BONUS BOOK – Wonder Woman (February, 1982)
“New Wonder Woman Preview”
Writer – Roy Thomas
Pencils – Gene Colan
Inks – Romeo Tanghal
Letters – John Costanza
Colors – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Len Wein
And now for an Insert Preview (or “Prevue” as the cover page puts it) that I’ve never bothered to read before. It’s features like this that remind me what an “embarrassment of riches” we fans have these days when it comes to options and reading material. In my younger days, where I’d only be able to buy like one comic book a week, I’d have absolutely loved any extra content I’d get… be it a letters page, a back-up story… or a free “Prevue”, I’d be so appreciative… and would just devour all of the content.
These days though? There are just too many options out there… too many readable-pages competing for my attention. I can be choosier… and even go as far as to dismiss or ignore things that, at a glance, won’t interest me. That’s this NEW Wonder Woman feature in a nutshell… something that, upon first look, was boring… starring a character, who I also feel is quite boring. Just never felt like it was worth my time.
I guess that’s what this little BONUS BOOK project is all about! Broadening my horizons by actually reading some long-ignored part of my comics library… and hopefully finding something worth checking out and sharing!
This Wonder Woman story was included in DC Comics Presents #41 (January, 1982)… though, you might’ve noticed (but probably not) that the insert feature itself bears a “Feb” cover-date. As for the DCCP ish, this insert interrupts a… rather lackluster team-up between Superman and the Joker. Maybe we’ll discuss that sometime… or not.
Our story opens in Washington, D.C. where Colonel Steve Trevor and Captain Diana Prince are en route to a rendezvous point to drop off a locked briefcase. Unfortunately for them, it looks like this clandestine meeting might just have been a set-up! They are approached by a pair of gun-toting spies! Trevor tosses the suitcase to Diana and instructs her to take off running with it. As she is his subordinate (least I think she’s supposed to be), she does as she’s told… running down an alley to protect the loot while he fights off Boris and… Boris?
In the alley, Diana socks the briefcase away in a garbage can and changes into Wonder Woman… who, isn’t obliged to obey the Colonel’s orders.
Wonder Woman bursts through a wall as though she was Kool-Aid Man, and proceeds to engage in some bullets-and-bracelets before beating up the bad guys.
In the interim, Boris and Boris’s buddies have stowed Steve Trevor in the back of their town car… and are attempting to get away. Wondy ain’t about to sweat these fools… and makes pretty short work of them. The geeks are kayoed, Steve Trevor is saved, and a pair of onlookers appear to be extremely excited to be in the presence of their hero.
As Steve is loaded into an ambulance (and Wonder Woman pretends not to be too worried about him), that pair of groupies decides to approach her. Ya see, they represent the Wonder Woman Foundation… a non-profit outfit that has been promised full financial backing… from somewhere… to promote Equality for all Women. They’d like for Wonder Woman to kind of be their public face… which, ya know, stands to reason if the foundation is named after her. Also, they want her to change her outfit… ditching her old halter to one with “W’s” on it.
Wonder Woman takes a moment to ponder this… and decides that, before agreeing to anything, she ought to talk it over with her mother. And so, she boards her invisible robot plane and heads Paradise Island way.
Upon arriving back home, she finds that the Amazons are a bit subdued. Getting a closer look, she learns they’re not only “subdued”… but bound and shackled! Turns out they’d been visited by Hercules and Hermes… two grade-a a-holes! They’ve stolen Hippolyta’s Magic Belt of Strength, and have more or less taken over the place!
Diana decides to challenge Hermes to a race… for the Magic Belt of Strength. Ol’ Hermes ain’t one to look like a chicken, and so… he agrees. He hurls the Belt into the distance and he and Wonder Woman race to procure it. Wonder Woman wins.
This only leaves Hercules to deal with… and so, Diana challenges him to a test of strength. Which, after a whole lot of Roy Thomas banter and captions… she wins!
After the dust settles, and the Olympians vamoose back from whence they came, Diana chats up her mother regarding the new halter. Hippolyta encourages her to wear the new one… and represent women everywhere (which I thought she already did anyway…).
We wrap up with the new-look Diana hopping back on her invisible robot plane to head back to the States to check on Steve… and the realization that, uh-oh… Steve Trevor is… dying!
I suppose I ought to admit right off the bat that I never realized that Wonder Woman’s costume didn’t always have “W’s” on it! I’m not sure quite how to describe that old design… but, when the groupies handed her the halter with the W’s… I didn’t really see what the big deal was! In flipping back a few pages, I was able to realize that… yeah, it’s different. I didn’t get to appreciate the importance of this… or, how… I dunno… “landmarky” this change might’ve been though.
I get that there’s symbolism… but, drawing so fine a line under the W’s representing Women Everywhere kind of lessens the importance of everything she’d done while wearing her old costume. I mean, are we supposed to believe that Wonder Woman only started representing Women after she wore a shirt with a “W” on it? I dunno… I’m probably thinking about it too hard… and through a scarily less-subtle 2019-2020 lens, where everything needs to be completely spelled out for us. Otherwise, how would we ever know how morally superior the writer feels they are?
Speaking of “current year” lamentations… it’s so darned refreshing to see a story where a character gets a new direction/new look/new creative team… and not a shiny new #1 issue to go along with it!
As for the story itself… ya know, it wasn’t half bad! I was expecting this portion of today’s piece to be full of yawns… but, I kind of dug it! Well, the first half anyway. I’m not sure there’s a writer who’s ever walked the Earth who can make a Paradise Island story “work” for me. I even resort to skimming those early issues of New Teen Titans that occur there!
The first half of the story though? Top notch superheroics… building tension, leaving some questions unanswered, just all around good stuff. The second-half… ehh, it was perhaps a, for lack of a better term, “necessary evil”. We needed Diana to chat with Hippolyta… and since this isn’t a “current year” comic, we weren’t about to get 16 pages of identical photostatted “talking heads”. Gotta appreciate the effort here of actually delivering a bit of action, regardless of how uninspired I might’ve found it!
Overall… a good outing, and a story I’m happy I finally got around to reading!
UPDATE: February 18, 2020:
An advance preview of Wonder Woman’s new costume from Amazing Heroes #3 (August, 1981):
Interesting (and Relevant) Ad: