I wrote this one in June of 2006 (and I had written a similar piece on another site in April of 2005), so you know I am super pleased to announce that DC is, in fact, releasing a trade collection of this Wonder Woman run in February 2008. Awesome.
The events of Wonder Woman #1 are steeped in nostalgia, and there is a chance that a small portion of the comic book readership is not steeped in late 60s/early 70s comic book stories (I know, I know, with the current comic book audience, it's only a small chance), so I figured it'd be nice for a little refresher on what I think is one of the coolest eras in Wonder Woman history, one which I feel quite lucky enough to have read (there really, really, REALLY should be a trade collecting these issues).
With no further ado, let's get down to the tale of Diana Prince - the NEW Wonder Woman!
In late 1968, editor/artist Mike Sekowsky totally revamped the Wonder Woman comic (along with Denny O'Neill on scripts and Dick Giordano on inks).
Here is the cover of the first issue...
I love it - so bold.
The basic idea is that Wonder Woman gives up her powers when the Amazons leave this dimension, so she must become "Diana Prince."
Check it out, they really were not messing around. This was a major step. As seen by the next issue's cover.
In #180, we meet I-Ching, a blind former monk who trains Diana as a martial artist.
In the same issue, Steve Trevor is killed off!! In fact, Sekowsky was quite upfront about his reasons for killing off Trevor,
Steve Trevor was dull and boring and I didn't like him much so I disposed of him.
I don't really AGREE per se, but I gotta admire his honesty.
Sekowksy continued his run on Wonder Woman for the next two plus years (the book was bi-monthly at the time), and had Diana open up a dress shop as her home base while going on many exciting missions with I-Ching.
Over the run, her outfits changed...
Check out Diana with the machine gun!
Sadly, though, after a weird "women's lib" issue (Sekowksy had left the book by this time), DC basically just abruptly ended this era in Wonder Woman's history. The change is as abrupt as the difference between these two covers (the first one probably has the closest outfit to the one Diana is wearing in the current Wonder Woman comic)...
Pretty big change, eh? But not as big of a change as what the STORY had in store for followers of Diana and I-Ching.
New writer Robert Kanigher, in his debut issue, had I-Ching murdered, with Wonder Woman having a case of amnesia while trying to avenge him. When the Amazons returned her memories (and her powers), they just decided to leave out out her memories of her experiences as just plain "Diana Prince."
Still, the run exists as a daring example of forward thinking in comics!
As Sekowsky so bluntly put it,
The old Wonder Woman was dropped because the sales on the old WW were so bad that the book was going to be dropped. The new Wonder Woman was given a chance -- (a last chance for the book) and it worked!... Super characters... aren't doing too well with today's readers -- and it's to today's readers that we must cater to, not to a bunch of old fuddy duddys who only look back... As for my hollering about WW's sales, I can honestly say that I am quite pleased to have taken a sow's ear and turned it into a silk purse.... I personally feel that too many of DC's stories are still being written and plotted for the year 1940 instead of 1970....
Well put, eh?
I got the Sekowsky quotes from an amazing piece on the Diana Prince run by Carol Strickland, where she goes into a LOT more detail than I did. In fact, I may as well have just linked you to her piece from the beginning, as she really does a good job, but what fun would THAT be? Check it out here.