I happened to stumble across Wonder Woman #216 yesterday, because that's the sort of thing you find lying around our house.(In case you didn't know, the famous Captain Comics is my husband and our house doubles as the Comics Cave. We have anywhere from 50,000-60,000 comics in our house--even the Captain isn't sure of the exact number.)

So Wonder Woman #216 from 1975 is lying out in the open as a consequence of the Captain's current re-boxing and re-boarding obsession. In case you're curious, it was written by Elliot S. Maggin with art by John Rosenberger and Vince Colletta. On the cover Black Canary, with very Farrah Fawcett-looking hair, is saying, "Why are men forbidden on Paradise Island? What would happen if one stepped on the soil of the Amazon Isle? Here, at last, is the ASTOUNDING ANSWER!" So, I thought, I'll bite, what is the astounding answer? I picked it up and took it downstairs to read.

In a kind of clever writer's ploy--supposedly Black Canary is recounting the story of an adventure she had with Wonder Woman on her home island to the rest of the Justice League. It seems a very wealthy and powerful Greek tycoon named Mr. Diamandopoulos (who looks a lot like Aristotle Onassis) has decided that he just has to know the secret of why no man can set foot on Paradise Island, the home of the Amazon women. So he sends his male minions to attempt to do just that. Somehow Black Canary finds out about this attempt (by reading it in the newspaper!) and decides to go to New York to see what Wonder Woman is going to do about it. So, she takes off for New York on her motorcycle, with her JLA gasoline credit card! It's so funny that the writer saw the need to point that out! Perhaps gas credit cards--maybe credit cards in general--seemed like a new and nifty advancement in 1975! And, I guess they are nice, especially when someone else is paying the bill. Black Canary also has a funny interchange with a parking attendant, who asked her if she always drives her motorcycle like a maniac. She said, "Listen, to get into the Justice League, you have to make it across town in minutes--and most of my friends can fly!" But, back to our story--Black Canary observes Wonder Woman have an odd adventure in New York. She has to rescue a sculpture from being stolen by Diamandopoulos's minions with the use of what looks like a flying saucer with a tractor beam. (Apparently Diamandopoulos has access to some very advanced technology, like Lex Luthor.)

Anyway, after the rather dumb sculpture-rescuing adventure, Black Canary for some reason decides she needs to disguise herself as a newspaper reporter and interview Wonder Woman at her regular job, where she goes by the name of Diana Prince and holds some kind of security position with the United Nations. That interview didn't last long, because the strange Mr. Diamandopoulos appears in some sort of 3-D projection in Diana's office, and so Diana hustles Black Canary out as fast as possible. Diamandopoulos makes some super-villainous threats, and Wonder Woman swings into action! And at the same time, Batman fires up the--get this--JLA teleporter --and sends Black Canary to Paradise Island so she can witness events there.

Diamandopoulis's army attempts to invade the island using giant robotic vehicles on two legs that look like they are from "The War of the Worlds"...there's some fighting...then it turns out the island they are invading is actually a decoy, and not the real Paradise Island! After the fighting, Black Canary is transported to the real Paradise Island where Queen Hyppolyte reveals to her (on what looks like a flat-screen television) what would really happen if a man sets foot on the island. After returning a magic girdle stolen by Hercules to Queen Hyppolyte, the goddess Aphrodite decreed that any Amazons seeing a man on their island will instantly fall in love with him and fight each other to the death over him. It's Aphrodite's idea of a great cosmic joke. In Queen Hyppolyte's words, "Until we, who base our society on love and respect, are reduced to barbarians over a man!" Indeed, jealousy has turned many perfectly nice girls into "barbarians."

Meanwhile, Diamandopoulos faces off with Wonder Woman on this decoy island where he confesses that the reason he is obsessed with the Amazons is because he is in love with her! (Didn't you see it coming?) Maybe he thought his profession of love would win over WW, but, no! Of course not! She is pissed! Because as she said, "You...threatened to destroy that civilization to impress one you claim to love...?" So she hustled him off the island in dejected defeat. That was the end of the adventure. Black Canary wraps up her story, making a point to leave out the explanation of what would happen if a man set foot on Paradise Island, thinking to herself, "There are some things that must be known to no man--not even the men of the Justice League of America!" So now you know the secret that even Batman doesn't know!

Here are some of my personal observations:

1.) Comic books used to be a lot more "wordy" than they are now. The pages are just filled with dialog and thought balloons and editor's notes. It seems like the writer didn't trust that the pictures would tell the story, and indeed, the art is rather pedestrian. Modern comics creators seem to think more visually. But as a consequence of all the words, the story is chock full of ideas. It was only 20 pages long, but seemed like a much longer and more complex story than that.

2.) The hairstyles on the women look incredibly like the wavy "piecey" long curls that are so in vogue in Hollywood right now, not at all like the elaborately layered hairstyles I actually remember from 1975. (Black Canary wears the Farrah Fawcett do only on the cover.) But remember, this comic book was written and drawn by middle-aged men, who obviously wouldn't be up on the latest styles of the '70's. But I don't know how they so presciently predicted the styles of the early 2000's. On the other hand, there are probably only so many ways to draw hair...

3.) The creators reveal their low opinion of 1970's fashions in one funny panel where Black Canary is walking though the streets of Manhattan in her costume and thinks, "considering the way people dress in New York, I don't look any more or less unusual than anyone else!"

4.) Aphrodite, who makes a cameo appearance, looks just like--who else--Marilyn Monroe.

There you have it. That's all I have to say about Wonder Woman #216.

Views: 175

Comment by Cavaliere (moderator emeritus) on September 2, 2009 at 9:52am
I also presumed that Black Canary drove the motorcycle simply because she enjoys it and could use it to go to NYC. Driving it to Paradise Island would be a very, very good trick!
Comment by Commander Benson on September 2, 2009 at 11:57am
"Commander, no insult intended, sir . . . ."

. . . And none taken, friend.

". . . [B]ut I seem to remember (and perhaps conclude from events) that Wonder Woman did NOT have the JLA around to pick up the slack; in fact, more than once, it was clearly stated that Diana insisted that they not help her in any way. She also requested that they absolutely do not let her know when they were monitoring her - maybe to avoid the very situation you cite. So, as they were observing various adventures, she never knew if a member of the JLA was observing her or not; she HAD to do it on her own because it was quite likely that she WAS on her own."

On the matter of which missions would be observed, Wonder Woman's direction to the JLA in WW # 212 was explicit [italics mine]: "I'd like the Justice League to monitor my next twelve adventures!"

Ergo, she knew that at least one of her fellow members would be observing the next dozen missions she would undertake. Now, the Amazing Amazon did not "clearly state" anything about the supervising member not interfering or coming to her aid. She said nothing about that whatsoever, That, apparently, was a decision made by the Justice League, since that issue and almost every succeeding one has the observing hero reflecting that he was not to involve himself in the case he was monitoring, unless Wonder Woman was clearly not able to handle the situation herself. And, indeed, in several of those twelve stories, when Diana was in a particularly dire peril, the observing JLAer was just about to step in. Before he could do so, however, the Amazon took care of business herself.

Since WW could count to twelve, she knew which of her missions were being monitored, and yes, she knew there was a hero there to bail out the situation if she dropped the ball.

But, for the sake of argument, let's say that WW did instruct the JLAers not to interfere with her missions at all and that she did not know which of her adventures would be monitored and which wouldn't, that's even more damning. And it goes even more directly to my point that the internal logic of the "twelve trials" premise is flawed.

Given: Wonder Woman suspected, or at least, feared that she was no longer mentally competent to be part of the Justice League.

If the observing members were forbidden to interfere under any conditions, and if WW could not be sure that a JLAer was monitoring a given case, anyway, then---if she were incompetent---she was putting more lives at risk than if she were on a Justice League mission, surrounded by heroes who could bail her out. Which supports my contention that, logically, she would have given up super-heroing completely and not just her participation in the League.

"BTW, although it might be coincidental that the JLA had twelve members and Diana had twelve tasks, it does seem to fit into the 'Heracles' mold of 12 tasks as well. I'm not sure this played on coincidence as much as a nice little parallel to remind the readers that Wonder Woman has a very strong tie to the gods."

It was more than just a subtle hint, Fogey, on the same page when she proposes her plan, she states: "Yes! I will rejoin . . . if I prove worthy! If---like Hercules---I succeed in twelve labors!"

"And yes, I do believe the JLA knows where Paradise Island is - and at DC in the 60s and 70s, there was no question that every member was trustworthy enough not to reveal that location, and that the guys, under no circumstances, would set foot on the island."

I believe you are correct on this point, Fogey. I cannot speak with certainty about the entire League having that knowledge---I just don't have time right now to research through my Silver-Age stacks---but I can document that Superman knew. In the story "The Revolt of the Super-Chicks", from The Brave and the Bold # 63 (Dec., 1965-Jan., 1966), Superman flies to Paradise Island to enlist the Amazing Amazon's help in pursuading Supergirl to return to her super-heroine career. The Man of Steel hovers over the island, as Diana explains to her mom, "He knows that no man can set foot here---or our Amazon home would be destroyed."

The JLAers didn't share all of their secrets in those days---they more or less kept their secret identities private from each other---but the fact that Superman knew the location of Paradise Island suggests that WW divulged that info to all of her fellow members.


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