Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Single Issue Review: Wonder Woman #125

If I were Wonder Woman, I'd take that Amoeba Man; he's a hunk!

This is, of course, part of the insane period of Wonder Woman. Lord knows there have been some crappy comics in history, and some good comics that had some sub-par periods. But has there ever been a comic that was as relentlessly awful as Wonder Woman for as long a period of time?

And don't get me wrong; I loved Wonder Woman in the Golden Age. It was a unique and colorful comic. But the Comics Code did away with some of the more interesting elements, and Robert Kanigher, who wrote some fine war stories in the Silver Age, appeared to give this book minimal attention as a writer and as an editor.

In this story, both Mer-Man and Steve Trevor are moping over their mutual rivalry for the affections of Wonder Woman:

Steve insists on meeting Mer-Man. He climbs out onto the wing of Wonder Woman's plane and tells him the only way to get him off is to throw him off the plane (presumably to his death). They meet and exchange some gastronomical insults:

The agree to a competition to see who can better "take care of Wonder Woman." Mer-Man points out (no kidding) that if a passing swordfish happened to attack them that Steve would be out of luck, whereas he could harness the fish and ride it. And as silly as it sounds this appears to be working:

But Steve has followed them down into the water and is near drowning Wonder Woman rescues him with a little mouth to mouth, enraging Mer-Man, who never got his reward for saving her. Steve says he can better protect Wonder Woman on land, and dashes off with her into the brush, Mer-Man chasing:

Now that panel alone is worth 10 cents. Steve and Wonder Woman encounter a gorilla, and Steve subdues it with judo:

But a roc kidnaps Mer-Man and as a result he gets saved by Wonder Woman.

Now it should be pretty obvious at this point that Steve is the better mate for Wondy; the odds of running into a gorilla in the DC Silver Age were considerably higher than those for encountering a vicious swordfish. But she can't decide and suddenly the roc attacks again, momentarily paralyzing her, and kayoing the two men. Who will rescue her?

If you've peeked at the cover you're probably guessing Amoeba Man himself, but instead it turns out to be a knight in shining armor from another planet:

He sweeps her off her feet and before you know it, they're off to Paradise Island to tell Queen Hippolyta of their impending marriage. Fortunately Wonder Woman remembers at the last minute not to let Sir Galahad land on the island, and we get the first indication that something's wrong:

Now that zoom in on the madman's eyes is just plain cool. Yeah, it's been done to death since, but this is 1961 we're talking about. Hippolyta insists that she give Mer-Man and Steve another chance, but the knight makes short work of them, and Wonder Woman prepares to fly off into space with her chosen beau.

But once he gets aboard the ship, he changes back into his Amoeba Man form. It's all been a plot to capture Wonder Woman as a hostage so that an alien invasion can proceed without interference from the Amazons. Amoeba Man assumes that nobody will fight with her in his control, but she sends out a message:

Nice bit of characterization there. Steve and Mer-Man crash her plane into the spaceship, and the Amazons defeat the rest of the invasion fleet. Wonder Woman rescues the two from the wreckage, but her trials are not over:

Comments: Overall I have to admit the story was much better than I expected. Yes, it's very silly in spots, but that's hardly unusual in the Silver Age DC. But there are a couple very good bits, the story holds together and the Andru & Esposito art is better than their average.