In “When We First Met”, we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, “Avengers Assemble!” or the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.
Today, reader Greg P. wanted to know when Wonder Woman first faced off against Doctor Poison, one of the villains of the current hit Wonder Woman film.
Doctor Poison is actually one of the very earliest Wonder Woman foes, as she actually appeared in just the second issue of Wonder Woman’s ongoing feature in Sensation Comics (Wonder Woman debuted in a preview feature in All-Star Comics and then gained her solo feature in Sensation Comics #1).
In “The Menace of Dr. Poison” (by William Marston and H.G. Peter), Steve Trevor (still recovering from his injuries he suffered in Sensation Comics #1, a story that opened with him still suffering from his injuries from his crash landing on Paradise Island) is captured by Doctor Poison, the chief poison expert for a Nazi spy ring…
Diana’s quick thinking keeps Steve from revealing any secrets, but he’s still a captive of Poison’s when Poison enacts a plan to use a special “Reverso” gas to make American soldiers do the opposite of what they are ordered to do, which naturally causes chaos…
Wonder Woman escaped (and then pretended as though she freed Diana Prince) and then formed a group of volunteer female college students (led by Etta Candy) to help her take down the “reversed” troops and allow her to handle Doctor Poison, who turned out to be a woman in disguise!!
It would be two years before Doctor Poison popped up again in Sensation Comics #24, where she masqueraded herself as a Chinese princess trying to peddle her poisonous wares to the Japanese…
Then a few years later (in one of the issue of Wonder Woman written by Joye Hummel between Marston ending his run due to his ill health and Robert Kanigher taking over the series full-time. When Marston died, Kanigher took over. For many years, Hummel’s issues were presumed to have been written by Marston), Joye Hummel and H.G. Peter produced a fascinating story in Wonder Woman #28 about what happens to Wonder Woman’s enemies once she has defeated them. As it turns out, they get sent to “Transformation Island” where they are bound by magic girdles that force them to become good people. One of the villains, Eviless, though, managed to break free of the spell and she tried to get the other criminals to come with her, but most of them wanted to remain good. A handful agreed to come with her and form Villainy Inc. and Doctor Poison was one of them!
That was it for the original Doctor Poison, as Kanigher famously was not all that interested in using characters from before his time on the series and Doctor Poison wasn’t someone who other writers were pushing to bring back, exactly. She DID get an Post-Crisis update, with her granddaughter becoming the new Doctor Poison.
Thanks for the suggestion, Greg! If anyone else has an idea for a future edition of When We First Met, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!