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.
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.