to do something more interesting is worth noting.

    On the other hand, was the 12 Labors really worth nearly two years of Wonder Woman to tell? A couple of the stories were pretty good, namely the last two, but they could have been told without the 12 labors framework. As I mentioned before, dragging this out so long had the effect of keeping Wonder Woman out of the League for much longer than necessary. More to the point, though, it completely stunted any character work in her own title. Because the members of the JLA narrated each issue, we got precious few insights into Diana herself and absolutely nothing was done the entire time were her as a character. One example: in the first part, #212, Wonder Woman mentions that she can't even tell her three roommates what's going on because she can't quite remember herself. So who are those three roommates? I have no idea, because after that one line of dialogue, none of them were mentioned again for the entire arc. In fact, the only supporting characters to appear besides the JLA were Diana's new U.N. boss Morgan Tracy and Diana's mother. That's it. The rest of her supporting cast vanished completely, as there was not a single scene of Diana's personal life in the entire 20+ month storyline.

    Overall, then, though the concept was interesting and some of the stories were decent, I think the 12 Labors really hamstrung the series, forcing it to become a one-dimensional and sadly formulaic adventure series. I'm hoping this changes now that the labors are over, but I doubt it, as I know there's another major status quo change coming up in just a handful of issues.

    My Grade: B+ for ambition and effort if not for execution.
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  12. #12
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    I wanted to point out that the 12 Labors story arc was edited by Julius Schwartz, who hadn't worked with the character outside the context of the Justice League since the '40s. Although I can't verify my theory, I believe the book was dumped in Julie's lap with the order to "Fix it!" (i.e., "restore the status quo from before the Diana-Prince-as-Emma-Peel era"). What these issues demonstrate, in my opinion, is that when Schwartz is unfamiliar with or unsympathetic to a particular character, he doesn't give it the kind of attention he does to those he likes better (e.g., his Silver Age revivals or, later, Batman and Superman) and bad (or at best mediocre) comics result. Much the same thing happened with Shazam! until he wisely entrusted the title to life-long Marvel Family fan E. Nelson Bridwell. The sad part is that these are the best issues of Wonder Woman between the end of the Sekowsky run and the Len Wein/Gerry Conway soft reboot in #270-71.

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  13. #13

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    The 12 trials seems to be an open audition where Julie is allowing the various writers and artists in his stable to demonstrate what they could do with the character. Schwartz doesn't seem to have any idea what to do with Wonder Woman, so he's letting these writers pitch their ideas. Using the JLA was useful as a hook to get more readers for the book--even though it did keep WW out of the JLA book. Eventually a creative team does emerge from this audition (Marty Pasko, Jose Delbo, and Vince Colletta). But Schwartz seems to be doing the job as a duty to the company and not as something he would choose to do--and he doesn't stay on the book any longer than he has to once the team is in place.

    I loved the 12 trials a lot more than Scott Harris, but that's because I was reading the books as they came out and all the themes (male fears about radical women's lib, creator fears about Walt Disney exploitation of workers) were things I could relate to. And I wasn't comparing the book to Marvel, because I was reading very little of Marvel (maybe I was comparing it to Howard the Duck--but not much could compare to Howard the Duck). I was comparing it to other DC comics at the time and on those terms it was a middling sort of effort, with some issues more satisfying than others. Neverthess, a real treat to see all these heroes showing up in Wonder Woman's comic. And great to sample the different artists and writers--an enjoyable diversion among all the other DC books I was reading back then.

    It should be noted that DC super-heroes had fallen on hard times in the early 70s. Many of these guest heroes in Wonder Woman were scrambling for work and were job sharing in other DC books. So they were as fortunate to get the exposure in Wonder Woman as she was to get them as guest stars. Only really Superman, Batman, and Flash were on solid footing at this time (note how Superman and Flash start off the series and Batman ends it, with the down-at-the-heel heroes occupying all the issues in-between)

    That being said, the thing I loved the most were the covers by Bob Oksner. It's so sad that he couldn't have been the interior artist on all these issues. If he had, the book would rank as one of the best WW runs ever! It's almost as sad to see Curt Swan not inked by Bob Oksner, but rather less suited inkers. Dick Giordano's work was of course beautiful--he was one of the best artists Wonder Woman ever had. John Rosenberger might well have emerged as THE Wonder Woman artist for this run and beyond, if he hadn't died in the middle of issue 217--the pencil pages he had already done for that Green Arrow guester were published in an issue of Amazing World of DC Comics, as a point of comparison with Dick Dillin's art on the same story. In the end, Jose Delbo did emerge as the Wonder Woman artist and I think he was a good, solid artist for the character--although his pencils were hampered by Colletta's inks.

    Compared with the other DC books at the time, the title was rather lost. Not to spoil things to come (I'm anxious to see what Scott Harris thinks and how long he can stick with this reading project) but the next few issues after this show a clear direction that Pasko wants to take; however, that is derailed as we spin off into an Earth-Two that doesn't resemble Earth-Two. As much as I liked the Wonder Woman TV show at that time, this turn of events wasn't to my liking, because I was starting to dig Pasko's approach to the Earth-One Wonder Woman.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cei-U! View Post
    The sad part is that these are the best issues of Wonder Woman between the end of the Sekowsky run and the Len Wein/Gerry Conway soft reboot in #270-71.
    Sounds like I have a lot to look forward to.

    Now where did I put that flask of gin?
    At last, Boy Comics finally gets its own website!

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by An Ear In The Fireplace View Post
    It should be noted that DC super-heroes had fallen on hard times in the early 70s. Many of these guest heroes in Wonder Woman were scrambling for work and were job sharing in other DC books. So they were as fortunate to get the exposure in Wonder Woman as she was to get them as guest stars. Only really Superman, Batman, and Flash were on solid footing at this time (note how Superman and Flash start off the series and Batman ends it, with the down-at-the-heel heroes occupying all the issues in-between)
    I'm hardly an expert on DC superheroes, but it seems like they had fallen on hard time because the stories were so darn boring. Which is a little weird to me, because DC was putting out excellent genre stuff across the board during this time; their horror, western, war and romance books were far superior to what Marvel was doing. But their superhero books were just uninspired, episodic blandness with only a couple of exceptions. And one of those exceptions was the I-Ching Wonder Woman which was dumped to make room for the 12 labors!


    Quote Originally Posted by An Ear In The Fireplace View Post
    Compared with the other DC books at the time, the title was rather lost. Not to spoil things to come (I'm anxious to see what Scott Harris thinks and how long he can stick with this reading project) but the next few issues after this show a clear direction that Pasko wants to take; however, that is derailed as we spin off into an Earth-Two that doesn't resemble Earth-Two. As much as I liked the Wonder Woman TV show at that time, this turn of events wasn't to my liking, because I was starting to dig Pasko's approach to the Earth-One Wonder Woman.

    Well, I already have the whole run so I'll be reading them. I get the impression that writing about the issues might be the only thing that keeps me going through some of these stories.

    One reason I'm interested in reading these is to see just what DC was doing, because on the surface it appears as they though had no plan at all for Wonder Woman, lurching from one status quo to the next without any aforethought at all. So far my reading hasn't disabused me of that notion either.
    At last, Boy Comics finally gets its own website!

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