Etta Candy's Evolution Into a Government Agent

In "Follow the Path," I spotlight changes made to comic book characters that are based on outside media, as well as characters who entirely came from outside media. I’m sure you can think of other examples, so feel free to e-mail me at brianc@cbr.com if you want to suggest some other examples for future installments.

Today, based on a suggestion from my pal Fraser S., we look at how the Wonder Woman TV series both rescued the Etta Candy character from comic book limbo as well as give her a whole new status quo that has lasted for decades since!

Etta Candy debuted in the second issue of Wonder Woman's lead feature in Sensation Comics (just the third appearance of Wonder Woman period following her debut in a bonus story in All Star Comics #8), in a story by William Marston and H.G. Peter....

Etta Candy was a fascinating character. On the one hand, she was the butt of numerous fat jokes, as even her NAME is, of course, a fat joke. On the other hand, while she was obviously treated as a joke character, she was handled very well as a joke character. Etta Candy was one of the bravest and most noble people you could find in a comic book adventure. She just happened to also be a walking fat joke. Comic books had a lot of stuff like this back then. Heck, they CONTINUED to have characters like that for years to come. In the case of most other characters, the depictions went way past just "fat jokes" and into super racist stuff. For instead, Chop Chop was a heroic member of the Blackhawks, but he was also an extremely racist depiction of an Asian person. Ebony White was a noble, heroic partner to the Spirit, but he was also an extremely racist depiction of an African-American person (at a time when people clearly DID know better, as Fawcett Comics literally dropped their own racist caricature of an African-American person, Steamboat, in 1944 because he was too offensive. It wasn't like the people of the 1940s all just thought, "Hey, this is just what black people are like").

In any event, when Robert Kanigher took over the series from Marston's assistant, Joye Hummel, he dropped the character. What's funny is that Kanigher has never been one to shy away from over-the-top characters (remember, the dude invented Egg-Fu...in the mid-1960s!!!) but for whatever reason, he seemed to find Etta Candy distasteful and she just disappeared from the Wonder Woman comics entirely.

That changed when the Wonder Woman TV series debuted. The first season took place during World War II and so the show looked for Golden Age characters and one of them that they found was Etta Candy, who was General Phil Blankenship's secretary. Beatrice Colen played her. This Etta Candy was SLIGHTLY plump and here, the comic relief element of the character was that she was a bit of a dummy rather than being a walking fat joke.

Since the show was a hit, DC quickly adapted the comic book series accordingly...

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