Monday, June 25, 2012

Diana Prince's "Mod" Wonder Woman

In July of 1968 Wonder Woman sales were so low, National Comics considered canceling the title. The company decided a new editor Denny O'Neil and artist/writer Mike Sekowsky should take a chance with a "mod" approach with DC's first female heroine. Starting  in issue #178 Wonder Woman dropped her costume to go undercover on a case to help her love interest, Steve Trevor, as the Amazons coincidentally had to leave earth for another dimension to "renew their magic", so Diana renounced her powers remaining behind. When Trevor is kidnapped by the evil international terrorist Doctor Cyber, a powerless Diana is suddenly trained in the martial arts from a new found friend, her blind teacher known as "I Ching". In a later issue one of Cyber's henchwomen kills Steve, but by that time Diana and Ching have brought down the villainess and continued their wild adventures fighting campy witches, sword-and-sorcery heroes, hippie gangs, and even Catwoman. Diana Prince opens a "mod" clothing store in New York City and now looks and acts more like Emma Peel of  "The Avengers" TV show than a former Amazon princess.


This experimental "new" Wonder Woman lasted for only twenty five issues published bi-monthly, which stretched them from 1968 to 1972, as the writing and artist teams changed, including a young science fiction author named Samuel R. Delaney. But surprisingly, due to feminist Gloria Steinem's complaints of de-powering the popular character, and publishing the old Wonder Woman in costume on her first issue of Ms. magazine with a complementary article, DC changed the heroine back as fast as she had left. Ching is killed by a car that crashed into the restaurant the couple were dining in, as Diana gets a head injury, suffers amnesia, hijacks a plane and returns to Paradise Island where her powers are restored...ending with a updated costume similar to Steinem's cover. Fondly remembered by fans of the series, the "I Ching" era lived on in later issues and storylines, perhaps even to resurface again one day.


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