In every installment of “If I Pass This Way Again,” we look at odd comic book plot points that were rarely (sometimes NEVER!) mentioned again after they were first introduced.
Today, based on a suggestion from reader Jim D., we look at the time that Wonder Woman was sexually harassed by her boss while in her Diana Prince secret identity.
Colonel Darnell has been part of Wonder Woman’s history since the very beginning, as he is sort of kind of in her first couple of appearances (just as an unnamed officer).
Finally, in her fourth appearance, in Sensation Comics #3, we meet him outright as the new boss of Diana Prince (the secret identity that Wonder Woman established hilariously by finding some woman who happened to look just like her and paying her for her identity)…
Darnell was a regular fixture in the comics for the next decade as the boss of Diana and Major Steve Trevor. Even when the war ended, they all just moved on to military intelligence and continued to work together. Darnell, in general, was a pretty nice guy. Sometimes he said sexist stuff to Diana, but honestly, for the era, stuff like this bit from Wonder Woman #13…
Was practically like wine and roses compared to what some other comic books were having their female characters go through. In general, Darnell was a good guy. He would stick up for Diana and Steve a lot.
As the years went by, he became less of a presence in the book, despite technically still being Steve and Diana’s boss. Dozens of issues would go by without him showing up and then he would just stop by and tell Steve to go on a mission. This was a period in Wonder Woman’s history (early 1960s) that longtime writer, Robert Kanigher, was all about bizarre plotlines with having Wonder Woman team up with her younger selves in “impossible stories” and also mess around with this fish guy and this bird guy who were all about fighting over Wonder Woman (meanwhile, Steve Trevor would also be fighting over Wonder Woman when they were together. Steve was a real creep during this time frame).
Then Steve Trevor was seemingly killed and we had the “Mod Wonder Woman” era, where Wonder Woman dropped her costume and her powers and her military gig as Diana Prince. When that time was over, Wonder Woman went back to basics, only this time, Diana Prince got a job at the United Nations. That was her main gig for most of the 1970s. During this period, Steve Trevor was resurrected but then he died again.
Finally, in 1980, Gerry Conway decided to bring Steve back for good, but it was this big ol’ continuity reset that ended up with the book essentially re-setting to the status quo before Steve died (seriously, don’t ask – it’s way too complicated to get into. Although I guess I could do a future column on the concept).
So they’re working for Darnell again, only now he’s a General. And now he has a first name for the first time, Phil. Oh, and now he is also a sexual harasser, as he is all over Diana Prince in Wonder Woman #274…
Although Conway (working with artists Jose Delbo and Dave Hunt) kind of annoyingly turns it into a wacky “Two dates at once” routine and sort of glosses over the harassment angle…
A few issues later, Darnell continues to be inappropriate with Diana…
But the kicker had to be in Wonder Woman #279 (by Conway, Delbo and Hunt)…
Damn, dude, that’s messed up!
Okay, so what happens when the next writer takes over the series?
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