Tuesday, March 31, 2015

the new wonder woman is here!


Star Weekly, September 15, 1968.

By 1968, Wonder Woman was long overdue for a major revamp. Over the decades since her introduction in  1941, the edginess that marked her early years (especially the kinkiness slipped in by creator William Moulton Marston) had been watered down. Her rogues gallery was nothing to write home about, from boring baddies like Angle Man to the bizarre, not-at-all-racist Egg Fu. An attempt to revive the character's 1940s look had faltered. Her dowdy alter-ego, military secretary Diana Prince, just wouldn't do in a Vietnam world.

Cue makeover. Writer Denny O'Neil and artist Mike Sekowsky shook up Wonder Woman's world with a series of changes that transformed her from a star-spangled heroine into an Emma Peel-inspired protagonist:

  • Dumped the costume in favour of mod clothing, which evolved into various white-coloured outfits by the early 1970s
  • Killed off useless love interest Steve Trevor, replacing him with a blind Asian mentor named I Ching
  • Ditched the superpowers, forcing Diana to rely on her athleticism and wits
  • Sent the Amazons into another dimension
  • Dropped her from the Justice League of America, where she was replaced by Black Canary



The launch of the makeover in late summer 1968 prompted Star Weekly beauty columnist Keitha McLean to discuss the changes to the iconic superheroine.

Cover of Wonder Woman #178, October 1968. Art by Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano.
This phase of Wonder Woman's career lasted for the next four years. Towards the end of this era, further experiments were tried, from blending fantasy author Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser characters into a battle with a weirdly-attired Catwoman, to a special "Women's Lib" issue written by Samuel R. Delaney. Ultimately, the reset button was hit, and by 1973 the status quo was restored.

1 comment:

Rona Maynard said...

Jamie, I'm one of many writers, illustrators and other creative types who were mentored by Keitha McLean. Keitha is all but invisible online despite her huge contribution to the magazine industry, so I was excited to find this post and have just shared it with a colleague who, like me, remembers Keitha with affection and admiration.