Supporting Character Week (or so), Day Four: The Quest for Peace.
The star of today's column is the hippest, raddest, craziest, baddest mofo ever to grace the pages of the comics medium. You may find it hard to believe when you find out who it is, but I will prove it to you. Trust me.
(Updated 1/25/07: Now with added butt-kicking.)
"It's okay, baby. You don't need him. I-Ching's here for you. Aww, yeah."
I-Ching (Or I Ching, but I'm going with the hyphenated version as it appears on the cover here) was once Wonder Woman's mentor, and, if I've managed to decipher the clues correctly, her pimp. He was constantly putting himself in what seemed like danger just so he could get close to her. Why? Because I-Ching loves the ladies. Especially the Wonder Ladies.
Confused? Perhaps you are. Y'see, I-Ching appeared at the tail end of the Silver Age and stuck around until the Bronze Age had started. In fact, I-Ching could be completely responsible for the Bronze Age. This was the time when DC was revamping some of its line. Superman went to GBS, Batman became darker still, and Wonder Woman turned into Emma Peel. Or, more precisely, she went from this:
She lost her powers, relinquished her costume and heritage, and started to kick ass *and* wear pants, usually at the same time. It's the most interesting period of Wonder Woman history, and one of the only times her book was worth reading, I'd bet. Feminists were torn-- yeah, she seemed more "empowered," but she lost her actual powers. So were men building her up or tearing her down? Whatever. We're here to talk about I-Ching.
So Diana lost her powers, but still wanted to fight the good fight, or something. So she ended up being trained in martial arts by I-Ching, who is a sexy combination of equal parts Chuck Norris, Richard Dragon, and Bruce Lee, only twice as awesome:
Okay, so comics coloring wasn't very good back then, hence the caucasian arm and luminescent orange skin. Just go with it.
You may also have noticed that I-Ching is blind. This never stopped him from fighting evil and rocking out, though.
Here's a page from his first appearance. Denny O'Neil writes, Mike Sekowsky draws. Courtesy of Bob Hughes:
Click it to make it bigger and readable.
See? The guy knows his way around a fight. And I guess this makes the "I" in "I-Ching" about the same as the "I" in "I, Vampire," or "I, Spyder." Kinda silly and naively racist to me, but there you have it.
Do you require more examples of Ching's coolness? Look no further than this cover:
It may look like he's been terribly injured and in mortal peril, but I'm betting he leaped in front of the bullet just so he would have a chance to go motorboating on Diana.
Then we've got this one:
First off, note the fact that I-Ching is so cool he appears above Wonder Woman in the titles.
Second, yes, it looks like he's been taken out again, due to being sprawled all over the place. It's all part of the plan, though; he could easily jump up and kick all of those skiing jesters in the face. He just doesn't want to, yet. Why? Well, a normal man in this scenario would probably look up Diana's skirt. I-Ching is blind, you say! And Diana is wearing pants! Fear not. I-Ching is so amazing, he has no need to look up her skirt, because he can listen up her pants. Creepy, sure, but strong is the pimp hand of I-Ching.
Here's another one:
Yeah, it looks like I-Ching has overcome his blindness to see, um... biker she-pirates leaping out of the sky. Can he see when he wants to? Maybe. Maybe the blind thing is just a ruse, much like all the times he gets beaten up. He just wants Diana to fawn over him. She needs to think he needs her. I bet right after the pirates drop out of nowhere, he goes and gets himself run through just so he can get Diana alone to himself again.
Still don't believe I-Ching is the coolest sex machine in comics? Then prepare for a brainsplosion, courtesy of The Absorbascon. Witness:
I-Ching. Driving a car. While frickin' blind as a bat.
Badass, sir! I salute you. If that's not cold hard evidence of why I-Ching rules, I don't know what is.
This era of Wonder Woman didn't last very long, though. It debuted in #178 and ended with #204, where Wonder Woman went back to the costume and I-Ching got killed by a sniper's bullet. I'm sure it was all part of the plan, though. He never appeared again, but I bet he's just biding his time until he can come back into Diana's life and put the moves on her again.
In fact, I think he had a cameo or reference of some sort in Allan Heinberg's current arc. So maybe we'll all be getting some Post-Crisis I-Ching action in the future. Let's hope so. If I wrote the title, I'd have I-Ching back in a flash, and he and Diana would be locked in combat with Egg Fu by the end of the first issue.
I hope I-Ching appears in the upcoming Whedonized Wonder Woman movie. I also hope he's played by Al Pacino covered in glowing orange paint, and shouting "Hoo-ah!" all the time.
You know you want it, too.