Welcome to a special edition of Adventure(s) Time, where we revisit classic animated series of the past. This time, we're examining a brief reference in an episode of Superman: The Animated Series that nearly put the entire chronology of the DC Animated Universe out of whack.
Airing on September 8, 1997, the episode "Blasts from the Past: Part I" introduces audiences to Kryptonian threats Jax-Ur and Mala. Mala briefly teams with Superman as his crimefighting partner, before he recognizes her totalitarian bent. Lois Lane is never impressed with Mala, unlike Superman. During an interview with the alien, Lois dismissed one of her comments with the line: "Yeah right, and I'm Wonder Woman."
Now, concurrently, DC was publishing animated tie-in comics. And, sure enough, Wonder Woman did appear in these books. Though she'd yet to debut in the actual cartoons, an "animated" Diana existed.
This Will Never Be An Issue...
Since the producers didn't expect to one day be producing a Justice League series (Bruce Timm resisted this for years), fans could easily pretend these expanded adventures were occurring alongside the animated stories.
Until a Justice League series really did debut, in 2001. All ancillary material was tossed out of canon as the producers finally gave fans what they demanded. ( Justice League on TV, played as straight as Batman and Superman.) And in the opening arc, "Secret Origins Part 2" specifically, Wonder Woman abandons Themyscira to battle an alien invasion. None of the heroes, including Superman, have ever heard of her before.
Why This Isn't A Mistake At All
So, how did Lois Lane make that crack four years earlier? Clearly there's an inconsistency. One theory has much of Justice League Season One taking place simultaneously with Superman: The Animated Series. Justice League doesn't seem to interfere with that series' continuity until Lex Luthor is arrested, so there's room for this to work. However, this was not the creators' intent. In fact, Superman has an older, wearier facial design in Justice League to indicate some time has passed since his solo series.
The best theory involves the later Justice League arc, "The Savage Time." This story had the Justice League traveling back to WWII to face Vandal Savage. Bruce Timm's comments have indicated the League did honestly change time during their adventure. That means at least a few 1940s citizens interacted with Wonder Woman.
Clearly Diana leaves an impression, right? So rumors of her existence grew, becoming the thing of legend. Savvy Lois Lane was merely dropping a cultural reference in 1997. Little did she know Superman would be teaming up with the legendary hero four years later.
That’s all for now. If you have any issues related to an animated series you’d like to see covered, just leave a comment. Or you can contact me on Twitter.